Every backpacker needs a good pair of hiking boots just as much as a good backpack. However, finding boots that are comfortable, affordable, and appropriate for your feet as well as the terrain you’re going to be hiking, can be a challenge. Before you start looking, know your brands and stores. REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Eastern Mountain Sports are all great stores. Within that is Merrell, Lowa, Columbia, Keen, and Hi-Tec, which are some of the post popular brands.
When it comes to choosing a boot, keep in mind that there are many different types of shoes for hiking; boots, hikers, runners, winter boots, waterproof, heavy-duty mountaineering shoes, rock climbing shoes, etc. The amount of choices there are for boots are endless nowadays, but there’s no need to be overwhelmed by all the options; there’s a shoe out there for every type of backpacker:
For Narrow Feet
If finding any type of shoe is hard enough for your narrow feet, it’s likely that finding good hiking boots are near impossible. No matter what you do, it seems like you can’t prevent your foot from slipping out, getting blisters, or finding a size that isn’t too small length-wise, even if it fits width-wise. However, there are options out there. If you have narrow feet, try the Asolo Women’s Stynger GTX, or the Lowa Camino GTX for men. Also, brands like Vasque and La Sportiva tend to run narrow.
For Awkward Feet
Just like finding boots for narrow feet can be a hike in itself, so can finding boots for people who need special shoes. People who are flat-footed, having over/under pronation/supination, or Plantar Fasciitis (sore heels), might be discouraged when it comes to the idea of backpacking in general, let alone finding good shoes for hiking. However, believe it or not, there are boots designed for people with these problems. The Stynger GTX light by Asolo, Saloman X Ultra GTX, and the Dunham Cloud Mid Cut, are great shoes for men and women with this problem, as well as the Merrell Azura, which have a minimal arch so you can put in inserts as you like.
For the Budget Backpacker
The first thing to do when looking for a cheap pair of hiking boots is to go to a sporting goods store and check out the clearance rack. You might be very surprised as to what you can find, and it’s likely if you’re already in a sporting store, the quality of the boots will be pretty good no matter what. Although most hiking boots usually run at at least $100, the Keen Alamosa WP will keep you at around $70.
For the Fashionable Backpacker
Hiking boots are really not the most attractive shoes that are out there. If you’re going to be doing some serious, long-term backpacking and only have space for one or two pairs of shoes, they’d better be nice enough to wear out in public, too. Luckily, there’s a couple nice pairs out there, like the Anhu Sugarpine Boot (which comes in many different colors), the Woolrich Footwear Rockies Boot, the Danner Mountain Light Boot, the Keen Pyrenees Hiking Boots, and for men, the leather Lowa Hudson LL Mid or CAT Footwear Highbury.
If there is anyone’s feet we need to look out for the most when hiking, it’s our young children who can’t really voice how a boot feels on their foot. Luckily, many famous hiking brands, like Merrell and Keen Pagosa, sell good shoes in kid’s sizes. Parents can try the Merrell Capra Mid WP Hiking Boots or the Hi-Tec Altitude Lite I WP Jr for their little ones.
For Anyone Who Hates Hiking Boots
Even if you can find a lightweight boot, the bulkiness and feel might be uncomfortable for some people. If you prefer something that’s more like a sneaker, then there are plenty of alternative hiking boots you can try. The Adidas Terrex Swift R’s, the All Out Blaze Aero Sport and the New Balance 983, put a spin on trail shoes so you can feel like you’re in your element when conquering the trails. Keep in mind, these types of shoes aren’t for all types of hiking, so make sure you use them appropriately.
For the Sweaty Hiker
A lot of preventing sweaty feet has more to do with the socks you wear than the shoe itself. However, there is hiking footwear out there designed to keep people’s feet cool and not drenched in sweat-and they aren’t just waterproof boots. Kayland’s Vertigo High Boots are great boots to prevent this uncomfortable problem. Merrell also has a line of tons of breathable shoes, but Moab Ventilators are definitely best.