You’re on the go and you care about where best to invest your money. You want a pair of handsome boots that will serve you well, look good and not rub your toes or bank balance the wrong way. There’s an awful lot of choice, and we know this doesn’t help your schedule. You want to log on, see the choices and order the right boots, right now. However, finding the best walking boots or wellington boots can be tough, so we’ve put together this resource – a one-stop-shop, all-inclusive guide to help you find the footwear that fits your budget and needs (P.S. The guide below is for hiking boots, if you’re looking for wellies, check out this guide).
We compare boots to help you choose the best pair for your needs.
Buzzboots: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
Buyer’s Guide to Choosing Walking Boots
If you’ve found our website, then it will come as no surprise to you that boots come in a vast array of colours, shapes and sizes, many may look appealing but are they up to the job? Whether you are planning on a hike around your local natural terrain or trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro the most vital part of your kit will always be your hiking boots. It is definitely not an occasion when any old shoes will do! The boots you choose can make the difference between it being the most enjoyable and memorable experience of your life, or the most miserable journey you have ever been on!
Trekking for many starts out as a hobby, others may venture into it for a health kick, and for some it is just a break from the norm, a chance to get away from it all. Whatever the reason those who journey out onto that first path can then find that it turns into a lifetime trail! The breath-taking scenery, the peaceful tranquility and the feeling of getting back to nature can entice and envelope even the most reluctant city dweller! Trekking quite simply is fascinating, each journey bringing a new discovery and each different from the last. There is always a sense of triumph at the end of a hard few days trek; you return feeling renewed, invigorated and refreshed.
Those in the know will tell you each trip is an adventure, a step into the unknown. When you reach the summit the breath-taking views, along with the sense of achievement and fulfilment, make it well worth the hike! On the other hand, if you reach the peak with blisters, cuts and abrasions then you may not feel quite the same! This is the reason why choosing the correct hiking boots is vitally important. Once tried most get bitten by the trekking bug, so spending initial time and effort choosing will not be time wasted.
The broad spectrum of hiking boots can leave most completely perplexed as to which boots will be the most appropriate and suitable ones for their planned trek. Nature provided us with scenic and beautiful terrain, however nature did not provide us with feet that can trek around the land without any added protection!
The journey to buying the correct hiking boots comes in small steps, but will end with you being able to take giant and comfortable strides!
STEP 1 – DIFFERENT BOOT CHARACTERISTICS
The type of boots you need depends on where, and for how long, you plan to trek. It is also important to take into account the load you will be carrying. Your feet need to be comfortable, supported and more importantly protected. This is essential especially when trekking on rough and uneven mountainous territory.
Generally hiking boots come in four different categories: light hiking shoes, hiking boots (mid-cut and high-cut), backpacking boots and mountaineering boots.
Light Hiking Shoes are ideal for those venturing out into the wilderness, but on well-maintained trails. They are definitely not for those who are planning a more adventurous hike! These shoes are perfect for those that are travelling light and out for a day trip on fairly flat land. They do not give any protection against dirt and debris, and are definitely not advisable for those planning more challenging treks.
Mid-Cut Hiking Boots Mid-cut boots offer more protection than the hiking shoes. They are easier to pack and are ideal for those planning on slightly longer than a day trip. They offer a little protection to the ankle, and also some protection from dirt and rising debris.
High-Cut Hiking Boots The high-cut boots offer more support to the feet and ankles and offer much greater protection against dirt and debris. These are perfect for day or weekend hikes, with lighter loads. They offer more stability and balance then the mid-cut boots. They also offer more protection in colder more extreme weather conditions.
Backpacking Boots are much more sturdy and supportive. They are intended for those carrying heavier loads and intending to go out trekking on more rugged terrain. They give more balance, stability and more protection in harsher weather climes.
Mountaineering Boots are especially made for those who intend tackling much rougher and rockier terrain. They offer supreme protection, as well as insulation from the elements. Definitely the boots for an amble up Kilimanjaro!
STEP 2 – THE BODY, THE HEART AND THE SOLE OF THE BOOT!
