Hiking boots provide you with better stability and traction on your multi-day hike than a normal sneaker.
Hiking boots are designed to provide you with greater ankle support. They have aggressive lugs and treads in the sole that help you walk safely over rough uneven surfaces.
Types of Hiking Boots
Here you will find out the different types of hiking boots and how they are different from each other.
#1. Low-cut Ultralight Weight Hiking Boots
Low cut ultralight weight hiking boots are good for your day hikes carrying light backpacks. You get better flexibility and comfort for your hike throughout the day.
Most of the low cut hiking boots are not waterproof but are great for a shorter hike because of its lightweight. The lugs and treads in the boots can provide good traction on less demanding terrains.
They are made using breathable material that helps you keep your feet dry. Due to breathable material, they dry out quickly if they get wet. People who have ankle injuries or bruises tend to prefer these low cut boots on their day hikes.
#2. Mid-cut Lightweight Hiking Boots
Mid-cut hiking boots are lightweight that you can wear if you are planning to spend days on a hike. They raise up to the ankle and give you better ankle support on rough terrains.
The mid-cut boots provide better protection from ankle sprain (one of the most common hiking injuries) by supporting your ankle on uneven surfaces. You will also get better heel support and aggressive lugs for better tractions.
Mid-cut boots are also popular for their ability to perfectly fit and support your ankle and feet with help of different lacing techniques. The tighten laces are highly effective in stabilizing and keeping your feet and ankle in place even in tough terrains.
Similar to low cut boots these are also made using breathable materials that enable you to keep your feet dry.
#3. General All-purpose High-cut Hiking Boots
All-purpose hiking boots can be used for a single day or multi-day hikes that have rough rocky terrains. The boots are made of more stiff material compared to low-cut and mid-cut boots.
All-purpose high-cut boots have better and deeper lugs that help you get good traction. The thick sole and high cut design provides better cushioning and support for your ankles. The boots fully support you when you go on difficult terrains where your feet are likely to be on different angles.
Most of the high-cut shoes come with different kinds of waterproof linings that help you keep the water away. The high-cut boots are more tough and durable than low-cut and mid-cut hiking boots.
#4. All-round Backpacker Hiking Boots
The backpacker hiking boots are designed to help you carry heavier loads on multi-day trips.
The backpacker hiking boots have a high cut that wraps around your ankles to provide excellent ankle support. Most of the backpacking hiking boots are made of leather with stiffer midsoles compared to lighter hiking boots.
The thick sole of these boots provides you with better traction which means more stability on the trail. The all-round back-packer hiking boots have a wider base that further enhances your stability on an uneven surface.
Backpacker hiking boots are more durable than light-weighted boots that give you all-around better support to carry a heavy backpack on a trail.
#5. Mountaineering and Winter Hiking Boots
Mountaineering and winter hiking boots are more versatile and durable than all other boots because of its unique design and functionality.
The winter hiking boots are stiffer in nature and some of them even come with steel mesh. You will get all-around protection from the uneven and challenging surfaces like a steep climb, where your feet might be at different angles.
Mountaineering and winter hiking boots come with warm insulation to provide protection from cold weather. The boots have the ability to attach snowshoes which are useful when you need to hike in the snow.
They also have gaiter clips to attach your waterproof pants or gaiters for protection from the rain. You will get all-around protection with these boots, but the only issue is its heavyweight.
Winter hiking boots give you the best traction because of its thick sole and deep lugs compared to any other boots. You should go for these boots only if you are planning on a challenging trail that could involve walking up steep cliffs.
Different Material Hiking Boots
The upper part of the boots is made up of many different types of materials. The material used helps in determining the durability, weight, breathability and waterproofness of a boot.
The sole of the boots is always made using the rubber but the thickness and design of rugs can vary depending on the model.
Below are the different popular materials used to make the upper of hiking boots.
#1. Full-grain Leather
The full-grain leather is the most durable material which has the ability to withstand harsh use. The full-grain leather is a water-resistant, is heavy as compared to all other leather with the least flexibility and breathability.
#2. Split-grain Leather
The split-grain leather is available in various thickness and sizes as required. This leather variation is more breathable but is not as appealing as full-grain leather. Split-grain leather is also less durable and waterproof than full-grain leather.
#3. Nubuck Leather
Nubuck leather gives a feel of velvet-like soft material. The nubuck leather is flexible but is less durable and water-resistant compared to full-grain and half-grain leather.
#4. Suede Leather
The Suede leather is a lot smoother and cleaner than Nubuck leather. Suede leather has reduced water resistance and is less durable than any of the above-mentioned leathers.
#5. Synthetic Leather
Synthetic leather is available in a variety of thickness and densities which are more breathable and softer. Synthetic leather looks exactly like an original leather but is less durable and water-resistant than any authentic leather.
Mesh material is used for making footwear that is highly breathable and lightweight. But the durability of boots made using is far less than any leather material.
#7. Waterproof Breathable Membranes
In some cases, waterproof membranes are used in between the inner and outer layers of the upper part of the boot.
The membrane makes the boot waterproof while keeping it a little bit more breathable than leather boots. Some of the most popular waterproof-breathable membranes are GORE-TEX and eVent.
The plastic-coated leather or fabrics are used in mountaineering and winter boots. Plastic provides rigidity, waterproofness and warmth when hiking in challenging conditions.
However, plastic is not a good material for making hiking boots except for winter hiking boots as they get too hot on continuous wear that can lead to excessive sweating.
How Should Hiking Boots Fit
Here are a few things that you must consider to get perfectly comfortable boots for your hike.
#1. Understand Your Feet Size
You should invest some time with footwear professional to completely understand your feet
- Width and arc
- The volume of your feet.
You should always double-check the size and it should be such that you have some space to flex your toes.
#2. Wear Socks While Trying Boots
While trying hiking boots you should make sure that you are wearing the socks. This would help you quickly understand the fit and feel of a new boot.
#3. Must-Try Hiking Boots By Walking in Them
You must properly try out hiking boots in different situations. You should take a walk around and go up and down on stairs wearing the footwear you are thinking to purchase.
You can also walk up and down on an inclined surface. Spending some time in boots will help you better understand the fitting.
#4. Understand the Lacing
You must spend some time understanding the different types of lacing techniques and their benefits in different situations.
Few better-known lacing knots are
- Surgeon’s Knot that helps in keeping your heel from slipping.
- Window Lacing helps in alleviates pressure points on the top of your foot.
- Toe-Relief Lacing that helps in relaxing the toe.
#5. Break-in Your Boots
Most of the hiking boots are made using leather that needs to be broken in to be more comfortable. You must break into your new hiking boots before going on your first trip.
Overlooking this can possibly result in sore feet or blisters on your feet that can make it uncomfortable to hike.
#6. Try New Boots at the End of the Day.
When looking for new hiking boots you must try them at the end of the day as your feet get swollen due to the full day of use. This strategy will help you find better fit shoes that would remain comfortable throughout the day.
#7. Replace the Factory Insoles.
For better comfort, you can also replace the insole of your new hiking boot with other insoles. You can find out some insoles that are the best fit to the shape of your feet or get them customized.
You need to understand your hiking terrain before going to purchase hiking boots. For example, you can use the low cut shoes for a single day normal hike on a smoother trail or you can go for general-purpose high cut boots if you hike regularly.
The hiking boots could be made using a different type of leather or other materials depending upon the purpose of the boot.
You must break in your boot and get comfortable in them before going on a hike.