• kelsey jennen

9 Things to Look for When Shopping for Women’s Hiking Boots


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There are so many kinds of women's hiking boots out there, sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. The truth is that it all starts with you. What kind of hiking are you going to be doing? Short day hikes or long-distance backcountry hikes? What kind of terrain will you be hiking over, and how much weight will you be carrying? This in addition to your actual foot size and shape will determine what kind of hiking boot is best for you. Here are nine factors to look for in every pair of boot you try.


Fit and Comfort


Women’s hiking boots are of course designed for women’s feet, but some are better than others. The fit is the absolute most important aspect of any boot, and it's always helpful to go into the store and have the length and width of your feet measured. Boots could be of high quality, but if they don't fit your feet just right, they'll do more harm than good. Walk around and wiggle your toes. The boots may feel like they fit at first, but if you don’t have enough room to wiggle your toes around, your feet will swell while you're hiking, and you’ll be in a world of pain out on the trail. You need some extra room, but not too much. If the boots are too big, you’re likely to trip and fall. Find a happy medium, and don’t buy them if something feels off about the fit. They should be snug, but not be putting any uncomfortable pressure on your feet or ankles.


Support vs Flexibility


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Let’s talk about two main types of women's hiking boots: boots for day hiking and short trips, and boots for backpacking and backcountry hiking. Boots for day hikes can generally be lighter, more flexible, and lower on the ankle. This comes with less support, but also less weight and more flexibility for moving quickly. On the other hand, women's hiking boots for backpacking and backcountry hiking will have a lot more support for your feet and ankles, come up higher on your lower leg, and add a lot of weight. If you’re traversing deep into the wilderness, you’ll need the support and protection that lighter weight day hiking boots just won’t provide. So before you go shopping for a good pair of boots, think about what kind of hiking you’ll be doing and whether you'll need more flexibility or more support.


Weight


Women’s hiking boots with good support and durability may also come with a heavier weight, which may feel cumbersome on a day hike, especially if you’re not carrying a heavy load on your back. But heavier boots with more support can take on a heavy load for long-distance hikes when you’re carrying a pack. This will protect your feet from strain and damage. If something happens to your feet, your hiking trip is getting cut short, so make sure the weight of the boot fits with the type of hike you’re going on.


Weather Compatibility


Some women's hiking boots are designed to handle more moisture than other boots. Others are designed for other types of weather and climate. If you’re going to be hiking in the heat, look for lighter and more breathable boots. If you’ll be in a wet climate, look for high top hiking boots that drain water while keeping your feet dry. If you’re going to be hiking in a winter climate, find a pair of boots designed for cold weather and snow. If it could be icy, also grab a pair of crampons that fit the soles of your boots. These lightweight tools saved my life in the Grand Canyon, and I highly recommend having some that you can easily slip on your boots in the event you find yourself on an icy path.


Durability


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Women's hiking boots come in so many different levels of quality, and it's worth investing in a pair that will last for many miles and years. When shopping for a new pair of boots, check with the manufacturer to see how many miles they are made to last. Day hiking boots and boots that are lower in price will not be able to last the long distances that backpacking and backcountry hiking boots will. Check what kind of material the boots are made of and if it will be able to withstand any tough terrain.


Breathability


The lightweight and more flexible day hiking shoes are also more likely to be more breathable and less water resistant. Vented boots with great breathability are perfect for day hiking in hot weather, but may also not be as protective against severe weather conditions or rough terrain. But a light and breathable pair of hiking boots could help keep your feet dry and cool on warm hikes in a dry climate.


Traction


Just like your tires, your boots need to have traction. Traction will keep you from slipping and falling on rock, dirt, or wet ground. Falling is one of the most common reasons that hikers become lost or even killed, and having good traction on your boots can protect you from the danger of a slip on steep terrain. Before you buy a pair of boots, check the bottoms and put your fingers between the grooves the same way you would check the tread of your tires. Do this frequently throughout the life of your boots to see when you need to upgrade to a new pair.


Price


You shouldn’t have to break into your retirement fund to get a great pair of women's hiking boots that will last long. But you should also beware of super low prices, as the quality of the boot is going to be low, as well. It’s best to find a price that matches the quality you need and the budget you can afford. If you find a great pair of hiking boots that you love, shop around and see if you can find them at a lower price somewhere else.


Style


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Style is not the most important thing when deciding on a good pair of hiking boots, but you have to wear them, so you should like them. If everything else seems to fall into place, then go with the ones you like best. But don’t ever compromise the quality for style.


Overall, look for fit and durability. Get the right boots for your hiking style. Go with flexible and light for shorter hikes, and supportive and durable for those long thru hikes. Ask someone at an outfitter who knows about hiking boots to help you choose a pair, and be sure to ask all the right questions about support, fit, durability, and what the materials are made to handle.



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