This is just as important as choosing the correct type of boot, the quality of the boot can protect you from both the weather and terrain; as well as adding to comfort. Hiking boots are mainly comprised of three parts the upper, mid and sole.
The body or the upper of the hiking boot can be made from either leather or from synthetic materials. The leather uppers usually come in three grades: full grain, split grain or nubuck. Boots with full grain upper leather are hard-wearing and sturdy. They are less likely to rub and offer more waterproof protection. The downside of full grain leather hiking boots is that they take longer to break in. Split grain leather has the advantage in being lighter and airier, but in doing so they are not as water resistant as the full grain. Nubuck, being similar to suede, is extremely durable and waterproof. Synthetic material uppers tend to be made mainly of either nylon or imitation leather. Boots made from synthetic materials tend to be cheaper and they do have some distinct advantages in that they are lighter to wear, dry quicker and are easier to break in. The disadvantage of synthetic uppers however is that they are not as sturdy and do not last as long as their more expensive leather counterparts.
The heart of the boot, or the inner, can be made of a variety of materials including EVA and polyurethane. The job of the inner is to cushion and buffer the feet from the rough terrain. They come in varying thicknesses to provide comfort and support. Some also have added waterproof linings for extra protection against the elements. Shanks and plates are also inserted between the inner and the sole of the boot to further protect the feet from bruising and injury when walking on uneven rocky ground.
The soles of hiking boots are made of rubber. You need to look at this closely, the boots you choose should have tough rubber soles to absorb shock and deep lug holes (the bumps on the bottom of the boot) to help with grip. A heel brake can also be found on the sole, this offers added grip and helps prevent against slipping especially when on steep descents.
Rands can be found on some boots to protect the boots from rocks and scraping, as well as giving added water resistance. A rand is a wide rubber band that encircles the boot.
The scree collar of the boot is the cushion around the top. It adds to the comfort and enables you to tighten the boot further. This helps give added protection to keep out rocks and other rising debris.
STEP 3 – WATERPROOFED LINED HIKING BOOTS OR UNLINED HIKING BOOTS?
The choice to have a waterproof lined boot is quite simply an individual choice. The advantages are self-explanatory – your feet will remain drier! The disadvantages being that hiking boots with waterproof lining are not as breathable, they do not allow air to circulate around your feet. This can result in your feet becoming hot and sweaty, especially in warmer climates. Although the waterproof liners can provide protection from wet ground, if you are out in heavy rain they cannot protect against water that goes in through the top of the boot. Boots that are waterproofed lined also tend to take longer to dry.
STEP 4 – FINDING THE PERFECT HIKING BOOT TO FIT YOUR FEET
Feet come in all shapes and sizes and what is ideal for one, may not be for another! In the first instance your usual shoe size may not be the ideal size for your hiking boot. All manufactures differ in both size and fit. You need to choose the boot, regardless of manufacturer, that is the perfect fit for you.
Before you try the boots on you need to ensure you are wearing the socks that you will be using on your hike. Remember socks are important too! Check they are not too big or too tight for you, they should fit your feet snugly. If socks are loose then your feet can slide in them resulting in very painful blisters when out walking.
Generally when you try the boots on you are looking for a hiking boot that is comfortable and fits your feet perfectly. If you do not get a well-fitting boot then you could suffer from agonising blisters and abrasions.
When the boots are on your feet they should feel both comfy and supportive, if they do not then they are not the boots for you! If you walk in them and your foot slides or lifts, then you either need a different size or a different shaped boot. Remember all manufacturers differ in both style and fit, what maybe the ideal boot for one may not be for another.
To try hiking boots for size if you push your foot forward then you should be able to get your index finger in the back of the boot comfortably. If you walk around in the boots and your toes feel like they are touching the front of the boot, then you will need a bigger size. If your toes feel cramped and you are unable to move them, then you may need a different style with a wider front.
TIPS AND POINTERS:
- Always try boots on later on in the day, as your feet tend to slightly swell throughout the day.
- Try to break your hiking boots in by wearing them around the house for a few days before your trip.
- Ensure that you clip your toenails, always cutting straight across.
- Always check your boots before your intended hike, if your boots are beginning to look worn then it is time to replace them.
