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If you are a lover of the outdoors, there are many ways that you can indulge in some activity that involves you getting close to nature. Whether you prefer rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, or any other hobby, it is likely that you share a love of nature and you may sometimes want to get away from the bustle of daily life. Read on for the best hiking boots.
Of course, if you want to enjoy any of these activities, you will have to make a few considerations before you head off into the wilderness. First off, you will need to know the proper technique to accomplish your chosen activity; even something as simple as hiking could result in injury to the uninitiated.
Other than the right technique and training to be able to perform your outdoor activity safely, you will also need the right equipment. For example, you wouldn’t want to be caught in the middle of the forest during a downpour without a jacket or any provisions, so this is a crucial aspect to account for.
Today’s guide is going to be centered around one of the most crucial bits of gear that you will need for a hiking trip: a pair of hiking boots. Regardless of whether you are looking for men’s hiking boots or hiking boots for women, our guide to the best boots on the market should provide all the info you want.
Other than our reviews of ten of the best hiking boots around, we are also going to be providing some advice on finding the right boots for your needs. You will have to consider that different customers will have varying needs when it comes to their hiking boots, so knowing what to look for can help immensely.
In the end, it is up to you to choose how you would like to use this guide. If you are new to buying hiking boots, we would strongly recommend paying close attention to our buying advice. On the other hand, if you are an experienced buyer of boots for the outdoors, then you may wish to skip directly to our reviews.
What Are Hiking Boots?
We figured that we would start off by laying down the groundwork to ensure that all of our readers can follow along with us. As you may have guessed from the terminology, hiking boots are boots that have been specially designed for hikers.
There are many different styles of hiking boots to choose from, and some of them have lower tops that make them resemble shoes more than traditional boots. Make no mistake, however, as hiking boots are far more durable than any other shoe, you will typically come across.
A few characteristics are prized above all other ones when it comes to finding the right hiking boots. For instance, you will find that durability is crucial in hiking boots, as they will have to be able to put up with the abuse that they will face every time you decide to take them on a hike.
Other than the importance of durability, you will also want hiking boots to be sufficiently weather resistant, as there is no guarantee that the weather will remain ideal throughout your hike. A hiking boot that can’t resist the infiltration of water will be of little help to the person wearing a pair.
Hiking Boots vs. Other Kinds of Boots
There are many different varieties of boots that you can choose from, and you may be wondering about some of the differences between hiking boots and those other types.
In this section, we’ll be taking a look at some other boot types and comparing them directly to hiking boots. Of course, we’ll only be going over other varieties of functional boots, as no one would reasonably expect a pair of high-fashion boots to be worn in the mud and grit of the outdoors.
Hiking Boots vs. Rain Boots
While both rain boots and hiking boots will provide a significant degree of water resistance, you will find that rain boots are often far more water resistant at the expense of versatility. Most rain boots will be made of rubber, which will prevent any water infiltration, but it is not the most durable of materials.
Another issue with rain boots that would make them a poor choice for hikers is that they often do not have much of a tread on the underside, resulting in substantially less grip than hiking boots. Rain boots are better-suited to use on rain-slicked concrete and not muddy paths.
Hiking Boots vs. Hunting Boots
There is not much of a distinction between hiking boots and hunting boots since both of these varieties are made for tasks which are similar. You will often find that hunting boots are better insulated so that they won’t let off any scents that may scare away potential prey.
Hiking boots, on the other hand, will often be a little more durable than hunting boots as they are expected to be used more often, but this matter depends as much on the individual boot variety. As we mentioned, many boots of both types are directly comparable with each other, and they make good substitutes.
Hiking Boots vs. Arctic Boots
Arctic boots are boots that are designed for use in environments where snow and ice abound, as you may have expected from their name. There are quite a few similarities between these boot types as well since both of them will have to be relatively durable and not susceptible to water infiltration.
Of course, arctic boots will be a little more water resistant than hiking boots since you will often be ankle-deep in the snow while using them, and you won’t want your feet to freeze. This also brings us to the matter of insulation, as arctic boots are meant to be used in much colder temperatures than hiking boots.
