Gear Guide Spring 2017: Footwear
Not all hiking boots are created equal. So make the most of your trail time by picking the right shoes for the job: fleet trail runners for training sessions, light hikers for dayhikes, and supportive boots for multi-day trips with big packs. You'll find all those, and more, on our list of the best hiking boots and shoes of 2017.
Miles hiked: 4,731
Longest day: 18 hours (Phillistine-Rolleston Traverse, New Zealand)
Biggest elevation change: 6,000 ft. (Section of Mountains-to-Sea Trail, NC)
Coldest temp: -15°F (Indian Peaks, CO)
Highest Trip: 14,270 ft. (Grays Peak, CO)
How to Buy Hiking Boots
Shop late: Try on boots at the end of the day when your feet are swollen—like they’ll be after a day of hiking.
Try different brands: Manufacturers use different shaped lasts for various reasons. Your feet will feel better in some than others; pay attention to how the contours of the footbed work with the contours of your feet.
Find a slope: Dial in fit, then see how it changes when you stand on an incline. (Good stores have a sloped board for this purpose.) If your toes slide forward when you’re facing downhill, then chances are you’ll be losing some toenails.
Use your insoles: If you use aftermarket orthotics, bring ’em.
Spend time: Walk up and down the aisles, no shame.
Lighten up: In general, get the lightest shoes that are appropriate for the terrain and load. Excess weight on your feet leads to fatigue and soreness.