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Boot Buying Guide

More than any other category of gear, boots can make or break your trip. In this guide, gear editor Kristin Hostetter shows you how to pick the right pair for any outing, any feet.
Gear School 09 Boot illo 445x260Gear School 09 Boot illo 445x260

BACKPACKER Tips: Find The Right Boot

  • Ignore the numbers and buy the pair that feels the best—even if it’s larger than your norm.
  • Try boots on with your hiking socks—not those thin dress socks you wore to work.
  • When trying boots on for the first time, do it at the end of the day, when your feet will be slightly swollen (like they are when you’re hiking). With hiking boots, it’s always better to err on the side of slightly big rather than slightly small.
  • Consider replacing the boot’s standard footbed with an aftermarket insole. They can add arch support, prevent end-of-day soreness, and help low-volume feet fit into standard boots.
  • Less weight equals comfort: Don’t buy heavy-duty boots if you primarily hike with a light pack on mellow trails.
  • Break in boots thoroughly by wearing them around the house and on short dayhikes. Light hikers will be ready in a few days, but heavier, all-leather boots require a few weeks of wear.
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