Choosing a walking boot or hiking shoe is one of the most important choices you will need to make when beginning to hike. The first thing you need to consider is what you will be doing in the boot or shoe. Will you, for example, need it to walk in the park, or perhaps it's to run a trail or is it for a trek up Kilimanjaro? If you're looking for something for everyday use then look out for a flexible sole and fairly good grip. If you're trekking or hiking with or without a backpack then you'll need to select something with a more rigid sole and deep lugs on the sole to see you safely over aggressive terrain.
Secondly you need to think about fit and what you want from the footwear. We offer full height and mid cut boots and walking shoes and the former offer protection against ankle injury. A full height boot is ideal if your ankles are weak and/or if you haven't done much hiking so if it's your first boot then we'd suggest a full height boot. Full height boots will keep your foot in place and won't cause any slipping which can result in friction and nasty blisters. They also offer complete coverage so if you're walking through a stream the water can go up as high as the top of your boot and you'll stay dry but if you're wearing a shoe the water will just enter from the top leaving you with soggy feet. A mid cut boot is ideal if you still want a little support and is often lighter in weight that a full boot. A walking shoe or trainer is great for year round walking.
Consider if you want a fully waterproof boot or if breathability is more important to you. We offer Gore-Tex and AQ2 footwear which will both keep water out and are essential for walking in the rain and snow year round. Unfortunately these waterproof technologies are not as breathable as a hiker would like and on very warm days or strenuous walks your feet will feel damp due to sweat building up inside the boot. If you're mainly walking in the summer and dry climates we'd suggest looking at our non waterproof range.
Is a leather walking boot better than a fabric boot? This really depends on what you need the boot for and what your expectations are from the footwear. Leather on its own is very breathable, very easy to care for and will last a long time. With a Gore-Tex or other waterproof lining this makes leather not as breathable. Fabric is breathable with or without a waterproof membrane (more breathable without) and is often lighter than a leather boot but won't last as long. We think this is really a personal choice and depends on the style of boot you like. Leather tends to be more traditional and older customers may appreciate this more whereas fabric boots can be offered in a massive range of colours and therefore suit a younger hiker.
What brand of walking boot is best is a question we get asked a lot at Simply Hike. This really does depend on your personal preference as discussed above but we would say that as a general rule if you're looking for a high end boot take a look at the Asolo and Meindl footwear. If you're just starting out hiking then look at Brasher and Berghaus boots and if you're looking for something young and colourful yet still fairly technical check out our Salomon boot range.