A hike can be both relaxing and excruciating. Diving into the wild and climbing new heights is a test of will, strength, love, and preparedness.
Anything can go wrong while on your way, and the last thing you need is to underestimate a hike and bring improper equipment.
Of course, you never compromise on safety. Make sure your ropes, harnesses, and protective gear are all set to help you survive.
In terms of comfort, picking the right hiking boots and leaving the proper space for your toes may mean the difference between having fun and being tortured on your way to the top.
Difference Between Hiking Boots and Regular Shoes
Some may feel confused and think that they should get the same size of shoes they have always done in the past. After all, for us adults, our feet will rarely ever change size. While the same size has always worked for us in terms of comfort with regular shoes, hiking boots are different.
What you want to consider in hiking is a larger size. While the snug fit can feel comfortable while you are standing still at the store or taking it for a test walk. The conditions on a hike can change the way you would need to wear your shoes.
For one thing, you would need to wear thicker socks. Temperatures vary while heading to the top, and you may feel that you would need more insulation as you get higher. It is much easier to add layers if you leave enough room for it.
Regular shoes tend to be lighter, thinner, and more flexible. It makes it easier to move with your feet as you walk on your daily commute. Hiking boots tend to be much harder to keep your feet safe from rocks and other hazards.
Hiking can be a fair bit of exercise that you won’t encounter during your regular days. With strenuous exercise, your feet tend to enlarge due to increased blood flow. Leaving ample toe room ensures that your feet won’t feel too cramped in those thick, hard shoes while climbing.
Hiking boots come with either a rand or a toe cap. This hard shield helps protect your toes and the rest of your feet from bumps against the rough terrain. If it is too cramped inside, this hard surface will torture your toes instead.
Accessories also affect your choice of shoe size if you are talking about hiking boots. Stuff like extra-padded insoles will need to be accounted for, as well as added insulation or lining if you feel like you will be getting your feet wet. You don’t need to consider for much with a regular pair since all you will be wearing is a regular pair of socks or nothing at all.
Tips Before Going to the Store
Before going around shopping for hiking boots, you should consider walking around and simulating a feeling of heightened blood circulation. This practice ensures that your feet are at their maximum volume before fitting, ensuring that your feet won’t feel cramped later on.
When measuring your feet, the length is not the only important factor. It would be best if you considered the foot’s arch and width to assess the foot’s total volume. Remember that sufficient toe room in a pair of boots also includes space on top and sides of your toes.
One should remember to bring all the gear you feel you will be adding to the boots before purchase. Wear the appropriate socks, paddings, and comforters that you want to wear to make sure that you can account for them in choosing the right boot size.
Some people need to wear orthotics for strenuous activities. Make sure to bring those with you as this will impact the sizing of the shoes you will buy.
Grow your nails the appropriate number of days matching your hike. It may seem silly, but you may not be able to trim your nails during the hike, and it may impact the space you allot for your toe box. Of course, remember to cut it before you go on your trip.
Practice your lace tightness and technique. The proper lacing can reduce the amount of movement of your feet within the boots while allowing for adequate circulation.
Bring your thickest pair of socks, or at least the one you’ll wear for your hike. You may even want to bring more, as you want to simulate the feeling of extra padding and foot thickness for various temperatures and activities on your trip.
How to Begin Choosing Sizes?
You can start choosing your size by pulling out the insole from the boots you want to try. A good starting point is to have at least a thumb’s length of space between the end of your toes and the insole. You can save time this way by eliminating the shoes that will be a bad fit.
Ask for the wooden-carved base for the shoe’s fit called the “last.” The “last” shows you the shape of the foot that the maker used so that you can match it with your foot’s shape. The closer you are to the model makes it easier to find a comfortable build.
Heel and ankle stability is essential in choosing the right size. You want it to be comfortable, but also limiting enough to keep your foot steady. Keeping the ankles and heels secure reduces the chances of blisters and sprains.
Choosing the Right Type for Your Needs
There are so many different types of hiking boots, and that can naturally feel intimidating about what to get. There are various cuts, materials, and types of support and linings. The type of boots you arrive at can show your hiking preference.
Depending on the type of boots and materials you choose, your foot’s position and angle may vary. This variety can affect how much toe space you will need and the amount of support necessary to keep your feet from feeling fatigued and sore. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what works best for you.
Please don’t overdo it with the features and add-ons if you don’t need it for the type of hike you will take. Lightness is also a factor that you want to account for to ensure that you last the whole trip. If your trail will be dry, there is no need to pad it with waterproofing, for example.
Things to Consider Before Pulling Out Your Wallet
Don’t be pressured to wear the same sizes for both your feet. While it can certainly rack up the pricing, some feet can be asymmetrical so that the right size might be different for both feet. It will be an interesting topic to bring up at the store, but some places allow it.
Don’t rush. Spend as much time as you can to assess the boots you want to wear. Remember that the boots tend to feel tighter as the day goes on, so you want to make sure that it will stay comfortable after wearing it for a while.
Consider walking around the store for a bit while wearing your chosen pair. If there are stairs or inclines available at the store, take advantage of them to test how comfortable it feels when you walk up and down.
Going up and down on a slope will check if you have sufficient toe room in your boots since you will tend to “slide” into the shoes during those activities.
While testing it out, be wary of excessive sliding within the boots, which means that the fit is not right for you, and it can lead to rashes and blisters. If you tend to feel like your toes are hitting the top of your shoes, you did not leave enough toe room.
Preparing for Your Hike
One thing you should always do before heading for a hike with your new boots is to break them in. Please don’t go on your most challenging trail with brand-new boots as they will feel rigid and uncomfortable very quickly. To maximize comfort, you need to soften all features of your hiking boots.
Bring socks of varying thickness. You want to account for every situation, and since we have made sure that your boots are big enough to accommodate thicker socks, you won’t have to worry about it being excessively tight as your feet swell.
Pre-wet your shoes during seasons when you can quickly dry them. Walking through stream trails can help soften and mold the boots’ shape to your feet, making them more comfortable, especially around the heels. Just make sure to try them promptly to reduce damage to the leather.
There are lots of things that can go wrong with a hike, and the last thing you want is for that to be your feet’s demise.
Ensuring adequate toe space makes it more comfortable for you to endure the harsh wild terrain, and it also secures you from potential injury thanks to ample space between your toes and toe caps.
When your feet are comfortable, you can focus on enjoying the trail, the wind, the sights, the food, and the company. We also recommend having a backpack to carry the boots, so, that you can walk barefoot for a few minutes.