The mountains are calling… where are my hiking boots?!?!

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the rains are subsiding and more sunny days are peaking through the winter cloud cover. Generally, this is when we all begin daydreaming about the beautiful hikes we will be attempting this season. But before you just throw on last years hiking boots or shoes, take a minute to inspect them to make sure they are adequate for what you need or want to do. Should you decide you need new shoes, there are some things to consider during your search.

The first decision should involve what type of shoe you are looking for- be that hiking shoes, day hiking boots or backpacking boots. For information on the differences between them, a great site for information is REI’s hiking boot advice at: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-boots.html

Most important despite the type of shoe you look for, is the fit. Here are some rules you can follow:

  • Try your boots on at the end of the day with the socks you plan to wear. Our feet swell as the day goes on and this is the size you want your boot to be.
  • Bring your orthotics if you have them- it is important to see how this will affect the fit of the boot.
  • If you do not wear orthotics, consider some separate insoles. Many brands of hiking shoes are flat on the inside without much arch support. It is important to add arch support if you are usually most comfortable in tennis shoes or other shoes with arch support during regular activity.
  • Get measured for your boot size- it will be a different size than your shoes.
  • Make sure you understand how best to lace your hiking shoes. The should be snug everywhere, but not tight or applying pressure to any one area of your feet.
  • Wear your boots around the store for awhile to really determine comfort. If you feel any pressure spots or rubbing, know that this will only get WORSE when you are out on the trails!
  • Break your boots in first on a shorter walk or trail. Often, stores like REI have policies where you can bring the shoes/boots back to exchange them if you find the fit is not right. This is important to figure out before your boots’ inaugural venture.