The correct footwear should make every trip into the great outdoors the adventure of a lifetime, not a painful slog through the wilds. When properly fitted, walking boots should move moisture away from the skin to reduce the risk of blisters while allowing heat to escape and cool air to enter keeping you feeling comfortable. They also protect and support the feet and ankles so you can confidently move over a range of rugged landscapes. Here’s our 4-step guide to how you can find and fit the perfect pair.
The first thing to consider when buying walking boots is what you are going to be using them for. You don’t need a pair of heavy, stiff-soled boots if you’re only going for short rambles on well-maintained trails – unless, of course, they fit well and you really want them!
Think about the distance of your walk/hike, what terrain you’ll be covering (paths, unmarked trails, rock surfaces for scrambling, etc.), how much weight you’ll be carrying (which will depend on the length of your route) and how fit and experienced you are.
As a guideline, the longer the hike, the rougher the terrain and the more weight you carry, thestiffer the sole of the boot will need to be. For winter mountaineering, you’ll need a sole stiff enough to accommodate crampons.
To simplify your boot browsing, we’ve categorised our range by sole flexibility instead of lightweight, mid-weight and heavyweight boots. This is because it’s now possible to find a very light boot with a relatively stiff sole and because the sole affects the amount of support a pair of boots might provide. Treat this as a rough boot guide:
These boots have a noticeably stiffer sole and are ideal for long walks over rougher terrain, when you’ll be carrying heavier loads. There are suitable for anything from day walks to multi-day backpacking involving higher-level hillwalking and boggy moors. These should provide reasonable support and durability.
 Different brands have different footwear sizes. As a rough guide, going up one size from your ‘normal’ shoe size works for most.
 Try on boots in the afternoon/evening when your feet will be more swollen. This is the size they’ll be after a long walk.
 Take a thick pair of walking socks with you to get the best fit – jump to step four for more info on the benefits of technical socks.
 Pull out the boot’s inner soles/footbeds and stand on them. You should have about 5mm to 1cm of space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the footbed. Preferably have someone help you to ensure the heel is in the right place. There needs to be plenty of room for your toes to prevent any pain or discomfort.
 Don’t worry if the footbeds seems too narrow. The upper of the boot tends to bulge outwards a little from the sole.
 If you use moulded footbeds, put them into the boot instead of the ones they came with.
 Put the boots on and lace them up tight enough to be secure, but not tight enough to cut off circulation.
 Walk around the house and up and down the stairs a few times. Your heel should hardly move (preferably not at all), your toes shouldn’t touch the front of the boot and they shouldn’t feel constricted across the width. Ultimately, you shouldn’t feel any pressure spots. A secure fit will help reduce rubbing and the risk of blisters.
 If you feel your heel raising off the inner sole or rubbing, then check the lacing. Very often in-store we find this helps reduce or remove heel lift.
 Keep the boots on for as long as you can indoors. Ideally try this over a couple of days. If you have a treadmill, test at walking pace for 30 minutes.