What Are Backpacking Boots? | Hikers University

What are backpacking boots and why are they important? Well, for starters, they protect you from getting injured while hiking or backpacking.

Backpacking boots are one of the most crucial components of the trip. High-quality backpacking boots provide you the ability to walk long distances without hurting your feet or making you uncomfortable.

There are several types of backpacking boots and we’ve divided them into three main categories: day hiking boots, backpacking boots, and hiking shoes. Each type has its unique characteristics and the type you choose depends on the trail you wish to go to.

Backpacking boots should be snug everywhere perfectly but not be too tight to make you uncomfortable. They should have enough room for your toes to flex. Put on your backpacking boots with socks to ensure that they fit well while buying.

If you're reading this, you're probably looking for a hiking boot to avoid getting blistered and sore feet. So, to assist you in selecting the appropriate boot, this article will discuss the three different styles of hiking boots currently available. With any luck, you'll have a better notion of what kind of boot to choose for your specific hiking style. So let's get this party started.

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What Are Backpacking Boots?

It's remarkable how many people gallivant to Montana's mountains without even wearing a hiking boot. It's no surprise that many of these people wind up walking back to their car with a twisted ankle or a sore knee at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, there are three varieties of hiking footwear. While several types of "work boots" are suitable for day backpacking, you might want to stick to something that can handle the roughness of the terrains and is sturdier.

Day Hiking Boots  

A decent day hiking boot will often give sufficient ankle support so that you cannot roll over your ankle while standing in them, even when wearing a light load.

Most good day hiking boots weigh less than 3.5 pounds each pair, which is a common thread. Day hiking footwear will have the same excellent traction as their larger counterparts, backpacking boots. Finally, most decent day hiking boots have a gore-tex membrane wrapped around the shell of the boot, making them entirely waterproof.

Backpacking Boots

Backpacking boots are the main guns in the footwear market. Backpacking boots are made to provide sturdy support to the ankles, even when carrying a pack weighing more than 60 pounds.

The boots are also extremely durable; several pairs have successfully completed hikes up the Sierra Crest Trails and Applachian, something that a day hiking footwear would struggle to achieve.

Additionally, compared to day hiking boots, backpacking boots offer a bit more insulation and a slightly broader sole. As a result, backpacking boots are sometimes quite hefty, weighing between 5 and 6 pounds per pair!

Finally, backpacking boots are typically constructed of leather, which is another reason they are heavier than their day hiking boot counterparts (which are generally a combo of leather and fabric). Leather is extremely durable, which is why backpacking boots are made of it. The leather does, however, require treatment from time to time in order to keep it smooth (and prevent cracking) and the boots waterproof. Backpacking boots, therefore, require special maintenance. Day hiking boots, on the other hand, can be thrown in the closet and forgotten about until your next trek, barring the occasional cleaning.

Backpacking boots can be used for day trekking as well. They are, however, overkill in almost all-day hiking scenarios, as a decent day hiking boot can manage the same terrain (albeit with less weight) and do so more comfortably.

So, here's some guidance. Get a backpacking boot if you can only purchase a single pair of boots for going up and about the mountains and will be performing a mix of day hiking and overnight backpacking. Stick with a day hiking boot if you don't anticipate yourself lugging a 50-pound load for an overnight hike.

Although the boot will not be as robust or useful as a backpacking boot, it will be a lot more comfortable and relaxing to wear on a daily basis!

The Hiking Shoe

Far too many people mistake these hiking shoes for hiking boots, which is a big no-no. Hiking shoes are, indeed, really comfy. They're also significantly more durable than a pair of sneakers. They do not, however, give any kind of ankle support. After all, a hiking shoe is nothing more than a glorified sneaker disguised in different fabrics and with a different appearance.

When it comes to hiking footwear, you want something that is both comfortable and lightweight, as well as made to withstand the circumstances in which you will be traveling. There is, however, no panacea - no single paradigm that can rule them all. When choosing what footwear is suitable for you, consider factors including your body weight, pack, history of injuries, environmental factors, and of course, your foot type.

Backpacking Boots – Complete Guide

Hiking boots are important for your comfort and performance on the trail, but this doesn't have to imply a rigid, heavy type. Lighter materials that nonetheless provide adequate support are becoming increasingly prevalent, and waterproof boots are by far the most popular (some are accessible in a non-waterproof form for hiking in dry or hot temperatures).

Choosing the proper hiking boots is a process of matchmaking. Your ideal hiking boots must match your hiking style and location. You must, however, ensure that they are a perfect fit before tying the knot.


From lightweight trail shoes to climbing boots, you have a bewildering number of options.


Understanding what goes into the outsoles, midsoles, lowers, uppers, and other components of a boot will help you narrow down your options.


A pair of ill-fitting boots has never been popular. Taking the time to obtain an excellent fit is the difference between complete bliss and blisters.


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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