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What You Need To Know Before Buying Hiking Boots and Shoes

Updated on May 5, 2016

Hiking Shoes/Boots

The proper choice of hiking boots or shoes can be the deiciding factor in whether hiking is fun or not.

If you select the wrong footwear, you will at the very least, get a bunch of blister's and at the worst? Injure yourself in some way and you'll probably hate hiking forever.

There are several things you Need To Know Before You Buy

Never buy hiking boots or shoes based on whatever is trendy, popular or offered with 'free giveaway's' with your purchase. Buy what your foot likes. Here's a couple of tips

Tip # 1

The shoes listed herein (unless specifically noted) carry a free return policy so do not be afraid to buy a shoe only to find it does not fit. Return it for the correct size

Tip # 2:

If you are going to buy Columbia's Big Cedar line or Addidas Outdoor AX1? Please note... they come in Men's and Women's...BE SURE you order the right one and Sizing runs small, order half size larger on either brand models. Your feet will thank you.

A Superb Day Hike Shoe

Adidas Women's Terrex Fast X Hiking Shoes, GREY BLEND/BLACK/ESPRESSO, 9.5 D(M) US
Adidas Women's Terrex Fast X Hiking Shoes, GREY BLEND/BLACK/ESPRESSO, 9.5 D(M) US

I received a pair of these to evaluate and what I found was a GREAT, lightweight hiking shoe. Very comfortable and supportive. Full lug sole for traction.

Evaluation: Great day hike shoe. Very supportive for my heel, like I had put gel inserts in my shoes and you get FREE Shipping. Buy them. Note They do run small though, so order them 1/2 size larger than normal..


Hiking Boots and Shoes

Hiking has many faces, be careful what you choose

Hiking boots today, need not look like the boots in the picture here, but they do need to be every bit as functional and a whole lot better on your feet and ankles by the end of the day.

Many articles on hiking shoes and boots are written with a certain shoe or boot or manufacturer in mind and why you should buy it. I am not in that crowd and I hope to help you make the right choice when you shop.

I speak from experience on these shoes and boots listed here today and by giving you different reasons to look at choosing the perfect shoe or boot? You should be able to make an informed decision. Brand and price should not be the main motivators.

Hiking has many faces. Hence, the variety of Hiking Boots and Hiking Shoe choices. The day/nature hiker, who is simply out for some fresh air, or maybe, wanting to get some moderate exercise, falls into this category. Most hiking of this nature, is to a known place nearby. Usually chosen either for the serenity and beauty of being there, or maybe just to spend some "down time." This style of hiking does not require much of a serious choice for footwear.

hiking boots
hiking boots

Hiking Boots and Shoes 101

The Basics

Ok, we're going to start with the basic shoe for the basic hike. Like I said, there are many brands to choose from. What to choose and how to choose?

Well, looking beyond the obvious, foot comfort, your Hiking Boot and Hiking Shoes choice, must be supportive as well as flexible. Never too heavy.

Most people want a low side for comfort in hiking, but keep in mind, these trail type shoes are for lightweight, easy hiking on groomed forest service trails. Myself, I prefer a mid side (pictured) for a bit of support. Now, this is where the confusion begins.

The first thing, people think of when looking for a good hiking shoe is price. In today's uncertain economy, we all know that price is important. But keep this in mind, inexpensively priced shoes do not necessarily equate to good hiking shoes. On the flip side, nor does price imply that inexpensive shoes are flimsy and of poor quality. I am simply making a comparison.

Shop accordingly. It makes sense, to work with your budget, but make sure the Hiking Boot and Hiking Shoe is comfortable and fits casually snug. By that, I mean it should feel like your foot is in a soft cocoon. Your foot should feel well supported, without being able to slide about inside the shoe. The worst thing ever, is your toes sliding to the end with each step, or your entire foot sliding sideways as you walk up or down a slope.

You're just asking for blister's at the very least.

