Monday, June 27, 2011

The Hikers Guide to Hiking Boots!

I had a great trip to the Grand Canyon and Sedona this past month and I will tell you why. I had the BEST hiking boots and shoes! So many of us enjoy roughing it outdoors and those trips can be less than peachy if your dogs are barking!

It can be so tempting to go shopping on-line for shoes. I know I have. There are on-line stores offering free returns and with such limited time in the day to shop, this method is very enticing! If you have some time before your trip, say at least 4-6 months to experiment, then have at it! If any of us that have any even remotely nearby access to a sporting goods store, I recommend going this route. Chances are you will not find the perfect hikers with the first pair you try on or the first store you hit for that matter.

When you do go shopping, take these pointers with you…

Go shopping towards the end of the day. Your feet swell more in the afternoon. No doubt your feet will be swelling even more than that during your trip!

Count on getting a pair of hikers at least one half to sometimes a whole size different than what you measure. There are several reasons for this:
1. What goes up, must come down. When you hike down, you will get a lot more in the way of the toes jamming repeatedly towards the end of the shoe. No exercise we do can mimic this. Some of the top sporting good stores, like REI, have a fake boulder in there shoe department. The rule of thumb is being able to “make your way down the boulder” without the tip of your big toe touching the end of the boot. If it does, try one half size larger.
2. I always recommend wearing hiking socks when you know you’ll be doing a lot of hiking. Even though they are bulkier, the wool or synthetic sweat wicking blends do a much better job at keeping your feet dry than cotton. I tried socking liners this trip underneath the socks and wow, what an improvement over a sock alone! A sock liner will help prevent blisters. More of a bonus is that you can get away with washing the liners, which dry in a snap, and wear the same pair of socks for a few days without them getting too grungy!

If the boot does not feel good off the bat, try on a different style. It is worth paying the extra if what you like is not on sale. You will have these boots for years to come! If it is not a matter of comfort, but one of heel slippage, most of the better sporting stores have sales persons who know how to adjust the lacing to control slippage.

Consider the terrain you plan on encountering. Assuming you do not have any major ankle problems or weakness, consider trying on a pair of hiking shoes, rather than boots, or a shorter boot rather than one that goes up past the ankles. Hiking shoes or shorter boots are lighter and may suit you more. This really is a matter of comfort. For anyone with ankle weakness, stick to a higher boot. You won’t risk a sprain at the start of the trip!

Consider what others say about the shoe or boot you are eyeing. There are several sites to look up your brand and style for comparison. Sites such as for instance, will give you reviews from various other sites and magazines.

Last but not least, make sure what you buy is water proof or very resistant. Read the labels well. If they are not and you really like them, add the water repellant spray to your shopping cart and avoid bringing home athletes’ foot as a souvenir!!

Happy trails to you!!

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