Guide to Buying Walking & Hiking Boots
A Guide to Buying Walking or Hiking Boots
Out there beyond your front door lies a wonderful place for you to explore called the British countryside with sights, sounds and, yes, smells that will amaze and astound. Many of us forget that here in the UK we have some of the most breathtaking countryside in the world and pretty much all you need to enjoy all but the most extreme areas is a good pair of hikers, some suitable clothing your flask and of course some Kendal mint cake. Every area of the UK is within fairly easy reach of some countryside that you will be able to roam about in. Being northern based we are blessed with many including The Lake District, Peak District. The Dales and less well-known areas like The Trough of Bowland, all of which boast fantastic walks for all levels and abilities. Go online and you should be able to find some routes to suit your ability near you. With a bit of preparation and planning, you will have a fantastic time and get some good exercise
So how to chose the right footwear… Consider first what you will be doing most of in terms of walking. If you are walking on good trails in parks or similar and just need something a bit more robust than standard trainers then there are many walking shoes and light weight boots that will give you extra traction a bit more support and that all important hiking look. If you want to tackle something less tamed but still just for the day with maybe a light backpack for spring and summer walks then it’s the light weight boots for you like X Hiking, Hi-Tec and Karrimor to name a few. They will give you grip, all important ankle support and should let your feet breathe. Remember also that if you go for hiking socks you need to wear them when you try on your boots or go ½ to 1 size bigger than you would normally be. The best option I have found is a thin close fitting cotton sock on first then big hiking sock on top this makes things more comfortable reduces the chance of blisters but does mean you will need to go up a size for your boots. You need to get a snug, not overly tight fit so that your foot does not slide about too much
Now for something a bit tougher… Here you will be looking for serious protection and technical features like waterproof, breathable fabrics and greater ankle and midsole support to tackle boulders and uneven ground more safely. Many of these boots will have a waterproof membrane built into the boot which will keep your feet dry and comfortable by allowing sweat out but not allow water in. Brands such as Karrimor and Hi-tec offer top technical features like these at very affordable prices and these kinds of boots should be suitable to take you to some pretty off the beaten track locations
Beyond the more testing day or 2-3 day hike, you start to stray into the realms of mountaineering where you should know what boots and equipment you need and if you don’t know then you shouldn’t be attempting it. This is not a place for the enthusiastic but inexperienced walker even with a stiff upper lip and a whole rucksack full of Kendal mint cake. If your day walks give you a taste for something more challenging then find a walking club near you and benefit from their experience. So off you go, get out and about this Summer, see what’s out there. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.