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WALKING BOOT BUYING GUIDE

Everything you need to know to pick your next pair of adventure boots


Whether you’re exploring the remotest corners of the UK or taking to high-up trails in far-flung locations, you need boots that are built to keep up. But the question of which footwear is the best is not a straightforward one, since it depends on what you’ll be doing and where – so here’s our breakdown of everything you need to know to make the right decision. And if you’re still not sure, visit us in-store where one of our experts will help you pick your perfect boot, and fit it to you for free, too.

Sole

A boot’s sole is where its performance is ultimately decided. Most walking boot soles are made from vulcanised rubber, which offers unrivalled durability and grip on uneven and unpredictable terrain. The depth and pattern of the lugs impacts the conditions the boots are best suited to – chunkier tread will perform better in slippery, muddy conditions, while a thinner pattern will be geared towards rocky terrain. Knowing what kind of environment you’ll be putting your boots through their paces in will decide this for you.

Midsole

The midsole is where the impact protection and underfoot support comes from. In general, EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) midsoles offer lightweight performance and overall comfort, while PU (Polyurethane) midsoles offer greater durability – but what you’re really looking for here is the flex.

 

A lightweight, flexible boot will be a comfortable choice for day hikes on well-made paths, but won’t give you the support you need for more challenging terrain or carrying heavy loads, so again, knowing where you’re headed is the key to choosing your perfect boots.

Mountaineering boots are stiffer, and will have a B1, B2 or B3 rating. They’re ideal for multi-day hikes, carrying heavy packs over rough terrain, scrabbling or via ferrata climbing. The minimal flex in the sole means some of these boots are crampon-compatible:

 

B1 Boots are compatible with C1 strap on crampons. These can be good all-rounder boots if you’re planning to take on the occasional hill in winter.

 

B2 boots are compatible with C2 crampons. These boots offer more support for front pointing and kicking steps in snow but have enough flew to sustain comfortable walking action.

 

B3 boots are compatible with C3 crampons, made for ice climbing. These boots are great for climbs on snowed up buttresses, steep gullies and arêtes.

Lining

Most walking boots include a waterproof and breathable liner between the materials of the upper to keep you dry, inside and out. Some liners will be built from GORE-TEX and others may use the manufacturer’s own technology. Either way, waterproofing is a must in your boots if there’s any chance you’ll be caught in the rain or snow – which in the UK, let’s be honest, you will.

Upper

Your boot’s upper is designed for support, and is constructed from either leather or synthetic fabrics. Which fabric is better is hotly debated, but really it’s just about what you prefer, and the fit of the boot should always be your main priority. If you’re choosing between a leather pair and a synthetic pair that fit equally well, consider that leather boots tend to be sturdier and heavier, and require a lot of aftercare but tend to last longer if well looked after. Synthetic boots tend to be lighter in weight and very breathable, and often need less care.

Insoles

The fit of your boots is the most important thing to consider – you’ll never notice a well-fitting pair of boots, but you’ll definitely notice a bad fit. Insoles aren’t part of your boots but are a great addition if there’s an area of your boots that doesn’t fit well, or if your feet tend to pronate when you walk. It’ll reduce your fatigue, lessen the chance of injury and just make your life outdoors a lot more comfortable. Visit us in-store for free boot fitting and insole advice from our experts.


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