Finding Your Sole Mate: Choosing the Right Hiking Boots

Key Points

  • The best footwear for hiking is a pair of well-fitting hiking boots.

  • Consider the material, traction, and several other factors when buying the best camping boots.

  • Break in your hiking and camping boots before using them.

The best camping boots must fit you well. Outdoor activities require movement. You're okay getting slightly oversized slippers if you're vegging out at home for the weekend. That's not true if you're hiking. Rocking a pair of oversized boots is a one-way ticket to blister city.

A few ouchies are sure to arise on any camping or hiking trip. Rose bushes poke you; you might take a tumble down the mountain. Totally normal. What's abnormal is foot pain so bad you're considering self-amputation after a two-mile hike. Footwear must be comfortable, sturdy, and reliable, especially if you're hiking by yourself. If you don't have a good pair, it's time to get the best camping boots.

The Footwear for Hiking

The best footwear when hiking is a nice pair of flip-flops — if you're insane.

What you need is a pair of sturdy, well-fitting hiking boots.

Gauging how comfortable they must be is difficult. What matters most is they are comfortable enough to wear for a long time, providing support and protection for your feet.

Some soreness after a long day of hiking is normal. Don't mistake pain for soreness. Ill-fitting hiking boots wreak havoc, leading to structural damage to your feet or blisters and chafing. Don't be silly and “rub some dirt on it.” Get yourself a pair of boots that fit you.

When buying comfortable hiking boots, consider a few factors.

Hiking boots on a log

Hiking Conditions

Where are you most often going hiking?

Flat, well-maintained trails require light hiking shoes. If you're a billy goat gallivanting around on rugged terrain, opt for boots with good ankle support and sturdy soles.

Where you hike determines what you wear.


The fit must be comfortable and well-suited for your feet.

Your toes must not touch the front of the boot. They need wiggle room. If your whole foot is sliding around, that's not wiggle room. That's waiting-to-roll-an-ankle room.

Your heel must fit snugly. Test out the boot by walking around. If your heel rubs against the boot, get a pair that fits better. Such movement isn't annoying in the store, but when hiking, that movement leads to blisters. In any case, make sure you know how to deal with blisters.

Hiking boots must be neither too small nor too big.

Tying laces of hiking boots

Don't get boots that are too tight. Wearing thick socks makes it hard to fit into small boots. After a full day of hiking, your feet swell up. Good luck putting your boots on the next day.

The only thing that's acceptable to have larger is the toebox. If the toebox has extra wiggle space but the rest of the boot is snug, keep it that way. Get a different pair if the boot is too large in other areas.


Leather, synthetic material, or a mix of the two are the most common material in most hiking boots.

Leather is durable and breathable. It's also heavier, takes longer to break in, and requires maintenance.

Synthetic materials are lighter and easier to break in. Though they probably don't last as long and aren't as tough as leather.

Choose whatever material you want.


If you're hiking in the rain, crossing streams, or wading rivers, look into waterproofing your hiking boots. Some come waterproofed. Others don't, and you need to apply some waterproofing spray.


You need good traction in your boots. The deeper the tread, the more traction there is in the sole.

Different hiking boots come with different types of traction. Match the traction to the type of terrain you're hiking. The best way to determine the kind you need is to consult an expert.

Hiking boots in the mountains

Brand Reputation

Do some comparative shopping, looking at the different brands selling hiking boots. Read customer reviews.

Get an idea of the brands you're interested in before buying a pair of hiking boots.


Get a pair of boots within your budget.

Top-tier hiking boots go for over $500. That's a lot of cheddar. If you're willing to shell it out, then go for it.

If you're a bit more frugal, rest assured. There are hiking boots in every price range.

Breaking in Hiking Boots

You've got yourself a nice pair of hiking boots. Congratulations. Hold on to that receipt in case you need to return them. Ask whatever store you buy from what their return policy is. You might wear the boots for a few days and realize they aren't suitable for you.

If they're a match, you still need to break them in.

Wear Them Around the House

Wear your new boots around the house for short bursts of time. Go through your routine as normal.

