Here are a few things to consider when buying hiking boots: It is best to wait until the afternoon to buy hiking boots, as feet can swell during the day. You should also spend a few hours buying hiking boots. Only then can the relevant models be thoroughly tried out in specialty stores. Good stores will also measure your feet before buying hiking boots and provide inclines for walking uphill and downhill. To try them on, you should put on the hiking socks that you will wear later on your trip. Make sure your hiking boots roll smoothly – the smoother your shoes roll, the better. Ideally, the roll-off point is directly under the ball of the foot. If you are prone to pressure points, you should wear extra thick socks and special insoles.
1. Multifunctional shoes
Area of use: Day hikes on easy paved hiking trails and in travel and everyday life.
Shoe type: Low-top models (low-tops), mostly with good cushioning, not particularly hard soles, with a non-slip profile. The upper is made of leather, a blend of leather and synthetic materials, or pure synthetic. For use in any weather, there should be no shortage of waterproof breathable membranes like Gore-Tex. Price: 60 to 150 euros.
2. Lightweight hiking boots
Area of use: In hilly terrain, carry a light backpack for day hikes and also off the beaten track.
Shoe Type: Lightweight hiking boots are comparable to hiking boots in terms of construction and upper materials used, but they feature an ankle-high body and provide more grip in off-road terrain. The soles are also usually a bit stiff. Lightweight hiking boots weigh 500 to 700 grams per shoe (size 43) and cost 90 to 200 euros.
3. Long-distance hiking boots
Area of use: Day trips in the lower mountains or foothills of the Alps with a backpack that is not too heavy; also suitable for rough roads.
Shoe type: Hiking boots provide better support than lightweight hiking boots because the body is firmer and slightly taller. In addition, the structure of the sole is more rigid, so stones and roots don’t get through as quickly. The upper is usually made of leather, sometimes with Cordura trim. Hiking boots cost about 150 to 200 euros per pair of 650 to 900 grams (43).
4. Short hiking boots
Area of use: Carry heavy to very heavy luggage on long hikes even in difficult terrain off the beaten track.
Shoe Type: Mountaineering shoe with a very strong, stable and high upper that supports the foot well in off-road terrain and comes with a complete backpack. They have a stiff, only moderately cushioned sole for good solidity. For pure tent travel, leather boots should also have a functional membrane, then they will dry faster. Weight: Over 800g (43) per pair, Price: From 170€.
5. Lightweight hiking boots
Areas of use: Mountain tourism without glacier contact, easy climbing, via Virida. Also known as rising or approaching shoes.
Shoe type: Low-top shoes or ankle boots with a soft upper but a relatively stiff sole with little cushioning. It controls climbs on rocks as well as comfortable hikes on trails and offers high pedaling precision. The materials used are mainly leather, often combined with functional membranes. Weight: 550 to 900 grams per shoe (size 43); Price: approx. EUR 150.
6. Hiking boots
Areas of use: From well-developed paths to alpine tourism, with climbing access on rocks and ice; glacier crossing.
Shoe type: Mountain boots usually have a rigid sole that is arched so that you can also walk longer distances with the shoe. Most hiking boots are designed for semi-automatic crampons (rockers/cups). Axles are usually lower than hiking boots to improve mobility when climbing. Weight: 900 to 1200 grams (43) per shoe; Price: From 200 EUR.
7. High Altitude Boots
Fields of application: Demanding activities on extreme terrain; alpine tours on rock and ice and expeditions.
Shoe type: Extremely stiff sole with minimal cushioning so that automatic crampons can be fitted. Very tall axle with some alpine boots with integrated leggings. High-altitude travel boots are generally good at resisting the cold, and your feet won’t freeze to death, even in icy extremes. Weight: 1000 g/boot (size 43); price: from 230 EUR.
8. Shoe inspection: sole, weather, fit, use
However, outdoor shoes differ not only in the body but also in the sole structure. There are mounted and moulded soles. The moulded sole is made of polyurethane (PU) and is moulded to the upper in one operation. It works quickly and at low cost. However, this structure is often very soft, wears out quickly and cannot be repaired. On the other hand, the fixed sole consists of several layers. They incur higher production costs, but last longer and can be resold cheaply at shoemakers. Fixed soles are mostly found on high-quality hiking boots and many hiking and mountaineering boots. Only a few, mainly Italian manufacturers also put soles on their flat hiking boots.
Once you’ve identified the sole, you’ll have some ideas about the weather. If you just want to see cloudless skies on tour, you can easily opt for shoes without a functional film à la Gore-Tex. It also works in changeable weather, provided you can dry your boots every night in a permanent shelter. On the other hand, on trails overnight in a tent, shoes with a waterproof functional membrane are a better choice. They also dry relatively quickly in the tent’s vestibule and require no care on the go.
In the end, you should choose the hiking shoe that best matches your standard of fit and intended use. Then, before you embark on your first big trip, you should be wearing these hiking boots on short hikes over the next few weeks. Because even though modern hiking boots no longer need to break in as thoroughly as they used to, they still adapt to the foot early on. Plus, proper care can improve comfort—and greatly extend the life of your hiking boots.
9. Proper maintenance of hiking boots
When caring for your hiking boots, this is important: After every trip, remove all dirt as soon as possible with a stiff brush and clear, cold water. Dirt can dry out the leather and, in extreme cases, even make it brittle. Then spray the damp exterior material with dipping spray – it absorbs deeper than the already dry material. If the leather feels dry at the end of the trip, it must be lubricated with a leather wax such as Meindl Sportwax or Sno-Seal. Before that, however, the shoes must be washed with water, dried at low temperatures and protected from the sun – and then lubricated.
Once a year or when your shoes start to smell, clean the inside of your shoes with warm water and a little wool cleaner, then rinse with clean water. If you follow all of these tips, you’ll have more fun with your investing every year!