Proper footwear is essential for your safety and enjoyment. Shopping for outdoor footwear can be confusing for even the most experienced hiker. You should be able to find good boots at reasonable prices. Take the following information with you when shopping.
The best boot for our terrain is a light to medium weight boot that has ankle support, leather, nylon or Gore-Tex upper, and a hard rubber lug sole (looks like a tire tread). Crepe soled boots, “approach” shoes and “trail” shoes are not acceptable. Do not buy mountaineering boots or high boots that constrict the calf. Your boots should be waterproof and comfortable.
FITTING YOUR BOOTS
A proper fit is essential. You are unlikely to judge this 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 do not feel comfortable, you may return them. Experiment with lacing the boots in different ways to get the most comfortable fit. Boots should have a snug-fitting heel to prevent excessive heel lift which can cause blisters. There should be plenty of toe room, even when walking downhill. Try your boots for fit on both an incline and a decline. Fit your boots with the socks you will wear on course. A light, wicking (polypropylene, sheer wool or nylon) sock next to the skin, combined with a wool sock, provides both cushioning and protection from friction.
TEST TO ENSURE A PROPER FIT
Fit your boots with the socks you will wear 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 heel of the boot.
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 when tapping the front of your boot against the floor, your toes should not hit the end of the boot.
BREAKING IN YOUR BOOTS
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 put 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 certain your boots fit properly, make sure they are waterproofed. Some boots are already waterproofed when they are purchased; but if not, follow the sales associate or manufacturer’s recommendations concerning the type of waterproofing to purchase.