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Backpacking Gear for Beginners: Hiking Boots

This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.

Why do you need hiking boots? 

Hiking boots are one of the most important pieces of your kit. Without some sort of footwear, you won’t be hiking anywhere. Your footwear protect your feet and keep you moving on the trail.

Hiking boots are the best option for most people because they are stable with a heavier backpack, water resistant and have longer lasting tread. Buying boots is like finding a match for your feet. All brands and models are different. Some will match and some won’t.

Doesn’t have to be boots

Hiking boots are the best footwear to start out with because they’re durable, stabilize your ankle, prevent dirt from getting into your boots and are water resistant or waterproof. That said, many trail running shoes can be used for backpacking as well. They tend to be lighter, cooler and more flexible. If you are looking for something lighter or already have a pair of trail runners, try them on a small test trip. 

Fit, fit, fit

The #1 goal for buying hiking boots is a good fit. Test them in the store before buying. Test them in your house where they won’t get dirty and return them if anything is uncomfortable. You’ll want to be able to wear them for hours and hours without any discomfort. 

There often is a bit of time to break in boots but if there are any sharp pains anywhere return them. When they are laced up your heel should not move up and down when walking or going up stairs or hills. Movement in the heel will lead to blisters. Make sure your toes have room to breathe. Your feet will get bigger after hours on the trail.

Spend more on boots if you can

Happy feet equals a happy hiker. Because boots are so important to your happiness (and safety) on the trail, spend more time and money on your boots than anything else. More money doesn’t guarantee a good fit but they’ll be higher quality. All boots are shaped differently. Spend the time to find the ones that match your foot well. Some boots can be heat molded to fit your foot better.

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