Over the past many weeks questions regarding boots have been asked. When fitting for boots there are a couple of things to consider. Now, this is a lot of information, don’t get overloaded … in the end it comes down to what feels comfortable!!
- When trying on boots do so in the late afternoon or evening – this is when your foot tends to swell.
- Backpacking does not require that you wear a “heavy” boot but instead a “mid-weight” boot – this is because you are going to learn to carry a mid-weight pack and won’t be hiking for weeks and months at a time (at least not yet but maybe in the future).
- Boot choices can be leather or cloth, high top or ankle height, goretex or not, vibram sole or not – what are the differences and what should you look for?
- Begin first with the fact that your boots should be comfortable from the store – when you are making that initial walk around in your potential purchase if you feel a rub, a crease or a tightness the boots are not for you.
- Take the socks you plan on wearing with your boots – I recommend a pair of liners and a set of heavier socks (Wigwam, Smartwool, etc.) – to think about, you don’t have to take a fresh pair of socks every day when you hike, I tend to take the set I’m wearing and a back-up set – you should not need the winter really thick socks just a mid-weight sock.
- Boots tend to have a longer toe bed – when you put them on slide your foot forward and see if you have enough room to slide your finger down your heel – you don’t want them to be too snug or too loose.
- Lace your boots fully when trying them on – there are several boot tying techniques I can show you but suffice it to say the traditional tie works well.
- Walk around – is the boot moving comfortably with your foot, is your heel sliding, do you feel something sticking out at you? Then, do a couple of high steps and knee bends – are you doing okay?
- Feel inside your boots with your finger – on occasion I have found a seam that is rough or a place where I realize the boot will bend – determine if these things will impact your foot.
All boot brands have a different “fit” so it is recommended that you try a couple of brands and a couple of styles.
- Leather or cloth – choice is yours. I wear both. Leather tends to fit to my foot better (they are great to immerse into water and hike to allow they to form to your foot but they will do that naturally anyway). Be cognizant of where you will normally be hiking. For instance, prickly stuff that will poke you may have you thinking about a leather pair of boots. As a start, cloth tends to be less expensive and more cooperative in comfort.
- High top or ankle height – preference is for a high top boot cut. This is helpful as you gather comfort on the trails with its rocks, roots, uphills and downhills – call it ankle stability.
- Gortex (a waterproof layer sewn into boots) or not – boots should be durable, should generally keep your feet dry but the reality is that once it rains there will come a point when goretex no longer matters. Water will stream down pant legs or when in water crossing water will come over boot tops and inevitably cause your once dry socks to be wet. But, that being said, Goretex is still nice. Boots will increase in cost with Goretex. Think about when you will use your boots – having Goretex or not may not be a deciding factor. For instance, it really doesn’t rain that much in Pagosa Country. Another thing to consider is if your feet, as a general rule sweat. Depending on where and when I hike I may not wear my Goretex boots because my feet will sweet, I’ll get cranky and blisters will form.
- Vibram sole or not – simply, vibram will allow your boots to last longer and give you a bit of extra stick. Again, this doesn’t have to be a deal breaker but if you have two equally comfortable boots to backpack in go with the Vibram sole.