Guide to Choosing Walking Boots

Whether it’s trail walking with the family, a long-distance walk or a mountain hike that you fancy, d a pair of good quality walking boots is essential. Here are our tips for finding the right pair for you:

How to buy the right walking boots

When and where: In general, summer boots are lighter than winter boots. In summer, if you plan to walk on trails only, you could choose a pair of walking shoes, or mid-height walking boots. Fairweather walking also gives you the option of boots that are not fully waterproof, although in the UK waterproofing is always a good choice. Soles should still be grippy but they will not need to be as stiff as winter walking boots.   Leather or fabric: For decades, leather was the material of choice when manufacturing outdoor footwear. This is because leather is tough, durable and fairly breathable. These days, many more walking boots are made using new fabrics that offer toughness, durability, improved breathability and comfort. Modern fabric boots offer great comfort and breathability.   Full height v mid-height: The difference between full height and mid-height walking boots is the height of the ankle support. If you have weaker ankles or you plan to be walking on rocky or rough terrain, full height walking boots are the best choice. Mid-height walking boots are more comfortable because they are not as rigid around the ankle but they offer less support. Mid-height walking boots will be suited to easier-going terrain and for shorter distance walks where the gradients are not too severe. It’s also worth remembering that the ankles of boots also offer protection from mud and rain.   Walking shoes: In the summer and on countryside rambles, many people prefer to wear lighter-weight walking shoes because they allow more freedom of movement. Walking shoes are best suited to leisurely walks with the family, dog walking or walking on terrain that is solid underfoot. Mud and rain will more easily get into your shoes because you do not have ankle cover. Sandals are another great option if you're out and about in summer weather or at the beach, for example. The fit: Modern walking boots and shoes do not need to be “broken in”. Modern materials and designs mean they should fit comfortably from the moment you pop your feet inside. It is a good idea to build up your mileage in the boots but you should not need to bandage your feet first! Make sure your feet feel comfortable in the boot. They should feel solidly held, but not pinched. There should be a thumb’s width of room between the front of your toes and the front of the boot. When the laces are tied your feet will feel nicely held but not too tight or loose. Does colour matter? It’s important not to choose boots according to your favourite colours but if you happen to like the colour of the boots then that is a bonus! Fit and performance should dictate your choice. However, you’ll find that there is a great range of colours and styles on offer these days so the chances are you will find a pair of boots that fit well and look fab!  

Top tips for buying new walking boots

Afternoon try-on: Your feet swell a bit during the day so try on your new boots in the afternoon for the best fit. Socks on:  Always wear walking boots or shoes with walking socks. They add comfort and support. And make sure you try on your walking boots with your favourite walking socks. Home time: Wear your boots around the house before making the final decision about whether they are right for you. Happy walking! Where do you plan to go and who with? 

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