Which Boots Do I Buy?

Which Hiking Boot Do I Buy?

So you have decided to take up hiking and walking! One of the first bits of hiking equipment you will need are a good pair of boots or shoes. With 1000's available, which hiking boot do you choose. Here we will try and give a few hints and tips. In an ideal world, even after hiking all day, your feet should feel just as comfortable at the end of the hike than they did at the beginning.


Are you planning on hiking in rolling countryside, along coastal paths or up in the mountains? If you are walking on flat or easy terrain then a pair of walking shoes would be fine. If you are planning to be a bit more adventurous and are thinking of mountains or rougher terrain then you will need a pair of boots. There are two types of hiking boot available, leather and fabric.

Leather Hill Walking Boots:





However they can be hot and sweaty in Summer or very hot conditions.

Fabric Hill Walking Boots:


Look good


However they can be less resistant to water and abrasion. Fabric boots need to be reinforced.


  • For ledges, unstable ground, and walking that borders on climbing - Choose a thick leather boot with a deep tread for balance.
  • For lowland walks, hikes, and general use in valleys and sales, choose a leather or fabric boot with a slim tread and lower weight for comfort.

You may need two pairs of boots, one for Summer walks, and one for Winter. Both pairs should rival each other in terms of being 'ready to wear'- the notion of breaking in a stiff leather boot, suffering blisters in the process is an old concept that is out of date with the fabrics and technology use in both boot designs nowadays.

  • Hill walking boots have a hard-wearing sole unit to give support and strength to your feet and to provide torsional control as you walk.
  • These are usually made from high-carbon content rubber; Vibram being the market leader. Vibram adds stability and traction, perfect for uneven terrain. Sometimes a mix of part natural rubber as well as synthetics, Vibram is a compound that has grip and flexibility as well as a high level of abrasion resistance, making it perfect for use when walking over rocky terrain.
  • Anti clogging soles are common in hill walking boots, where the soles design is able to avoid building up with mud and dirt.
  • Injection Molded technology is a way of molding the shoe together to ensure their durability.
  • To make Injection molded designs, a foot-bed is fixed to a mid-sole, and then fixed to the out-sole, making the shoe reinforced. Injection molded soles are strong and durable, due to the multiple layers of construction.
  • Mid-soles in hill walking boots are typically cushioned to provide shock absorption from uphill climbs and steep descents.
  • Typically mid-soles are designed in multiple layers, such as molded, double, or triple density EVA, or PU (Polyurethane).
  • EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) is used in many Hill Walking Boots as it provides cushioning and rebounding qualities that allow the hill walking boots to remain comfortable. With a hill walking boot you should be looking for a stiff mid-sole so you reduce the risk of lateral twists, getting better support in hilly terrain. EVA is a 'cross-linked' style of foam which means it provides substantial cushioning to the foot.
  • PU, or polyurethane is another tough cushioned synthetic padding and is used in conjunction with EVA. PU is heavier than EVA yet PU lasts longer and has stronger reinforcements. For this reason, polyurethane wedges can also used on their own in a hill walking boots in the mid-sole, running the entire length of boot to provide shock absorption
  • Linings need to be breathable and able to wick moisture away from the foot in order for it to be evaporated. e-Vent or GORE-Tex are examples of water resistant yet breathable membranes used in hill walking boot liners.
  • Inbuilt insoles are typically added to create comfort next to the foot, and these are often made from a ‘memory foam’ that adapts to your personal foot shape.
  • These membranes are created with a pore based technology that allows internal moisture and sweat to be distributed to the outer layers of the boot, whilst providing a barrier from external moisture.


  • You can extend the life of your hill walking boots by investing in a leather protector such as Nikwax in order to avoid cracks in your leather hill walking boots or a cleaner for synthetics.
  • As well as protecting the fabric, protectors and treatments can make sure the technical features of your walking boot, for example its levels of breath-ability and waterproofing stay in peak condition.
  • When you apply, ax application treatments should be applied ‘little and often’ for the best results.
  • Always make sure your hill walking boots are laced securely and correctly, and if your laces become damaged or torn, make sure you replace them as soon as possible.
  • To look after leather, you need to keep them clean and dry.
  • Make sure you have cleaned your hill walking boots after every outing with a damp cloth, and then stuff your hill walking boots with towels or paper to get the water out and keep the shape intact.
  • Unlace them and pull the tongue down as far as you can to get air circulating and then set them in a warm area, close to a heat source, but not directly on it.
  • Keep a shoe horn or papers in the hill walking boots, and store in a cool, dry area, and you should get the maximum wear, and minimum tear out of your new hill walking boots.


Winter boots need to be extremely hard wearing and comfortable enough for long periods of use and expeditions; whether you’re planning on walking in the Scottish Highlands or trekking in the Dolomites.

Winter mountain boots are usually waterproof and definitely designed to be durable in order to cope with severe, rocky ground. Heavier weighted than traditional hill walking boots, mountain walking boots are suitable for tough conditions such as walking over compacted ice or snow.

For serious mountain walking, your mountain walking boots can be fitted with walking crampons.

General Features Of Winter Boots

  • Mountain walking boots have a high ankle to prevent twists and sprains.
  • Mountain walking boots are laterally inflexible sideways, to offer high torsional stability.
  • Mountain walking boots have a designed in varying levels of stiffness, so your foot stays supported.

There are 3 types of mountain boot, B1, B2 and B3 and 3 types of crampon C1, C2 and C3.

B1 boots will only take C1 crampons, B2 boots will take both C1 and C2 crampons and B3 boots will take all cramons. Be careful though, not every crampon fits every boot. Go to a reputable outdoor shop such as Cotswolds and ask for advice.