How to Choose the Perfect Hiking Boots: A Comprehensive Guide-Appalachian Outfitters

How to Choose the Perfect Hiking Boots: A Comprehensive Guide

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Wondering how to select hiking boots and make sure you go about it right? We’ve got you covered. The choice will come down to a number of factors, including weight, season, comfort, and maintenance,, just to name a few. For a deep dive into hiking footwear, read the rest of this guide to come away with a satisfying purchase that will last you years.

Hiking Footwear: Factors to Consider

There are a number of factors to take into account when choosing hiking boots. Before committing to a purchase, we recommend thoroughly analyzing your needs, habits, and preferences in order to make an informed decision that won’t come back to bite you.


Day hikers who primarily enjoy wandering through well-maintained trails don’t require much robustness in their hiking footwear. In contrast, if you’re a veteran of the wild who often strays off the beaten path for multi-day treks through nature, your hiking boots need durability, increased traction, and possibly waterproofing to adequately support you on your adventures. 


When lightweight backpacking, you’ll want to pack versatile, lightweight footwear that won’t slow you down. However, harsher weather conditions often require mid- or even heavyweight options to withstand such treks.


Simply put, even the best hiking boots are worthless if you can’t walk a mile in them without getting painful sores. For that reason, it’s crucial that you base your purchase not just on a few online articles or reviews but head out to a physical store to try a range of shoes on yourself. Make sure to also talk to the attendant about factors such as a typical break-in period.


We believe that the time of year when you’re the most active in nature is one of the most important factors in picking your hiking footwear. For obvious reasons, winter hiking gear varies tremendously from what you’ll need to pack on a sweltering summer day out, and footwear choice is no different. When choosing hiking boots, plan ahead for your most active season.


Lastly, some hiking boots require maintenance and care to ensure their longevity, especially when you regularly take them out in brutal weather conditions on multi-day hikes in the backcountry. If you’d like to avoid having to spend time on this, seek out hiking footwear that doesn’t require a maintenance routine.


By far, the worst thing you could do is get caught out on a muddy trail with a pair of hiking boots unsuitable for wet or rainy weather. Securing yourself against moisture should be your number one priority when hiking or camping in the rain. So, if you’re expecting to brave the wilds at a time when precipitation is either a not-entirely unexpected surprise or a guarantee, make sure to buy hiking boots with waterproof soles.


Ankle support is a vital component of hiking boots, especially when hiking long distances or across multiple days in harsh terrain. Here, the material plays a decisive role. EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is a material commonly used in more lightweight selections due to its breathability. Hiking boots with a polyurethane finish on the midsole, on the other hand, offer superior durability and are preferable for more demanding journeys.


Speaking of stability, even the rugged boots won’t be worth much on a slippery trail if they also lack traction. When gearing up for hikes, especially in the winter, look for boots with rubber outsoles and deep, thick lugs. 


Lastly, a breathable hiking boot directly correlates to the weather and climate you’ll be hiking in – it’s really a balancing act between comfort and water resistance. There are middle ground options, however. Gore-Tex membranes are notorious for providing a good degree of both breathability and water protection. It does come at an advanced cost, though, and while it’s an excellent option for when you need a blend of both, it won’t be able to do either perfectly.

Picking the Best Hiking Boots for Your Needs

With all these tips in mind, try to establish priorities based on your hiking plans and habits to select the best hiking boots tailored to your needs. Keep in mind that there are no perfect hiking boots, as they all differ in their intended use scenario.

As a final tip, hard-committing to a particular model without sufficient research can often backfire. To prevent it, read online product reviews and see what the people are saying about the boots that catch your eye before pulling the trigger.

The Takeaway

To choose hiking boots that will serve you for years, identify your needs and hiking habits to determine what kind of support your shoes need to have. Day hikers who don’t fancy trekking through the rain will not need sturdy footwear. Conversely, bushcrafters who often camp out in the backcountry for days and must be prepared for everything shouldn’t rely on lightweight equipment.

You may also read: How to Choose the Right Tent for Your Camping Trip: A Comprehensive Guide
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