Selecting a hiking boot or walking shoe is one of the most important choices you will need to make when beginning to hike and the first thing you need to consider is what you will be doing in the shoe or boot. Do you want something to walk in the woods or are you planning to hike in the Lakes? If you're looking for something for everyday use then look out for a shoe with a flexible sole and fairly good grip but if you're hiking or backpacking with or without a backpack then you'll need to select something with a more rigid sole and aggressive grip to help you tackle a wide variety of terrains.
Have a think about fit and what you want from the footwear. We stock mid cut and full height boots and lower cut walking shoes and the former provides excellent protection against ankle injuries. A high cut walking boot is ideal if your ankles are weak or if you haven't done much hiking so if it's your first boot then we'd suggest a full height boot. Taller boots will keep your foot in place which will prevent the foot slipping forward, any friction and ultimately blisters, the hiker's worst enemy! They also provide complete cover over the foot so if you plan to walk through a stream the water can go up as high as the top of your boot and you'll stay dry and this wouldn't be possible in a shoe. 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.
On the subject of fit a question we do get asked a lot is 'are men's hiking boots different from women's hiking boots and how?' Womens boots do fit differently to mens, so if you can't find your size in the ladies version don't always assume the mens will do. Womens hiking boots are built on a smaller Last which is often narrower and lower in volume, a mans hiking boot comes up higher on the ankle of a woman and so would cause rubbing in that area and a poor fit. Mens boots weigh more than a womens walking boot even if they are the same size and this can effect your gait or stride length and result in fatigue on the hill.
Is a Gore-Tex shoe or boot best? Do you want a fully waterproof boot or is breathability more important to you? We offer Gore-Tex waterproof footwear which will keep feet dry on the wettest of days. Unfortunately these waterproof technologies are not as breathable as a hiker would like and in hotter climates 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 shoe or boot better than the fabric version? This really depends on what you need the product 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 something we get asked a lot at Simply Hike. This completely depends on your personal taste but we would say that as a general rule if you're looking for a high end boot take a look at our Asolo and Meindl footwear. If you're new to hiking then look at Berghaus and Brasher boots and if you want something young and colourful check out our Salomon footwear.