Different boots offer specific features to meet the needs of each hiker. Day hiking, backpacking, trekking and mountaineering are examples of different types of hiking requiring different types of boots. Day hiking requires some support, but boots used for day hiking emphasize comfort more than stiffness because a day hiker will, most likely, be carrying a light load. The kind of boots required for day hiking are light hikers. Backpackers carry more weight for multiple days. Therefore, a backpacking boot requires a stiff boot with more support. Trekking is more mountain hiking and travel in the mountains, where travel, not reaching peaks, is the ultimate goal. A trekking boot is, usually, a stiff boot and has a lot of “rocker.” A boot with more rocker assists your foot moving forward to give you extra “spring.” Mountaineering activities include more vertical travel on mountain rock, ice and/or snow. Therefore, a mountaineering boot is very stiff and crampon compatible.
First, note that there are women’s boots and men’s boots. Men’s boots are wider than a women’s boot and women’s boots usually have a narrower heel box. This is a good place to start when fitting your boot. Also, consider how the boot is shaped and how it fits best to your foot. Shapes to consider include heel, instep, flex point, toe box and general shape of the shoe. Begin with a visual assessment of your feet and consider if your foot is low volume, high volume or somewhere in the middle. Also, use a Brannok Device to measure your foot length and width. When using the Brannock Device, weight your feet evenly and bend your knees slightly. Look straight down over your feet to read your sizes (length and width).
Once you have determined the correct size, try the boot on. Then, use lacing techniques, sock weight and inserts to help your boot to fit well. Lace your boots taut and even. To change the lacing configuration for a better boot fit, loop the top eyelets or holes for the laces, then string the lace under the loop of boot lace and back up to tie it. In addition, when choosing a sock, try changing the weights of your socks and pairing different combination for the best fit. For example, wear one lightweight with one mid-weight sock or wear one mid-weight sock alone. Finally, consider adding insoles. Besides correctly aligning your foot and body, insoles take up space in the boot, giving a better fit to a low-volume foot. Overall, be sure there are no hollow spots or places where the boot is putting extra pressure on your foot.
Proper care for your boots will increase their lifespan. For your first outing, there is no need to treat your new boots. However, at the end of a day of use, allow your boots to dry by removing the insoles and loosening the laces to open up your boots. Once you have worn your boots a few times and are ready to treat them, begin by removing the laces. Brush your boots to remove the dirt and use a small amount of warm water or boot cleaner to wipe them clean. While the leather is still damp, use a wax-based footwear cream to fully impregnate the leather. Allow your boots to dry. Repeat this process often to keep your boots supple and durable.