The right pair of walking shoes can make a huge difference to your trip’s success. However, there are so many options that it can be confusing.
We teamed up with Cotswold Outdoor, to offer this expert guide for choosing the right walking boots.
Which direction will you go?
You will need the right boot for the terrain. So before you decide on a pair of boots, consider the terrain you’re likely to be walking on.
You can choose something lightweight and flexible if you plan to follow well-marked routes. While walking boots and shoes should be supportive, they should also allow for natural movement. This will make them more comfortable when you are walking long distances on flat ground.
You will need a sturdy sole and ankle support if you plan on walking on rocky terrain, over scree slopes, or doing some scrambling. You can balance safely and confidently on small edges thanks to the stiff sole. The ankle support stabilizes the foot and lower leg and keeps everything in place.
Many walks cover a variety of terrains. When you’re in the shop, give your boots a good stretch. Ask for advice and try on many styles. This will allow you to see the differences in flexibility, and determine which style works best for your needs.
Measure your feet
It is important to measure your feet to determine the type of walking you will be doing. It is more than just the length. This includes the overall shape of your feet, including the width of your heels, height of your arches and flexibility of your toes.
You can only make an accurate assessment of your size if you have all these details. You can check this boot fitting guide if you have boots that you think are not right.
It is vital to have properly fitted footwear. No matter how well-made your boots may be, if they aren’t properly fitted they won’t work at their best.
What material is best?
The majority of modern walking boots fall under one of two categories: synthetic or leather. Which one is right for you?
The fit is always the most important thing. This means that as long it is sturdy enough to handle the terrain, the boot you choose should be comfortable. If you are unable to decide between leather or synthetic, you might consider these:
Leather boots are known for needing to be ‘broken into’. Although this may have been true in the past it is not likely to be true today. Modern leather boots should be just as comfortable as synthetic ones. Only the weight and care are the real differences.
Leather boots can be heavier than other footwear and may last longer, however they are only as long as you take care of them properly. They should be cleaned after use, and reproofed and condition occasionally.
Synthetic materials require extra care, but they are generally more durable than natural options. They are also less likely to crack or dry out.
Truth is, construction techniques have advanced significantly over the past decade. The difference between these styles is becoming increasingly smaller.
Are they waterproof?
Modern walking boots are waterproof. This is due to a sock-like liner built into the boot. GORETEX(r), lined walking shoes are the most well-known, but there are many high-quality options.
Boots with waterproof membranes are great because they can be worn in all weather conditions, even dry. Breathability is what makes boots waterproof. This is when sweat vapour can escape. It is why you can walk miles without your boots on. Your foot will not be dripping with blisters.
Some people opt to have two pairs, one waterproof and one without a membrane for summer. This allows for maximum breathability.
Socks are essential
No matter if you wear one pair or two, whether they are thick or thin, at the knees or around your ankles, socks can be a great addition to footwear performance.
Socks shouldn’t be an afterthought. They should be a key part of your overall footwear. They should resist friction, prevent bunching, not give blisters, provide padding, and wick sweat away to the breathable membrane. You can find many options at outdoor stores, but it is important to choose a walking sock that has been specifically designed for y