It is no question that a huge part of hiking is the attire you choose. Depending on the type of hike you are taking on, including the terrain, weather and location, you need to pick and choose so that you are prepared with the best equipment to get you through. Considering the footwear you will have on your feet, your main source of movement and agility on your hike, can be the difference between suffering through blisters, or gliding down the trail as though you are walking on clouds. Comfortability and support you have from your hiking boots is key to completing your hiking outfit. From high to low cut boots, technical sole details and the membrane on your boot, we’ve created an in depth list on which types of features you should consider when picking out your hiking boots.
The cut of your boot is key:
When you are shopping for your hiking boot, you must take into consideration the cut of the boot. There are a few different types of cuts to choose from, mid, low and high cut.
Mid cut boots are made for more stability on off trail hiking, great for ankle support, sloppy and muddy conditions to keep the elements out, and for hikes where you are carrying a larger load such as a backpack. Ankle support is key with carrying gear and with mid cut boots, they allow for range of motion, but at the same time this support to keep you from injuring yourself. These boots are most commonly grouped into the backpacking boots category, but can vary depending on the type of trail you are planning to hike and the boot.
Low cut boots are perfect for hikes where you are staying on the trail the majority of the time, when you are switching between more urban areas and hiking trails and for hikers that are looking to make better time and speed, as a result of the wider range of motion. Low cut boots resemble more of a sneaker type look and feel, so they can double as that when you are going for high intensity runs on trail or in the wilderness. They are mostly known as light hiking shoes, and are perfect for beginners on the trail.
High cut boots are made mainly for hikers who are in need of a very sturdy shoe. With the cut rising a few inches above your ankle, it is great for wet conditions and colder weather because they keep your feet warm and water and snow out. You will see most high cut hiking boots on snowier mountains and trails for mountaineers, otherwise known as mountaineering boots.
Components of your boots:
Hikers know that with different trails come different terrain and types of dirt, rocks, and grass. For this reason, knowing about the soles of your boot is important to achieving optimal performance on the variety of terrain you experience. Hiking boot outsoles have features called lug patterns. These lug patterns are the defining factor of how well your boot will provide traction on different trails. Deeper, thicker lugs provide more traction for trails that mountaineers and backpackers experience. Some other lugs are those that have wider spacing, which allows for mud and dirt to easily escape and not build up throughout your trek. Keeping these in mind when choosing your boot is important to keeping your ground throughout the hike.
Another key component is the heel brake of your boot. This is the clearly defined section on the outsole of your boot. Depending on the shape and size, this part of the boot is important to have when you are enduring steep descents and changing elevation on the trail. Having a good heel brake is the determining factor between slipping and falling down the mountain and having the confidence to walk down at a normal pace with ease.
A technology that is considered in each and every Garmont boot is the Anatomically Directed Design (a.d.d.®). Keeping in mind the shape of your foot and things like shock absorption and overall comfort, there are a few components that make up this design. First you have the asymmetrical ankle cuff which is higher on the inside, but lower on the outside providing edging capabilities and stability overall. Next is the anatomical tongue. This tongue keeps in mind the comfort you need in correlation with the shape of your foot. Matching the asymmetrical shape of your foot, this tongue stays in place and will not rub in the wrong places. Further, things like lacing and ankle pads keep your foot in place and prevent rubbing that causes blisters. Make sure your boot choice has these flexible, precise fitting features to keep your foot in place all day long. Lastly, you must make sure to have room in your Toe Box, the front of the boot, where Garmont keeps it in a straight shape to line up with the position of your big toe. It is extremely important, especially when trying on your boot, that you aren’t suffocating your big toe which can be very bothersome throughout a long hike.
Boot membranes and materials:
With the weather and elements that you will absolutely endure throughout a hike, you must consider having the correct membrane and material of hiking boots. Garmont features a few different types of membranes. One technology that you should consider is GORE-TEX®. This membrane technology was created to allow for breathability while keeping water out. Each square inch of the GORE-TEX® membrane has nine billion pores, each 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. This membrane is preferable for hikes that you know will be wet and dirty, but allows for the possibility of sweating and moisture from within so that you are comfortable in your boot.
Another membrane is the Garmont developed G-Dry. This membrane has a windproof barrier with up to 10,000 mm waterproof protection. It features an environmentally friendly lamination, providing top boot performance with its impermeable material, all while allowing crucial airflow to your feet. When you are hiking frequently, having this airflow is important so that your boots aren’t suffocating your feet and making you uncomfortable while you need to be focusing on the trail ahead. This membrane is also preferable for hikes where you are bound to come across some rain or water along the way.
There are a few different types of materials used to make hiking boots. They vary from synthetic which are easier to break in, but less water resistant, to split grain and full grain leather. The different types of leather boots are most often used for more rigorous hikes on hard to tackle trails. They allow for more foot protection and warmth overall. Keeping these materials in mind when choosing is crucial to warmth, dryness and comfortability.
All in all, being aware of the different technologies and features of hiking boots makes all the difference when buying your boots. It is very important to test out, break in and get used to the boot you will be wearing before you embark on your treks. You want to be focusing on your hike and not thinking about the pain or discomfort in your feet, and making the right boot choice before you head out is the answer to this common issue.