Keen Shoes, from New York to San Francisco and all places in between - The Ambler Series

FREE Shipping and returns on Keen Ambler's

Hiking Shoe Choices - The Keen Ambler Review

hiking boots keen ambler
hiking boots keen ambler

Remember, I said I would give you a couple of examples of choices in Hiking Boots and Hiking Shoes? Well, the first example is the Keen Ambler hiking shoe.As you can see, it is a casual and low top hiking shoe. It offers not just comfort, but some "built ins" you expect in a more expensive shoe. Easy care suede exteriors, moisture wicking lining, with some fancy descriptions, like "KEEN.Zorb Strobel." and "KEEN.CUSH" for the interiors. Bottom line? All this means is, these shoes not only wick away moisture, but they provide foot comfort contoured interiors for comfortable wear, but they also have a great rubber sole. Try them out for yourself.

Making sure you wick away the moisture from your feet is important for keeping your foot dry. Especially in cold environments. One of the worst things ever, is to work up a sweat, then allow it to dry inside the shoe as you take a break. Your feet can actually freeze if it is cold enough. Moisture wicking will help to keep your feet warmer.

How this works is that the material that wicks moisture, sucks the moisture along its fibers and either spreads it out or pulls it to the edge of the material so that it evaporates faster. The result? Well, it's a more comfortable, dry foot.

So be sure to look for this feature in any Hiking Boot and Hiking Shoe you intend to buy.

Hiking Oregon's History : The Stories Behind Historic Places You Can Walk to See
Hiking Oregon's History : The Stories Behind Historic Places You Can Walk to See

Some of the best kept secrets of Oregon's history and not too recent past. if you are looking to explore Oregon or you just want to know some of the cool places to hike? This is a great resource. I use Forest Service Mpas, Topographical maps and sometime when I can get them, old WPA maps to discover hidden gems from the past. Start with this and it's available in Kindle as well as Paperback editions

hiking boots walla walla 2
hiking boots walla walla 2

Hiking Boots 101 1/2

Walla Walla 2 - Mid sided hiking shoe

Another brand of Hiking Boots and Hiking Shoes I use and like, are made by Columbia. The particular style I am talking about is the Walla Walla 2. This shoe is considered a mid sided hiking shoe. That just means that the sides are a bit higher than a normal shoe, but not as high as a mid cut. They too, are made with a suede exterior. I like these shoes for the days when I feel like a fairly fast hike and want a bit more support. Also, since the sides are a bit higher, they easily keep out the dirt and pebbles one encounters.

You see, most people don't notice when you walk in gravel or dirt, that your shoe picks up and flings those particles in the air as you move. Thus depositing some in your shoes, ensuring that somewhere down the line, you will feel compelled to stop and remove your shoe to dump out the offending debris. The higher sides help prevent that. Also, the non marking sole is good on a variety of surfaces. So, there you have it....a couple of choices to start with when shopping.

Go to your local retailer, try them on and find out of they are for you. Once you decide the brand for you? Here, is where price can finally become an option. Go online, shop for the best bargains, and brands, get free shipping, and hike on.

For more information on either of these shoes, simply click the link below.

Hiking Boots - Columbia's Wallawalla

Shipped FREE to your door

Columbia Sportswear Men's Wallawalla 2 Mid OT Trail Shoe,Mud/Whale,11 M US
Columbia Sportswear Men's Wallawalla 2 Mid OT Trail Shoe,Mud/Whale,11 M US

You will not go wrong with this boot. As a casual hiking for decent or groomed trails,or even some not so great trails,. this shoe will cradle your foot in comfort, while still providing the foot support you need.

Evaluation: A great mid side hiking boot. You will find that it's comfortable and very supportive of your foot.


Columbia Bugaboot Omni Boots Mud/Treasure

An instant classic when it first hit the scene in 1993, the Bugaboot is back. This example of a Hiking Boot and Hiking Shoe is a favorite and it's better than ever with the addition of Columbia's exclusive Omni-Heat membrane. Like a space blanket for your feet, it reflects your own body heat back into the boot for lightweight warmth without the need for bulky insulation. Inside, comfort comes first with a contoured EVA footbed, lightweight molded midsole, and 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation for a rating of -25F below zero. Road-hugging traction is provided by a non-marking, dual-density Omni-Grip outsole, which is designed specifically for the demands of winter weather.

