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Best Hiking boots?

Joined
Dec 14, 2006
Messages
1,350
Hi all, I am looking for lasting, day hiker/mid high, gortex or leather hiking boots for myself and girlfriend. I've been reading reviews but their are so many to choose from and I don't know where to begin, and you folks have sure helped me with other things. I live in a small town with nothing near to "try on and fit" so we will have to do it via-email. Several places have "free shipping back and forth" and that will help, but I would really appreciate some suggestions on the boots you own and know and like and where to buy from. I'm thinking now would be a good time to start looking for good deals. Thanks for any and all tips you have..
 
I have about 4 pairs of Merrels, shoes and hikers, and they are the best brand I have ever used. Not sure about where to order from, try zappos.com
 
REI.com and zappos.com are the best for hiking boots IMO. Merrells are great but since my feet are narrow with high arches I prefer ADIDAS. Also look at the brand KEEN.
 
There is no one brand or style of boot for all.

YOu must shop and try on many styles and get a good fit.

Any boot that is broken in out of the box is not stiff enough for off trail use in my experience.

Break them in loong before you need them.

All leather is the best with as few seams as possible. Gortex is not needed with all leather boots.

Like everything else the more you pay the better the quality generally. Most people go cheap on footwear and this is a mistake as its your primary mode of transport in the wilds, dont skimp.

Skam
 
There is no one brand or style of boot for all.

YOu must shop and try on many styles and get a good fit.

Any boot that is broken in out of the box is not stiff enough for off trail use in my experience.

Break them in loong before you need them.

All leather is the best with as few seams as possible. Gortex is not needed with all leather boots.

Like everything else the more you pay the better the quality generally. Most people go cheap on footwear and this is a mistake as its your primary mode of transport in the wilds, dont skimp.

Skam

I am a podiatrist and an avid hiker.:cool:

My expert opinion is "What he said.":)

+1 (good post):thumbup:
 
Trying them on is important. Each manufacturer's last (the form used to build the shoe) varies quite a bit. You will find a maker or two that hits the sweet spots for your feet. If you can't get to a store, suppliers like REI and Zappos will take returns with no hassle. I've had good experiences with Sierra Trading Post too. www.backcountryoutlet.com/ has good shoe deals sometimes and their offshoot web store, www.steepandcheap.com has some fantastic deals, but you beeter know what you are buying there. www.steepandcheap.com will run one item until it sells out-- that might be all day or 15 minutes. I got a paid for Salomon Canyon Mid GTX (Gore-Tex) hiking shoes there last week for $27!

I only wear Gore-tex boots in the winter when it is almost guaranteed that I will be in mud and water or snow all day. Some extensive testing was done with waterproof shoes and they take a long time to dry out once you have dunked then in a stream, or sweat soaked them. My three-season shoes have a lot of mesh and will drain and dry quickly. Not only does size vary with the maker and style, but I wear much heavier socks in the winter-- enough to require another half size. Summertime, I'm wearing light Coolmax running socks and the shoes are more of a glove fit.

Many people buy boots that are too heavy for the job. Keep in mind that you will pick 'em up and put 'em down thousands of times, so the lightest boot for the job will leave you with the most energy. Getting your load as light as possible will allow you to wear lighter shoes too. I wear trail runners for most of my hiking as my pack weight for a three day trip is around 21 pounds fully loaded.

There is a trade off between durability and weight. Long distance thru-hikers on the Applachian Trail or Pacific Coast Trail might trade off light hikers and trail runners every 600 miles or so. The inside and outside fabrics wear and the footbeds will loose their support over time-- runners have the same problem.

My personal leanings are to Vasque and Salomon foot gear. New Balance makes some very good trail runners; Montrial is another good brand. Danner has always impressed me with the construction of their boots. I steer clear of brands like Hi Tec.
 
I agree with trying them on before buying. I bought a pair of top quality German hiking boots from Cabelas and had to return them because the toe box was too shallow for me.

I ended up getting a pair of Vasque Zephyr GTXs that are both leather and gortex. They fit very well and after wearing them a day or two in the house, I went on a 7 mile hike and didn't get a hot spot. 5 years later, I'm still wearing them. Soles are worn down, but still offer good traction and I havn't had a blister. Hiking Idaho, Washington, Nevada, Oregon, California and Arizona through all 4 seasons, they've got some miles on them, havn't let any water in and unless they've changed a heck of a lot since I bought them, I'll be checking out Vasque again when I'm ready to buy.
 
I concur with the idea that you have to try the boots on. The best boot for you is the pair that actually fits. Don't get so caught up in brand identification that you talk yourself into buying something that doesn't fit.

