Rocky terrain, challenging inclines and the lush, green grass of the British countryside are just a few aspects that make the great outdoors so appealing to walking fanatics up and down the country.
Exploring what Mother Nature has to offer on a long country walk or adrenaline-fuelled hike while wearing inappropriate shoes can be a recipe for disaster (trust us, it’s best to leave your flip-flops at home to avoid a painful trip for your tootsies!).
So, what type of shoes should you wear?
We’ve got you covered with our educational guide to the best walking and hiking boots, and everything else in between. From the ultimate cleaning hacks for that mud-splattered pair that you’d lost all hope for, to sizing recommendations and lacing tips, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about these practical must-haves.
The shoe showdown: Hiking boots vs. shoes
Hiking boots are renowned for their outstanding durability, but in recent years walking shoes (such as trail shoes) have become increasingly popular among professionals and ramblers alike.
You may think the boundaries between these two shoe types are blurred and assume that they’re basically the same thing – but that’s not actually the case.
Walking shoes are generally more lightweight than leather walking boots (usually about half the weight), making them easy and comfortable to wear. Want to bask in the rare British sunshine and take a walk in the summer months? No problem. Their thin synthetic materials make them breathable and quick-drying, therefore they’re ideal for crossing streams and channelling your inner Bear Grylls. Hiking boots – designed with heavy-duty walks in mind – are more hard-wearing and offer robust protection from mud, snow and general debris. The high ankle support and stiffer sole means sprains and general scrapes are less likely and grip is enhanced, especially when crossing wet terrain or slippery streams.
How to choose hiking boots that suit your environment to a ‘T’
Whether you’ve decided on walking boots or shoes, it’s essential to think about the terrain you’ll be wildly traversing. You need to have confidence that your choice of footwear is the perfect match for you, and will help you navigate the conditions comfortably and without putting you at unnecessary risk of injuring yourself.
We recommend doing your research. If the area where you’ll be walking is especially prone to wet weather (which, let’s face it, is generally the case in Britain), then perhaps hiking boots are the best choice for you. Their sturdy grip makes them a safe and reliable option if the ground is wet and muddy; likewise, these boots are a good choice if the terrain happens to be uneven, rocky or steep.
Walking shoes are better suited to more benign routes with flatter and firmer terrain. Their lightweight nature offers greater flexibility and comfort when traipsing over less rugged ground. If you’re looking for walking route inspiration, check out our family walk guide from Camp Xplode.
All the gear and no idea?
As well as being well-equipped for the unpredictable terrain that awaits you, it’s imperative that your footwear choice fits properly. Ill-fitting footwear not only causes avoidable discomfort, but it can also aggravate any existing injuries – less effective support puts you in danger of sustaining new injuries.
So, how should walking boots fit?
Getting the right fit isn’t purely a matter of size; you should also consider the shape of your feet when choosing a pair. Shoes that are either too narrow or too wide could prompt blisters and calluses (which can easily be prevented), while conditions such as hammertoes and bunions can be exacerbated if there’s insufficient room for your toes.
Wearing the appropriate socks is always important when you’re out walking, so make sure you grab yourself a pair of chunky boot socks for the best protection. Replace worn-out boots without delay (the more worn out they become, the less protection they provide), and make sure your feet are measured properly every time you buy a new pair.
How to clean walking boots
You may not feel enthusiastic when it comes to getting your hands dirty (literally) cleaning your boots after a long, muddy walk, but regular cleaning and proper maintenance is crucial to keep them in top condition (you’ll thank us later). Here are our top cleaning tips;
- Clean as soon as they’re off your feet – if you’ve been trekking over particularly difficult conditions, make sure you clean all mud and dirt off when possible – it’ll be better for your boots in the long run
- Use warm water and a semi-stiff brush to clear away any mud and grit that’s accumulated – make sure you get right into the grooves of your soles, as excess dirt can have an adverse effect on grip
- Avoid using detergent when cleaning your boots or shoes (this can cause the material to degrade)
- Don’t forget to clean inside your boots too, depending on how often you use them. Wipe the insides with a clean cloth and some soap before leaving to dry naturally (avoid using heat). Insert some old newspaper to help your footwear keep its shape.
Get your hands on some cheap walking boots?
If you’re wondering where to buy hiking boots in a range of styles for amazing prices, you’ve come to the right place. At Wynsors, you’ll find affordable boots galore, so whatever terrain you choose to tackle, you’re sure to find a pair that take your performance to the next level.
What’s more, they’re available in an outstanding variety of different designs, so there’s bound to be a pair that suit your personal style right down to the ground!
Have you got any other questions about hiking or walking boots that we haven’t answered? Let us know on our Facebook page and our friendly experts will be happy to help! Find the very best deals at Wynsors today by browsing our range of walking boots for the whole family.