TOP TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE PERFECT BOOT
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, now you’ve had a chance to think about what your feet need, check out our Top Walking Boots…
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.