Although I have been on too many hikes to count, I have not invested in hiking boots. I don't know if it is the cost conscious person in me or the fact that there are so many to choose from that keeps me from going for it. I may just be too fond of my running shoes to want to make the switch. Sure, they aren't waterproof and they don't support my ankles. But, they hug every bump on the trail instead of tripping on them and I am so familiar with them they just feel right.
However, one day I will have to just go out and make a choice. So, how do we do that?
First, you have to know what most of your hikes consist of. Rocky or smooth? If your hikes are pretty rocky with uneven terrain you may want to invest in a mid to high top hiking boot. These are designed to help support your ankles on uneven terrain. They also help keep debris from getting in your shoes which is nice. If you are more of a leisurely hiker sticking to flat and even surfaces you would probably be just fine with a low top hiking shoe. Sturdy with good traction but without the extra ankle support.
Second, will your hikes be mostly dry and during the summer or are you an all weather type of hiker? In Washington, even if you only hike in the summer, you still will want to invest in a waterproof hiking boot. I have run into snow and water over the trail in August. So far, I have been able to keep my feet dry in just my running shoes by avoiding the wet areas, but as I venture into the different seasons, I will need a shoe or boot that will be more practical. You don't want to have to hike 5 miles with wet feet.
Finally, make sure you go to a good sporting goods store and ask an expert for help. Tell them what your plans are and use their expertise to find the right boot for you. Try multiple boots on, walk around. Take your time. This boot will hopefully be with you for a long time and is an investment. You need something that will keep your feet happy for 100's of miles. As a runner, I usually put 200-500 miles on a pair of shoes. You will be putting similar mileage on your hiking boots. Make those miles comfy and dry ones. For even more information on how to choose the right boot go to REI.
Do you have a favorite hiking boot that stands the test of time? Tell us about it. Also stay tuned for my video blog as I try to find the right boot for me.