Hiking Boots

Hiking is an activity that is great for the mind, body, and soul. Having the right hiking boots, however, will make that excursion far more enjoyable. Regardless of experience level, most hikers don't want to get caught in a wet situation without the right boots.

Hiking with the wrong pair of boots will make your hike more challenging and dangerous than it has to be. These challenges won't make you a better hiker but will place you in situations which are tough to escape. Not to mention it can lead to injuries because you don't have the proper support below your feet. You go hiking because you enjoy the outdoors and the challenges. The right boots are going to make your hike even more enjoyable.

Types of Hiking Boots

When buying a pair of boots, hikers should need to familiarize themselves with the models available. There are three types of hiking boots to choose from when shopping for new boots, each intended for different kinds of hikes or day trips. The right boots for you depend on what types of hiking challenges you plan on tackling. Therefore, consumers need to understand which hiking boots are best suited for the outdoor destinations they plan on hiking.

Hiking shoes

These shoes are low cut and typically hit right below the ankle. They have a flexible midsole which is ideal for day hiking or flat surface hikes. Trail running shoes fall into this category. For extended day hikes, these are perfect because they are light, and allow hikers to cover more ground without slowing down.

Backpacking boots

When carrying heavier loads, backpacking boots are the best choice for hiking boots. Likewise, if hikers plan on going on multi-day hiking trips, they provide the best support. With a high cut, these boots wrap around the ankle for superior levels of support. Even if someone slips or falls, they'll help keep the ankle straight to avoid sprains or injuries. They provide more support, a stiff midsole, and are great for on or offroad hiking trails.

Day hiking boots

As the name implies, these boots are best for day hikes. They come in both high and low cut heights. These shoes are perfect for short day trips and hikes where hikers are carrying lighter loads. The boots don't require much time to break in and are highly flexible. They don't offer as much support as backpacking boots, which is why they're a better option for shorter hiking trips.

Hiking Boots on A Rock

​Components of Your Hiking Boots

Hiking boots have several different parts. The upper, middle and support area, and the outsole. Each provides specific benefits and support for hikers. Depending on the type of boots chosen, the components for each pair of boots will differ.

Upper boot

The upper boot portion refers to the top of the boot. Here is where the waterproofing membrane of the boot lies. Some materials manufacturers use in designing the area include leather, nubuck, and synthetic blends. A waterproof boot features a breathable upper membrane. Manufacturers utilize Gore-Tex or eVent materials, which help keep hikers' feet dry.

Although breathable, these boots tend to reduce breathability in comparison to a mesh-finish material. By covering the outer section of the boot, they might be a bit warm in summer months.

Midsole

This section of the boot provides cushioning and a buffer as a shock absorbent padding in the center of the boot. The midsole also determines how stiff the boot is. For rocky and uneven terrains or longer hikes, a stiff boot is a preferred choice for most hikers. The two materials most often used to create the midsole are:

  • Polyurethane -- this material is generally firmer and more durable than EVA. It is best for longer hiking trips.
  • EVA -- this material is thinner, lighter, and provides a cushioned base to land. It isn't as durable as polyurethane.

Internal support

Plates are thin, semi-flexible inserts that lie between the midsole and outsole. If they are present, they typically lie below the shank. Like shanks, they either run halfway through or the entire length of the boot, for support.

The shank is the second of the two interior supports present in hiking boots. Shanks are inserts that are about three to five millimeters thick. These lie in between the midsole and outsole of the shoes. The shank runs either halfway or through the entire length of the boot, depending on the support hikers desire.

Outsole

A rubber exterior is present on nearly every pair of hiking boots. In some cases, carbon materials also provide additional support and hardness. The support also extends the life of the hiking boots.

Lug patterns and heel brakes are the patterns used on the outsole of most hiking boots. Lug-patterns add traction to the exterior by the bump-design on the surface. Thick lugs are often found on backpacking boots because they improve grip. Lugs which are widely spaced offer more traction, making them an excellent choice for wet hiking conditions.

The heel brake is the zone between the arch and forefoot. This area provides hikers with additional support when climbing or hiking steep trails. It is this additional support that helps prevent people from sliding down mountains.

Pros and Cons of  Waterproof Boots

As their name implies, hiking boots are made for hiking. That fact makes them the premier option over sneakers or other outdoor shoes. Of course, every pair of hiking boots differs in comfort, sizing, form, and fit. Therefore, it is best for hikers to try out a few pairs, before deciding on one.

Pros

  • They protect the feet from the elements
  • Most boots run up at least to the ankle, providing more support than sneakers
  • Boots offer greater insulation in winter and summer conditions than other shoes
  • Cushioning provides additional support and comfort, especially on longer hikes.

