I’m going to tell you some of my mistakes when buying my first pair of walking boots and what I learned from them. These tips will help you find your perfect boot and save you a lot of time and money!
Hiking/walking is one of the best ways to get out into nature, but it’s not always easy on your feet. To make sure that you can enjoy all adventures with minimal discomfort, here are seven common mistakes people make when purchasing their first pairs of walking boots.
7 Common mistakes people make when buying their first pair of walking boots
1. Buying a pair of boots that is too tight or too loose
This is a common mistake that people make when buying their first pair of walking boots. A tight boot will cause massive blisters on your heels, and a loose boot will rub and cause you to get black toes from debris getting into the gap between your foot and your boot. When trying on a new shoe at the shop, always buy one size larger than you normally would to allow your toes room to move, and also try it with a thick pair of socks. You can wear thinner socks when using your boots for walking so that they fit fine without the extra thickness of the socks.
2. Spending more money on the wrong type of boot for your feet
Some people assume that because they will be doing a lot of walking, they need to buy the most expensive pair of boots on the shelf. This is not strictly true. If you have problems with your feet – fallen arches, a high instep or any other foot condition – then consider buying yourself a good insole to help support your feet. Make sure the boots you choose have enough room for a good pair of insoles to be worn as well as a thick pair of socks to help stop your feet from getting too sweaty, which can also cause blisters. If you plan on doing more walking than normal (e.g. 10 miles plus), don’t go for the most lightweight boot either, as this will wear your feet down even more.
3. Not wearing them in before you go hiking
You must try your boots on at least a few times before going away to make sure that they themselves are comfortable and not holding any painful spots. However, it is also imperative that you wear them around the home for a few days to eliminate any initial stiffness from new boots. It’s no good hiking 10 miles in brand new boots, which are so stiff that it’s like walking on solid planks. Yes, your feet will hurt, but you need to wear them in so that they are shaped correctly to the shape of your feet rather than wearing them for a couple of hours before going to bed and then doing an 8-mile hike up a mountain the following day.
4. Wearing socks with thick seams, which can cause blisters and hot spots
Many people will wear thick socks with ridges to help keep their feet warm during the winter months. This is all well and good, but it can cause problems by adding extra pressure on one specific part of your foot if you have any hot spots or blisters already present from wearing a new set of boots. Thick seams on your socks can rub and cause blisters or hot spots on your feet, which will cause pain and cause you to slow down while walking. Try your best to find socks with no ridges in them at all, and try wearing a thin pair of liner socks under a thicker pair of thermal socks if you really need the extra warmth.
5. Lacing up the boots all the way, so they are really tight around your ankles
When trying on new boots in the shop, you may find that the salesman will ask you to lace them up really tight so that they fit your feet perfectly. This is not always a good idea because it is easy for even the smallest of stones or grit to get caught between your boot and your calf muscle while walking in rocky terrain. It can also cause your ankles to give way and twist, leading to all sorts of problems. If you feel that you need your boots nice and tight, then lace the top three quarters evenly and only leave the laces at the bottom very loose so that they do not rub against your ankle or calf muscles.
6. Expecting to be able to hike right away without breaking in your new boots first
Most boots will need breaking in before you can start hiking properly in them. The soles of the boots are usually very hard with a stiff lip around the edge, so this needs ‘softening up’ so your feet don’t have to work as hard when walking uphill or along an uneven trail. Your new boots may feel fine for the first mile or two but then start to become uncomfortable as the soles stiffen up, and you will feel like you have to clench your feet to grip with them. Don’t be tempted to wear them on a long uphill stretch until they have softened up – it is better for your feet if you wear them on flat ground where you can stop and take them off to give your feet a break. The more you wear them, the faster they will soften up naturally and mould to the shape of your feet.
7. Thinking that lighter boots are automatically better than heavy ones
Yes, hiking boots can be weighty and bulky, especially if you have bought a pair designed for winter hiking, but this does not mean that they are no good. It might be harder to climb hills because of the extra weight pulling your feet down, and it will certainly feel a bit heavier when you first put them on, but this is a small price to pay for extra support and protection from the elements. Remember, heavy boots usually have bigger soles which offer more protection in rocky terrain.
When buying your first pair of walking boots, you mustn’t make the mistake of focusing on looks. Make sure that they fit well and are not rubbing anywhere – good boots should feel comfy even when worn around the house for a while before setting off. Try them out on flat ground to begin with so that any stiff soles have a chance to soften up naturally. Don’t expect them to feel good on the first day, or even after a few hours of walking – they will need breaking in first, so don’t set out on any long hikes until they are ready for it!
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