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These boots are made for walking ...
Whether you are a first time hiker or an old tramp, choosing the right pair of boots is a most important decision and will make the difference between a pleasant and stimulating hike and a long agonising slog. Badly fitting, hastily chosen boots will ruin what otherwise would have been a great outdoor experience. So if you are looking to purchase a new pair of boots here are a few hints and tips that may just help you buy the pair that you will consider among your best hiking friends.
Points to consider when making up your mind.
- The frequency and duration of your hikes.
- The type of terrain eg, Rocky, Sandy. Muddy, Cold, Wet. High altitude etc.
- Your budget.
- Backpacking or day walks?
Now you have made up your mind to buy new boots, here is a list of points to keep in mind.
- Never choose boots at a fashion store, at a robot, flea market etc. Rather visit a reputable out door shop.
- Stand on a sheet of paper with your bare feet and trace the outline then cut it out, if the pattern does not fit snugly, look for wider or longer boots.
- Try the bare foot test, if your bare foot feels any pressure when you try on the boot this will translate to extreme pressure if you are wearing thick socks.
- Examine the tread pattern ensure that it offers good grip in your local conditions.
- Weight is a major consideration; heavy boots can tire you out on a long hike while light ones may not offer good ankle support or shock absorption.
- Fabric boots do not need much breaking in but are not water proof (unless of Gore-tex) Leather boots will need to be carefully broken in but can be temporarily water proofed with bees wax.
- Soft rubber soles offer better grip than hard ones but they generally wear quicker.
- Take a pair of good hiking socks along for your fitting session, put on both boots and lace them tightly, walk around the store for a while, kick your toes into the front of the boot, your big toe must not touch the front of the boot.
- Ask the sales person if there is a warranty.
- Some European boots are narrower and may not be suitable for the broader SA foot, try boots made for the American market.
- Ask the sales person to show you some seed guards (spats) these prevent grass seed, thorns and stones from getting into your boots
- Examine the construction of the boot, as a rule of thumb. If it looks right, it fits right and it feels right, it will be right, you will have made the right choice for long and happy friendship.
See you on the trail and happy hiking.