How to Choose the Best Pair of Walking Boots?

When it comes to walking, there’s nothing quite like quality footwear to help you go the extra mile. And, in the same breath, there's nothing worse than realising, mid-journey, that your feet are hurting and that you’ve clearly opted for the wrong shoes! It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a three-day hike or simply out for a stroll, it’s essential to have comfortable footwear that's adapted to the terrain beneath your feet. To avoid any missteps, follow our walking boots buying guide and guarantee yourself an enjoyable trek in the best walking shoes possible – free from aches, pains and blisters! Thanks to our expert advice, it's time to put your best foot forward and choose a pair of hiking boots that truly suits you...

Robust hiking boots with a strong grip

First things first, what makes hiking boots so special is that they are always endowed with rugged, anti-slip soles to keep your feet firmly on the ground. While walking poles will help hold you upright, good stability underfoot is what's most required for you to step forth with ease and confidence. As a result, reaching new limits in part boils down to the footwear you buy! Therefore, ensuring your boots have a solid grip is key, especially if you’re planning to take on rough terrain or venture in humid conditions – both of which run the risk of the ground you're stepping across being slippery. On that note, if you’re anticipating wet weather (somewhat typical for the UK), then a pair of purpose-built walking boots and a decent water-repellent coat or windbreaker jacket are definitely a safe bet! A good-quality thick sole, which will serve to absorb shocks, is equally essential when it comes to choosing your shoes! As a general guideline, high-rise hiking boots have a thicker, sturdier sole to them compared with lightweight low-rise models, which should really be reserved for long walks across smoother terrain. So, for traditional hiking style, women's and men's chunky high-rise models are the way to go!

When it comes to men and women's hiking shoes, go for water-repellent or even waterproof models!

Keeping your feet dry is a no brainer – we all know dampness is the UK hiker’s worst enemy! Therefore, choose a water-repellent model that prevents any water penetration or, for more extreme conditions, opt for fully waterproof walking boots. Where possible, prioritise hiking shoes that have rubber reinforcements on the front, sides and back to reduce the risk of water creeping in through the most exposed parts of the foot. It’s also a good idea to check the lining of the boot is made from a fabric that’s going to allow air to circulate and your feet to breathe, so as to limit perspiration. This should keep your feet cool, and your shoes smelling a little fresher too…

Men and women's high, low, or mid-rise models: what are the best and which do you buy?

For mountain treks – and even when hiking along rocky coastlines and sharp-edged cliffs – don’t hold back from investing in high-rise hiking boots. These rigid shoes, ideal for climbing, will ensure you keep your footing and that your ankles remain well supported – reducing the risk of sprains. However advanced your skill, these really are a must-have upon rough ground, on which it’s far easier to trip or slide! Needless to say, these shoes will have to be well adjusted, but luckily the laces on these models tend to be held in place by auto-lock hooks!

As well as providing next-level support, high rise designs naturally offer increased coverage and better protection for your feet too. Handy on any terrain, this is especially beneficial in wet or muddy conditions, shielding you from any splashing and keeping you nice and dry! 

For gentler adventures, men's and women's lightweight, low-rise hiking shoes suffice!

For those long Sunday walks across more favourable terrain, and for the more amateur and less consistent hikers among us, sporty trainers will do the trick. You will probably even have a pair kicking about under the stairs! However, if you can, why not treat yourself to a fine pair of low-rise walking shoes for men or women which promise to be kind to your feet and, unlike most boots, are light and flexible! More resistant than basic trainers and equipped with a rugged sole, they’re better adapted for walking. Speedy to tie, some of our lace-free men’s hiking shoes come with an elastic strap instead. Super-easy to slip-on, these models can often be the best in terms of practicality!

Mid-rise walking shoes for a middle-ground solution!

If you consider yourself somewhere in between being an avid adventurer and a casual stroller, mid-rise boots are a particularly versatile, middle-of-the-road option. They provide better ankle support than their low-rise counterparts and are much lighter than any high-rise model. For the practiced but non-professional hiker, they offer the best of both worlds!

Stretch your legs and wear your shoes in: how to prep for a hike

Here’s a top tip like never-before: when trying on a pair of walking boots for the first time, ideally wear socks that are designed for hiking, and leave it until late in the day to test them out. How come? The answer’s simple – your feet swell throughout the day and, as it gets later, they become tired and more sensitive, which is exactly how they’ll feel after a decent walk. This innovative trick is the perfect way to tell if the hiking boots in question will hold up for the entirety of your adventure and if they’ll still feel just as comfy after you’ve trekked a fair distance. The same is true for socks. Never wear a new pair for a day’s hike (let alone for a stint that’s any longer). You should also always test your footwear by tracing a shorter route first! Of course, for gentler walks, a trusty pair of shoes and cushioned socks should be just fine – no trial run necessary!

Back to basics: black, brown or otherwise

To recap, when looking for the perfect pair of hiking shoes for men or for women, make a mental note to check the soles, water-resistance and practicality of the model in relation to the adventure you’re envisaging. Regardless whether you’re seeking a classic pair of black or brown hiking boots or wanting something a little bolder in terms of style, the same practical principles apply! Last of all, don’t forget to take your shoes for a test drive, trialling them on a shorter route first before tackling any big challenges. Once you’ve worn your chosen pair in, why not pack the rest of your walking gear and embark on some of the UK’s best walks! Don’t let a lack of appropriate footwear hold you back from memorable adventures... Shop our range now!

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