Steven Carmichael, manager at Eastern Mountain Sports in Hingham, advises customers to consider whether they will be using their boots for day trips or extended backpacking, and how long they expect them to last.
A walk in the woods can be a lot more pleasant with the right pair of hiking boots. But to find the right one, consumers need to consider a few things about the hike they’re planning: How long will it be? Will there be rough terrain? Will it rain?
“If you’re backpacking and hiking in the White Mountains, the boot you’d wear there is a lot different than the boot you’d wear to go hiking in Myles Standish State Forest,” said Steven Carmichael, manager at Eastern Mountain Sports in Hingham.
Carmichael advises customers to consider whether they will be using their boots for day trips or extended backpacking, and how long they expect their boots to last.
Hiking boots are generally lighter weight, more shock absorbent, and have a higher arch than other boots, said Ken Griffin, manager of Hanover Boot.
Griffin said certain aspects of the boot will drive up both the quality and the price.
“A better inner sole is more expensive, but it gives better arch support and will give you less foot fatigue over the long run,” said Griffin.
He said most boot stores carry inner soles – the layer of material where your foot rests – separately, so buyers can customize boots to fit their needs.
Waterproofing is another component to consider. Some boots that are labeled as waterproof have been silicone-saturated, and will require yearly treatments to keep the rain out. Griffin said that some of the more expensive boots have Gore-Tex fabric lining. “It’s almost like a plastic baggie that will let your foot breathe, but won’t let water in,” he said.
Trail shoes are one of the newer options in hiking gear. They fit like a sneaker but are more durable and made for a longer season. Carmichael said hikers might want to consider buying hiking socks that are more cushioned and wick away moisture.
In the end, comfort is the main thing.
“Put them on and walk around the store,” Carmichael said. “Don’t get it because it’s on sale or clearance. Get it because it works.”
Julie Onufrak is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finding the right fit
Low-cut shoes: These are fine for lightweight travel, but they provide less roll resistance for ankle joints. Plus, on muddy routes or trails filled with scree, grit or sand, it’s tough to keep this debris out of your shoes. They’re a good choice for lighter loads on maintained trails.
Mid-cut boots: These wrap around your ankles and offer some cushioning and protection from debris and hazards. They’re a smart pick for shorter multi-day trips with moderate loads.
High-cut boots: These give you leverage and ankle support on rough terrain. If you routinely carry heavier loads, high cuts make good sense. Take the time to break them in before starting a long-distance trip.