As the United States Second Amendment proclaims, in order to maintain a functional militia, the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, the Founding Fathers outlined the significance of one of the most important possessions of any household during the 18th century – the firearm. Perhaps the second-most important object, a pair of shoes, while perhaps not as necessary to ensure the freedom of America, still represents one of the most important possessions anyone can own.
Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War, is sometimes described as being fought over shoes. The kind of shoe I want to talk about today is the hiking boot.
What’s to know about buying hiking boots?
Buying a genuinely excellent pair of hiking boots is a fun and totally engaging shopping experience. I myself, having recently returned from a voyage across South America, spent five-straight hours last year researching and digging until I finally found the right pair.
One of the reasons hiking boots can be such an engaging purchase, is that your decision will likely come down to a number of factors.
- They can be pretty expensive, and any good consumer spending more than $100 dollars will want to make sure their investment is sound.
- There are a dizzying number of factors that contribute to a hiking boot being good or bad.
- Good qualities might not be good for certain terrain types, while qualities that could be considered bad might be desirable for other landscapes.
- A buyer will be interacting with very prestigious brands who want to produce a great product.
Try and make a list of things you consider important, for instance
- Durability – no sense spending $340 on boots if they tear or the soles wear away after 6 months.
- Weight – as the old saying goes, “a pound of the feet is worth four on the back”.
- Comfort – in South America, I realized I would need a boot that could tackle the Andes, but also be quiet enough for me to walk through a cathedral!
- Water-resistance – either you get totally porous boots, or totally impenetrable boots. But how high up with the resistance be maintained? Does it come with waterproofing like GoreTex already or do I have to buy one?
- Stability – especially important for older buyers, stability and ankle support is vital for when your legs get a bit tired and your footing is less sure.
- Price – obviously important, people want to get the best deal
- Traction – can a strong agile person to a little rock scrambling with this or that boot? What about walking down or up avalanche shoots and scree slopes where a slip could mean a broken ankle?
Now remember, depending on the terrain you plan on exploring, some of those might not be as important as others, so it’s up to you to determine exactly what kind of boot will best suit your environment.
Who makes a great boot?
Salomon is unquestionably one of the adventure gear elites, and several of their hiking boots are legitimately world class! At the time of writing they are having a Memorial Day Sale, with 25% off of select items!
Hoka One-One made the boot which I eventually settled on, as it maximized comfort and water-resistance, while minimizing weight. They specialize in lightweight hikers and trail runners.
Merrell is a terrific manufacturer, and produce boots for all purposes. They also make great trail runners, and some websites have ranked Glove 4 as one of the best barefoot running shoe around.
Professional outlets like REI will carry a great selection of hiking boots, and while retail prices might be higher than what you can find online, you obviously get the benefits of trying them on, as well as assistance from helpful staff members in store.
Wholesale outlets like Leftlanesports may seem a bit unreliable when compared to buying direct from manufacturer, (I’ve bought tens of things from LL sports and it is a great company). Have a little pity on them though, as wholesalers and affiliate marketers often work on a limited budget and can’t afford to craft beautiful engaging websites, especially when they are cutting prices by so much!
So there you have a simple guide of how to plan for the acquisition of good hiking boots. Remember that the rabbit hole goes down as far as you feel like plunging, and it may not be entirely necessary to consider every aspect and make sure everything’s perfect. Heck, one of the reasons I settled on the one’s I bought was because I noticed a professional jungle adventurer was wearing the brand. Good enough for him, certainly good enough for me.