Every year thousands of mountaineers have a common dilemma, How to choose good hiking boots? . In many cases they are the first boots that are bought and are for small routes or even the road to Santiago, but the doubt is always the same and we don't want to be wrong for a simple reason, the boots they are not especially cheap. Today we give you a series of tips for you to give with your ideal hiking boots, but this does not mean that you request an additional recommendation from a shoe specialist at your nearest mountain shop.
How to choose good hiking boots
Sometimes when I look for some Mountain boots I find people trying to find some beautiful boots, leaving comfort or the good finish of the boot as a second option (My girlfriend for example). Design may play an important role when it comes to dressing, but in the mountains we must put it aside and look as comfortable and practical as possible. They will be your walking companions for a long time and little by little they will suffer such wear and tear that you will not even remember how beautiful they initially seemed. Ideally, try and try, until you hit your ideal boot. Once, twice, three times or those that are needed, but never stay with the first one you try on.
With this initial advice, I encourage you to continue reading so you can find good hiking boots at the height of your expectations, mainly for use in spring, summer and autumn. We have divided it into the sections that, in our view, we believe are the most important, starting with the external aspect.
It is the fastest to see in any boot and in what we must look very well. For example, check that seams come reinforced, as double stitching (see photo). This has to have a good appearance and if they also come with rubber on the toe or heel, check that it is not glued with super glue and sometimes even the glue is seen ... bad sign. It would not be the first time, that the protections of a boot take off.
Many models have a tape on the back to pass the cord and thus offer greater support. Personally I have barely used it. It is also used to place the boot more easily.
In addition many boots have toe cap reinforced rubber or even the entire bottom of the boot. This not only combats chafing but is also an additional protection against water. This type of boots is usually priced higher and usually worn by higher quality boots. Eye this sometimes increases the weight of the boot ...
The type of sole is paramount
One of the essential factors when choosing good hiking boots is the sole. This must meet 3 fundamental factors: resistance, grab and comfort. If this rule is not fulfilled, the boot will give us many problems and a “culetazo” we can give ourselves on more than one occasion.
- Vibram : It is the reference in the market and probably the best sole we can find. Being an independent patent to the brand of boots, they have increased their price. It is our favorite sole and used by most footwear manufacturers.However, in some shoes I have noticed that on hard and wet floors, the grip is not the desired one. Ideally, the boots have deeper heels to offer greater grip.
- Omni-Grip : used by the brand Columbia To lower your boots. Personally I have not used it.
- Contagrip : sole used by Salomon and Adidas. The truth is that it works well, but for my taste a little hard, but very resistant.
- Continental : mainly used in trail footwear mainly and as you have imagined the material used is rubber of this brand of tires. There are hardly any boots that make use of this sole.
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With the soles we will meet different hardnesses. Soft, semi-hard and rigid. The last one is used in winter, the previous two usually in summer. Personally I use the semi-hard one, since over time the boot tends to yield and with practice they are much safer than the soft ones. If you don't usually walk too much on the mountain, use soft sole which is the most common in summer and autumn.
By the way and although it may not seem like it, the sole of the boots can be changed. So if you spend it but on the outside the boot is new, go to your favorite boots store and ask to change your sole.
The inside of the boot
To start each boot model / manufacturer is different from each other, so be careful when shopping for Internet. Knowing the number is not enough since the last of your foot It plays a fundamental role. Not all feet have the same width, so boots must always be tested before buying. There are manufacturers who make boots for wide feet and others for narrower feet. Everything will depend on the model so we have no choice but to try and try.
Another detail to assess is the type of template used. Each manufacturer of hiking boots design their own template and some even fight the appearance of fungi, bad smells, etc., but a very important factor is that it conforms to the shape of our foot, which is not rigid. And with this I mean the squad and not the boot.
Many stores have a board with stony ground with the aim to test the boot. Keep in mind that you must try both and generally buy them with half a number more than you usually wear. With your current number you will probably feel comfortable on flat terrain or on ascents, but during descents it is where you can have a serious problem. This arises at move your foot a few millimeters forward on steep slopes, bumping the toes on the toe causing discomfort and blisters of course. Tip, put on your boots and kick with the ground brushing forward. If your fingers collide excessively with the toe, that is not your number.
Water is your worst enemy
An indispensable element in every mountain boot is the membrane that prevents our feet from getting wet and in turn transpire as much as possible. The latter is more complicated, since the socks we wear play a fundamental role in perspiration.
