How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots

how to choose the right hiking boots

Hiking boots are a solid investment in your outdoors kit and if you find the right pair, they can help explore further and feel ultimately comfortable whilst doing it. Get it wrong and they can be the only thing you think about on the trail. Worse still, you may not even complete the trail and come back with damaged toes to boot.

This guide aims to cut down and simplify the different areas you’ll need to consider when choosing the right pair of hiking boots for your needs. Below, we go through a whole range of areas such as different types of hiking boots, what materials to look out for, what makes the most comfortable hiking boot and how to know if they fit correctly when trying them on.

Editor’s note: This article is part of our guide to the best hiking boots, be sure to check out the rest of this guide for our top buying tips:

Types of Hiking Boots

The range of hiking boots out on the market today is vast. Even in our roundup of the best hiking boots you’ll see that there are boots that are completely at the opposite end of the spectrum to each other in terms of weight, style, application, and durability. So, which do you choose?

Making a choice for your next hiking boots should be decided based on the kind of hiking that you do and want to do in the future. There are various categories of hiking boots out there, which we’ve outlined in more detail below to allow you to get a better understanding of which category is best for your needs.

Whilst lightweight hiking boots are becoming more popular, there is still a place for heavier hiking boots for certain conditions, and also midweight hikers that get the best of both worlds. In our main round up on best hiking boots we’ve included options in each category.

Budget Hiking Boots

Budget hiking boots make a great option if you are newer to hiking and want to get more of an idea of the kind of hiking you’re interested in and don’t want to shell out a ton of cash in the process.

They also offer a great option if you’re on a budget and you simply want a replacement that isn’t going to cost you a fortune.

One of the main ways that budget hiking boots are able to be at the budget end of the scale is because they make use of less hard-wearing materials and construction than you may expect to see on more expensive models.

This will likely mean that hiking boots on the more budget end will not last as long as a pair that make use of cutting-edge technologies and have an extremely durable finish. You may notice that some of the seam sealing is not as well produced as it is on more expensive models too, which can create problems in the longer run.

When it comes to hiking boots, we would always suggest buying the best that you can afford. That said, if you see cheaper ones for what they are, they can be a great option. We were particularly impressed with the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped in this category, which pack a big punch for the price.

budget hiking boots
The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped are a great example of a budget friendly hiking boot

Lightweight Hiking Boots

There has been a really big shift towards lightweight trail runners in the outdoors industry over the past few years. This love of lightweight hikers has allowed many brands to take trail runners or hiking shoes and convert them into a hybridized lightweight hiking boot.

What this means in reality is bringing a heel and ankle cuff higher up the leg. Therefore offering more support for the ankle than a trail runner would alone. Whilst this can be great for fast and light trails and offers a great amount of cushioning, this can have an impact on the longer-term lifespan that you may expect from this particular category of hiking boots.

Since they are extremely lightweight, you may also struggle to carry a heavy load in your backpack, so this is something to bear in mind if you are looking to go backpacking frequently with your new hiking boots.

It’s best to consider lightweight hiking boots as more of a hiking shoe or trail runner than a traditional hiking boot. They just do not offer the same level of protection as a chunkier boot does.

Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex
We were impressed with the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex in the lightweight category

Day Hiking Boots

If you are looking for the perfect hiking boots for day hikes, we would recommend going for a hiking boot that prioritizes comfort and durability over shorter distances. Given that you will be carrying less on your back you can get away with a lighter weight model.

This does of course depend on the kind of trails that you are likely to cover. If you are heading into challenging alpine environments, you may want to look at a heavier weight, more robust boot. With this in mind, we’d recommend the Salewa Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX as a good all-rounder. It performs just as well on lighter trails as it does on more technical terrain, where it really comes into its own and excels.

Fastpacking Boots

A fastpacking boot prioritizes speed and a lightweight feel over everything else. This is to allow you to move quickly along the trail and cover more distance. On the whole fastpacking boots can be categorized by their deep lug patterned soles, which are often made of lightweight, springy rubber which allows a sense of bounce on the trail.

Many manufacturers that focus on lightweight fast packing boots look to add responsiveness to the midsole and outer sole. You will also find that fast packing boots are very close in style usually to a more traditional trail runner. However fast packing boots can lack some of the durability that more traditional or midweight hiking boots can offer.

This is because they are generally made of much lighter and more breathable materials, and you may find that the waterproofing offered is more water resistant than waterproof.

