How to Choose the Best Hiking Boot


Having the right hiking boot is essential to a great hike. There is nothing worse than having the wrong hiking boot that makes your foot too hot or doesn’t keep your feet dry. In this article, we will show you how to choose the best hiking boot for you and explain the different types and varying functions of hiking boots.

Types of Hiking Boots

There are three primary types of hiking boots and each type has a primary function. Picking the right type of hiking boot based on your activity is essential to having a great hike.

Let’s first take a look at the three types of hiking boots:

  1. Hiking Shoes
  2. Day Hiking Boots
  3. Backpacking Boots

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes resemble tennis shoes in appearance; they are generally low-cut with flexible mid-soles. Hiking shoes are an excellent choice if your primary hiking activity will be day hiking. For some ultralight weight backpackers, trail running shoes may be the hiking shoe of choice.

Day Hiking Boots

If your hiking activity is geared towards day hikes or backpacking trips with light loads, day hiking boots that are mid- to high-cut and flex easily will be your day hiking boot of choice. They are not as durable or offer as much support as backpacking boots, but the advantage is they often do not require as much break-in time.

Backpacking Boots

Backpacking boots offer stability and durability, but these features come with a longer break-in time and sacrifice the flexibility of hiking shoes or day hiking boots. Backpacking boots are an excellent choice for those hikers that carry heavier loads and for those hikers that enjoy multiple longer trips deep into the backcountry. These high-cut hiking boots have excellent durability as well as stability.

The Most Common Components of a High-Quality Hiking Boot

Ensuring high-quality components of your hiking boots will go a long way with your satisfaction and comfort of the type of hiking boot you choose. While there are many different components that are available when it comes to building a hiking boot, not all components are equal.

  • Hiking Boot Uppers: The most common type of hiking boot uppers include full grain leather, split grain leather, Nubuck leather, synthetics, waterproof membranes, and insulation.
  • Hiking Boot Midsoles: The midsole plays an important part in the hiking boot’s stability and how much cushioning it provides. It provides a buffer from shock and determines how stiff the boot is. While having a stiff boot may not seem ideal, a stiff boot is, in fact, what you need when traversing rocky and uneven paths. There are two types of midsoles: polyurethane and EVA. Polyurethane midsoles are generally heavier and provide greater support than EVA midsoles and are mostly found in day hiking and backpacking hiking boots.
  • Hiking Boot Outsoles: Hiking boot outsoles are the part of the hiking boot that makes contact with the ground. The type of pattern on the outsole also plays a part in the anatomy of a hiking boot. For instance, deeper and thicker lugs are used for day hiking boots as well as backpacking and mountaineering boots.
  • Crampon Compatibility: If you are planning on mountaineering or doing some winter hiking, using crampons is something that you will want to consider. Crampons provide extra traction on surfaces that a sure grip may not be possible, like ice.

The Fit of a Good Hiking Boot

A hiking boot should not be tight, but it should be snug. The best time of day to try on a hiking boot is at the end of the day when your feet are a bit swollen. Make sure you fit your hiking boot using the socks that you intend to wear. Having thin dress socks on while fitting will inevitably lead to a hiking boot that fits too tight.

While choosing the appropriate hiking boot online may seem daunting, it is less daunting if you stick with a hiking boot brand that you are familiar with or had worn before. Most online hiking boot retailers will have online charts that will help you pick the right size hiking boot. Also, good online retailers will also allow for returns and exchanges so if you need a different size than what you ordered, it will not be a problem.

Summary of How to Choose the Best Hiking Boot

Buying the best hiking boot will depend on the type of hiking you are planning to do. It will also depend on what components you are looking for it to have. A waterproof membrane is always a very good idea for your hiking boots to have and don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deals online.

Choosing the best hiking boot takes a bit of patience and knowledge, but, ultimately, the best hiking boot will be the one that matches the type of hiking you are planning to do as well as one that fits correctly.