What to look for in your summer hiking shoe

Whether you're going for a hike in the mountains or spending a day at the beach, it's important to have the right hiking shoes this summer!

Summer walking boots

Summertime is a great time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather and explore the best trails our country has to offer. Whether you're going for a hike in the mountains or spending a day at the beach, it's important to have the right gear to make sure your experience is enjoyable. One of the most important pieces of gear is a good pair of hiking boots.

Summer hiking boots

When looking for the perfect hiking boot, it's important to consider the climate and weather conditions you'll be facing. If you're hiking in a hot and humid environment, you'll need a boot that is both lightweight and breathable. If you're adventuring to a cooler country and you'll be hiking in colder temperatures, you'll need a boot that is insulated and waterproof. It's also important to consider the type of terrain you'll be hiking on. If you're planning on hiking on rocky or uneven terrain, you'll need a boot with good traction and support.

There are so many different types of walking boots or hiking shoes available with a wide variety of features to choose from, that it can be hard to make a decision when you're making an investment for your feet. It's important to know how you're going to be using yours (climbing mountains, walking chalky hills or boggy terrain?) to ensure you have a safe and comfortable hike. With the right pair of hiking boots, you'll be able to take on any adventure that comes your way. Here's our tips to help you choose the right hiking boot.

What to consider when buying a new pair of hiking boots

When purchasing a new pair of hiking boots, it is important to consider the fit, function and features of the boot depending on how you're going to be using it. Where are you going to be hiking? What sort of weather are you going to be walking in? This matters because certain features work best in different conditions.

For example, if you're going to be doing a lot of walking in wet weather, you might want to consider a waterproof or water-resistant pair of hiking boots with Gore-Tex lining to keep your feet dry. If you're going to be carrying a lot of weight, look for a supportive boot with a stiffer sole.

The following are some important factors to keep in mind when choosing your hiking boots:

Hiking Boot Fit

Hiking boots should fit snugly around the heel and mid-foot, with enough room in the toe box for wiggling your toes. The boots should also provide good arch support and have a stiff sole to protect your feet from rocks and roots and depending on your style of walking boot or shoe (low-cut, mid-cut, high-cut for example) what level of ankle support they provide. If you're entering a challenge this year, check the kit requirements as often they ask for mandatory high-cut boots.

Function - how are you using your hiking boot?

For hot weather hikes, boots that are breathable and keep your feet cool and comfortable in warmer weather are ideal. Waterproof and water-resistant materials are also important to consider if you'll be hiking in wetter conditions like through many streams or boggy terrain.

If you're planning long, multi-day hikes, check the weight of your shoes. Often with the more you spend, the lighter the weight, which will make a big difference to the pressure on your ankles and feet across multiple days.

Summer hiking shoes

What features to look for in a hiking boot

Some features to look for in a summer hiking boot include a comfortable and breathable liner, good traction sole, shock absorption, and a waterproof or water resistant material. You may find that with the hard dry trails we often find around the UK in summer months, a little bit of extra padding can make all the difference to your multi-day hiking holidays.

What is a breathable liner in a hiking boot?

A breathable liner helps to wick away sweat from your feet and keeps them cool in hot weather. This is important as often when hiking your feet can swell from the heat and the extra movement, so a boot with a good breathable liner helps to prevent this.

What is a traction sole?

A traction sole is important in a hiking boot as it helps you to grip the ground, whether that be wet or dry. A good summer hiking boot should have a deep lug pattern with multidirectional lugs to give you good grip on a variety of surfaces especially when climbing across loose terrain.

What is shock absorption in a hiking boot?

When hiking, your feet are going to take a pounding from all the different surfaces you walk on. A good hiking boot should therefore have good shock absorption to protect your feet and help reduce fatigue. This is often in the form of an EVA midsole which is a soft foam that helps to absorb impact.

Waterproof or water-resistant hiking boot material?

If you're going to be doing a lot of walking in wet weather, it's important to look for a waterproof or water-resistant pair of hiking boots. This will help to keep your feet dry and comfortable even when the weather is against you. Gore-Tex is often used as it's a breathable waterproof material which helps to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Summer walking shoes

What level of ankle support do you need in a hiking boot?

This depends on your style of walking, but often if you're doing a lot of off-trail hiking or scrambling, a higher cut boot with good ankle support is important as it helps to protect your ankles from knocks and scrapes and potential rolls. A lot of people are starting to use running trail shoes as their summer walking shoes, as they're low-cut and therefor don't provide as much ankle support, but still offer good grip and comfort and are lightweight.

How much should you spend on a good pair of hiking boots?

How long is a piece of string? This is entirely up to you and your budget, but often you get what you pay for with hiking boots. A good quality boot that's fit for purpose is going to cost more than a cheap knock-off, but it will also last longer and perform better.

Try before you buy

If possible, it is always best to try on hiking boots before purchasing them. This way you can be sure of the fit and feel of the boot and whether it is right for you. Boots that fit well will help to prevent blisters and discomfort on your hike.

Some brands offer "demo days" across the country where they have many pairs of shoes available to try. Where possible, unless you know exactly what you're looking for or the shoe that you want, try on as many pairs as possible so you can start to feel the difference in form, function, weight and cost!

Breaking in your hiking boots

Once you have your new hiking boots, it is important to break them in before hitting the trail. Wear them around the house for a few days to get used to the fit and feel. Take them out on short day hikes to get a feel for how they perform on the trails. It's recommended you don't go straight into a long hike in a brand new pair of boots until they are broken in. The last thing you want is your holiday cut short because of a few avoidable blisters!

Proper care for your hiking boots

Once you've broken in your hiking boots and they are a comfortable part of your trail gear, it is important to take care of them. Clean them after each hike, and make sure to remove any mud or debris that can cause long-term damage. Store them in a cool, dry place when not in use, and consider using boot trees to help them keep their shape. With proper care, your hiking boots will last for many summers to come.

Find your perfect hiking shoe for summer

When it comes to choosing the right hiking boots, there are a few things you need to take into consideration. The first thing is what type of hike you'll be doing - if you're doing a lot of off-trail hiking or scrambling, then you'll need a good pair of ankle supporting boots. If you're just doing day hikes on well-established trails, then a lower cut trail running shoe might be more suitable. It's important to try on as many pairs of boots as possible to find the right fit for you, and once you've found the perfect pair, make sure to take care of them with regular cleaning and storage in a cool, dry place. With proper care, your hiking boots will last for many summers to come.