That said, they can be great for more well-maintained trails too, especially if you are sure of your foot placement.  Some great options here are the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 and the Hoka Trail Code GTX.

Backpacking Boots

Backpacking boots are generally there to help you have the support you need to take on longer trails with a heavier backpack.

You’ll find that most boots suitable for backpacking will be chunkier, have more support, and be more robust than a lightweight fastpacking boot. For backpacking, you’ll want to prioritize comfort and a lightweight feel without compromising durability.

This will make a big difference to the overall sense of trial fatigue you will or will not feel over a greater period, especially important if you’re carrying a particularly heavy pack. We were particularly impressed with the Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GTX in this category.

Long Distance Trail Boots

When looking at long distance trail boots it’s important to consider exactly what you will need on the trail from this kind of boot. The most important consideration is how they will feel after a lengthy period of time on the trail.

It’s also important to consider the kind of terrain you are likely to experience on the long-distance trail you’re going to take on. You may find it more beneficial to go for a pair of boots that are a good all-rounder rather than a specific lightweight or fastpacking boot for example. This means getting the balance between waterproofing, durability, flexibility, and comfort. Using our comparison table, you can compare the boots next to each other in our main reviews to make the best choice for your trail needs.

hiking boots for long distance trails
The Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GTX is a great contender for longer distance trails as well as general backpacking and hiking due to the level of comfort it offers

Mountain Walking Boots

A mountain walking boot will prioritize durability in its construction. Typically walking boots that are suitable for mountains and alpine environments will have a robust outsole with a deep lug pattern that is grippy for a range of surfaces.

They will also make use of well cushioned and robust heels and ankle cuffs that keep your ankle in place whilst still allowing a degree of flexibility to take on difficult and challenging terrain. The most important aspect of a mountain walking boot is something that keeps your ankle safe from rolls.

A good all-rounder in this category will also give you some, if not full waterproofing which is perfect for changing weather conditions. This can come from either synthetic materials or a more traditional boot may still make use of leather or suede in its construction.

mountain walking boots
The Salewa Mens Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX makes light work of full on mountain days

Summer Hiking Boots

Your definition of a summer hiking boot will really depend on the kind of summer that you experience where you’ll be hiking. This will also help you determine whether a boot or a hiking shoe would be best. However, overall, a summer hiking boot can afford to be lighter weight and make use of more breathable materials done a hiking boot that is better suited to winter conditions.

You will often find hiking boots that are more suitable for summer will have a more breathable membrane and therefore likely be less waterproof than a full-on winter hiking boot.

However, it is still possible to find summer hiking boots that do offer some degree of waterproofing and offer the best of both worlds – allowing your feet to breathe in hotter conditions. We really love the Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof in this category.

A good pair of merino or synthetic quick drying socks can also help improve the breathability and sweat wicking capabilities that you can expect from your hiking boots in summer to keep your feet cool and dry.

summer hiking boots
Summer hiking boots get the balance right between breathability, comfort and a lightweight feel

Winter Hiking Boots

Winter hiking boots are often a lot more robust than any of the hiking boots that we’ve spoken about so far. A winter hiking boot will prioritize waterproofing, and this will often make the boot less breathable and will make it more substantial than a lightweight or summer hiking boot.

Winter hiking boots often use seams that are fully sealed or use less pieces of material on the upper to protect more from water. They also provide a greater layer of insulation as there are less areas for air to circulate through the boot.

In this category, we would recommend both the Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD and the Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX which are robust and hard wearing for even the toughest of winter environments. Particularly the Scarpa Ribelle, which perform exceptionally well in high altitude mountaineering. You may also want to consider waterproof hiking shoes, depending on your location.

winter hiking boots
Hiking boots like the Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX are perfectly suited to winter in the outdoors

Leather Outdoor Boots

Leather is a material that has been used on hiking boots for an extremely long time. Whilst there have been many developments in terms of materials used in hiking boots, there are still many hiking boots out there that make use of leather, and not just the more traditional kind. It is still a worthy material for widespread use due to its fantastic durability credentials. Combined with a waterproof membrane, a pair of leather hiking boots can stand the test of time and also can and do become more comfortable the older they are.

You also see many hiking boots on the market now are offered as a combination of leather and synthetic materials which allow higher end hiking boots to make the most of cutting-edge technologies with the added comfort that leather gives. This allows for something that is really versatile and supportive on the trail.

leather outdoor boots
Leather outdoor boots generally become more comfortable over time, such as the Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GTX

What Are the Best Materials for Hiking Boots?