Hiking is definitely worthwhile and can be so very rewarding. It is a challenging adventure that takes you back to nature, each trip a voyage of discovery. The sense of achievement and satisfaction gained when you reach the summit is extremely gratifying, and the stunning views a just reward. However before you start out on your trek it is vitally important to choose the correct hiking boots for your intended journey, and for your feet! Supplied with the information in this buyers guide you should be able to choose wisely. Remember not only are you individual, your feet are too!
If you have never been hiking before then you would be well advised to go for a hiking boot that gives both good support and balance. This is essential until you become more experienced to ensure that both your feet and ankles are protected. The high-cut hiking boots are ideal for beginners starting out on their first trail. As you become more experienced and venture out onto more skilful hikes, you need to upgrade to boots that are suited to a more rugged terrain.
When the going gets tough as long as you are armed with a good pair of hiking boots then they most definitely will help you keep going! Whether you are taking a leisurely walk or you have set your sights higher and are embarking on a more challenging trail, then the boots you choose can make the difference between it being an amazing journey or a horrendous hike!
Reviews of the Best Hiking Boots 2014
Whether it’s dog walking on Dartmoor or scaling Mount Snowden, a good walking boot could be the difference between a warm, dry, toasty experience or a foot that’s soggy and covered in painful blisters. Thankfully we’ve taken the time to explore some of the popular offerings that seasoned hikers have been buying and have created this guide to help you make the best possible decision.
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This Trekking and Hiking Boot is said to be an excellent light-weight boot for a range of terrains. The Exclusive weathertite waterproof lining is designed to keep your feet warm and dry when navigating wet landscapes while the Phylon midsole provides comfortable cushioning.
The Karrimor rubber outsole ensures a good grip even in icy conditions and mini-speed hardware lacing systems means you can quickly and easily lace-up in no time at all.
- Great value for money coming in at a fraction of the cost of more expensive versions
- Comfortable to walk in, even for wider feet
- Easy to lace up
- No need to break them in
- There is some mention of the waterproofing not being up-to-scratch however most customers disagree and are happy with the boots weatherproofing.
- May need to purchase half a size larger for a longer boot
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B00B2GI224″ cloaking=”default” height=”91″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/415m-XBd1cL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”equibrowcrea-21″ width=”160″]Karrimor Mens Bodmin Low lll Weathertite Trekking and Hiking Shoes[/easyazon_image]
The Karrimor Bodmin Low III men’s walking shoes feature an exclusive Weathertite waterproof and breathable lining. The moulded toe helps to save your toes and your shoes from knocks and scuffs on rocks while a suede upper with mesh detail, a Phylon midsole cushioning comfort and a durable outsole in rubber for additional grip means you’ll be perfectly protected on all terrains.
- Lighter to wear than the boot version
- Comfortable fit
- Good value for money
- Waterproofing is very good
- No need to break in
- Soles appear to wear out quite quickly
- Supplied laces are on the short side
- May need a size bigger if using thick socks
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B002AKK3RI” cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wH7j-cNrL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”equibrowcrea-21″ width=”160″]Karrimor Mens KSB Orkney lll Weathertite Trekking and Hiking Boots[/easyazon_image]
The Karrimor Orkney III Men’s Walking Boots are made with a comfortable cushioned midsole, supportive ankle finish and a leather upper that’s waterproof for a premium feel. These men’s hiking boots have a classic look, which is rounded off nicely with a durable Vibram sole giving the boot its brilliant grip when navigating terrains which are uneven or rocky.
- Good grip for rough terrains
- Minimal breaking in required
- Comfortable fit even for wider feet
- Great ankle support
- Loses waterproofing after a while
- Insoles slip around and crumple
- Reports of lace-hooks breaking
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B0020HR7NO” cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51KGYlS-BaL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”equibrowcrea-21″ width=”160″]Hi-Tec Men’s Eurotrek Waterproof Hiking Boot[/easyazon_image]
The Hi-Tec Waterproof Eurotrek Walking boot is a light hiking boot that’s been designed to meet your needs wherever you are outdoors. The laces have been made with some of the latest materials, such as ion-mask hydro-management, offering a boot that’s light-weight, comfortable and value for money. With full grain leather, a waterproof system and materials that are breathable, these boots are great for every walk regardless of the weather.
