There are three key characteristics to look for in a pair of trekking boots. The first two – fit and quality – are decided at point of purchase. The third – use – is entirely dependent on you the wearer.
Get any of these three characteristics wrong and you risk getting sore feet, injuring your back, losing toenails and enduring painful blisters.
A great way to test good fit is to place your foot in a boot and slide it all the way forward until your toes hit the front of the boot (make sure you are wearing an average cushioned sports sock). Then take your index finger and slide it down the back of the boot between your heal and the boot support.
A perfect fitting boot will allow you to squeeze your finger in without too much resistance. If you cannot squeeze your index finger down the back of the boot, then unfortunately the boot is too small. If you find that your index finger fits too easily into the back of the boot, then the boot is likely too big. A snug fit, with your index finger in the back of the boot, is what you should be looking for.
This is however is not a science, but a good way of finding fitting boots.
Quality doesn’t mean have to mean expensive, in fact you can get some affordable trekking boots that are great quality. Good quality boots have the following design features:
Medium to high tops for study ankle support. The higher the top the heavier the boot
The sole of the boot should have a high rubber content and deep lugs for better traction – the deeper the lugs, the heavier the boot
Medium to heavy weight – heavy boots are good for durability and cushioning, but the extra weight of the boot can be pretty tiring to hike in. We recommend going for a medium weight boot
Waterproof – this is pretty standard today but always good to get boots that use GoreTex material for improved waterproofing
Lacing system should incorporate D-Strings and speed hooks for better ankle support and fast lacing
Once you have got yourself a good fitting pair of boots that have similar characteristics to those set out above, then the task is to break your boots in. Do not, under any circumstances, arrive for your Kilimanjaro climb with brand new hiking boots that you have never worn.
The best way to break boots in are to wear them as often as possible before your hiking date. During that time you should undertake 2-3 long distance treks (4-5 hours a day) in your boots.
When the inner soles of the boot start to contour the bottom of your foot then you can be confident that your boots are well worn in.