Choosing the Right Boot for the OutdoorsOctober 15, 2015 by Alex Park | Be the first to comment »
When it comes to choosing the right boot for the outdoors, there’s a process that involve several factors such as; how it fits, the price tag, and any special features the boot can offer for the terrain you will be walking on. Now once you come to the decision of buying your favorite boot, it doesn’t just end there. Rather, getting the best mileage out of your boots means that there are some best practices you might want to learn about so that you can get optimal use out of them.
In this guide, we do a bit of a deeper dive into deciding on fit, boot purpose, special considerations and extension of boot life.
Fit is an important factor
The importance of fit varies for the use of the footwear. Shoes that are used for exercising or daily use, you can be more judicious about how tight they fit to your foot per your preference. Some people like their shoes tighter, some looser; it varies from person to person. It makes sense, because most of the time, you won’t be too far from the access of your home and you’ll have the option to change wear.
Now when it comes to being in the outdoors for a few days, you don’t quite have the same freedom. That’s why fit is really important for the circumstances. You want to have a pair of boots that are durable and can go the distance.
Improperly fitting shoes cause back problems and stress on the tendons and joints as well as the possibility of blisters and other foot maladies on the trail. The best way to ensure a proper fit is to buy boots in the afternoon; the feet swell during the day. Also buy the shoe that fits your larger foot — everyone has one foot that is slightly larger than the other. Also make sure that your ankles and arches get the support they need to rough it on the trial.
Additionally, some problems, like blisters on the heels, which are caused by too much room in the heel area, need to be addressed by other means. Thicker socks usually solve this problem. When you’re buying your boots, make sure not to skip out on a few new pairs of socks.
Sizing and foot care in general is top of mind for us at Authorized Boots – in our “foot care tips,” we have shared a list of our favorite tip, feel free to check it out.
Consider your hiking goals
Hiking and outdoor goals should determine what boot you buy. If your goal is to take a bunch of day hikes on well-defined trails, then hiking shoes will do you just fine. However, if your ideal hike includes plenty of rough terrain and possibly a heavy load, choose hiking boots.
Tactical military boots, on the other hand, count as the top dog when it comes to high intensity footwear. Don these boots when your hiking goals include heavy packs and long treks through the woods or mountains over the course of several days. The durability and high ankle support of the boot will prove to be a difference maker in your outdoor experience.
Special boots, material types, and other considerations
Now that you’ve taken first steps to find the right boot, it’s time to narrow your focus a bit. Let’s begin a conversation around material make up of different boots and what the tradeoffs are, shall we?
For heavy-duty use, full-grain leather boots offer great protection both in wet conditions and rough terrain. Boots made of full grain leather are built to handle the outdoors. We highly recommend full grain leather for heavy-duty outdoor camping.
Other leathers like nubuck leather or split-grain leather can be good and offer benefits – it’s cheaper for one and can be great for hiking simple trails. However, each has some drawbacks. Nubuck, synthetic, and split-grain are made of smoother partial leather material and are as result, less durable than rough out leather (or full grain leather).
Breaking those boots in
The best way to start breaking in your boots is by wearing them around your home for a little bit. When you do this, act as if you’re getting ready to head outside, meaning wear the socks you’ll wear for your hikes, lace them up properly, and walk around. They’ll feel stiff in the beginning, but eventually, the materials will relax to the shape of your foot. That’s the time then to go out for shorter treks around town. If you need to stop for milk or go to the post office, put them on. These short distances give you the chance to notice any discomfort and spots that don’t fit right. And finally, don’t be duped into trying a quick fix. Heavier boots require a longer break-in time. You may be taking short walks for several weeks until your shoes and feet can handle the trail comfortably. Don’t skimp on this process. You want the boots to mold nicely to your feet.
Taking care of your outdoor boots
Boot care is a constant process, meaning that starting from when your hike ends until you hit the road again, you should do something to care for your boots. Start with something simple. Read what the manufacturer has to say about the best way to care for your particular boot. That should act as your guide above all else.
That said, outdoor boots last longer with a bit of waterproofing. You can find this usually in the can and just spray it on before using your boots. After that, ensure that your boots stay snug; shoelaces should be intact and not frayed. Eyelets should still have their protectors if they came with them. Basically, you need to check for anything that might fall apart on the trail. If you can fix it yourself, do so. Otherwise, a trip to the shoe-repair shop is in order before you head out on the terrain.
Finally, make sure that you clean your outdoor boots after each trek outside. Get the grit and grime out of the soles. Remove inserts to allow for extra breathing and to aid in the drying-out process. If your boots have gotten wet during your excursion put them someplace to dry for at least 24 hours. More is better. And remember that your boots don’t like extremes in heat or cold. No putting them outside in sub-zero temperatures or allowing them to dry in the sun. This eventually breaks them down.
Although all of these steps represent the best practices when it comes to buying your outdoor boot, the truth remains that there may not be a very best option, only the best option for you. Therefore, these guidelines are just that. Guidelines. That’s why boot-buying is a process. The best way to find the right outdoor boot for you is to take your time and shop around. Further, the best pair of boots quickly become a pain without the proper care and breaking-in period. In short, go through all the steps for the best chance of success with your new boots.