Instagram might have you believe that cute outfits and trendy boots are all you need to enjoy a picturesque hike. But if you want to do any serious hiking, while also staying safe and comfortable, you need more than just a cute pair of boots.
The right pair of hiking boots will make or break your hiking adventure. Keep reading to learn what you need to know to choose the right pair.
1. Understand Your Options
Not all hiking boots are created equal, but every pair does serve a specific purpose. Different boots are designed for different types of trails, lengths of hikes, and conditions. For instance, the pair you’ll want for a winter hike through snow and ice won’t be very comfortable for a warm-weather walk on some of Zion’s less-rugged trails.
A gripping sole is always a must, regardless of the type of hiking or conditions you’ll be in. But for more rugged trails, look for a pair of boots with ankle support. This will help prevent rolled ankles when hiking uneven trails or climbing over rocks.
If you aren’t into strenuous hiking, a lighter pair of boots might be more comfortable. Look for lightweight options described as “day hikers.” Structured more like running shoes, these offer arch support and a more durable structure than your average gym shoe, but without the weight and bulk of most hiking boots.
2. Choose the Right Fabric
It’s not just the design of your boot that’s important. You also need to choose the right fabric. Thick, insulated boots are great for staying warm but may be too hot in the summer months. Hiking in wet conditions like rain and snow calls for a waterproof, Goretex boot; spending a day hiking with wet feet is never fun.
3. Don’t Just Try on Boots
When you’re shopping for a regular pair of shoes, you head to the store, try them on, and maybe walk around a bit. You might even be able to buy a pair online, judging whether they look comfortable from just a picture.
But when it comes to hiking boots, you should do more than just try them on. Most outdoor suppliers provide obstacles for you to try your boots out on. These help you test the grip of soles and ankle support to make sure you’re getting a sturdy pair. Bring a pair of thick socks like what you would actually wear hiking when you go to try on boots. Then, wear them for a while in the store. The large size and thick material of hiking boots can make them fit more snug than your other types of shoes, and this can sometimes cause pinching.
It’s also a good idea to talk with an experienced salesperson about finding the right size for you. You might find that you need to size up to get a comfortable fit. But make sure that you aren’t getting a pair that’s too big; this can cause your feet to slide and will cause blisters.
4. Add the Right Pair of Socks (or Three)
The right boots are important. But even an expensive pair of durable boots won’t be effective with the wrong socks.
Your regular cotton socks won’t work for hiking. Cotton wicks sweat and water, but unlike synthetic fabrics, it absorbs that moisture like a sponge. The moisture then stays against your skin, and in cooler temps, it will lower your body temperature. Even in warmer weather, your socks will stay wet, which can be incredibly uncomfortable.
Instead of cotton, opt for socks made from synthetic fabrics or wool. These will wick moisture away and allow it to dissipate, keeping you warm and comfortable even in cold temps. Even if you’re wearing moisture-wicking hiking socks, it’s a good idea to bring an extra pair or two. Moisture only wicks away so fast, and having a change of socks will allow you to remove your wet ones and get back to hiking in comfort again fast.
5. Don’t Skimp
With so many hiking shoes on the market today, you’ll have plenty of options. But while many chain and department stores are now selling their own versions, beware of skimping on a cheap pair.
Even if the boots fit well, they aren’t likely to hold up to rugged conditions and heavy use. Investing in a durable pair will not only get you more use but also help you stay safe and comfortable on the trails.
Finding the Right Hiking Boots for Your Zion Adventure
Now that you know what to look for in the perfect pair of hiking boots, it’s time to start searching for the right pair for you. Once you’ve got your boots, it’s time to shop for the other supplies you’ll need for your Zion adventure. Check out this article next to learn more.