How to Choose the Best Walking Boots for you

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably know how much I extol the benefits of walking. The advantages it brings to our physical and mental well being are huge and, fortunately, it’s a very accessible pastime to get involved in. To begin with, especially if you’re starting off with easier hikes, there’s no need to spend lots of money on kit. However, there is one piece of equipment that you do need to invest in sooner or later, and that’s a decent pair of walking boots.

There are so many different styles of hiking boot available that it can be overwhelming trying to pick the right one. I’ve put together a guide to help you choose the best walking boots for your needs.

My favourite boots are my Merrells, but it took a while to find my perfect boots!

What are your requirements?

The first thing you need to do is to think about the sort of hiking that you are going to do. How far you walk, and over what terrain, will have a massive impact on the type of boots that you need. If you mainly stick to lowland walks, woodlands and solid tracks, you will be better suited to a flexible, lightweight hiking boot, or even shoe if you prefer. Shoes tend to be much lighter than boots, but don’t offer the same ankle support or durability. If you like to tackle longer or more adventurous hikes, with less solid terrain underfoot and bigger summits, you will need a more sturdy and durable boot, with better support for your feet and ankles. Think about the weight of boot that you need, as wearing heavier walking boots will really make a difference over the course of a hike. If you’re starting out I would recommend the lightest possible boots that don’t compromise on too many features. Once you have narrowed down the style you want, you can try searching reviews of the best walking boots in UK to help with your choice.

Synthetic vs Leather

A big choice you need to make early on is whether you prefer a synthetic or leather pair of boots. Nowadays, thanks to advances in technology and materials, there is less difference between the two than you might think. Generally, synthetic boots tend to be lighter and have more flex, while leather boots are often more sturdy and are capable of lasting longer. Both should be waterproof, and while they won’t let water in, is it important that they let moisture out. Whether choosing synthetic or leather walking boots, look out for ones that are also breathable so your feet stay cool and dry.

I love my leather boots for more arduous walks

Once you’ve thought about your requirements and the style of walking boots that you like, it’s a good idea to head to an outdoor retailer, to try on a few different pairs as different brands all fit slightly differently. I recommend that you look at walking boots that are gender specific, as they are more likely to fit better and be more comfortable.

How to ensure a good fit

When you try walking boots on it’s a good idea to wear the same socks that you usually wear when out hiking. Most reputable outdoor retailers will be able to measure the width, length and arches of your feet, to ensure an accurate and comfortable fit. Don’t just rely on getting your usual size, after all when was the last time you got your feet measured? Can you even remember? When wearing your boots you should be able to get your finger down the back of the boot with your toes as far forward as possible. This should mean that you have enough room to move your toes without the boots being too big and slipping around.

Breaking In

Once you’ve chosen your new walking boots, it’s important to break them in before you head out hiking. Most modern boots have a degree of flexibility in them, and many are designed to be comfortable straight from the box. However, new footwear often needs to soften up a little, and you don’t want to risk it and find yourself miles from home with painful blisters to contend with. It’s a good idea to wear them around the house, including up and down the stairs a few times to really get them bending and moulding to your feet. I also try out any new boots on a few short walks first, just to make sure!

There is a wide choice of walking boots available today and it can be daunting picking out the right style for you

Caring for your Walking Boots

Whatever style you opt for, it’s important to care for your walking boots properly in order that they last as long as possible and stay in the best condition. Most boots, particularly in the UK, have to put up with an awful lot-from high mileage to wet, muddy ground, peat bogs and stony, rocky summits. Firstly, make sure that you clean off any mud after every hike. With leather walking boots it’s vital that you allow the boots to dry before reproofing with wax. This will not only keep them waterproof, but will also condition the leather so that it doesn’t dry and crack. With synthetic boots, it’s best to reproof them when they are still wet so that it soaks into the material and offers the most protection possible. In both cases, make sure that you allow the boots to dry naturally. If you’re in a hurry, try stuffing them with scrunched up newspaper to speed up the process.

With the array of walking boots on sale today it can seem daunting picking out the right pair for you and your feet. If you plan on doing lots of hikes, it really is worth taking your time, doing some research and investing in the best pair of boots that you can afford. It’s advisable to go and get your feet measured and try on several pairs rather than buying over the internet, especially to start with. Whatever pair of boots you choose, if you look after them, then you’ll have many miles of happy hiking ahead of you.

Do you have a favourite pair of walking boots?



  • I have a pair of walking shoes rather than boots that are designed for long hikes over flattish ground – they’re brilliant but I do need to get myself a pair of proper walking boots too at some point! Thanks for the great tips x

  • Gareth Gareth September 26, at 09:22

    Great post and points raised! I have a wonderful pair of Haglofs Boots. Never want them to fall to pieces as they are best I’ve ever had. #AdventureCalling

  • Lauren Lauren October 08, at 13:28

    Great post. Particularly about getting your feet measured. After Rick suffered a painful walk around the Fairfield Horseshoe with me, we decided to get him some new boots. He thought he was a size eight. How wrong he was. SIZE TEN!!! No wonder the walk was painful!! Problem was, it wasn’t just his hiking boots that were wrong. It was every pair of shoes he owned.

    With the sizing, some boots you can take the insoles out, then stand on them. That way you can really see how much room you have in the front of your boot.



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