Should I Buy Hiking Boots? | Hikers University

Hiking boots come in handy if you frequent the trail every now and then. But should you buy hiking boots if you’re not a regular hiker?

Hiking boots are an important piece of gear for hikers. But should you buy a pair? Hiking boots are great for trails that test your balance. You need to protect your feet, after all, and hiking boots are the perfect way to do so.

If you are a seasoned hiker that frequents rough trails, you should buy a pair of hiking boots. However, if you don't hike too often, you can get away with a pair of sneakers or hiking shoes. A decent pair of hiking boots cost far more than normal footwear, so make your decision wisely.

Hiking boots provide support and stability on rough terrain, and they can help protect your feet from rocks and other hazards. However, they are expensive and quite heavy. Ultimately, whether or not to buy hiking boots is a personal decision. Some hikers prefer the extra support, while others find them to be unnecessary weight. There is no right or wrong answer; it depends on your personal preferences.

As experienced hikers, we’ve tried different hiking boots from multiple brands. As such, we’re in a great position to tell you all about whether or not you need hiking boots.

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What Are Hiking Boots?

Hiking boots protect your feet and ankles from the elements and provide traction on uneven terrain. They typically have a waterproof upper, a cushioned midsole, and a lugged outsole made of rubber or other durable material.

Hiking boots come in various styles, from low-cut hiking shoes to high-cut hiking boots, and can be purchased at most outdoor retailers. Whether you're planning a day hike or an extended backpacking trip, investing in a good pair of hiking boots is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Benefits of Owning a Pair of Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are a great investment for any nature lover. Here are ten benefits of owning a pair:

  1. They provide good traction and support on uneven terrain, which can help you avoid injury.
  2. They protect your feet from sharp objects and extreme temperatures.
  3. They help you to keep your balance when hiking on slippery or steep surfaces.
  4. They increase your walking speed and efficiency by absorbing some of the impacts from each step.
  5. They reduce the risk of developing blisters or calluses on your feet.
  6. They allow you to hike for longer distances without getting tired.
  7. They improve your posture and prevent back pain.
  8. They help you to avoid falling while hiking in rugged terrain.
  9. They make it easier to hike in deep snow or mud.
  10. They can last for many years with proper care, making them a worthwhile investment.

Reasons Why You Don't Need Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are a common sight on the trail, but they're not always necessary. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to leave your hiking boots at home. Here are seven of them:

  1. They're heavy and bulky. Hiking boots can weigh you down and take up valuable space in your backpack.
  2. They're expensive. A good pair of hiking boots can cost upwards of $100.
  3. They're hot. Hiking boots can make your feet sweat, leading to blisters and other foot-related problems.
  4. They're restrictive. Boots can limit your ankle movement, which can be a problem when you're hiking over uneven terrain.
  5. They're hard to break in. It can take weeks or even months to break in a new pair of hiking boots, during which time you may experience discomfort and blisters.
  6. They're not always comfortable. Even after you've broken them in, hiking boots can still be quite uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
  7. They're not necessary for short hikes. If you're only planning on hiking for a few miles, you likely won't need the extra support that hiking boots provide.

Different Types of Hiking Boots

There are many different types of hiking boots available, and choosing the right pair for your hike is important.

Lightweight Hiking Boots

They typically have a high-cut design that extends above the ankle for added stability, and a robust sole with deep treads for traction. While hiking boots are typically quite sturdy and heavy, there are also lightweight hiking boots available that provide similar levels of protection without weighing you down.  

These boots are often made with lighter materials such as synthetic leather or mesh, and they may have a lower profile design. If you're planning on hiking in rough terrain, a pair of lightweight hiking boots can be a great option.

Mid-Weight Hiking Boots

Mid-weight hiking boots are a good choice for day hikes or short backpacking trips. They're versatile and comfortable, and they offer a good balance of features without being too heavy or bulky. Most mid-weight hiking boots are made with a waterproof or water-resistant upper, ideal for wet weather hiking.

They also have a mid-height design that provides support around the ankle, and they typically have a relatively stiff sole designed for hiking on rocky ground. If you're looking for a versatile and affordable option, mid-weight hiking boots are a great choice.

Heavyweight Hiking Boots

Heavyweight hiking boots are designed for hiking in rugged terrain. They are usually made of leather or synthetic material and have a thick sole with a deep tread. The boots are also often lined with waterproof material to keep your feet dry in wet conditions. Heavyweight hiking boots can be expensive, but they are well worth the investment if you hike regularly in rough terrain.

They will protect your feet from rocks and roots and help you keep your footing on slippery slopes. In addition, they will help to keep your feet warm in cold weather and dry in wet conditions. If you hike regularly in rugged terrain, heavyweight hiking boots are an essential piece of equipment.