The best materials used for hiking boots are dependent on the kind of use and application they’re intended for as different materials have different specific benefits.

Fabrics

The best fabrics to be used in the construction of hiking boots are leather (this is generally nubuck leather) suede, and synthetic compounds such as polyester, nylon and even synthetic leather which is a much more modern way of producing a material that has the similar benefits to leather without the animal-based product.

Leather and suede are best used when comfort is of absolute importance in a particular hiking boot, though these kinds of boots are generally heavier. Synthetics are generally found in more high-end hiking boots, and these can dry off and can both retain and wick heat much more easily.

hiking boot fabrics
Modern hiking boots make use of a whole range of fabrics to suit your individual needs

Uppers

The best material for the upper of a hiking boot will depend on if waterproofing is an absolute non-negotiable for you.

If you need a boot that is fully waterproof, then going for a leather suede or synthetic upper with a breathable waterproof membrane will be best suited for you. These types of boots tend to be less breathable and often make use of just one piece of fabric to fully waterproof in the best possible way.

If breathability is more important to you and you hike somewhere that is hotter, then looking for a synthetic upper and synthetic mesh sections will give you the best possible level of ventilation.

Midsole

The most common midsole material is EVA. This stands for ethylene vinyl acetate. You’ll also see polyurethane used quite widely too. An EVA midsole is generally lighter and often has a more cushioned feel to the foot.

It is often less expensive too which allows manufacturers to put more effort into the stability in different areas that the mid sole can provide.

Outsole

These are typically constructed of polyurethane and different types of synthetic rubbers. These can be molded to create the lug patterns that you find on the bottom of the sole that help you to stay in place and provide grip on a variety of surfaces.

Breathability

Breathability will be determined by the type of hiking boot that you decide to go for. If you decide to go for a fully waterproof hiking boot then you can expect this to be less breathable than a synthetic or mesh hiking boot that doesn’t offer the same level of waterproofing.

Fully waterproof hiking boots generally make use of a breathable waterproof membrane. Whilst this isn’t as breathable as a non-waterproof hiking boot, they do offer some level of breathability.

Typically, Gore-Tex membranes are some of the best and most widely used breathable membranes on the market right now however they do come at a higher price point for the technology used.

So, it’s worth thinking about how often you plan to hike and how important waterproofing is to decide if this is a deal breaker for you and whether you should spend a little bit more in this area.

hiking boot breathability
Hiking boots that are the most breathable generally make use of extended mesh sections on the upper

Durability

For durability, the best hiking boots make use of leather. This offers a great deal of resistance to bumps and knocks on the trail and the kind of abrasion you can expect over longer term wear.

You also want to look for hiking boots that have less pieces of material used, as seams and stitching can create weak points which impact the overall durability too.

hiking boot durability
Look for boots that are able to withstand the kind of pressure you'll put them under

Water Resistance

If water resistance is important to you, you have a few options in terms of materials. Full grain leather is extremely thick and hard wearing which creates a great waterproof seal. Though you will often find these kinds of hiking boots are much less flexible and forgiving. They’re generally heavier too.

Nubuck leather, when used in combination with a waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex allows for a boot that gets the best of both worlds – soft and supple providing ultimate comfort whilst also providing an exceptionally waterproof layer.

You can also look at full synthetics with a breathable waterproof membrane too – these can often introduce a great lightweight option and a boot that can be made suitable for those who wish to avoid animal products. For more information on water resistance and the different things to look out for, be sure to read our article: water resistant vs waterproof.

water resistance
Most hiking boots offer some level of water resistance, but you should look into this further to see if it meets your specific needs before buying

Sustainability

Many brands are now making a big push to make use of more recycled materials and nontoxic processes in their production. However, the biggest, and perhaps most important area of sustainability is long term durability.

The less you need to buy, the more sustainable it is, which does have a huge impact. So, materials that will stand the test of time are most important here.

In this area, it’s most important to go for boots that have sustainable sourcing for any animal products or to check that synthetic materials are produced in a nontoxic and non-harmful way.

What Kind of Support Do Your Feet Need When Hiking?

It’s important to make sure that your feet have the best support possible when hiking. This can make the difference between enjoying your hike and it becoming a chore. Let’s dive in to some of the most important considerations you should be making when choosing your next pair of hiking boots. 

Ankle Support

Whether you already own a pair of hiking boots or not, one of the main reasons to move on to hiking boots as opposed to hiking shoes is because of the additional ankle support that they offer.

