Boots! I get asked a lot about boots. You don’t need fancy boots to go hiking.
There I said it.
I know my die-hard hiking peeps are like, “What? What! Did she just say?”
Most of the trails you can do with a good pair of sneakers.
However, a good pair of hiking boots will help you out a lot, if you need the support around your ankle either because you don’t have the ankle strength or you are going on a hiking with a lot of hills and rocks.
Let me compare two hikes for you. Beaver Creek Wildlife Area = flat as a pancake = sneakers are fine. Buzzardroost = Ah! Does this hill ever end? = good pair of hiking boots.
You can tell what you are getting into on a hike by looking at the profile. Here are the side by side profiles of Beaver Creek and Buzzardroost Rock. The profile is a crossection of the hiking trail as it would look going up and down hills.
To pick the right pair of boots you need to go shopping.
Awwwwww. Poor you! Getting to go shopping for boots. Love boots.
Anyways, I like the peeps over at Roads, Rivers, and Trails, Benchmark Outfitters, and REI. I will shop at all three to find the pair of boots that work for me. Go shopping at the end of the day or after hike when your feet are bigger.
The first thing I look for is rather obvious–does it fit?
I want to make sure there are no pressure points on at the side and base of my big toes. The reason I do this is because these are the spots I am prone to get blisters. And, unfortunately not just little ones and moleskin doesn’t help. The next thing I check is for any pinch points. If the shoe is poking into my foot in the store, it certainly is not going to get any better on the trail.
The next test is the one you either look like a complete dork or master of the universe. This test is the toe box test. The toe box is the place where all your Little Piggies are housed in the boot.
When you go into the outfitters you’ll see a mini-hill. With your new
loves boots on your feet walk up this hill (if you don’t fall off, Welcome to The Master of the Universe Realm, fees are due to the beginning of the month. If you do fall off, pretend you meant to, smile. and get right back up there slugger).
With your toes pointing downhill stand there for a few minutes. Let your body weight push your toes into the front of the boot. Scuff your feet forward and kind of kick your foot with a jabbing motion into the fake hill. If you don’t cry out in pain or feel like a vise has been clamped on your toes—these boots might actually work for you.
Hop off the fake rock, stroll around few a few minutes, walk up and down the mini-fake-rock-hill. If all feels well, then likely you have a pair of boots that you won’t be cursing at while hiking up Buzzardroost Rock.
However, before you go checkout head over to the socks and get some SmartWool socks. They come in a variety of styles including my favorite extra-squishy padding.