How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots

Here are five tips to help you choose the perfect hiking boots:

  1. Consider the terrain you'll be hiking on. If you're mostly hiking on well-groomed trails, you won't need as much support or traction as someone hiking off-trail or in rugged terrain.
  2. Make sure the boots fit properly. They should be snug but not too tight, and there should be enough room to wiggle your toes.
  3. Consider the climate you'll be hiking in. If you're hiking in warm weather, you'll want a breathable pair of hiking boots to avoid blisters and sweaty feet. Conversely, if you're hiking in cold weather, you'll want an insulated and waterproof pair.
  4. Think about what type of laces or closures you prefer. Some hikers prefer traditional laces, while others prefer quick-lace systems or Velcro closures.
  5. Consider the weight of the boots. Heavier boots will provide more support but maybe less comfortable to hike in.

Ways to Take Care of Your Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are essential for anyone who loves spending time outdoors. However, taking care of your hiking boots is important if you want them to last. Here are a few tips to help you take care of your hiking boots:

Don't Get Them Wet

Water can cause the material to break down and lead to blisters. If you get them wet, make sure to dry them completely before wearing them again.

Keep Them Clean

Dirt and debris can wear down the material and cause premature breakdown. Brush off your boots after each hike and wipe them down with a damp cloth when they start to look dirty. When cleaning your hiking boots, use mild soap to ensure that you don’t end up damaging the boots.

Store Them Properly  

When you're not using your boots, store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. This will help extend their lifespan. Failure to properly store them will make the leather dry out and eventually fade or crack.

Condition Them

Condition your hiking boots regularly with a suitable leather conditioner. This will help keep the leather soft and pliable, preventing it from drying out and cracking.

What to Wear with Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are a great choice for hiking, but you can’t just wear your hiking boots on the trail. You need other gear, too. The first thing to consider is the climate. If you're hiking in warm weather, you'll want to avoid wearing socks that are too thick or made from materials that don't breathe well. In cooler weather, thicker socks can keep your feet warm.

You'll also want to make sure your hiking pants are the right length. If they're too short, they might not provide enough coverage for your boots, and if they're too long, they can bunch up and cause uncomfortable rubbing.

The best way to find the right length is to try on different pants with your hiking boots before hitting the trail. With a little bit of trial and error, you'll be able to find the perfect combination of hiking boots and clothing for any excursion.

From an aesthetic viewpoint, hiking boots come in various styles to suit any taste. But what do you wear with hiking boots? The options are really endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started. For a casual look, try pairing hiking boots with jeans or khakis.

If you're going for a more polished look, try hiking boots with a skirt or dress. And for maximum comfort, consider wearing hiking boots with leggings or yoga pants. No matter how you style them, hiking boots will keep you comfortable on your next hike!

Hiking Boot Myths Busted

hiking boots are an essential piece of gear for any hiking trip, but there are a lot of myths surrounding them. Here are five of the most common myths and why they're wrong.

1. Hiking Boots Have to Be Expensive

Not necessarily. While most of them are pricey, you can find hiking boots at all different price points. It's important to find boots that are comfortable and fit well, but the price isn't always an indicator of quality. The trick here is to opt for less prominent brands until you gain significant hiking experience.

2. Hiking Boots Are Heavy and Bulky

Again, not necessarily. It is a fact that most hiking boots are heavy. However, there are many lightweight hiking boots on the market that won't weigh you down on the trail.

3. Hiking Boots Have to be Waterproof

This one depends on the kind of hiking you're doing. If you're hiking in wet conditions or crossing streams, then waterproof hiking boots are a good idea. However, if you're hiking in dry conditions.

4. You Should Break in Your Boots Before a Trip

This is definitely not true! Breaking in hiking boots can actually cause blisters and other problems. It's better to choose a pair of boots that feel comfortable the moment you put them on.

5. All Hiking Boots Are Created Equal

Absolutely not! There are all sorts of different hiking boots on the market, designed for different activities and conditions. Do your research to find the boots that are right for you.

Hiking Boots FAQs

With so many different types and brands on the market, choosing the right pair can be a daunting task. To help make the decision easier, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about hiking boots.

What Type of Hiking Boot Should I Choose?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including the terrain you'll be hiking in and your personal preferences.

For example, if you're planning on mainly doing day hikes on relatively flat terrain, a lighter weight hiking shoe might be a good option.

However, if you're planning on backpacking or hiking in rougher conditions, a more substantial boot will provide more support and protection.

What Brand of Hiking Boots Should I Choose?

There are a lot of great hiking boot brands out there, and it comes down to personal preference. Some hikers swear by certain brands, while others are more open to trying different brands until they find one that works for them.

Do some research to see what brands have the best reviews, and then try on a few different pairs before deciding.

So, do you really need hiking boots? Hiking boots are beneficial for some activities and terrains, but other options can work just as well. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to buy hiking boots comes down to personal preference and how much you want to splurge.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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