From fit and construction to weight, click here to learn the difference between women’s and men’s hiking boots specifically for each gender >>
Hiking Boots, Shoes, Socks, Blisters and Everything Else Below The Ankle
Selecting appropriate hiking boots for a planned hike is essential to keep the feet well supported, happy, and healthy.
Improper footwear on a long hike in the wilderness can lead to a rolled ankle, sore feet, crushed toes, or blisters.
Here are four of the most popular styles of hiking footwear
Similar in style to running shoes, the trail runners are more heavy-duty and come with a stiffer mid-sole, heel brakes, increased support, and aggressive tread patterns.
An advantage of this hiking footwear is the lightweight construction which provides quick and easy movement. Plus, trail runners are great over a long distance because there is a lower chance of blisters.
The preferred use for this footwear is trail running, ultra-light backpacking, and light-load day hikes.
A negative of the trail runners is that they aren’t water-resistant and unable to protect against the most difficult climatic conditions.
Low-profile light hikers are a next step up from the trail runners and give extra durability, support, and protection. Hiking boots of this nature are perfect for the more technical terrain because of the high stability, stiff sole and excellent traction.
This style of footwear is perfect for those wanting better durability and traction with the heft and bulk of the all-out backpacking or hiking boots.
The reliable traction means they are useful on the most difficult terrain. Plus, many of these boots come with a water-resilient membrane to give an ideal level of support in rainy weather.
Mid-Weight Hiking Boots
Use the mid-weight hiking boots (mid-high tops) to get better support in the area of the ankles.
Plus, these hiking boots give useful traction when moving across the more difficult terrain. The benefits of these boots include a higher ankle cuff, secure fit, durable construction, and great comfort.
Even though the extra cuff area will add weight to the boots, they are still quite lightweight and more comfortable to wear compared to mountaineering or backpacking boots.
Heavy Backpacking Boots
An upgrade to the hiking boots is the fully backpacking footwear that comes with heavy out-soles to handle the rough terrain, high cuffs for better ankle support, and stiff soles to make it more comfortable when hauling heavy loads.
The main focus of the heavy-duty backpacking boots is to ensure the feet are well protected when hauling fully packed backpacks in the wilderness. Boots with stiff soles are useful for lower foot fatigue and giving a stable platform when walking over rocks and thick roots.
The stiff, thick construction of these hiking boots give the desired support and comfort while maintaining the proper alignment of the ankle even when passing over the more uneven paths.
A negative of the heavy backpacking boots relates to the weight which means the feet are less nimble. These boots aren’t a practical option for the day hikers, ultra-light backpackers, or thru-hikers.
Go with the heavy boots if planning to hike with a fully loaded backpack and a great option for trail or wilderness work.
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