How To Choose The Perfect Walking Boot?

How To Choose The Perfect Walking Boot?

Walking is a great way to keep fit and healthy. It can make your feet stronger, your body fitter, relax your brain and reduce your stress levels. Everything that will lead to a happier/healthier you! There really is nothing better than getting out into the great British countryside, breathing in the fresh air and spotting the wonders of nature all around.

It is crucial though to invest in a decent pair of walking boots and shoes and to make the right choice for the type of walking you are doing. There is plenty to choose from out there in the market, and here are our top tips to help you make the right selection.

 

Fit – this is probably the most important tip of all. If your boots are too tight, too loose, too narrow, too broad then you will definitely not enjoy your walking experience. As a rule of thumb, your foot needs to be about a fingers width from the end of the boot, and a simple way to see this, is to remove the inner footbed and stand on it with your heel tucked neatly into the heel counter at the back. If you are too close to the end of the boot then walking downhill will cause real problems.

The majority of British feet are rather broad and the whole shape of the boot is created by the ‘last’. This is a foot shape (used to be wooden in the old days and is now high density plastic), which the upper is placed on to create the shape before it is attached to the sole. The good old Brasher boots were extremely popular mainly due to their broad ‘last’, and the nearest replacement (in our opinion) which is a brand called Grisport also use mainly broad lasts.

Waterproof – the most commonly asked question by customers (especially at this time of year), is, is the boot waterproof? Essentially there are 2 different uppers used in walking boots and shoes: full leather or fabric (a generic term used for all fabric uppers or a combination of fabric/suede etc). Regardless of whether the fabric upper has waterproof membranes, a leather upper will naturally repel more water, and by maintaining it with a conditioning cream will keep water rolling off of the upper rather than soaking into it, drying and ultimately cracking.

If waterproofness is of great importance to you, we would definitely recommend a leather walking boot/shoe. The fabric ones will need more maintaining to keep the water rolling away from the upper, as once the water soaks into the upper (which it will do quicker than a leather upper), the membrane will have to work very hard to keep the water out.

Support – the level of support you need is dependant upon the type of terrain you intend to walk on. At the extreme end of the scale, mountaineering boots are very stiff with high ankles providing maximum support, whilst boots for low level walking have more flexible soles and are lower cut into the ankle. Whether you choose a boot or a shoe is very much down to individual choice but also whether the ankle support is required for the terrain you are going to be walking on. Generally speaking, we would recommend good ankle support if you are going to be walking reasonable distances.

Sole – there are 3 components to the underneath of a walking boot: the outsole, midsole and the footbed. The outsole needs to be of a high quality rubber (the best brand name in the market here is Vibram®), and it is crucial for the midsole to be made of shock absorbing materials (especially as you get older). The more shock absorption provided, the less stress there will be in your toe, ankle, knee, hip joints and back. The footbed should be contoured (to again give the foot some support) and removeable.

Quality – it goes without saying really that if you are going to invest in a decent pair of walking boots, then not only does the upper material and sole need to be of good quality, but also the other components such as hooks/eyelets and laces. Many of the cheaper boots on the market use inferior leathers and sole units, which of course will not last that long, nor give you as much comfort.

Price – possibly this should have been at the top of the list. Prices for a decent walking boot range from £80 upwards but you really need to check that you are just not paying a premium for the name on the side. As in everything, the well-known brands will always cost more pro rata for what you are getting. It’s worth comparing pound for pound.

Here is a selection of our recommended styles that, in our opinion, offer the best value for money for a quality walking boot or shoe (for low level country/hill walking. You may not have heard of the brand Grisport, but we have scoured the market and have looked in depth at what is available and at what price. Grisport is one of the largest outdoor footwear factories in Europe. Based at the foot of the Dolomite mountains in Italy, what they don’t know about walking footwear, isn’t worth knowing! Instead of ploughing a lot of money into marketing (which ultimately the consumer pays for), they put it into producing a top quality product at an affordable price.


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