I don’t know about you but I can’t stand it when I buy a new pair of shoes and they hurt my feet. At the store, they seem just fine, but invariably, once I wear them for real, my toes end up being cramped and sore. I even try to wear thick socks in them around the house, but alas, if a shoe is not comfy, all the breaking in you try is not going to help. Another pair of footwear off to charity!
And while I love donating money and goods, I would prefer to pick and choose. If I have bought something that is supposed to be for a specific purpose, it should work for that. Too often nowadays, I find that footwear is a hit and miss. With all the outdoors activities we do, we certainly need our feet to be protected from the elements. Ideally, I would like to find and own the best walking boots for comfort.
I swear the next time I go shopping for footwear, I plan on taking a list of all things to look for before deciding on any pair of boots or shoes. The biggest problem, though, is balancing all the features needed. For example, maybe you want warmth and at the same time lighter weight. Maybe you just need something to keep the rain out, but rubber boots are a little flimsy for hiking. You can see where this is going, right? I guess the easiest solution to the dilemma is to write down everything you need and want, then go shopping.
My Ten Points For Choosing the Right Boots
1. If you are hiking or walking any distance, you need something that is not too heavy. Just picking up the boots in the store will not help you in this regard. They will seem a lot lighter than they really are because when backpacking all day, you’ll quickly realize that your feet have become clodhoppers.
2. Flexibility is a key feature of hiking footwear. Your feet need to move naturally as you walk or climb hills. The other day, I bought a new pair of winter boots which are rated to -20 and I love them, but I noticed when I wore them that my ankle area wouldn’t bend. These boots would never work for hiking or backpacking because they are too rigid. But they are wonderful for shoveling snow!
3. For those of you with wide feet, look for boots with more rounded or square toes. Avoid pointed boots. And wear thicker socks to try them on, so that you can get a better feel for what happens with the breadth of your feet. Your toes need ample room to wiggle. Plus, when it does get a little chilly outside, wider boots are going to be warmer.
4. Shock absorption is another must. You know when you bang your leg down hard on the pavement and it reverberates in the back and at the knee? You want to avoid this as there is too much stress on the joints. The boots need thick cushioning.
5. Heel collars can give your ankles excellent support. Some footwear even have Achilles tendon protectors built in.
6. Good treads are a necessity to keep your feet grounded. It goes without saying that you don’t want to slip and fall.
7. Breathability of the materials is going to help with sweating and to prevent fungus.
8. Weatherproofing is another nice option. Some people prefer to do their own, but if you can get it already done, that is a bonus. Often, the footwear will have a liner.
9. Examine the tongue of the boot carefully. See that it is connected on both sides with a piece of fabric. This aids in keeping water, mud, snow and anything else from going inside the boot and wetting your feet. This technique is called gusseting.
10. Make sure the midsole of the boots matches the shape of your foot. You don’t want your feet forced into an unnatural position.
Indeed, there is plenty to review when choosing the best walking boots for comfort. But you have to remember that if your feet are not stable and comfortable, then your whole body suffers. The soreness will be a constant reminder that you might not have done your homework beforehand.
Plus, there is the safety factor to consider. By wearing the right footwear, you are bound to encounter less obstacles, and avoid a nasty accident.