How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots

green hiking boots

Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors and stay active. However, it's important to have the right gear to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. One of the most critical pieces of equipment for any hiker is a good pair of hiking boots. Hiking boots provide support, protection, and stability for your feet and ankles while navigating various terrains. In this article, we will guide you through the factors to consider when choosing hiking boots.

Types of Hiking Boots

There are three main types of hiking boots to choose from:

  • Hiking shoes: These are lightweight and designed for day hikes on easy to moderate trails. They provide less ankle support and protection than higher-cut boots.
  • Hiking boots: These offer more support and protection than hiking shoes, making them suitable for longer hikes on more challenging terrain.
  • Mountaineering boots: These are designed for technical mountaineering and provide the most support and protection for your feet and ankles.

What to look for in a hiking boot?

Hiking boots are necessary for taking on certain terrain that regular boots cannot handle. Before you go out and purchase one, read on to find out what you need to look for in a good hiking boot.


The fit of your hiking boots is critical for comfort and safety. Here are some tips for finding the right fit:

  • Try on boots at the end of the day: Your feet naturally swell throughout the day, so it's best to try on boots when your feet are at their largest.
  • Wear hiking socks: Wear the same socks you plan to wear while hiking to ensure the right fit.
  • Ensure a snug fit: Your boots should fit snugly around your heel and midfoot to prevent slippage, but still allow room for your toes to wiggle.
  • Walk around: Walk around in the boots for a while to ensure they are comfortable and don't cause any discomfort or pressure points. You should do this for any type of shoes or boots you plan on wearing for long periods of time.


Hiking boots are made from a variety of materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some common materials:

  • Leather: Leather is durable and provides excellent support, but it can be heavy and take longer to break in.
  • Synthetics: Synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are lightweight and breathable, but may not be as durable as leather.
  • Gore-Tex®: Gore-Tex® is a waterproof and breathable membrane that can be added to hiking boots for added protection in wet conditions.


The weight of your hiking boots can impact your comfort and endurance while you are out on the trail. Heavier boots provide more support and protection, but can be tiring to wear for long periods. Lighter boots are more comfortable, but may not provide as much support or protection. Consider the type of hike you plan to take when choosing the weight of your boots.

Think of it this way; the heavier a hiking boot is, usually means the stronger it is. This is not always the case, however, it can be used as a rule of thumb.


The sole of your hiking boots provides traction and support while walking on various terrains. Look for soles with deep lugs and good grip for slippery surfaces. Consider the stiffness of the sole as well. A stiffer sole provides more support and stability on rocky terrain, while a more flexible sole is better for easier terrain.


The cut of your hiking boots impacts the support and protection they provide for your feet and ankles. Here are the different cuts to consider:

Low-cut: Low-cut hiking shoes provide the least ankle support and protection, but are lightweight and comfortable for easy hikes.

Mid-cut: Mid-cut hiking boots provide some ankle support and protection, but are still relatively lightweight and comfortable for moderate hikes.

High-cut: High-cut hiking boots provide the most ankle support and protection, but can be heavy and stiff. They are best for long hikes on challenging terrain or for mountaineering.


If you plan to hike in wet or muddy conditions, waterproofing is a crucial feature to consider. Look for boots with waterproof membranes like Gore-Tex® or eVent® to keep your feet dry. Keep in mind that waterproof boots may not be as breathable as non-waterproof options.

Waterproofing materials

Material Type Popularity in Hiking Boots Material Cost Average
Gore-Tex High High
Waterproof Synthetic Leather High Medium
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Low Low
Laminated Cotton Medium Medium
PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) Medium Medium
TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) High Medium
Polyester Fleece Low Low
Wool Low High
Nylon and Polyester High Low
Oilcloth Low Low


Breathability is essential for keeping your feet comfortable and preventing them from getting too sweaty. Look for boots with breathable materials like mesh or synthetic fabrics, and consider adding moisture-wicking socks for added comfort.


Hiking boots can vary greatly in price, from under $50 to over $500. Consider your budget and the type of hiking you plan to do when choosing a pair of boots. While it may be tempting to go for a cheaper option, investing in a high-quality pair of hiking boots can pay off in the long run in terms of comfort, durability, and safety.

How to Break in New Hiking Boots

Breaking in a new pair of hiking boots is essential to ensure maximum comfort on the trails. Here are some tips for breaking in your new hiking boots:

Maintenance Task Frequency Tools/Products Needed
Cleaning After every hike Soft-bristled brush or damp cloth
Drying After every hike Newspaper or well-ventilated area
Waterproofing As needed Waterproofing spray or wax
Inspection Regularly Eyes and hands
Storage Always Cool, dry place away from sunlight and moisture

Caring and Maintaining Your Hiking Boots

Proper care and maintenance can extend the life of your hiking boots and ensure they perform at their best. Here are some tips for caring and maintaining your hiking boots:

Caring for and Maintaining Your Hiking Boots

Clean boots after every hike using a soft-bristled brush or damp cloth
Dry boots thoroughly before storing them
Reapply waterproofing treatments as needed
Inspect boots regularly for signs of wear and tear
Replace boots as needed to prevent injury and ensure optimal performance
Store boots in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and moisture
Consider stuffing boots with newspaper or cedar chips to absorb excess moisture and prevent odors


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Choosing the right hiking boots is essential for a comfortable and safe hiking experience. Consider factors like fit, materials, weight, sole, cut, waterproofing, breathability, and price when making your decision. With the right pair of hiking boots, you'll be able to tackle any trail with confidence and comfort.

About Author:

image of Kevin Pommells

Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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