Usually, hiking trips involve walking on uneven and rocky terrains, which is bound to take a toll on your feet and legs. Therefore, if you are planning to go hiking, you will need to invest in high-quality hiking boots to protect your feet from injuries as well as to make the most out of your adventure. As hiking footwear can vary greatly in design, weight, support and cushioning, it can be confusing for beginners to choose the right hiking boots for their needs. To make it easier for you, below in today’s blog post, I’ll explain the differences between the different types of hiking boots and the features you should consider.
Lightweight Hiking Boots
These boots are designed for hiking on technically undemanding terrain with light to medium loads. They feature mid-cut or high-cut, synthetic upper, EVA midsole and weight around 1000 grams per pair. Lightweight hiking boots provide better ankle support than the regular type but not as good as mountaineering boots. Due to the lightweight materials that they are made of, these boots are also less durable than mountaineering and backpacking boots and have softer and more flexible soles. However, the latter option is going to be just too much if you’re carrying a lot of load with you. All these features make lightweight hiking boots the ideal choice for hiking on established trails with a light to medium load.
These shoes are low-cut around the ankles which means they provide very little ankle support. Therefore, they are not suitable for hiking on rocky terrain or for a long trip where you might need to carry a heavy backpack. Usually lighter than other hiking footwear and featuring softer soles, these shoes provide good comfort and performance on ‘easy’ trails.
Mountaineering and Backpacking Boots
Featuring a mid-cut or high-cut, leather upper and PU midsole, these hiking boots are best for hiking on challenging terrain with a heavy backpack. Mountaineering and backpacking boots differ from the types I mentioned above by being more robust and stiff in order to provide good stability and support on uneven and rocky terrain. For this kind of hiking, more rigid soles also ensure enhanced comfort as they don’t flex around every root, and stone you come across on the trail. The downside of these boots is that they are heavier and less breathable due to the more robust materials used in their construction. This means they are not the best option for day hikes on easy trails.
Waterproof or Not?
Hiking footwear can be either waterproof or not. Your choice will depend on how and where you plan to use them. The pros of choosing waterproof boots are that they will keep water out of your shoes, which means they will keep your feet dry and warm. The cons are that these boots are less breathable and will trap your sweat in. And if they get flooded with water, they will also take longer to dry than their non-waterproof counterpart.