When you are travelling to lots of different places, or even just getting out and about on local hikes, one of the most important things to consider is what you put on your feet.
Your feet are (hopefully) going to carry you many miles and getting the right shoes is one of the most important things that you can do.
My first pair of proper walking shoes for travelling (excluding the big clunky ones that I had in school for an activity weekend trip) was a pair of Timberland Ledge Sport shoes. They cost around £50 and were a good sturdy shoe.
Lightweight and great for hiking in hot weather, they did the trick as a good, entry level pair of hiking shoes. As they were so light, they were great for not adding additional weight to any baggage allowance. With Vibram soles, they had good grip on slippy or rock surfaces, giving a little bit of extra traction when needed. Although they were incredibly comfy (walking on a cloud is the phrase that springs to mind), they are probably best for sticking to walks along well-defined trails as their soles aren’t as hard wearing or chunky enough to cope with anything too rocky.
I found that after a year or so, the soles had worn down quickly and the grip on the bottom was almost completely gone. They were also fairly low cut shoes, which didn’t deliver on the ankle support. If you are planning to walk around in places with lots of uneven ground, these are not the shoes for you. That being said, I still have my original pair and will drag them out on occasion for walks around local parks. You could say that this pair are in semi-retirement.
My current ‘everyday’ hiking boots are a pair of Anatom V2‘s. This was a brand that I hadn’t really heard of until I started to do my research. Located in Scotland, they test their boots on the local hills and fells, making them a sturdy choice for anyone aiming to do their walking on rough, uneven ground. The high supports on these boots have saved me from going over on my ankle too many times to count – something that was invaluable on the rocky paths through Zion National Park. You can read about our adventures in Zion here.
Again, these boots have Vibram soles which were a little thicker than my last pair. This meant that the grip has stayed fairly deep and they were perfect for hiking up the steep granite in Half Dome, Yosemite – even when it was covered in water and slippy as hell!
It’s useful to note that these boots did take some time to wear in. They were fairly stiff across the toes (great for protecting the feet but not so great for bending toes!) and they took some time to really feel comfortable. They are fairly lightweight boots and this means that they are travel friendly.
Wandering Beeb favours the SCARPA R-Evo GTX boots. When I asked him what he liked in particular about them, I was told, “they are good for walking in”, which I took to mean that they were comfortable! (He’s a man of few words!). He did say that his toes sometimes go numb when he walks for some distance, but then again, he has a back problem and he is known to have a numb toe when sat on the couch so I don’t think that we can blame the boots for that!
Sometimes, an everyday pair of hiking boots aren’t always suitable for when the weather changes and the temperature drops. Hiking in snow or ice can be a challenge which requires a specific bit of kit. This brings me on to my favourite pair of hiking boots: my North Face Chillkat II Snow Boots. Let’s get one thing clear- these boots are heavy!! They are very chunky and your suitcase will not thank you for packing these on your next trip – it would be far better to wear them on the plane than let them add to your precious luggage allowance. The weight of these boots is probably their only down-side. These boots are incredible! Firstly they are lined with an internal sock which is fairly thick and serves two main purposes: the first being to cushion feet on long walks. I mentioned walking on a cloud earlier – this is like walking on a cloud, on a trampoline, with pillows on your feet. They are that comfy.
The second purpose to the inner lining is to provide a thermal layer to keep heat in, which works perfectly, making feet feel toasty on the coldest of hikes. They are actually designed to withstand temperatures of -32c and although I’ve never faced such extreme temperatures, I can believe that these boots would stand up to the challenge, given how warm they are.
Vibram soles create a hardy, non-slip grip on the bottom of the boots giving great traction on icy ground. I actually dig these boots out each winter to wear on my walk into work – they make easy going of the ice / snow and keep me warm on my commute. The high-cut, thick padding on the top of the boot helps to keep warmth in and creates a cushioned edge, preventing any rubbing on long walks. The bottom of these boots is almost like a Wellington boot – great for wet weather walking. These boots have made sure that I’ve stayed warm, dry and safe on many snowy hikes (read about our hike in the snow-filled Lake District here) and after 4 years, they are still going strong.
Choosing a new hiking boot shouldn’t be difficult but there are some things you should consider. Our top tips might be handy to keep in mind:
- Think about what you will be using the hiking boot for – cold weather walking? Snow and ice? Summer hikes? Trails or rocky surfaces? Know where you will be mostly hiking and then buy your boot to suit the terrain.
- Think about comfort not style – I’m a bit of a magpie and often aim for the pretty item, however I’ve learned that the pretty boots in the shop might not be very comfortable after five hours of walking. Trust me, comfort must come first!
- Look out for Vibram soles – nothing else really compares and you’ll be thankful for it when it stops you slipping on rocky paths
- Where will you be using your boots? If you are planning to travel by air, lightweight boots might be more luggage friendly.
- Try your boots on in a shop first before ordering. Good hiking shops often have little ramps and different terrain on which to try out your boots. This gives you a good sense of how the boot performs on different types of ground. Even if you are going to buy over the internet, try and visit a shop to try them on first.
Happy walking! Xx