The level of ankle support that you need with your hiking boots will really depend on the kind of trails that you typically want to explore, it will also depend on your level of confidence, balance, and general sure footedness.

Many hiking boots on the market today offer a much more relaxed version of ankle support than a more traditional boot offers. You’ll generally find that modern hiking boots offer a hybrid material construction that emulates the feel of a traditional hiking shoe. This can be softer and more flexible which is great for some hikers.

However, if you’re a hiker who is more likely to roll an ankle or is going to be taking on more technical terrain, then a sturdier, less flexible ankle support is going to be more appropriate for you.

You can usually determine which kind of ankle support is offered in the hiking boots that you decide to go for by looking at the materials used for the rest of the hiking boot. If this is more flexible and looks more like a hybrid hiking shoe/trainer then you can expect that the ankle support offered is going to be less.

Arch Support

The arch support offered on most hiking boots is generally the same or similar. This will suit most hikers well and will be all the support that you will likely need. Some brands make a point of making hiking boots that are more tailored to specific foot and arch needs, such as Hoka (though this isn’t true for all their models).

However, if you’re someone that needs that little bit extra support in the arch, you can always look at replacing the insoles with something more specifically tailored to your needs. These types of insoles can generally be purchased relatively cheaply from most drug stores, or grocery stores.

In our tests we always make sure that there is scope for replacing insoles easily and that replacing with a different, more specialized insole would not put pose any problems to the comfortability of the hiking boot in question.

Flexibility

In recent years hiking boots have gone on quite a journey, in the past hiking boots typically were similar in reference to that that you would see in the army. This would be a very hard-wearing boot and it would typically be much heavier than a hiking shoe.

However, as time has gone by you’ve really started to see a shift in the way hiking boots are perceived in the outdoors industry. Many brands are now creating hiking boots that are kind of like a hybrid of a traditional hiking boot and a more modern trainer style.

With this in mind, there can be a real difference from boot to boot as to the flexibility offered. For example, the Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX that we tested offers little to no flexibility whatsoever in the foot. However, when you compare this to the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex, you’ll see that there is a lot of flexibility in the foot when wearing.

Deciding on the kind of flexibility you want in your hiking boots will be a really personal choice. Some of us at This Expansive Adventure prefer much more rigid hiking boots whereas others prefer much more flexible hiking boots.

If you’re not sure of the kind of flexibility that you would prefer, we would recommend going for a boot that offers a mid-level of flexibility to start with. So, you’re getting the best of both worlds where you still can feel a little bit of the trial under foot but it’s also giving you enough support to tackle more challenging trails.

Stability

The stability that you need from your hiking boots will really depend on how confident you feel with your footing and your foot placement on the trail.

Some hiking boots naturally offer more in terms of stability than others, for example more robust and heavyweight hiking boots offer a very stable positioning. if you find that you are a little heavier footed or often worry about your foot placement on the trail, you may prefer a heavier more robust hiking boot.

You may also be on the other end of the spectrum and prefer a light, swift feel which will come from a much more lightweight boot. If you have no problem with your foot placement or balance, then you’ll naturally need less in terms of stability from your hiking boots.

Traction

Some hiking boots are more focused on traction and the grip that they offer than others.  Really grippy soles and specialist grip technology is more expensive so therefore you are more likely to see this prioritized on pricier models.

Some hiking boots are offered with a greater and deeper lug pattern on the sole which helps with flexibility and grip on even the most difficult and tricky of terrains. Others are slightly less grippy but still offer a good level of support on more well-maintained trails and softer surfaces.

You may find that deeper lugs and grippy soles are overkill for you if you typically stick to well-maintained trails. This is why taking into consideration the kind of trails that you’ll be hiking is extremely important.

hiking boot traction
Each boot differs with the traction offered, so it's about looking at what best suits your needs on the trail

How to Get the Right Fit When Buy Hiking Boots

Getting the right fit with your hiking boots is crucial to their overall feel on the trail. This will be the difference between not thinking about your feet and them being the only thing on your mind. Here are some of the main things to consider when you’re trying on your new pair either in the store or when they arrive from an online order.

Should You Size Up?

If you’re ordering online, it can be tempting to think about ordering a size up just to get the right fit. There is a school of thought that it’s better to have a boot that is slightly too big than slightly too small. Whilst there may be a smidge of truth in that, it also isn’t the best tact to take. As getting a boot that feels just right is always what we want to go for.

