The Best Walking Boots

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If you enjoy hiking, scaling mountains or long distance walks in the countryside, this blog post is the one for you. Choosing the best walking boots for your needs can have a massive impact on your enjoyment of the walk.

High quality walking boots have a number of features that make them a game changer for keen hikers. Read on to find out how they can make a difference, what type of boots you should consider and some suggestions to get you thinking…

Do Walking Boots Make A Difference?

Money is tight. And when money is as tight as it is now, it’s more crucial than ever to know that the products you buy will be able to make a difference.

If you decide to take up walking regularly, we would recommend buying walking boots as they provide your feet with extra protection.

On less challenging terrain and over short distances, you are less likely to feel the benefit of walking shoes over your usual pair of trainers or running shoes. However, the more walking you do, and the more challenging the terrain, the more likely you are to benefit from walking boots.

We briefly covered some of the benefits of wearing walking boots in our ‘What to Wear’ guide. The durability of good quality walking boots means that they are a great choice over tough terrain

The other main benefit of wearing walking boots is in poor weather. The material used for walking boots will keep your feet warmer and drier than trainers. This is mainly due to the materials used when making walking boots.

What type of boots are good for walking?

If you are going to be taking on a challenging hike, walking boots are for you. Choosing the right pair is important and there are a few things that you should consider to make sure you pick the most suitable pair for your needs.

The terrain where you usually go for a walk will play a big part in the walking boots you choose. If you are keen on mountaineering you will have very different requirements to someone who prefers speed-walking through the woods.

Recent advancements in the way walking boots are made means that there is less difference than there was in the past between the two main types of walking boots: those made of leather and those made of synthetic material. Leather walking boots have a reputation for being heavier, more durable and in need of breaking in whilst synthetic walking boots traditionally needed less breaking in, were lighter but didn’t as long.

As with most things, times are moving quickly and good quality synthetic walking boots are of equal quality to their leather counterparts.

Is a tall or short walking boot better?

The next thing you will likely notice when searching for your next pair of walking boots is the difference between tall (high-cut) and short (low-cut) walking boots.

Taller walking boots provide your ankles with more support. This is great if you are concerned over your ankle stability. They are the sturdiest option but that comes at a cost – your boots will not be as flexible and you will be forced to move more slowly than in comparable short walking boots.

If you are likely to carry heavy backpacks over rough terrain and face the elements on a regular basis, taller boots may be your best bet. Boots with support high on the ankle and reinforced midsoles provide added durability.

On the flip side, short walking boots are more versatile and give you the ability to be more agile. Whilst they provide sufficient protection in most cases, they are less sturdy and give you less protection against the elements. You are likely to find these boots more comfortable and they will need less breaking in.

The Best Walking Boots

Is it best to buy walking boots a size bigger?

We’d always advise you to try walking boots on before you buy. When trying on a pair of walking boots, you should check the width of the shoe as well as the heel to ensure that your feet are secure and protected. Your toe should not touch the front of the boot, otherwise you will find them too tight when your feet start to swell in the heat.

With that said, your feet should not be so loose within the shoe that they move around. Your feet should feel secure and well protected, without being restricted. Finding the right fit for you may mean trying a few pairs, different brands and sizes before you decide.

When considering how well your walking boots fit, you need to feel comfortable but not snug and for most people this will be the case with walking boots that are ½ size to a full size bigger than in normal shoes. That extra space will mean that your feet can swell during the day and not become uncomfortable. This is also the reason why we recommend trying them on towards the end of the day, when your feet are at their most swollen and with the socks you plan to wear.

Once you have purchased a well fitting pair of boots, you should break them in slowly. First, we would recommend wearing them around your house until you are absolutely sure that they are the right fit for you. Then, gradually increase the length of your walks whilst your feet get used to their new surrounds. Trying different lacing techniques (https://www.verywellfit.com/lace-your-shoes-to-fit-right-3436348) will impact how the shoe sits on your foot with some of the lacing techniques particularly suited to those with narrow or wide feet.