Cons

  • Hiking boots are generally more expensive than hiking shoes or sneakers
  • The boots are more cumbersome than traditional shoes, so might weigh hikers down a bit
  • The waterproof exterior does create a warmer finish, limiting breathability
  • The stiff soles restrict one's ability to feel the ground beneath their feet. Limited ability to feel the ground might lessen the traction felt by less experienced hikers.

​Proper Sizing for Your New Boots

It is important for hikers to know their shoe size. When purchasing hiking boots, hikers should keep the following four tips in mind:

  1. Try boots on with thicker socks for cold weather hikes
  2. Know the proper width of your feet for a comfortable fit
  3. Try the shoes on during the daytime and evening hours
  4. Hikers should bring orthotics when trying on boots if they wear the orthotics on hikes

Even if an individual wears the same size for dress shoes and sneakers, it doesn't mean it is the same for hiking boots. The above are some factors which will determine sizing differentiations and proper fit for hiking boots.

Where to Buy Waterproof Boots

The cost of hiking boots varies significantly based on brand, material, finish, and type of hiking boot chosen. Each of the boots on the list below is available through Amazon, as well as the manufacturer's website.

Comparison Table

[amazon box=”B000HZYWDY, B0068ZX3GE, B01HF9ZN7I, B01BTGPLWA, B00C1WVU36″ template=”table”]

​Top 5 Waterproof Hiking Boots

When purchasing hiking boots, it is important to compare several pairs. Every hiker has different aspects they're looking for in waterproof boots. Consider a few of these options.

[amazon link=”B000HZYWDY”]

[amazon box=”B000HZYWDY”]

This boot is made of a nubuck waterproof leather exterior and features a textured rubber sole. The boot's shaft measures 3.5 inches from the arch in length for full protection.

Some of the pros this boot features include the Keen waterproof breathable membrane. It has a removable EVA foam footbed and four-millimeter directional lugs. The feature provides added support on wet grounds to provide hikers with more traction and stability.

Quality

Usability

Support

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[amazon link=”B0068ZX3GE”]

[amazon box=”B0068ZX3GE”]

Full-grain leather and suede materials cover the boot's exterior. They reach the middle of the ankle when worn, providing high levels of support for the ankles. The shaft is five inches in length, and the rubber sole features an Omni-grip, non-marking finish.

The Techlight weight developed by Columbia creates an exceptionally light weight of only 1.1 pounds. A mesh tongue helps hikers remain cool, even with the waterproofing membrane covering the boots. The Omni-waterproof material features a semi-seal, helping improve breathability as well.

Quality

Usability

Support

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[amazon link=”B01HF9ZN7I”]

[amazon box=”B01HF9ZN7I”]

The boots are made of suede leather and mesh upper-sole materials. The inner sole is made by Vibram. There is added support with a 1.25-inch heel base, meaning the feet aren't flat on the ground while hiking.

The boots feature a Merrell air cushion heel and Q-form comfort insole. They have a gender-specific design created by the manufacturer for efficient stride and body alignment. The waterproof membrane is anti-microbial, keeping a hiker's feet clean and dry during long hikes.

Quality

Usability

Support

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[amazon link=”B01BTGPLWA”]

[amazon box=”B01BTGPLWA”]

The mid ankle waterproof boot is made of leather and textile materials. They feature a rubber sole with a shaft measuring 4.5-inches from the arch. The upper leather material is waterproof, and guaranteed to keep a hiker's feet dry.

The boots feature a float lite midsole and outsole. Hikers like this feature because it allows for high levels of mobility when they're wearing the boots. Hikers also like the PU removable sock liner, which provides firmer support for long hikes.

Quality

Usability

Support

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[amazon link=”B00C1WVU36″]

[amazon box=”B00C1WVU36″]

Mesh, leather, and suede materials increase levels of breathability on these boots. The boots are made in the USA. They feature a 5.75-inch shaft, and one-inch heel for added arch support while hiking.

Hikers like that the boots feature a padded collar with loop pull, which makes them easy to put on and take off. The mid-cut design also provides high levels of ankle support to prevent sprains or other injuries.

Quality

Usability

Support

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Our Verdict

Hiking boots should be comfortable and provide support. Waterproof boots should do all this and also keep your feet dry. We believe the Columbia Newton Ridge boots are the top choice here. They are light, at about 1.1 pounds, meaning they won't weigh hikers down. They feature a blend of full-grain leather and suede materials for durability and increase levels of breathability. The boots also feature proprietary manufacturer technologies, such as the Omni-grip and sealing finish. This technology helps keep hikers' feet dry while providing more traction below them for added stability and support.

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