Key Features: Split suede upper, rustproof metal alloy ghillies, speed hooks and gaiter hook Internal lining and footbed covered with AgION (anti-microbial treatment). 200g Thinsulate with added underfoot insulation. A removable, anatomically contoured foot bed with soft brushed nylon cover. The Techlite molded material provides lightweight cushioning and support and Omni-Grip rubber compound outer sole for optimal traction

Actual weight per pair =1lb. 10oz:

Now, we are getting to the meat of hiking. We are going to talk about what's necessary in footwear for those lightweight hikes or weekend quick getaway hikes. A trip where you will be carrying a very light load on your back for a short time. For these hikes, I prefer a higher cut boot. Now, as described above, the mid cut is higher sided for a couple of reason's. One, it provides better ankle support when you are moving across varied terrain, and two, the higher sides protect your ankle from brush, etc as well as keeping out small pebbles and debris. When selecting this style boot, first and foremost is terrain use and then a good rubber sole for traction and stability.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, and dealing with variable and changing weather conditions, I tend to go for an insulated boot. Would I wear the same boot hiking across the desert? Of course not. But to enjoy mountain hiking, you need to be prepared. You may encounter rain and or cold weather in your hike. So the one I prefer, is the Bugaboot Omni, by Columbia. These boots have been around since 1993 and they continue to improve upon that original design. Choice should never be dictated by what's popular or whatever "The Brand" that "all" are wearing.

Make your choice functional and let your own foot decide.

Hiking Boots - Columbia's Bugaboot and Cascadian Simmit

Another CampingmanNW Tip: Buy what feels good to your foot. Try different ones on and see. Your foot will tell you what's right and what's not. Your feet should also feel 'snug' inside. No side to side motion. Too tight? Go up in width. Too loose, go down in width.

If going up or down a size or width doesn't work? Try another brand.

Columbia Men's BM1226 Cascadian Summit II Snow Boot,Black/Platinum,10 M
Columbia Men's BM1226 Cascadian Summit II Snow Boot,Black/Platinum,10 M

Hiking in the snow? Buy these boots and have them Shipped to your door for FREE The Columbia Cascadian Summit's I wear these when hiking in snow and when I'm deer or elk hunting.

Evaluation: There are a lot of boots out there that will keep your feet warm, but what about the outsole? ( tread ) Many boots do not do well on icy or wet surfaces. Check that out before you buy. This boot won't break your wallet either.


Mountain Hiking Boots and Hiking Shoes - When trying on boots to buy

In closing, when trying on boots, do so while wearing only one pair of socks. One good medium thickness sock will do the trick. You want to ensure that the of the boot you choose is the right size.

To do this the correct way...slide your foot all of the way forward in the boot. All of the way forward, until you feel your toes touch the end. Then insert two fingers inside the boot, between your foot's heel and the boot's heel. If you can? You have chosen a boot with a proper fit lengthwise. If not and you can for example only get one finger between your heel and the back of the boot? Try a boot the next 1/2 size up.

To test the side to side, pull your foot back to normal inside the boot and lace up the boot and stand. Your foot should feel comfortably snug but not tight. If the boot pinches your foot in any way or rubs anywhere? try the next width up or even a different brand. Not all brands will fit every foot. Your foot will tell you when you have found the right one. There is nothing worse than wearing boots that cause blisters.

So, in closing, these style boots should feel snug when you first try them on. That's what you want. Snug, but comfortable. Don't worry about the inner liner's (if the style you've chosen has them), as they mash down and compact to fit you foot after just a few trips anyway. I hope you find the right boot for the right hike.

Remember, let your foot tell you which boot to buy. Thanks for reading and I'll see you on the trail.

Before I forget - Buy some waterproof for your boots and seams

Campingman Tip When buying items from Amazon, consolidate your orders to receive FREE Shipping. It's NOT about being cheap, it's about shopping smart.

Atsko Sno-Seal Original Beeswax Waterproofing (7 Oz Net Wt/ 8 Oz overall Wt)
Atsko Sno-Seal Original Beeswax Waterproofing (7 Oz Net Wt/ 8 Oz overall Wt)

I highly recommend this product for a couple of reason, First off, I say that, as it was the first water proofing product I was ever introduced to and I have never had bad luck with it....ever. Secondly, I am only on my second can.