What you wear your walking boots with will also impact how they feel, fit and are able to protect your feet. A single pair of hiking socks is the best option. Whilst it may be tempting to throw on an extra pair of socks, we’d advise against this as you won’t get the most out of the breathable fabric that most hiking boots are made from and that extra pair of socks will change how well your shoe fits!

If you wear specially designed orthotics, it is important that you try these with your hiking shoes as they will impact the way that the shoes feel.

Lastly, when it comes to the way that walking shoes fit, the old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fit it’ comes to mind. If you find a brand of shoes that suit your needs particularly well, we’d recommend trying shoes made by that same brand.

What brand of boots is best?

When it comes to walking boots there are many different brands to choose from. From Merrel to Meindl, Scarpa to Brasher and Regatta to Salomon, there are plenty of different brands and styles to suit every need.

Inov8 are well known for their trail running shoes but they also provide a number of options for keen walkers too. Specialising in lightweight GoreTex solutions, inov8 are a great choice if you are looking to head out for a speedy hike in any weather.

Regatta are renowned for their expertise when it comes to outdoor pursuits. Their broad range of walking shoes are marketed at price points that make their range accessible to most budgets. Their range of walking poles and waterproof clothing makes Regatta a great one-stop-shop option if you are just starting out on your journey as a hiker.

Gearlab rated the Solomon Quest 4 GoreTex as the best walking boot on the market in 2022, commenting specifically on the comfort and support the boot provides to backpackers.

Final Thoughts

A well-fitting pair of walking boots gives you the peace of mind that the only thing you will need to focus on is the view on your next walk. No matter which brand or design of walking boot you choose, we’d always recommend trying them on to make sure that they are the right pair for you.

The Best Walking Boots

FAQs 

Are walking boots worth it?

Walking boots average around £100 per pair. If you head out for a walk regularly, enjoy covering uneven ground and want shoes that will keep your feet dry when you cross streams, walking boots will be worth it for you. To make sure that you get your money’s worth out of your boots, make sure that you clean them regularly.

Are walking boots good for your feet? 

When buying walking boots, we’d always recommend trying them on first. Just like any other shoe, it is important that the walking boot you choose is well fitted to your feet, giving it chance to provide the support you need.

Why are walking boots good? 

Walking boots are good to wear whilst hiking as they protect your feet from the elements, stop your ankle from rolling when you are carrying a backpack and give you confidence in each stride you take.

 How long are hiking boots supposed to last? 

How quickly your walking boots will last will depend on how well you maintain them, how heavy footed you are and on the type of surface you wear them on most regularly. As a general rule, we’d say that walking boots should last around 500 miles but this can vary considerably. The best advice we can give is to regularly check your boots for signs of wear and tear so that you can replace them when they no longer give you the support you need.

How long walking boots last depends on how well you clean them and how often you go out walking or hiking. Terrain also plays its part – if you walk on concrete, the soles will wear faster than out in the hills. Whilst we don’t want to give you a hard figure for how many miles you can expect out of your boots, you should look for visible signs of wear and tear, such as soles which have lost their patterning and any signs that the midsole is starting to break apart.

Can you wear hiking shoes on concrete?  

Due to the nature of hiking shoes, we would not recommend wearing them for prolonged periods on concrete. This is because the extra padding and protection that makes them a great choice on uneven ground is not designed for every day walking around. If you are heading out for a short walk on concrete, trainers are your best bet.

Are walking boots waterproof? 

Your walking shoes should be both breathable and waterproof. To make sure that yours are, check that they have a GoreTex layer. GoreTex helps ensure that you can cross streams and stride through puddles without getting your feet wet. Similar to running shoes, you can buy a gaiter to wear with your walking boots for added protection. Wear the gaiter over your trousers to stop water seeping in.

Are walking boots meant to be tight? 

Walking boots traditionally have a more snug fit than other types of shoes. This helps them to provide the protection you need whilst out hiking. With that said, if your toes are touching the front of your boot, they are probably too tight.

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