Out on the Camino, our bodies adapt quickly, and with the right fitness plan, a walking holiday will be a breeze!
That said, there are a few things that can help us to adapt to prolonged periods of walking much easier. Like choosing the right hiking boots!
Choosing a great pair of hiking boots or shoes is something worth spending time and money on, and making sure that they are super comfortable is the absolute most important thing to get right.
Even a short day hike can turn into an endurance test that goes way beyond enjoyable if your boots are uncomfortable.
7 Tips to Choose the Right Hiking Boots
These 7 tips will help you figure out what you need to look for in a great pair of hiking boots:
1. Understand your needs
Before you even start your search for the perfect pair of walking boots, it’s really important to have a clear picture of what sort of hiking you will be mostly doing. Consider the following things:
- Hot, dry conditions call for breathable uppers and a mid or low cut at the ankle.
- Cold, wet weather will require the boots to be waterproof with a higher cut.
- Steep and challenging terrain requires high-cut boots for stability with excellent grip and deep lugs in the outsoles.
- On flat and easy terrain, hiking shoes can often be a good option as your ankles won’t need as much support as on challenging terrain. You should also consider lightweight boots.
- If you only carry a daypack on your walks and hikes, mid-cut lightweight boots or low-cut shoes may be just what you need. But this will also depend on the terrain and the weather.
- If you are carrying a fully loaded backpack, you’ll need to opt for a heavier high-cut boot which will help provide stability and support.
2. Know your feet
This may sound like a bit of an odd tip, but knowing your feet is really helpful in narrowing down your search for the right walking boots. If you have especially wide or narrow feet, you can immediately head towards specific brands that typically cater for differences in width. Equally, if you have flat feet or very high arches, you can steer clear of some boot models and head straight for others. Your shop assistant can help with pointing you towards the right boots, but you’ll need to give them that information in the first place.
Another thing to bear in mind is whether you have weak ankles. If so, then be sure to look for high-cut boots that will offer maximal support where needed.
3. Understand what you’re stepping into
Starting your hiking boot search with some background information on the makeup of hiking boots is also important. If you shop in-store, your shop assistant will likely use a whole load of complex terminology to sell you the boots. Get one step ahead and know your stuff about boots, and not only will you be able to keep up and understand just what they’re rambling on about, but you’ll also have a better understanding of the value of the boots.
Here’s a handy guide to get familiar with before you go shopping:
4. Time your shopping trip
You’re armed with all the info, and you have a clear idea about where and how you’ll be using your walking boots. Now the fun begins – it’s shopping time! As tempting as it may be to get out early in the day and get it done, shopping for footwear in the morning is a common mistake that you should try to avoid if possible. Get out in the afternoon, however, and your feet will have swollen slightly compared with first thing in the day. And fitting boots when you have swollen feet is much more realistic than how they will be when you’re hiking. So save your shopping trip until the afternoon if you can.
5. Try on lots of boots
Trying boots on can be a bit of a time-consuming event. But it’s really worth taking the time to try on as many boots as possible. When you just spend 5 minutes trialing boots on a shop floor it can be difficult to know just how comfortable a new pair of boots actually are. So it’s essential to compare how lots of different boots feel. And once you find the ‘right’ pair, hopefully, you’ll know it!
6. Wear the right socks
If you are buying walking boots for the first time then you may not know what type of hiking socks to choose, or indeed what you prefer. If this is the case then be sure to ask your shop assistant to recommend a pair based on the conditions you’ll be hiking in. It’s then key to wear these socks when trying on new boots to help you get the best fit possible. If you already have hiking socks that you love and are comfortable with, be sure to wear them when trying on new boots.
7. Over order
If you prefer shopping online then be sure to do your research before you buy. There is a load of information on hiking boots online that will help narrow down your search for boots to suit the conditions and your feet, so take the time to read up. Once you’ve found a few options that sound and look great, order them all! That way you can properly compare them, spend lots of time walking up and down the stairs in your house (on the carpet of course!) to test them, and then send back the ones that don’t make the cut.
It may seem like a lot of work just to choose a pair of shoes, but when you’re forking out a lot of money it really is worth it – not to mention the discomfort and pain you’ll avoid.
So embrace the trying-on process, take on as much knowledge as you can and enjoy taking a step towards choosing hiking boots that you’ll love.
For more hiking tips for your Camino journey, make sure to read our Camino Fitness Bible. If you have any other questions or if you need help planning your Camino, please don’t hesitate to contact us.