They say running is a really accessible sport. You just need a pair of trainers and off you go. Well, walking is pretty much the same…a pair of walking boots and you’re ready. But there are those other pieces of kit that it’s worth knowing about to make your day a little more comfortable.
In this series of blog posts (Hiking Kit) we’ll cover the essentials, and the ‘nice to haves’ to hopefully make your walking and hiking experiences as enjoyable as possible.
So we’ll start with the most essential – Walking boots or walking shoes…
The choice between boots and shoes is very much down to personal preference, the distance you’re walking and the terrain you’ll be walking on. On steep, uneven or wet ground boots will support your ankles and give more protection in deeper mud and puddles. Whereas in dry weather, on easier tracks and trails or if you’re walking on pavements, walking shoes will be perfectly adequate, more cushioned and often lighter weight.
2 season shoes or boots – summer trails
3 season boots – spring or autumn, rough trails and paths
4 season boots – winter mountaineering
8 Walking Boot Shopping Tips
1. Look for a Gore-tex upper which will help keep your feet dry.
2. Try on boots and shoes at the end of the day. Your feet will be at their biggest and will better represent their size when walking.
3. Wear the walking socks that you’ll be walking in, when you try your boots on.
4. Try on as many pairs as possible – and choose the most comfortable, not necessarily the best colour or the cheapest.
5. Most shops will have a small ramp – go up and down, and up and down again, to check that your toes aren’t pushed against the front of the boot on the downhill and that your heel doesn’t lift in the boot on the ascent.
6. Ask about returns. Most shops will allow you to wear them around the house for a couple of weeks and return them as long as they haven’t been worn outside.
7. Ask about lacing. Different boots have different systems of lockable eyelets to allow you to adjust the lacing. Once laced, take a photograph of the boot so that when you get home you have a pictorial reminder.
8. Once you’re happy that your boots or shoes are the right ones for you, wear them on a number of small adventures before heading out on ‘the big one’.
Next in this series…base, mid and waterproof layers