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/Walking and Hiking Boots Guide
It is perhaps due to the ever increasing presence of technology in our daily lives that has led to walking and hiking reaching new heights of popularity in recent times. The act of walking for pleasure first truly entered the public consciousness in Britain during the Industrial Revolution, where the cramped conditions and detachment from nature found in urban life popularised trips into countryside.
Hiking is great exercise; it helps improve creativity; it can even make you happier. We’ve always been big believers in helping each and every one of our customers reach their potential, and so we’ve worked hard over the last few years to curate a fantastic selection of footwear designed specifically for hiking, hill walking, trekking, or whatever you wish to call it.
Whether you’re popping out for a quick stroll on a Sunday afternoon or a truly mammoth expedition , the first thing you should consider is what to put on your feet - after all, they’re the ones that will be bearing the brunt. So without further ado, here’s our definitive guide to hiking boots. The buttons below will allow you to navigate to a specific section.
What shoes or boots are right for you?
Styles of hiking footwear
What makes up a hiking boot?
How should hiking footwear fit?
Breaking in walking boots
Hiking footwear care guide
Walking Boots Care Guide
The first thing to say here is that it’s almost impossible to find a pair of hiking shoes or boots that will serve every hiker’s every need. The reason that professional hikers have multiple pairs of shoes is that everything from the weather to the terrain affects what footwear would work best.
However, most people will have a good general idea of what sort of routes and the time of year they’re most likely to be walking will be. We’ve done our best to create a range of shoes and boots that covers almost every specific need, as well as several excellent all-rounders.
If you anticipate walking in water-logged areas, or at least in all weathers, leather shoes or boots are generally a good choice thanks to their water-resistant qualities. If the tracks you’ll be using are rocky and require some climbing, or if you’re prone to injury, then some sturdy boots with ankle support and pronounced outsole lugs would be a wise choice. If you’re going to be carrying a heavy load over a long trek, then durability and ruggedness are a must.
The lighter the load you’re carrying, the lighter footwear you can get away with - if you’re going to be carrying a serious pack, you’ll need boots or shoes capable of taking the punishment - which unfortunately often means wearing slightly heavier styles.
While there are plenty of slight variations on the theme, there are - broadly speaking - two major types of walking and hiking footwear:
Just as with designs and sizes, the materials that hiking footwear comes in vary significantly, and picking the one that’s right for you depends on what you’ll be using the shoes for. If you imagine you’ll be braving the elements, then a strong leather upper is a must. If you’re more of a fair-weather walker, then waterproofing is perhaps a feature you can afford to go without.
Leather tends to come in three major variations in walking and hiking footwear:
GORE-TEX and other membranes
Many hiking shoes and boots today feature GORE-TEX or similar breathable membranes in some part of their design. These mesh constructions are designed to stop water from entering the shoe or boot - a potentially massive addition of weight, which is the last thing you want at the end of a long walk - while allowing moisture from the foot to escape.
Mesh or mesh-leather hybrid shoes tend to be lighter than ones made mostly with leather, however they are more prone to rips and tears, so bear that in mind if a lot of your routes involve walking through thick, jagged undergrowth.
How you tie your shoes is critical to both safety and fit (more information on that can be found by clicking here). Here’s a handy video guide that demonstrates several ways you can tie your laces depending on the style of footwear, what kind of terrain you’ll be tackling, and how your shoes or boots fit your feet.
Blisters can be a painful annoyance that can be avoided, simply from lacing your hiking boots correctly. Check out these different techniques and see which one suits you best.
No matter what style you opt for, the fit of your hiking boots or shoes is absolutely critical. Get it right and, combined with the right type of footwear for the trail you’re walking, you won’t notice a thing. Get it wrong, however, and even the most experienced of hikers will struggle.
Everyone’s feet are different, but there are several quick tests that will help you quickly identify how well a pair are fitting:
As discussed above, what materials feature in the construction of your hiking or walking footwear plays an important role in how quickly they can be broken in. Getting used to your new shoes or boots - and getting them used to you - before using them properly is absolutely critical, as even seemingly innocuous injuries such as blisters can quickly take a huge toll.
If your boots or shoes are a mix of leather and GORE-TEX or a similar mesh material, and they fit correctly, then they shouldn’t require much breaking in. The extra give compared to predominantly leather boots or shoes means a much easier ride for your feet from the off.
However, there’s lots of advantages to shoes or boots with a leather upper, and this is the style that needs the most care and attention before you head out on any major hikes or walks.
Naturally, any good pair of hiking boots or trail runners should be able to withstand a fair amount of punishment. However, there are several steps you can take to squeeze a few extra hikes from your shoes.
We’ve worked hard to make Cloggs the ultimate destination for buying hiking boots and trail runners online. Our great range of hiking footwear include Palladium, Merrell, Sorel, Timberland, and more.
We’re also known for our award winning customer service qualities. We offer free delivery on all items over £50, and free returns, so if you find that your new boots don’t quite fit as we’ve explained they should in our fit guide, then don’t panic; you can easily return them and have a replacement pair sent with zero hassle.
We’re also always around to answer any questions you may have, so if you’re wondering about anything to do with hiking boots, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook.
Images courtesy of Pexels and Sierra Trading Post.