Another thing to consider is that artic boots will often have unique features like removable ice spikes for better grip in the environments where you can expect to use them. Unless you are hiking in a more northern latitude, then you are likely better off with purpose-made hiking boots.
Uses for Hiking Boots
As you may have noticed in the previous section, hiking boots are one of the more versatile varieties of boots. While these boots may not be overly specialized in any single area, this has the benefit of increasing the number of possible uses for them, so let’s take a look at a few of them.
As you may have guessed, hiking boots are best used for hiking because they will be able to put up with the harsh range of conditions that you will have to deal with as well as remaining comfortable. If you are going to be hiking for hours, you will at least want your boots to be ready for the task.
Hiking boots will prevent your feet from getting sore due to a long day of outdoor activity since their insoles are often designed to support your feet for extended periods. Even other boots that are made for the outdoors will often not be made with endurance in mind as is the case with hiking boots.
Another advantage to hiking boots when they are used for the activity that they are made for is that they are often built to last, even if you like hiking every day. It is not unheard of to get a year or more of intense use out of a pair of hiking boots without having to deal with rips or other failures.
We already covered the similarities between hunting boots and hiking boots earlier on, and as you may have guessed, those very aspects are what make hiking boots so well-suited to use by hunters. In fact, many hunters prefer to use hiking boots, especially if they are going to be out in the wilderness for a long time.
Hiking boots are often considered preferable to hunting boots because they are meant to be worn for a longer time. If you anticipate going hunting all day, your feet will be thanking you for your choice of hiking boots after a little while due to their softer (and often replaceable) insoles.
If you live in a more northern state and you often have to deal with harsh winters, then you will find that a versatile pair of hiking boots may end up serving you well. If you opt for a pair of hiking boots that are designed to put up with snow and ice, you will save money on a separate pair of winter boots.
While some will doubt the effectiveness of hiking boots during the winter, a sufficiently-insulated model will be an excellent choice for any winter user. There aren’t that many differences between quality winter boots and a pair of hiking boots that have been designed for use in colder climates.
If you do a job that requires high-durability footwear, then you may find that a proper pair of hiking boots can make an excellent choice of daily boots. You will typically want to opt for a harder pair of boots if you are searching for durability above all else, though you will have to compromise when it comes to comfort.
For instance, many construction workers choose to wear a pair of Timberland boots due to their reputation for reliability and durability. Hiking boots are incredibly versatile, and the wide range of applications for which they can be used simply improves that versatility even further.
An Everyday Pair of Boots
Hiking boots are so comfortable that you can even choose to wear them every day in place of shoes, especially if you often have to deal with rain or other foul weather. Provided there is no dress code regarding shoes where you work; you will find that wearing hiking boots every day is easy to get accustomed to.
While hiking boots may not be as pretty as some shoes, you will find that they are much more durable, meaning that you won’t have to replace them anywhere near as often. For those of our readers who prefer function over form, few choices can match a reliable pair of hiking boots.
Choosing the Best Hiking Boots
When you are looking for the right pair of hiking boots for your needs, there are a few features that you will have to account for so that you can ensure that you are making the right purchase. If you don’t pay close attention to what you want out of your boots, then you will likely end up regretting your purchase.
There is one surefire way to avoid buyer’s remorse when you are choosing your hiking boots, and that is to be educated about the importance of various features. Before getting to our reviews, let’s go over some of the integral things you should be looking for in your new pair of hiking boots.
Of course, the first thing you should account for when you are choosing the right hiking boots for your needs is the size of the boots. If you get the wrong hiking boot size, you can have the best boots in the world, but you will still be unable to use them.
If you get boots that are too big or too small, the best case would result in you sending them back for a refund, in the worst case, you will end up with boots that don’t even fit you. It is for this very reason that you will want to pay close attention to the sizing charts that accompany each boot.
Keep in mind that a sizing chart won’t do you much good unless you know the measurements of your feet, so you may require some tailor’s tape to get an idea of the various lengths and sizes.
