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How to Choose a Pair of Hiking Boots - 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

How to Choose a Pair of Hiking Boots - 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

So it's time for you to invest and get yourself a brand new pair of hiking boots eh? Well you've found just the right page to help you make the best choice when it comes to the right hiking boot for you. We're not here to give you a list of recommendations, because, to tell you the truth, we can't recommend you anything until you've considered these three questions:

1. Consider where you'll be hiking

When choosing a hiking boot, the first thing you should think about is where you’ll be wearing them. Will you be hiking on trail or off trail? Uneven terrain? Muddy? Warm climate? These are important things to consider before you even start looking for a boot, knowing this will affect the type of boot you buy. There are 3 main types of hiking boots.

3 main types of hiking boots: 
    • Hiking Shoes 
    • Day Hiking Boots
    • Backpacking Boots

columbia peakfreak hiking shoes

    Hiking shoes - Hiking shoes are flexible and lightweight. They’re great for day hikers who hike mostly on trails. They’re all you need for a 2-3 hour hike along the forest trail. However, if you’re planning to head off trail, or hike with a heavy pack, hiking shoes lack the sturdy ankle support that hiking boots can offer. 

    Day hiking boot - These boots tend to be flexible, lightweight & provide good ankle support. They range from mid to high ankle cuts, this will determine the amount of support your ankles have. Day hiking boots are a good choice for day hikes mostly on trails or short backpacking trips with fairly light packs. Their flexibility allows your feet to move naturally and means that they require little to no breaking in time.  However, they lack the stability, grip and durability required for off trail and multi day backpacking trips.

    Backpacking Boots - With a sturdy sole and usually leather uppers, backpacking boots are the best boots for multi-day hiking trips, on and off trail with heavy packs. They have high ankle cuts for maximum ankle support when you’re out adventuring. These are hardy and durable boots, great for rugged terrain. However, we wouldn’t recommend them for day hiking with light packs, as they are much more sturdy than you’ll ever need. They also tend to be heavier than day hiking boots and take time to break in. 

    Almost all hiking boots and shoes will be waterproof, however, if you're going off trail and especially on wet days, boots are much better than shoes at keeping the water out, as they cover more of your ankle. If you want to add extra protection on wet days, it's a good idea to invest in a pair of gaiters.

    2. Consider the weight of your pack 

    The weight of your pack will also determine the type of boot you should buy. If you’re doing multi-day hiking with a heavier pack then you’ll need a boot with good ankle support and a strong, sturdy sole to give your foot extra support. This will prevent your feet from hurting after a long day of hiking with a heavy pack.

    Some boots we'd suggest for a heavy pack/off trail:

    1. Scarpa Ranger 2 GTX

    aku superalp gtx gortex backpacking hikinh mountaineering boot

    2. Mammut Trovat Guide High GTX



    If you’re not carrying a pack, or it's quite lightweight, then you should opt for something more flexible that will bend with the natural movement of your foot as you walk. 

    Here are some boot suggestion for day hikes/light packs: 

    1. AKU Tribute II GTX

    AKU Tribute III GTX

    2. Lowa Renegade GTX

    lowa renegade gtx waterproof hiking boot

    3.Try them on and walk around for a while, how do they fit?

    Now that you have a clearer idea of the types of hiking footwear out there, you should be able to narrow down your options slightly. While there are many great hiking boots out there, everyone is different, and so are their feet (in fact, most people even have one foot bigger than the other).

    Generally, we recommend sizing up when buying hiking boots as your feet swell up as you hike all day. Another option is to go and try on hiking boots in the store near the end of the day, when your feet will be larger than in the morning. 

    It’s super important to try on the boots and walk around in them for a while before you make your decision. A top tip is to try them on with your favourite pair of hiking socks, so you know exactly how they'll feel when you wear them out on the trail.

    We’ll be writing a blog soon all about how to fit your hiking boots properly, stay tuned for that! The general rule is though: there should be wiggle room for your toes as your feet expand and for when you’re walking downhill. 

    Remember: Fit is the most important factor to consider when you’re choosing your boots, if they’re not comfortable, then it's not the boot for you! If you want to learn more about how your boot should fit check out this blog.

    Any colour of the rainbow

    Now that you’ve narrowed it down to the perfect pair, it's up to you to choose your favourite colour! If you still need help with choosing your hiking boots you can contact one of our footwear experts though our customer support, or send us an email direct to

    Have fun, and happy hiking!


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