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TOP TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE PERFECT BOOT

A simple guide to choosing the right walking boot for you... By Cotswold Outdoor
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Selecting the right walking boot can seem like a daunting task and at first glance there are so many different types to think about. This guide however will make choosing your next walking boot simple and easy to understand.

From getting the correct fit, all the way to the best materials for the job, this guide will help you choose which walking boots based on your own unique needs.

READ OUR TOP TIPS BELOW…

Where Are You Going?

Walking boots are made with a specific environment in mind. This means that depending on the severity of the terrain and the conditions you will be heading into, the characteristics of the boot, such as the stiffness of the sole or the height of the ankle are specifically designed for the demands you will face.

If for example you intend to stick to well-trodden and predictable paths then you can go for a lightweight boot or shoe with a reasonable amount of flexibility. In less challenging terrain flexibility is good as it helps your foot move naturally and on long journeys this can aid your comfort.

If however, you are at the other end of the scale and intend to be moving over uneven, broken or very steep ground then you will need a more rigid boot with good ankle support. If your boots have stiffer soles, you’ll have a more stable platform to stand on, and in essence a higher cut boot behaves like scaffolding, supporting your ankles.

Of course, walking encompasses many different landscapes and the majority of people will be somewhere in the middle of this scale, but you get the idea; the further you’re likely to stray from even, flat land, the more sturdy and supportive your boots need to be.

Get The Correct Fit

Another absolutely vital step is to get the correct fit. Fitting however isn’t just about the size of your feet, it’s also about the shape. This takes in many factors across the entire length of your foot, from the width of your heel all the way to the flexibility of your toes. If you want to check the fit of a pair of boots or shoes you have at home you can follow our simple boot fitting guide.

With so many variables to consider, we would always recommend receiving a free in store boot fitting service. This involves being accurately measured by one of our expertly trained members of staff as well as talking through your needs, helping you find the boot that is best for you.

But don’t forget, the two most important things to consider are the terrain you will be travelling over and the fit of the overall boot. If you get these two things right then the rest will easily fall into place.

Are They Waterproof?

This is something a lot of customers ask us, and it’s hardly surprising as nobody wants soggy, uncomfortable feet. As the majority of modern boots are lined with a waterproof membrane however, the simple answer will usually be yes.

But to avoid soggy feet, you don’t just want to keep the wet out; you need to let it out too. Otherwise your boots will be full of sweat and condensation.

In other words, you need your boots to breathe. GORE-TEX® walking boots are particularly good at allowing sweat vapour to escape, but our range of walking boots includes many different and effective waterproof membranes.

Another thing you can do to keep the wet out is to use something called a gaiter. This is a waterproof cuff that goes over the top of your boot and fastens around the lower leg. This helps prevent water running down into your boot as you walk through rain, snow or wet grass. They are also particularly useful when walking over scree or loose gravel, as this type of terrain can flick into your footwear.

Leather Or Synthetic?

Thanks to advances in materials, the differences between leather and synthetic boots are increasingly small. In the past it could have been said that leather boots were more durable and easier to care for, whereas synthetic boots were lighter and required less ‘breaking in’.

However, today these differences are less pronounced. What this means is that when selecting a pair of walking boots the amount of choice has never been better. Despite this, the most important part of your decision should, and will always be the fit. If they fit correctly then this is the best place to start.

Let’s Talk About Socks

While you’re getting fitted, make sure you check out the socks too. The right socks – with the right padding, insulation, wicking, and elasticity – makes a big difference to the feel of your boots. As with boots, different socks suit different applications, but that’s OK, we have plenty for you to choose from.

Shop Socks »

THE ANATOMY OF A BOOT

The boot is made up of many composite parts. Here is a brief overview from the ground up.

The Sole Unit

1. The rubber outsole provides grip. Deep lugs dig into the ground and it’s moulded from high-friction rubber compounds to stop you slipping on smooth rocks.

2. The midsole is buried away inside the boot and its role is to provide the correct amount of flex. Moulded from various composites, this stiffener needs to be really ridged if you intend to stand on little rocky edges or scramble, but can be more flexible if it’s just for walking. When picking your boots, take a few options and give them a good bend with your hands.

3. A footbed or insole provides you with cushioning so you’re not standing straight onto the hard midsole. The insole is usually removable and many people who may have issues with their arches for example, choose to replace it with a specialised and more supportive footbed.

Inside The Boot

4. A soft leather or wicking fabric lining provides comfort inside the boot, as well as protecting the membrane from dirt and abrasion.

5. The tongue will usually be attached to the rest of the upper with a bellows, to stop water and debris getting in. When fitting make sure the tongue is correctly aligned, with no pressure points or folds.

6. The cuff or collar wraps around your ankle. The cuff should be soft on the inside, but its overall rigidity is dependent on the style of the boot. Technical boots should have a high, firm cuff, whereas more leisurely styles can be a bit more flexible all round.

The Outer

7. The toe-box and heel-counter, like the midsole, are buried away. Sitting between the lining and the outer, they provide the shape and structure at the front and back of the boot. The size and shape of these vary between brands and styles, so be sure to try on a few options.

8. The rand is a rubber reinforcement around the edge of the boot to guard against abrasion and protect the stitching between the sole and upper. Not all boots will have this, as it is a characteristic mainly reserved for the stiffer, more technical boots.

9. Lacing. On a walking boot you’ll find robust hooks, eyelets and locking cleats for the laces, ensuring a secure, customisable fit. You can refer to our boot fitting guide for tips and tricks on lacing.

So, now you’ve had a chance to think about what your feet need, check out our Top Walking Boots

Shop Walking Boots »

Posted By

Jacob Thrall / Leeds Store

Hailing from our Leeds Store, Jacob has been walking, climbing and travelling the world since he was a youngster, from North Yorkshire to the frozen North of Canada, from East Africa to Easter Island. Since 2002, he’s  been talking and writing about kit for Cotswold: in-store, in the catalogue and on the web.