These types of membranes have achieved excellent impermeability. And how can we repel water and in turn expel our moisture? Well, if we could pass a microscope through one of these membranes we would see that they have very small pores, so small that a drop of water is not able to pass through them but at the same time so large that the water vapor generated by our body can leave.
Many shoe manufacturers manufacture their own membrane with the aim of reducing the price of their boots, as we have seen in the soles. The problem is that its resources are not exclusively for R&D in waterproof and breathable membranes, so the end result is not as good as that of companies that are dedicated exclusively to it as the chemical company Gore. However they work relatively well and for not too much use cane They can work perfectly.
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Within the type of membranes we have a good group to choose as:
- Gore-Tex : The most used and recommended. However, the boots that wear this membrane pay Gore by its use, which will be affected in the price of the boot. It is our favorite membrane and used by most footwear manufacturers.
- Outdy : membrane of Italian origin bought by Columbia / Mountain Hardwear with the aim of replacing Gore-Tex in his shoes. This membrane became famous by equipping the winning team of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008, but personally Columbia and its large conglomerate of brands seem to us brands a step below compared to the rest.
- Dri-Tec : used by Hi-Tec, Low quality normally.
- Dry-line : used by Boreal.
- M Select Dry : used by Merrell to reduce the costs of Goretex.
Thermal insulation or not
The great dilemma of cold feet. It is really no problem for a summer boot, in fact almost none of them wears it. This is mainly used in winter boots, since in the summer we can make use of socks that meet this requirement. If you really are cold feet, buy some socks primaloft, taking into account that they will really cook you.
What kind of socks do I wear?
Like boots, socks are another world. There are many types and prices of course, but at first glance they all seem the same to us. Ideally, look for socks with the lowest number of seams possible, to avoid friction and the possible appearance of blisters. Subsequently if the toe and heel are reinforced and padded, this will improve comfort, but check previously that they are highly breathable.
For the intense cold it is becoming fashionable PrimaLoft. A synthetic fabric that is very close to the heat of the feathers, but with the advantage that has its price and its ease of maintenance. It is also possible to find socks PolarTec, but both Primaloft and the latter are only recommended on very cold days.
The happy blisters
Fatigue companion to all those who like to walk in holiday periods. There are products that act as "second skin to help heal the blister and keep it from rubbing on the footwear. An example is Compeed, known worldwide for women who wear new heeled shoes.
For the MacGyver we will always have the old pin and thread trick. Simply go through the blister and leave a thread from beginning to end in order to drain it. Once dry we can remove the thread easily.
Differences between winter and summer boots
First of all comment that Winter Boots are of various types, mainly of Leather or plastic. We are only going to highlight the differences with the leather boots with respect to the summer boots, since for the latter there are no plastics and the article is more focused on summer boots.
When it comes to differentiating winter boots from summer ones, we have to highlight the following differences:
1) Hardness of the boot: we have mainly 3 types, lsoft ace that come to be the most common in summer boots, the semi-rigid ones, used in both winter and summer boots and the rigid, used only in winter boots. As its name indicates a rigid boot prevents it from bending, facilitating climbing on steeper slopes and avoiding slips. Imagine climbing a slope of 50% with crampons and that these bend by wearing soft boots…. a disaster.
2) Weight : Generally a winter boot weighs 20% more than a summer boot. The insulation of this and a stiffer sole leads to this weight gain.
3) Crampons automatic or semi-automatic. This will be depending on the type of sole. The semi-rigid ones usually allow semi-automatic crampons and the rigid ones, both types. Of course, the belt crampons They are compatible with all types of soles.
If we usually walk in summer and casually in winter, a few crampons of belts will be enough to walk the marked trails.
If we find summer boots with the capacity of semi-automatic crampons, they will probably not be cheap and will be prepared to walk on summer glaciers and even the practice of via ferrata.
Semi rigid boot
He circle mark the part of the boot where the semi-automatic crampon is anchored. These crampons require a strap on their front.
4) Thermal isolation : This value is not always present in a winter boot and this is mainly due to decrease its weight. If we are not going to be in extreme places, with good polar-tec or PrimaLoft socks we can overcome this limitation. In some cases, the insulation is covered by an inner sock of the boot.
With all this information we hope you can find some hiking boots that fit your needs. Surely there is some more value to take into account, but this is a good start to make a purchase that you will not regret.
We recommend that if you are going to buy some good hiking boots do the following. Visit several stores and try on all the models you like. Later, once you have a brand that fits your foot well, check prices on the Internet, you will almost always find bargains and you will not be afraid to buy by this means. Look for example the following.
Boots price on Amazon