When choosing the right hiking boots for your needs, you will also want to consider the weather that you will be hiking in. If you often hike in cold or wet environments, there will need to be sufficient room inside your hiking boots for insulated or waterproof socks, so you may want to opt for a half-size larger boot.
As you may have guessed, the reliability of your hiking boots is also rather high up on the list when it comes to importance. More durable boots will serve you for a longer time before they need to be replaced, which will end up saving you money on new boots in the long run.
Another thing to consider is that continually replacing your boots means that you will have to break in a new pair more often, which can often be an unpleasant experience. Nothing quite beats the feeling of a pair of well-worn boots that now conform perfectly to the size of your feet.
More durable boots will also be able to put up with more direct abuse, which is unfortunately bound to happen when you are out hiking in the wilderness. Unless you want to carry around a backup pair of boots all the time, you will need a pair of hiking boots that you can trust.
Of course, durability is directly related to the build quality of your hiking boots, so you will want to make sure that you are getting a pair that is well-made. You are often better off choosing a pair of boots that are a little more expensive but built to better standards as they will last far longer than a pair of budget boots.
Another essential characteristic that you will have to search for when you are choosing the right hiking boots for your needs is the amount of grip that your boots will provide. Other than making a hiking a more pleasant experience, boots with more grip will also make your hikes far safer.
The amount of grip that your hiking boots provide is directly related to the tread on the underside and the material that it is made out of. While softer rubber will have more grip than a firmer outsole, it will tend to sacrifice durability, so you will need the right balance of firmness for a proper degree of grip.
As you may have guessed, hiking boots with more grip are typically safer because you will be less likely to fall, but there is a threshold where you can have too much grip. If your hiking boots are prone to sticking on obstacles, you will be just as likely to fall as you would be with boots that don’t have enough grip.
Plenty of time and research goes into ensuring that hiking boots have the appropriate amount of grip, and the tread patterns on the underside of your boots are there for more than just aesthetics.
As you may expect with hiking boots, you will need a product that can put up with the worst that the environment has to throw at you. Nobody wants to complete a hike with wet feet, and you should have to as long as you pick the right pair of hiking boots for your needs.
Of course, customers who often hike through the deserts of Arizona will be far less likely to need waterproof boots than those who like to explore national forests. When considering the importance of weather resistance in your next pair of hiking boots, we would recommend accounting for where you often hike.
If you often go through areas that are covered in snow, waterproofing will be even more critical as snow tends to stick to your boots and melt on contact. Keep in mind that if you see a product with GORE-TEX material used in its construction, it is likely far more resistant to the weather.
You may be surprised to learn that weight is another thing that you should consider when shopping around for your hiking boots. Heavier boots will make it harder to walk, and they will end up making you tired sooner, so you will usually want to go for the lightest boots you can find.
You will have to strike the right balance between the build quality of your hiking boots and their weight, as the best hiking boots always manage to be as light as possible without making sacrifices. Lightweight boots are particularly crucial for customers who prefer to go on longer hikes.
The amount of padding that is present in your hiking boots will determine whether or not they are suitable for use in long-distance hikes. While some degree of soreness is to be expected after a long hike, you will find that padded boots are less likely to leave you with sore feet the following day.
Other than the amount of padding, you will also have to consider where exactly in the boot the padding is positioned. A little bit of padding located strategically around the interior of the boot is far more useful than a bunch of padding placed haphazardly about without concern for comfort.
The type of padding that is used will also determine how breathable your boots are, which can help eliminate the development of scents as well as keeping your feet relatively cool.
The last aspect to account for when you are choosing the best hiking boots for your needs is how the boots are secured to your feet. The most common closure method for hiking boots are boot laces because they are rugged, reliable, and allow you to adjust the fit to your liking.
While velcro and clasps are present on some hiking boots, they are often relegated to the role of a secondary closure system since they lack the durability and versatility of laces. Many different kinds of laces can come included with hiking boots, and they can even be replaced if they are not durable enough for your needs.