If you are looking for the very best walking boot for long distance hiking you have probably come to the wrong place.
I’m not going to suggest which boot you should buy. 10 different walking boot models will not be compared, with the suggestion that you purchase one with the promise that they are the best boot.
Those articles are helpful, but not in this context.
In this article, I would like to set the record straight. Over the last few weeks on my Facebook group UK Long Distance Hiking i’ve noticed a few posts about walking boots with members of our community asking for advice on the best walking boots.
It’s a good idea to ask these things. After all, if you were buying a kettle, you’d want to know the best kettle, the same goes for a new car.
They are items of a fixed use. A car gets you from A-B, and really it boils down to size, reliability, and how swanky you want to look in front of your mates (I love my Toyota unapologetically).
And kettles boil water, some faster than others, but the outcome is the same.
But boots are a different purchase. Yes they go on your feet and allow you to walk comfortably but I like to think of them like a mattress.
There’s a lot of choice from a soft bed, or a firm bed, a pocket sprung, memory foam, a double, king, super king, or just a single. The truth is, every individual will have a different set of conditions for mattress and the type of mattress will be subjective based on a whole array of variables. For example some users may have back pain, and will need a firm, but supportive mattress. Others may like sleeping on their side, and therefore benefit from a memory foam.
Therefore, would you take a matress recommendation from somebody before going to buy one? No, you would want to visit dreams, and lie on every single mattress in store to work out which one feels best.
You would likely go online and look at some reviews, before visiting benson for beds to give another load of mattresses a go.
Walking boots are a similar buying experience.
We have hikers with low arches, high arches, bunions, wide feet, slender feet – the list goes on.
So much like buying a mattress, one type of boot just won’t cut it.
Here is how to find the best walking boots for long distance hiking
My best recommendation for buying walking boots is this. Try loads on.
Don’t go to Go Outdoors. The staff there mostly know nothing about fitting boots.
The same goes for most larger retailers. Instead stick with smaller independently owned, or small chains of outdoor shops who sell high quality clothing. Ask if they have anyone qualified to fit walking boots.
About the qualified shoe fitters – although retail staff qualified in fitting walking boots won’t have any actual qualifications, its likely they will have been trained by a qualified podiatrist.
Make sure that the store selling walking boots has invested in the training for staff to find the ones which fit.
If they have not, walk away.
But which brands of boot do I recommend?
I’m happy to talk about brand. Lets start with a few to avoid.
Karrimore, Peter Storm, Quechua, anything sold through sports direct (apart from Solomon). They just don’t last. They are cheap for a reason – poor workmanship, often made in huge numbers in China. Thats not always a bad thing, but when the materials used are cheap then I would avoid them like a bad smell.
Instead opt for a good quality boot brand. Altberg, Mendil, Scarpa, La Sportiva, Asolo are a few examples.
Some have slim fits – such as Asolo. Some are known to be slightly wider such as Mendil. However most boot makers tend to have a variety of styles which fit different foot shapes within their ranges now. Therefore, this goes back to what I was saying before – find a boot which fits YOU!
One final bit I want to add is this.
Although not suitable for winter mountaineering and those with really obvious foot injuries or issues who clearly beneefit from a great deal of support – I suggest looking at barefoot shoes.
I’ve been using a pair of barefoot walking boots for a while now and I’ll probably struggle to try anything else, at least for upland walking and anything easier than that.
I didin’t need to find the right fit as my foot is allowed to sit naturally in the boot. That being said, depending on your foot shape, and the type of shoe you can get some ankle lift in the boot which when excessive usually turns into a blister.
I hope this helps you in your quest to find a walking boot that fits.