Purchasing a quality set of hiking boots/shoes should be a top priority before heading out on your next adventure. Your footwear is what provides you with grip, support, and stability throughout your treks. So, what makes a set of boots/shoes the “best”? The short answer is it depends! When it comes to choosing a pair of hiking boots, there are two major things to consider.
Hiking shoes are a great option if you’re looking for something reliable and lightweight for easy to moderate terrain difficulties. They generally provide good breathability, flex, and comfort, making them perfect for day hikes or to cover long journeys with minimal backcountry. However, their lightweight low-cut design comes at a trade-off for stability. Since the cuff ends below your ankles, you are going to find no additional ankle support when going through tough, uneven areas. If you’re planning a long-distance backpacking trip, it might be worth your while to consider a boot option. While it might be tempting to shave some weight, the last thing you want while miles from help is to be incapacitated from an ankle injury.
Hiking boots are a step up for stability, making them better suited for backcountry terrain where you may find yourself consistently stepping through rocks and brush. However, it is not as simple as just shoes vs. boots. Depending on your goals and preferences, you can find hiking boots in two main options: Mid-Cut and High-Cut.
High Cut: These are generally going to be very similar in feel to a mid-cut hiking boot, with the main difference being that the cuff now extends a couple inches above your ankle. This additional coverage is going to be ideal for ankle stability and protection from the elements, making them the best suited for the toughest conditions. While these will keep you the most protected against ankle injury, cuts, and pests, these usually tend to be the heaviest option, least breathable, and require the longest break in period.
Picking the right footwear boils down to matching the right features to your goals. Take a good look at the trips you have planned and ask yourself what makes more sense? In most cases, lower cuts mean lighter, more breathable, and less break in time. Higher cuts mean more stability, warmth, and protection from debris and brush.
Don’t forget to subscribe to Napier’s blog or follow us on Instagram @napieroutdoors for more tips and tricks!