- Good value for money
- Comfortable on varied terrains
- Good ankle support
- Enables the foot to breathe easily
- Weather resistant but not necessarily water-proof
- Soles wear out quickly on hard surfaces
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B003X28I4W” cloaking=”default” height=”149″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/519cvS7uFZL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”equibrowcrea-21″ width=”160″]Salomon Women’s Comet 3D Lady Gtx Hiking Boot[/easyazon_image]
The Salomon Women’s Comet 3D Lady GTX is a lightweight boot with an optimized fit for women that provides brilliant stability, and excellent support. The upper material is made from waterproof Nubuck leather with a textile inner and gusseted tongue. A protective rubber toe cap prevents stubbing and scraping while a heel strap and foam adds to the overall comfort.
- Very light to wear
- Comfortable fit
- No need to upsize for thick socks
- Don’t require breaking in
- Lace holders appear flimsy and break easily
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B00EVECJAA” cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QgtzJ5LrL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”equibrowcrea-21″ width=”154″]Columbia Mens BUGABOOT PLUS II OMNI-HEAT Snow Boots[/easyazon_image]
This waterproof, seam sealed and insulated boot is a true workhorse for getting out and about in cold winter weather. Fortified with bombproof eyelets for easy and secure lacing and double rivets for durability. Reflective lining contains your natural body heat for a warmer feel. High traction rubber keeps you safe and stable.
- Keeps feet warm and dry
- Waterproofing is good and doesn’t appear to let any rain in
- Good for walking on a range of terrains
- Secure lacing prevents boots from slipping off
- Tight across the top of the foot – require some breaking in to become more malleable
- May need a size larger if wearing thick socks
- Very warm, not ideal for warmer climates
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B0039232NS” cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51WE1zEILNL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”equibrowcrea-21″ width=”160″]Merrell Men’s Moab Mid GTX XCR Hiking Shoe[/easyazon_image]
The Merrell Moab Gore-Tex XCR Hiking Boots are a great pair of men’s boots with function and durability in mind. The boot upper is built from synthetic leather and mesh fabric (helping the boot breathe in warmer weather), which integrates the GORE-TEX X system for a great pair of long-lasting boots.
- Removable inner sole, enabling you to insert your own
- Light to wear
- Good ankle support
- Decent waterproofing
- Tight fit, may need a size larger
- Very warm to wear so not suited to warmer months
- Reports of rubbing from seams on the inside
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B009W4HAE4″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31cauh7kUPL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”equibrowcrea-21″ width=”125″]Brasher Hillmaster II GTX Mens Boots – Brn/Brn[/easyazon_image]
The Brasher Hillmaster II GTX is made with 2.2-2.4mm full grain leather with memory foam in the collar and tongue for added comfort. The sole unit has a shock absorbing PU midsole and the GORE-TEX lining ensures durability and protection from the elements, with 100% water resistance combined with breathability and a fabric lining for total comfort.
- Good fit and tread
- Keep feet dry and comfortable
- Good for a range of terrains
- Great ankle support
- Not designed for long-lasting
- Sole below heel comes away over time
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B001RNO7H6″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SiW0p-bNL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”equibrowcrea-21″ width=”160″]Teva Men’s Riva Leather Mid Event M’s Hiking Boot[/easyazon_image]
The Riva Leather Mid eVent is a durable and supportive hiking boot that can handle a range of terrains. The Vibram Rubber outsole means that you’ll always have great grip and traction, while the waterproof membrane keeps your feet dry and comfortable.
- Comfortable out of the box
- No need to break them in
- Good quality finishing
- Excellent waterproofing
- Need a size bigger for a better fit
- Do not appear to be available in half-sizes
It can be incredibly confusing to choose a walking boot when there are so many different variations both in-store and online to choose from. Hopefully we’ve made the process a little easier in this comparison.
Although overall these boots all have their own benefits which far outweigh their downfalls – it’s worth bearing in mind exactly what you’ll be using your own walking boots for. However what they all have in common is the need to buy a larger size – something that’s worth taking into account before you hit the purchase button.