Put on the right socks. You don't wear dress socks when hiking, so don't wear them when breaking in your boots. Get a pair of thick socks made of wool or synthetic fibers. These materials are comfy, absorb sweat, and last longer.

HIking with boots in river

Gradually Increase the Time You Wear Them

Wear your boots longer as your feet get more used to them. Walk around in them as much as possible.

Start doing brief walks around your neighborhood. If that's easy, try a half-mile hike. Increase the length and difficulty as the boots get more comfortable.

Don't go too quickly. Undertaking a 50-mile trip with fresh boots is a recipe for lots of pain.

Bend the Soles

A crease forms in your boot after enough movement, right where the toes meet the ball of your foot. Take off your boots and bend them up and down along this crease. This adds flexibility to the sole and gives you a wider range of movement.

Be gentle. You don't want to break anything.

Pay Attention to the Pain

Listen to your body. Pain means something isn't right.

Identify the sources of pain and discomfort. Note if your arch hurts after a day or you have bad chafing. The situation might improve as you further break in your boots.

If the pain worsens, return the boots and get a new pair. If you're experiencing pain on a short walk after only a few days, it's only going to amplify when you're hiking on rocky terrain.

Apply Leather Conditioner

If your boots are leather, apply a leather conditioner. This makes the boots more pliable and softer, thus easier to break in.

Take Care of Your Boots

Proper care significantly extends the lifespan of your boots.

Clean off any dirt. Filth accumulates quickly. You don't need to clean them after every trip, but if you hike somewhere muddy or step in scat, clean it right after you're done.

Hiking boots

Keep them dry. Stubborn moisture may stay in your boots, creating a Petri dish for bacteria and fungi.

Be Patient

It takes time to break in boots. Some boots take a few weeks. Others take months. It depends on the material and how often you wear them. If you wear your boots daily for long periods, they break in faster.

Best Hiking Boots for Men and Women

There are a lot of hiking boots on the market for men and women. Check out the following recommendations to properly outfit your feet.

Men's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof X Unlikely Hikers

by Merrell

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Men's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof X Unlikely Hikers

The Men's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof X Unlikely Hikers provides maximum support on the trails. They're perfect for hikers of all levels.

The high-quality material features a waterproof membrane that keeps out moisture. The pig suede leather and mesh upper provide breathability for your unavoidably sweaty feet.

Protective and abrasive-resistant rubber caps for the toe and heel protect your feet. No hazard is going to damage these boots.

Excellent traction, unique features, and outstanding comfort make these boots a great buy for any hiker.

Targhee 3 Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boots

by KEEN 

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11/28/2023 02:26 pm GMT

Keen Women's Targhee III Waterproof Mid-Hiking Boots

Keen has the Targhee III that offers comfort on par with sneakers and is durable due to the leather material.

Toe and mudguards add extra durability, protecting your feet and extending the lifespan of the boots.

The multidirectional lugged soles provide traction on even the toughest trails. Inside the boot, your toes have plenty of wiggle room while the heel stays snugly in place.

These are comfortable hiking boots for walking through the park or summiting a mountain.

  1. Winter Snow Hiking Boots


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    11/28/2023 01:36 pm GMT
  2. Ankle Boots Combat Booties

    by DailyShoes 

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  3. Hiking Snow Winter Boots

    by Eagsouni 

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    11/28/2023 01:46 pm GMT
  4. Anti-Slip Hiking Boots

    by Mishansha 

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    11/28/2023 01:51 pm GMT

There are several options to choose from online as well. Check out Mishansha for some ankle-high walking shoes and snow boots. ANJOUFEMME offers high-quality winter boots. If you need waterproof footwear, Eagsouni has got you covered. For the fashionable crowd, DailyShoes has a zesty array of combat boots.

The Best Boots Fit You

As author Diane Spicer said, "Happiness and hiking go hand in hand (or foot in boot)."

Wearing hiking boots

A whole host of problems arise if your foot doesn't fit in your boot. The happiness unlocked by hiking quickly vanishes if you're in constant pain.

It's pretty clear what's the best type of hiking boot: The one that maximizes the pleasure of hiking by giving your feet the blissful comfort they deserve.

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