We try to give you as much information in our main guide and reviews as possible if the hiking boot in question runs true to size, but always measure your feet before ordering. If you are between sizes, if possible, order a half, but if not, go up to the next size. You can also do a lot to alter the exact sizing of your boots by using different lacing patterns.

Wear Socks

It’s important that you try on your new hiking boots either in store or when they arrive with the kind of socks you expect to wear on the trail. You want to, if possible, try a couple of different thicknesses.

Use a pair of thicker and thinner socks that will emulate different scenarios throughout the year and make sure that the boots aren’t too loose with thinner socks or too tight with thicker ones too. 

Walk on an Incline

If possible, it’s a good idea to get a feel for how your new hiking boots perform on an incline. You can do this by walking up a set of steps at home, a ramp or anything you have that is similar.

This will allow you to see if there are any pinch points that you need to be aware of which could be made worse after long inclines or descents.

walking on an incline
The Salewa Men's Alp Trainer 2 GTX performs exceptionally well on inclines with its steel system around the heel

Check for Heel Movement

When you have your new hiking boots on, see if you’re able to wiggle your heel very much. A little bit of movement is normal, but anything too much and it means the hiking boot is likely too big for you.

A heel that moves too much in the boot is likely to become uncomfortable over time. This can lead to friction and create sore spots. It can also lead to increased foot fatigue, which, over a longer period of time can make your feet feel achy.

Ensure Your Toes Have Enough Room

Crushed toes can be extremely painful on the trail and if not addressed straight away can cause bruising, or even worse, a lost toenail.

When you try on your boots, make sure you’re able to move your toes by wiggling them a little bit. If there are any restrictions at all, try loosening the laces around the toe box area to see if this helps.

Alternatively, you can also try various different lacing patterns (our article goes into detail on this here) to see if this makes a difference. If it doesn’t, your hiking boots may well be too small for you.

What to Look for to Make Sure Your Walking Boots Are Comfortable

Once you’ve ensured the fit is right, it’s important to look at a few key areas to determine which will be the most comfortable walking boot for you.

Insoles

Most hiking boots come with a standard insole geared toward an average level of arch support. However, the insoles provided can vary greatly – some come with a kind of gel finish, whilst others can be a lot flatter.

You should make sure that the insole feels comfortable against your foot and that there is nothing digging in, as this could be a manufacturing fault. If you do feel that you’d benefit from a better insole than the one provided, check that it’s possible to fit a new insole in comfortably.

Lacing System

The lacing system should not dig into your foot – feet are individual, and all have their different nooks and bumps, so you should make sure that the hooks and tightening areas of the lace bed are not causing you any problems. Though a lot of this can be rectified by creating enough slack in the laces. Sometimes straight out of the box, the laces can be a lot tighter than you may want them to be on your feet!

hiking boot lacing system
A standard lacing system on the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped

Toe Protection

Most hiking boots use a rubberized toe rand for their toe protection. Some hiking boots will offer more than others, and you’ll generally notice that those that are intended for more full-on trails, or alpine work will likely have a bigger toe rand than those intended for fast and light, well maintained trails. If you’re someone who naturally bumps into things a lot, go for a rubber toe rand that is bigger to help protect your feet!

toe protection
Look for hiking boots that offer toe protection adequate to your needs on the trail

Weight

Weight is such an important aspect of choosing your next hiking boots as it can have a big impact on trail fatigue. Get the wrong pair that are too heavy for you, and you will never enjoy wearing them.

A good way to test this is to lift your leg into the air from a seated position whilst trying them on. If you find your leg starts to become achy or hard to hold after a minute or two, then they are likely too heavy for you.

How to Use and Care for Your Trekking Boots

There are some simple things you can do to get the most out of your hiking boots and have them stand the test of time. Let’s dive into detail on several key areas to consider.

Break-in Period

You should never wear your hiking boots on a long trail straight out of the box – always take them for a few test hikes before you commit to wearing them for any real length. You’ll know they’re ready when they feel comfortable, and you have no sore or rubbing spots.

This will allow you to get the most out of them in the long term too, as if something isn’t comfortable on our feet, we often compensate, and this can put strain on your hiking boots where it is not meant to be.

Cleaning

You can care for your hiking boots a great deal by keeping on top of their cleaning. If it has been muddy, then hose down your hiking boots to remove any big pieces of mud and debris. Wait for them to dry off and then use a bristle brush to gently brush the mud and debris away from them. This will keep the waterproof lining working well, but also prevent any damage to the outer materials and keep them looking better for longer.

