Walking shoes – Which model?
There is a multitude of different models, especially for hiking shoes: From the light model for the short hiking tour with the dog to the most robust high mountain shoes, from women’s to men’s and unisex models as well as from textile shoes to leather hiking shoes. Even experienced hikers are faced with a huge choice and do not decide lightly on their next hiking shoe, which may accompany them faithfully for several hundreds of kilometers.
The optimal preparation for trying on your hiking boots
A suitable time should be chosen for the fitting before the purchase itself. This is usually in the late afternoon, when you may have been on your feet for some time. At this time the legs and feet are slightly thicker than in the morning – a condition that is optimal for buying hiking boots, because it reflects the condition of the feet during the actual hike. In addition, your own hiking socks should also be worn, so that the correct size of the shoes can also be adjusted.
In the ideal hiking boots, the feet are not squeezed, but the feet do not slip in the footbed either, because this leads to the formation of blisters in the quickest way. Usually it is recommended to buy your hiking boots one number bigger , because the toes need enough space especially in the front area. As rule of thumb a thumb width is considered here. This buffer is especially important when running downhill, as you will inevitably slip a little forward in your shoe. When buying hiking boots, it is best to try on a variety of shoes in order to have enough comparison material.
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For hiking socks, Merinowool and synthetic fibres are preferred, which reduces the development of odours and promotes the dimensional stability of the socks. The absence of cotton improves moisture transport, which increases walking comfort and reduces blistering compared to everyday socks. Self-knitted socks are not suitable. They are neither dimensionally stable nor do they have a good moisture balance.
The purpose of the hiking boots is decisive
Hiking boots with a high shaft and a correspondingly high lacing are ideally suited for hiking tours in the low mountain ranges and higher mountain areas such as the Alps with unpaved and uneven paths. The high shaft prevents the ankle from buckling and protects it from rubble lying around. This is particularly useful for via ferrata, which are characterised by a high degree of difficulty. Anyone carrying heavy luggage is optimally supported by the high shaft.
Other aspects before buying new hiking boots
The purpose of the hiking boots also determines the choice of sole. A solid, harder sole is more suitable for uneven paths, a soft and flexible sole is more suitable for flat paths. The intended use should be clarified before buying the shoe and is decisive for the type of hiking shoe. Almost all hiking boots, whether with high or low leg, have attachments for gaiters, so that you can put on the additional protection to protect yourself from the elements or undergrowth.
Mountain boots are characterized by a very firm sole. Crampons can be attached to mountain boots. You need a climbing iron to cross a glacier. However, they offer the least comfort when rolling. They have been developed for the high alpine area and are less suitable for hiking in the low mountain ranges. Hiking boots for difficult tours usually have a boulder protection. This rubber coating in the forefoot area prevents injuries in rough terrain.
Crampons must not be confused with Grödel. Grödel are small metal claws or spikes that are attached to the shoe with an elastic band. They serve to reduce the risk of slipping on icy surfaces. In winter, when hiking in the low mountain range, this is highly recommended!
Nowadays most soles are glued. In contrast to glued soles, welded hiking boots with welded walking boots the sole is sewn to the shoe with two parallel seams. This form of construction is extremely robust. It is still used today for heavy hiking boots and mountain boots.
The choice of material – hiking boots made of Gore-Tex or leather?
Hiking boots are also available in many different materials. From various types of leather to Gore-Tex: Here, too, the intended use determines the best choice of hiking boots. Leather is very robust, but should rather be used in areas that are warm and dry. However, the robust leather also has its advantages in winter and keeps the feet optimally warm. Gore-Tex has the advantage that the material makes the shoes windproof and waterproof. However, a special membrane conducts sweat from the inside to the outside – the shoe is breathable and therefore very comfortable to wear, especially in summer. With such shoes you also feel very comfortable in wet and cold hiking areas and when it rains, because these shoes dry very fast again. Even if one wants to cross a brook during the hiking tour, these shoes are very suitable.
The functionality of the membrane depends strongly on the frequency of use of the shoes. The type of shoe also plays a role. In hiking shoes with a soft sole, the rolling behaviour of the shoe leads to a more frequent and stronger buckling movement of the upper material. This places a greater load on the Gore-Tex membrane. It is subject to higher wear. In a shoe with a softer sole, the membrane tends to break earlier.
Brand manufacturer or no-name hiking boots?
Today you can get hiking boots at affordable prices on the Internet. The advantage of brand shoes such as Hanwag or Meindl is that in case of a defect, a professional repair of the shoes can be made. The manufacturer usually has the appropriate expertise. Spare parts do not have to be procured at great expense. A repair is possible even after years of purchase. Different from what you might expect, you don’t want to replace the worn in hiking shoes with new shoes – unless it is unavoidable!
It doesn’t matter whether you purchased your shoes in a stationary store or on the Internet. In case of doubt, the shoes will be sent by both to the manufacturer for repair. The Trying the shoes in the shop only offers an advantage at first sight. You can find out whether the hiking boots are suitable for you. Maybe you can do a few more rounds around the shelves. But once you’ve left the store, it’s not easy to return your shoes. At the latest then you are dependent on the goodwill of the dealer. When buying online, you have an extended right of return. During this time you can try out the shoes in the apartment over a longer period of time. In case of doubt it is possible to return the shoes without any major problems.
Right shrinkage of hiking boots before hiking tours
Hiking boots should always be worn before longer hiking tours because the fit will change during the tour. It is advisable to divide the shrinking of the shoes into stages, especially for quite stiff models. Nevertheless, you should feel comfortable in the new hiking boots right from the first trial wearing and not trust them to adapt completely to your foot over time.
With blisters on your feet, hiking is no fun. If you want to be on the safe side, use deer tallow cream. Rub your feet with the cream before the start of the hike, then blister-free through the day.
The optimum lacing of hiking boots
The correct lacing of the hiking boots also contributes to the comfort of the hiking boots, but there are no general instructions here that apply equally to every hiker. Every foot is different and therefore you should “try it out”. For example, not every eyelet or every hook on the hiking shoe has to be used.
The right cleaning and care of hiking boots
The right cleaning and consistent care is essential for every hiking shoe and ensures that you enjoy your shoes for a long time. Not every care product is suitable for every material and not all hiking boots should be waxed. Leather shoes need different care than for example Walking shoes with one Gore-Tex-Membrane. Depending on the frequency of use, you should grow your hiking shoes – about six to eight times a year. Although Gore-Tex hiking boots are extremely easy to care for, the Gore-Tex membrane can become clogged by perspiration, which is why it is advisable to soak the shoes in lukewarm water from time to time. The hiking boots should then be dried slowly in the air.
Leather shoes require a lot of care. With shoe wax the leather is kept supple and the shoe is made waterproof. After the purchase, remove the shoelaces and rub the shoe properly with wax. The wax is then heated with a hairdryer. The wax penetrates into the leather. The shoes become waterproof and get this typical greasy appearance. From now on you will be in a lost post when you request a return to the dealer because you are not satisfied…
I have had the experience that I sweat in hiking boots with a Gore-Tex membrane. I have been wearing pure leather hiking boots for several years now. In winter at -5 degrees and in summer at +30 degrees, the shoes were always comfortable to wear. Leather shoes produce a cooling effect at warm temperatures.
No matter which type of shoe you choose, the hiking boots must suit you!