A lot of stores that sell hiking boots now have small ramps you can walk up and down on when trying on the boots. Use these. It's the only way to find out if your toes are going to hit the front of the boot on the downhills, and if your heel is going to rub badly on the uphills.

If the boot is uncomfortable in the store, it's only going to be 10x worse on the trail. Never buy boots that don't feel good, but which you think will be fine once they break in.

Also, the person who suggested going with the lightest weight boot possible was spot on. I actually hike quite a lot in walking shoes (made by Merrell) as I often am not carrying enough weight to require a boot's ankle support.

Of course, all of this can put you into a trade-off bind. :) I bought new hiking boots last summer and finally ended up with an all-leather pair of Osolos. They were more expensive and heavier than I wanted. But on the other hand they're the most comfortable things I've ever put on my feet. So, in the end, comfort won out over weight savings.
 
Every pair of boots my wife has ever bought has caused her blisters if we hiked over about 10 miles. Finally we went to an outdoors store and she tried them out and finally got a pair that didn't cause her blisters. We are talking about almost 20 years of trying thru the mail.

I have found almost no gore tex boot that has not failed on me after a few hikes. Maybe the extremely rocky terrian does it but for sure they are short term.
 
Get a copy of The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher, which has the most comprehensive advice on boots, leather treatment and (what else?) walking that I have read. Great survival book, too. Currently I'm wearing Lowa's, probably the best hiking boots I've ever had. Merrell's are also excellent.
 
There is no one brand or style of boot for all.

YOu must shop and try on many styles and get a good fit.

Any boot that is broken in out of the box is not stiff enough for off trail use in my experience.

Break them in loong before you need them.

All leather is the best with as few seams as possible. Gortex is not needed with all leather boots.

Like everything else the more you pay the better the quality generally. Most people go cheap on footwear and this is a mistake as its your primary mode of transport in the wilds, dont skimp.

Skam



I am a podiatrist and an avid hiker.:cool:

My expert opinion is "What he said.":)

+1 (good post):thumbup:

I am not a podiatrist ;) but have been an avid hiker
and walker for many years. Also, I lived in NYC for
several years and in that town you walk everywhere.
On concrete. You need good footwear or you really feel it.

And, I think skammer got it right; great post.

I'll add just ONE thing I've found to be truth:

boots (and shoes) don't "break in" to fit.
They either fit when you put them on; or they don't.
(They do of course break in and become more
comfortable over time; assuming they fit correctly
at the outset.)
 
If you're the kinda person who buys custom knives you might also look into custom boots. "Whites" boots makes a full-leather custom hiker that isn't that much more expensive than a pair of asolos or vasque sundowners. I've never ordered a pair from them but their reputation with foresters and loggers is impeccable. Also, if you're willing to put of your first hiking trip for about 3 1/2 years you could get on the waiting list for a pair of custom Limmers, as per the Mainer's suggestion earlier. The 3 1/2 years will also give you time to earn the $500 they'll set you back. I have owned a pair of off-the-shelf Limmers and it was like wearing a pair of cadillacs on your feet.
 
I highly recommend Danner Fort Lewis Boots.I've been wearing those the last few years.I also like Matterhorns,but the Danner Fort Lewis are better.High Quality,durable,comfortable,made in the USA.
 
A few years ago I switched to Merrells, and I haven't looked back since. Very comfortable.
 
wow, I've never heard of thouse companys, I've only bought from the irish setter and a pair of $200 colemans.
 
Danner Mountain Lights are the best match for my feet. Or else I've been wearing them so long that my feet have become shaped to the boots...

-Bob
 
I have had very good luck with Raichle hiking boots , two sets one mountaineering and one heavy duty hiking, they just fit my foot very well, they make a nice day hiker that I plan on trying when my lowas wear out.

I have a set of Lowa day hikers that have impressed me with their fit and quality of construction as well
.
Tried merrell day hikers they just did not work for me.

Nike has been my trail runner of choice lately, durablility in this class of footwear always an issue.

I tend to like a boot with the calfskin innner liner, especially in the heel pocket area, it does not wear as bad as the fabric/cambrelle over time, and will mold to the foot nicely, only draw back a bit longer drying time, worth it in my books,

Again the key is to get a boot that fits your particular foot very well and has the right amount of support for the terrain and load you are carrying.

A*
 
I've had a pair of Vasque boots that I really liked, you should check out zappos, I can't say enough good things about them! Free shipping all the way. If the shoe doesn't fit, send it back and they will send you the size you specify (or a refund if you choose). I've only done this once with a pair of sneakers that didn't fit and the turn around time was within a week.:thumbup:
 
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