Hiking Boots Your Feet Won't Hate You for Wearing

Whether you are hiking locally at Duff Park or planning a weeks’ long adventure to the Adirondacks in New York or the Rockies in the West, you’re going to need a good pair of hiking shoes. Unfortunately, not all hiking shoes are created equally.

At Achilles Foot Care, we see many foot injuries, including ankle sprains and ingrown nails, that occur due to ill-fitting boots.

So whether you shop at REI or Dick’s Sporting Goods or a mom-and-pop bootery, we’ve created this guide for helping you select hiking boots that your feet won’t hate you for wearing.

How to choose the right boot

1. Pay attention to the “type” of hiking boots.

Type? You might be surprised, but there are many types of hiking boots! The three most basic types are:

Choosing the type of boot based on the intended length of your hike is important. For instance, if you choose a casual hiking shoe but end up carrying a 50-pound pack, your feet will suffer if they do not have proper support.

2. Choose the right material for your needs.

When it comes to materials, you’ve got lots of choices! Leather, synthetic, waterproof fabric like Gore-Tex, and Nubuck leather — each material choice has pros and cons, and it’s important to choose the material that suits your feet and your hiking plans. For instance, leather is durable and can stretch a little to accommodate your feet (which may be more comfortable for a bunion), but you absolutely must break in leather shoes. On the other hand, waterproof shoes may be good for wet hikes. Keeping your feet dry can help prevent fungal infections from brewing.

3. Consider the midsole.

On a hiking boot, the midsole is the part of the boot that provides support; you may notice that this is also the part of the boot that makes a boot feel “stiff” or “flexible.”

If you are going on a long hike, avoid flexible midsoles. Why? If you are hiking, especially off-trail, a flexible sole will make your feet feel tired long before the hike is over. That’s because flexible soles allow your foot to bend and conform around every tree stump and rock you walk over.

If you are looking at backpacking hiking boots, look for polyurethane, which is often used for stiff hiking boot midsoles.

4. Don’t forget the traction!

Look at the bottom of the boot. Does it have good, thick treads? You’ll need these to prevent slipping and sliding on the trails.

How to try on your boots

Once you know what kind of boots you are looking for, you’ll have to try on the boots. Although you won’t get a full sense of how the boot will be hiking (because you must break them in), these tips can help you get the most out of your boot shopping trip:

When to see the podiatrist

If you sustain an injury while hiking, it’s a good idea to check in with Dr. Roberto at Achilles Foot Care. However, you don’t have to wait until you have an acute injury! If your feet are always sore – no matter what shoes you wear – stop by to see what Dr. Roberto can do for you! Call Dr. Roberto today or schedule an appointment online.


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