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You Must Have a GOOD Pair of Hiking Boots - Selecting the BEST Footwear for Hiking and Camping Trips

Updated on February 16, 2010

It's that time again, time to get out your hiking and camping gear and give it a good inspection. Prime hiking season is right around the corner. Therefore, you want to make sure that your gear, especially your hiking boots, are in tip-top shape. Are you ready? Are your feet ready?! If you are in need of a new pair of hiking boots, there are several things to look for when shopping for and fitting boots. After all, if your hiking boots don't fit properly you may wind up with blistered, aching feet. Not a good scenario if you are an avid hiker.

Shopping for the BEST!

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When shopping for new hiking boots it is very important that you wear the same type of socks that you will wear when actually hiking. If you wear insoles for extra comfort, it is important that you bring those along on your shopping trip as well. Remember, you want to get the best fit possible! It is also a good idea to keep in mind that your feet will swell when hiking, therefore, you might want to purchase boots that have a TINY bit of extra room.

When trying on a new pair of hiking boots, it is very important that you check the toe, heel and slide. You do not want your toes to bang the front of the boot when you slide your foot forward. Trust me, after a few miles of hiking, if your toes are sliding forward…you will NOT be happy…and nor will your feet. Good shoe stores will have an incline board available so that you can actually do a "slide test." If you do not know how to perform the "slide test" ask the sales person…they will be happy to help you. As for the heel…you want the heel of the boot to be snug…but not tight (the heel area should not pinch or bind and it definitely should not move up and down as you walk).

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Go Ahead, Break'em In!

Once you find the perfect pair of hiking boots it is a good idea if you break them in BEFORE your first major hiking trip. It is very important that you take the time to adequately break in your new boots. Wear your boots to the grocery store, around the block, to church (ok, maybe not to church…but you get my point). Keep in mind that boots that are made of heavy leather will take longer to break in.

When camping and hiking it would be wise to bring extra footwear on your trip. There is no need to wear your heavy hiking boots around camp…so give your feet a break and put on a comfortable pair of tennis shoes or sandals once you are done hiking. If you know that you are going to encounter streams on your hike, you may want to bring along a pair of water shoes or an old pair of tennis shoes as you don't want to get your hiking boots wet (talk about uncomfortable!).

Other Helpful Hints!

Have you ever heard of gaiters? If you are an avid hiker, camper, skier or snowboarder…then you probably have. Gaiters are worn around the lower part of your leg and over your ankles. They are wonderful as they keep just about anything and everything from getting into your hiking boots. If you are going to be hiking in snow, muck, loose dirt and or water…gaiters are a must! Now I must warn you…gaiters are not exactly the most fashionable piece of attire, however, if they keep your feet dry and happy…does it really matter?! I think not!

After a long day of wonderful hiking you may notice that your feet have developed "hot spots." Hot spots are caused by long periods of friction (caused by your socks or hiking boots). Unfortunately, hot spots hurt…and they eventually turn into nasty blisters…ouch! It is important that you treat hot spots BEFORE they turn into blisters. The next time you put on your hiking boots cover sore spots with molefoam, moleskin or a product called Second Skin (see below). Any of these items will reduce friction, keep blisters from forming and make your feet happy!


Another must have product when you go hiking and camping is foot powder! Foot powder keeps the moisture away and keeps your feet dry. Don't be afraid to apply A LOT of powder before putting on your socks and hiking boots. Finally, socks (bring a lot of them!) You can never go wrong with frequent sock changes...especially if your feet perspire heavily. Fresh socks will keep your feet dry, comfortable and blister free. It is a good idea to change socks during your lunch break and of course, at the end of the day.

Hiking and camping are wonderful, fun activities. The right pair of hiking boots can make or break your entire trip. I know that may sound a bit extreme, however, if your feet are comfortable you will be able to hike until the cows come home. Hikers that wear ill fitted boots often need to take frequent pit stops in order to tend to their feet. Don't be a drag to your hiking party! Invest in a good pair of hiking boots and lead the pack!

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