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How to Find the Perfect Walking Boots


HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT WALKING BOOTS

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.


Step One: Where am I Walking?

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.

Step Two: What Boot Do I Need?

 

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:

 

FLEXIBLE LIGHTWEIGHT:

These boots have relatively flexible soles, similar to walking shoes or slightly stiffer, with a defined ankle cuff. These are ideal for light day hikes on well-maintained paths, like in the valley routes of the Lake District and North Wales. These won’t, however, necessarily be as supportive or hard wearing as the next two options.

MEDIUM FLEXIBLE MID-WEIGHT:

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.

STIFF TREKKING

These are the stiffest-soled walking boots, but they’re not as stiff as mountaineering boots and have a little flex in the sole (some may still be compatible with crampons). They’re ideal for multi-day treks, carrying a heavy pack over rough terrain, scrambling and via ferrata climbing.

 

They’re also suitable for long treks in the Himalaya, Alps and Pyrenees, or similar terrain like Kilimanjaro. These are also the best option for winter walking in the mountains of Scotland, Snowdonia and the Lake District and snowshoeing in the Alps. These are the most supportive and durable walking boots.

 

Top tip: In really bad weather, water will eventually find a way into your boots. If you think that your boots are leaking, however, please return them to us and we’ll get them tested!

Step Three: How do I Get the Perfect Fit?

Feet come in a wide variety of shapes, while different boots also have different shapes. The best option is to visit us in-store, so our friendly and expert staff can measure your feet, explain the full fitting process and give you the opportunity to try on some footwear. We’re so confident that we can help you find the perfect fit we even offer a Walking Boot Comfort Guarantee. If you’re unable to visit us, follow these 10 easy steps for finding the finest fit:

[1] Different brands have different footwear sizes. As a rough guide, going up one size from your ‘normal’ shoe size works for most.

 

[2] 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.

 

[3] 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.

 

[4] 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.

 

[5] Don’t worry if the footbeds seems too narrow. The upper of the boot tends to bulge outwards a little from the sole.

 

[6] If you use moulded footbeds, put them into the boot instead of the ones they came with.

 

[7] Put the boots on and lace them up tight enough to be secure, but not tight enough to cut off circulation.

 

[8] 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.

 

[9] 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.

 

[10] 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.

 

Step Four: Maximise Comfort + Performance:

TECHNICAL WALKING SOCKS:

A good technical sock uses highly breathable fabrics which draw sweat away from the skin to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

 

The fabric on the top of the foot should be lighter than that on the toe and heel. This gives you insulation where you need it the most and allows unwanted heat and moisture to escape.

 

There should be extra cushioning in high impact areas (like the heel and ball of the foot) and added support around the ankle and arch. Check out our blog on the benefit of technical socks.

FOOTBEDS/INSOLES:

Insoles make a huge difference when it comes to comfort. Treat yourself to a truly personal fit with a moulded custom footbed. If the boot laces are firmly done up and the rest of the fit is good, it’s worth trying Superfeet or Sidas footbeds. These are designed to provide extra support for your feet and very often help ‘hold’ the heel in place. They also help maximise comfort, which is especially vital for multi-day or long-distance walking over rugged ground.

AFTERCARE:

Taking care of your boots ensures lasting performance, a greater lifespan and even better value for money. Boots will need reproofing to maintain their water resistance and cleaning to oust odours after many muddy miles in the great outdoors. Check out our range of Granger's aftercare products to keep your boots in the best condition.


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