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How to buy the Right Hiking Boot

Avoid that pain in the foot!
By Barry Omaload, Contributing Writer

When going on a hike, remember that the most important piece of equipment you need is your hiking boot or shoe.   Some important things to look for in a hiking boots are a good grip, good support that will allow your foot to bend and flex naturally as you walk, and a waterproof exterior. You just can’t go cheap when it comes to boots. If you buy cheap boots you will only end up irritated and not only are they unlikely to fit properly but they are also not likely to last for any length of time as well. I always invest the money in the highest quality I can afford, you only have one pair of feet so you need to take care of them and wearing improperly fitting boots will cause damage to your feet both on the surface as well as structurally. There are several good brands on the market today such as Merrell, Columbia, Teva, Ecco, Timberland, and Hi-Tec- just remember that the old saying, “you get what you pay for” especially applies to boots.

 Whatever type of outdoor footwear you decide to use, be sure they are going to be comfortable. Even the great feeling boots can leave you with horrible experiences because of shoe bites when new. So, the best tip for buying hiking boots is to buy them a month ahead of the expedition and season them well. You don't want to get 5 or 10 miles into the hike only to find out that you have developed a nasty blister and can hardly walk. When you buy the pair you like, take them home and wear them around the house for a few days. Make sure your toes aren't hitting the end of the shoe, and that your heels aren't slipping out. Both of these can be the cause for some very sore feet. Try out several brands at your local shoe store and see which one is right for you.

 With current advances in technology in the boot making industry, there is less and sometimes no need for break in periods due to the changes in boot design and the use of a combination of high quality soft leather and synthetic materials. Don’t just buy a pair of boots just because they look good. If they don’t feel good you are just going to be aggravated and they will just sit in the closet. If you try them on and there is something rubbing your Achilles tendon or they are tight and confining on your toes, don’t buy them. Remember boots should be looked at as an investment in a high quality pair of footwear that will last a long time so make sure they are comfortable and fit right off the bat.

 Try not to use a walking shoe when you really need a boot—Boots have some obvious advantages:

 1. Stony, rocky terrains are evened out by the solid bottoms; Some boots have air units for optimized cushioning.

 2. Boots protect sides better than shoes, which is a common feature in Merrell , Timberland, Ecco, and Hi-Tec boots. Side protection is at least 1/2" high from the soles.

 3. Ankles need good protection for the obvious reason. Check the ankle supports by trying to bend shoes sideways. Stiffer support  makes for better ankle backup.

 4. Good hiking boots should be waterproof too-the higher boot style offers drier feet advantages on long hikes through creeks, rivers or muddy terrain.

 5. Good hiking boots sure provide you all track anti-skid rubber compound sole for exceptional traction.

 Remember men's hiking boots and women's hiking boots are distinguished by different contours. Whatever the purpose for your boot purchase, a good place to start looking for boots is online where you have access to the largest selection possible. Check out for a complete guide for your next boot selection.

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