Top 10 tips for buying walking boots

Choosing the right walking boots

Ill-fitting walking boots can cause discomfort and pain or even permanent injury in severe cases. Nothing will ruin your walk or trek more than a bad pair of walking boots. Check out our top 10 tips for buying walking boots to ensure you can get out there and enjoy the great outdoors in comfort.

Make sure to break in your walking boots before going on a trek

Go for decent price and quality walking boots

We all naturally want to save money whenever we go shopping for anything from the weekly groceries to a new car. However, when buying walking boots it’s not worth ‘skimping’ and trying to save your cash. As a general rule the price of a pair of walking boots will directly reflect the quality of the footwear — so be prepared to invest in a pair of good quality boots as it will be money well spent.

Get your footwear measured and fitted

Always visit a reputable outdoor retailer with staff trained in fitting footwear. Experienced staff will be able to guide you through the bewildering range of footwear to select the design that fits you best and is best suited to your intended activities. We all have differently sized and shaped feet and an experienced fitter will be able to select the manufacturer that best suits your feet.

Shop for walking boots in the afternoon

Believe it or not, the time of day that you go shopping for your new walking boots is important. Our feet expand throughout the day as we walk on them and their volume increases due to increased blood flow. This change in volume can be quite pronounced in some individuals. So don’t go shopping for footwear first thing in the morning, as this is when your feet will be at their smallest. You could choose footwear that feels great in the store but once you get out on the hills and your feet expand the footwear won’t feel nearly as great!

Don’t buy walking boots online

As mentioned already, we all have differently sized and shaped feet. With this in mind, our advice is not to be tempted into buying a ‘bargain’ pair of walking boots from an online retailer, as you won’t know if the boots you have chosen will be the right fit for your individual shape of feet. Also, if you buy online and need to exchange your purchase for a different size or design, then the delivery costs could mean you end up spending far more than if you just took the time to visit a reputable outdoor retailer and got a boot-fitting service!

Choose comfort over durability

When buying your first pair of walking boots it is worth choosing comfort over durability. Don’t be tempted to select a tough, durable pair of boots simply to get your money’s worth because they will last longer. As a general rule, tougher, durable boots do not offer as much comfort as less durable footwear. If you select a durable pair of boots when you have just taken up walking then you might give up very soon due to the discomfort! So, for your first pair of boots try to select a comfortable, less durable design. After you have been walking for a while your feet will start to toughen up — which means you will be able to invest in tougher footwear in the future.
 

Leather versus fabric boots

For many years leather was the material of choice when manufacturing outdoor footwear because leather is tough, durable and breathable (breathable footwear allows moisture from sweating to escape out of the boots.) However, advances in modern materials mean that many modern walking boots are made using new fabrics that offer toughness, durability, breathability and comfort. Modern fabric footwear will not be as tough or durable as leather footwear but will almost certainly offer better comfort and breathability.

Break your boots in!

Breaking boots in refers to the process of molding your boots to your own feet. Footwear that has been shaped to your feet will be far more comfortable and cause far fewer blisters! So, try to wear your boots around your house at every opportunity in order to soften up the fabrics and mold the boots to the shape of your feet. This way, if you encounter any discomfort, tightness or slipping, as long as you haven’t worn your boots outdoors you can return them to the store to exchange them, get them modified or get a full refund. Once you have worn your boots around the house and are happy with the fit then continue the breaking-in process outdoors. Don’t go on a day-long walk or climb a mountain straight away though; instead, gradually increase the length of your walks to break your boots in. The more time you spend breaking your boots in, the more comfortable they will be. And remember: don’t leave buying your footwear for that trip up Kilimanjaro until the day before your plane leaves for Africa!

Ankle support in walking boots

Many outdoor retailers now stock ‘trekking shoes’. Trekking shoes may look and feel very comfortable but they do not provide the ankle support provided by boots. Trekking shoes are okay for urban travel, but if you intend to do any walking on uneven terrain then ankle support is essential to greatly reduce the risk of ankle injury.

Boots for winter or summer use

Many of the characteristics that will make a shoe ideal for summer use will make it unsuitable for winter use and vice versa. Four-season footwear is available but will often not offer as much comfort in summer or durability in winter as boots that are specifically designed for summer or winter use. So, the best thing to do is realistically decide on when you will do the majority of your walking, and then buy boots that correspond with the season. If your budget allows, then ideally you should purchase one pair of boots for spring and summer use and another pair for autumn and winter use.

Importance of walking socks

After all the time and money you have invested in your walking boots it is worth doing the same for your socks too, as they can make all the difference to the comfort of your footwear! Blisters will form if you have damp or wet feet — so select a pair of socks that actively wick sweat and moisture away from your feet to your boots. Also, select socks with good padding in the heel and toe areas to absorb the impacts of your day’s activities. Designs that offer a seamless toe area also greatly reduce rubbing and discomfort. Never wear cotton socks when walking, though, as cotton absorbs and retains moisture, which leads to blister formation — and cold feet in winter!

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