Uphill, downhill, into thickets of rhododendrons, over rocky creek beds, pushing through lush forest foliage, and in all kinds of weather—you could encounter this terrain and more on your your backpacking course with Outward Bound. That’s why proper footwear is essential for your safety and enjoyment.
The best backpacking boot for the Blue Ridge Mountains are:
- Light to medium weight with ankle support
- Hard rubber sole
Things you don’t want to bring:
- Mountaineering boots
- Tall boots that constrict the calf
- Brands like Timberlands, Doc Martens, or Blundstones
Fitting Your Boots
It is essential that your boots fit properly and are comfortable. It can be difficult to make this judgment while just walking around a store. Some retailers will allow you to purchase your boots with the understanding that if you wear them indoors for several hours and they aren’t comfortable, you can return them. Make sure that when you fit your boots, you wear them with the socks you will have on course.
Test 1: With the boots unlaced and your toes touching the front of the boot, the boot should be large enough to place your forefinger between your heel and the boot’s heel.
Test 2: With the boot laced, your heel must be firmly lodged in the heel cup with very little lift when you walk.
Test 3: The boot should fit snugly around the ball of your foot so that when you twist your foot, it does not move or slip inside the boot.
Test 4: When on a steep incline or tapping the front of your boot against the floor, your toes should not hit the end of the boot.
Breaking In Your Boots
We highly suggest you begin wearing your boots long before your course starts. Wear them around town and at home as much as possible every day for several weeks. You should try to put at least 10+ miles on your boots to break them in, walking on both level and rough terrain. If you start feeling any hot spots, treat them immediately using moleskin to protect against the hiker’s worst enemy: the blister! Be kind to your feet.
Waterproofing Your Boots
After you are confident your boots fit correctly, make sure to waterproof them. Some boots are already waterproofed when purchased; but if not, follow the sales associate or manufacturer’s recommendations concerning the type of waterproofing to apply.