Evaluation: The best reason of all? It's under ten bucks to buy.


Questions or comments about Hiking Boots?

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    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @MarathonRunning: Thank YOU for stopping by and leaving a comment

    • MarathonRunning profile image


      5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Thank you for this informative article! It is very helpful.

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @susan369: Columbia is a fine choice but remember....your foot will tell you which hiking shoe or boot is right for you. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I go through at least one pair of hiking boots a year! I tend to buy the cheap ones though and I find the soles wear out too soon, but I practically live in them and walk several miles each day. I do have a pair of Columbia sandals, which I love. Great quality and so comfortable. I might invest in some Columbia boots as well!

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @grrbtn: Always glad to hear from a reader. Thanks for your visit and comments. Good luck

    • grrbtn profile image


      5 years ago

      I am looking to buy a pair of hiking shoes as I find boots tend to cause knee pain due to a knee replacement I had, so thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Minoru10 profile image

      Michael Yoshinaka 

      5 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      Great lens. I was curious about the kind of shoes needed for hiking, especially upward hiking a mountain. If I ever do, which kind of shoes or boots would you recommend for hiking Mt. Fuji?

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @shay-marie: Good Morning. Thanks for the heads up and I'll check them out. Thanks for stopping by.

    • shay-marie profile image

      Shay Marie 

      5 years ago from Southern California

      I've got a pair of Vasque Breezes that I absolutely adore. They look a lot like the Wallawallas you've got listed here.

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @KimGiancaterino: Thank you, I appreciate your visit and your comments

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      5 years ago

      Great selections and advice!

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @ghoststorylover: Hiking is great, not just for the exercise, but for the freedom of your soul. The enjoyment of nature and all it offers. Thanks for stopping by today and for your comments. Cheers

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Although I've tried so many boots, snug and comfortable when trying on, from many different companies and at many different price points ($50 to $400), I've never found a pair of hiking boots that don't cause me blisters, at least on my heels behind my ankles, and on the joints of my big toes when I'm out on the trails. My podiatrist doesn't know how I do it!

    • ghoststorylover profile image


      5 years ago

      I used to hike and loved it, but now I have no one to hike with. I went on a ten day trek once with my family and our goats. To say the least it was a very interesting and tiring trip!

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @nifwlseirff: If the boots were new or only worn the one time, then that might possibly explain your discomfort. Properly fitted and broken in, boots should cradle your feet. Wish I had a simple answer for you. Good luck to you and thanks for stopping by today and leaving a comment.

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @LiteraryMind: Yeeowch!!! Lost a toenail from a pair of are spot on about choosing the right shoe or boot. I thank you so much for stopping by and I also appreciate your kind comments.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is more complete information about hiking boots than I have ever seen before. Next time I need hiking boots I'll come back to this. The ones I have now are okayish, but a lot of these look like better options. I once had a pair of hiking boots which had the front seam in the wrong place, I made a move that made the shoe come up and the seam removed my big toenail. So it's really important to have the correct shoes.

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @reasonablerobby: Nice choice. North Face make quality merchandise. My only recommendation is to make sure that your foot agrees with your purchase, more than your wallet. Good luck.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm eyeing up some North Face walking boots at the moment

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @LaughingLady LM: Thank you very much and thanks for visiting

    • LaughingLady LM profile image

      Helen Phillips Cockrell 

      6 years ago from Virginia

      What an informative lens! I have referred it to a friend who mountain climbs and hikes a great deal. I'm sure he will find it very useful, too.

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Constantimo: Hahahaha....thank you for the heads up. Always looking for something to buy, use, and recommend. Thank you for your visit and your comments. Cheers.

    • Constantimo profile image


      6 years ago

      Best hiking boots I have ever bought, is a pair of Garmont boots I bought while on holiday in Scotland. Excellent even for digging snow, as they keep my feet cozy and warm!

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @annharrison85: Excellent. I am glad you found some points in the lens that you can use. That's all we can ask for. Enjoy hiking with your son, hopefully he will find it as rewarding as you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very true how brand and price should not be a factor. Picking the wrong shoe/boot would definitely ruin one's hiking experience. Great story. I'm a hiking lover and excited to get my son a pair of his first hiking shoe to go hike with me!


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