You can also use gentle cleaning sprays designed specifically for hiking boots and outdoors gear (we like Grangers) to help with other stains or areas that need to be cleaned. It’s a good idea to check your hiking boots about once a month to see if they need some TLC.

Weatherproofing

The waterproofing on your new hiking boots won’t stay at its most optimum forever, so it’s a good idea to keep them sealed to prevent any problems. You can buy sprays and treatments that allow you to seal them from the elements, which we’d recommend doing once every three months (after repeated wear) to keep them their best. If you haven’t worn your boots for a while, it’s a good idea to do this before you take them out, or at the start of the season.

Maintenance

The suggestions we’ve made above for cleaning and weatherproofing your hiking boots go a long way to keeping on top of their maintenance. It really doesn’t need to be a chore and isn’t something that will take very long but caring well for your hiking boots, as well as keeping them stored correctly, will help maintain the life of them meaning you’ll need to buy less over the long run.

Storage

You should always keep your hiking boots stored somewhere cool and dry. Not too cold and not too warm. We would recommend that you allow air to circulate to them as well, so it’s advised not to keep them in a closet or wardrobe that closes with no air.

If you want to put them away at the end of a season, make sure that they are cleaned and dry before storing. If putting in a box, make sure there is a little bit of ventilation going into the box. Many storage boxes how come with air vents to help with this. 

Hiking Boots Accessories

There are various things you can add to your hiking boots to make them work for you for greater periods of the year or become more comfortable. Let’s look at some of the key pieces.

Crampons

Crampons attach to the bottom of your hiking shoe and create a spikey base that is excellent for affording traction on compacted ice and compacted snow. They aren’t suitable for all deep winter environments. For example, with deep and uncompacted snow you would be better with snowshoes, which are more suited to moving through this kind of terrain.

Crampons attach to your hiking boots in one of two ways. If your hiking boots are specifically designed to take crampons, they will likely have a lip on the front and back of the boot around the rubber outsole, this allows the crampons to hook on. Others just tie on and stay in place with compression straps to allow you to get the perfect fit. They can be an excellent way to allow you to go further when conditions allow it. We’d recommend the Grivel G12 New-Matic EVO.

crampons for hiking boots
Crampons are ideal for helping you go further in the winter. The kind you need will depend on your hiking boots

Gaiters

Gaiters are loved by hill walkers and those who spend time in wetter conditions as they allow you to create an even more impenetrable barrier between water or wet conditions and you, keeping you drier. They also add an extra layer of insulation.

A gaiter is applied as a stirrup under your hiking boot and then fastens around just underneath your knee. They usually have drawstrings to help you get the perfect fit around your leg. As they are waterproof, they provide more protection from water and also stop the legs of your pants from becoming waterlogged or covered in mud. They’re also great for wearing with snowshoes to prevent splash back on the backs of your legs here, too. We recommend the Rab Kangri GTX Waterproof Gaiter.

hiking boot gaiters
Gaiters are a great way of keeping your legs dry on muddy or snowy terrain

Insoles

The insoles that come with your hiking boots will generally fit the bill if you have no specific foot concerns or normal arches. However, if you need more support, you can always look to replace them with a specific pair. There are many different options on the market now and these can be picked up relatively inexpensively. Gel inserts or memory foam insoles can be particularly good for longer hikes where you’ll be wearing your boots for longer periods and putting more stress on your feet.

Socks

Good hiking socks make a huge difference when it comes to your comfort, and a good pair of moisture wicking socks will prevent any buildup of sweat from turning into blisters or sore spots.

Merino wool is most commonly used in good hiking socks, and we always recommend Darn Tough for their fantastic hiking socks that also come in a whole range of fun designs.

However, merino socks can be expensive, and they aren’t suitable for hikers who don’t want animal products in their hiking gear. You can also get good synthetic hiking socks, but these may have a shorter shelf life overall and it’s a good idea to wash on a cool setting to avoid any shrinkage.

Conclusion

Are you a lightweight hiker? Do you plan to use your boots more in winter? Will you be taking on more technical trails? Is a vegan or plant-based boot important to you? There is a lot to consider when finding the right pair of hiking boots for you, and much of the decision is down to how you intend to hike and your particular circumstances.

We hope this guide has made it easier for you to cut down some of the jargon and help you find a pair that you’ll love for years to come.

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