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What do you consider a good Hiking boot?

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Preferences for hiking boots are specific to each individual and really cannot be extrapolated from one person to another. After some New Balance shoes were recommended in a recent Forum Thread, I tried them on at R.E.I. and discovered they would not work for me. :)


I have a bum foot and must be very careful what shoes or boots I wear. Two brands that work for me are Asolo and Lowa. I recently found a pair of Merrell hiking shoes that also fit. However, I have to use Superfeet insoles in any shoes or boots I wear. I generally wear hiking boots for long hikes, low-rise hiking shoes for easier caching adventures. In the summer, I wear Chaco sandals all the time, even on long hikes. :)


The best thing to do is go to a store like R.E.I. or Adventure 16 where they stock good-quality hiking shoes and boots. Try them on and see which ones work for your feet. Get the best boots, or hiking shoes, you can afford so you don't end up with foot trouble, like that I have now . . . ;)

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I really like Merrell's, they work well for me. I have several pairs in the low shoes that I can still wear, and need a new pair of higher boots. I recently tried on a pair of Vasqes Breeze that fit really well, that I'll probably buy. Don't buy without trying on, it's amazing how different brands feel. I wanted to get the Keen's that Backpacker magazine had in the buyer's issues, but they didn't work at all for me. Always looking for something different, but I can always count on Merrell.

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I walk 13 miles every day... part of my job description. ;)

I have found that Hi-Tec shoes stand up better than Rocky, New Balance and Converse. The Hi_Tec Magnum line typically comes with a 90 day comfort guarantee. But...as the others have said, I try everything I wear on and if it's not comfortable, I don't buy it.


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For me, I prefer something with Vibram soles and Gortex. These tend to be a bit more expensive, but I like being comfortable walking on any terrain and I don't have to worry about getting water inside my boots when crossing a stream - these tend to be a bit heavier. If you are going to go this route, get a good pair of wool or think synthetic wool socks, if you plan on doing serious hiking or going out into the snow. And take your think wool socks with you when you try your boots on, it will make a difference.


Merrells are generally good and I would recommend them.


If you're not planning on any serious hiking, then get a pair of light boots that are comfortable, with a good pair of soles and you're set!

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Moving to the Hiking and Backpacking Forum.


It would probably help if you were more specific about whether you are going to do packing with a heavy pack or day hiking or trail running. Different boots/shoes are good for different things.


I prefer Vasque. They feel broken in as soon as you put them on your feet. I have heavy duty leather boots and trail running shoes from them.

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Like others said, it's individual, and it also depends on where you hike and how you hike. I like heavy leather boots with reasonably stiff sole. Merrells are my favorite, but I am open to other brands similar in style, as long as it's one piece of leather (no fancy stitching up front, just more places to cut your feet and to leak water).

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For longer hikes you will generally have a heavier pack and, as a result, will want a hiking shoe with a stiffer sole. I just bought a pair of Montrails from REI for my upcoming planned trips. Wore them around for a few days and on some short hikes before buying a pair of insoles. They were comfortable before but now, after a few more days of use, I've decided that they are awesome.


Asolo and Vasque are 2 other brands to look at. The Asolos had a seam around the heel that I just "felt" and I knew that it would rub me raw in time. But I have a hard time fitting shoes onto my right foot. Shoes have a tendency to tear skin off my right ankle or heel so it is hard to fit me well.

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Moving to the Hiking and Backpacking Forum.


It would probably help if you were more specific about whether you are going to do packing with a heavy pack or day hiking or trail running. Different boots/shoes are good for different things.


I prefer Vasque. They feel broken in as soon as you put them on your feet. I have heavy duty leather boots and trail running shoes from them.


Mostly Day hiking In the Adirondacks (NY). With the occasional weekend long hike with pack for an overnight in the woods. I will try them on first of course but there are so many different types Just be getting some names of brands other people like it helps to narrow down how many I need to try on...the more I think about it the more I realize that Waterproof is a big plus.

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Its foolish to take specific recommendations from people because a boot that feel great on one person's feet can be living hell on yours.


The best thing is the choose a boot from a quality maker that fits YOU. You can find a boot that fits by going to a reputable outdoors store that has knowledgeable boot fitters (Dicks, Modells and Sports Authority are not stores where you want to buy your boots).


Some quality boot makers are Lowa, Scarpa, LL Bean, Alcio, Rachlie, Salomon, Merrell, Vasque, Danner, Asolo, Montrail. Zamberlan and Garmot.


I wear LL Bean and Salomon because they fit my feet well, but Rachlie boots kill my feet. My wife on the other hand loves her Rachlies.


Once you find a brand that fits you well stick with it.

Edited by briansnat
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Once you find a brand that fits you well stick with it.

Unfortunately, boot makers have an annoying tendency to discontinue and replace their models with new, "improved" ones. The ones I have are no longer made by Merrell. :rolleyes: I can only hope that the new one is as good as the previous one.


Oh, to the list above I would also add Limmer & Sons. Never used their boots but heard many good things about them.

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Go to a specialty back packing store, if there is an REI close by try them. If you do not have an REI to go, look in your phone book under back packing/camping. Stay away from the non specialty stores, like the stores that also sell team sports equipment, they do not tend to have high quality boots or people that know how to recomend them.


I do not think there is an REI close to you, try this store eastern moutain sports

Edited by JohnnyVegas
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I don't know which ones are good overall but I have a pair of Dunham's Waffle Stomper Paramount. I'm not sure if they still make the Paramount model but they have another one that is similar called the Waffle Stomper Premier. I got mine from a boot store.

I've had them for about six years. I use them for hiking and backpacking. They are waterproof. Mud doesn't build up on the soles of the Waffle Stomper like they do on other boots I've worn. The only complaints I have is that the cloth material and padding in the heel of one of the boots has worn away but maybe that's just from six years of use and they don't have much traction on rocks that are both tilted and wet.

Edited by Gary the Possum
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I walk 13 miles every day... part of my job description. :anibad:

I have found that Hi-Tec shoes stand up better than Rocky, New Balance and Converse. The Hi_Tec Magnum line typically comes with a 90 day comfort guarantee. But...as the others have said, I try everything I wear on and if it's not comfortable, I don't buy it.



I would recommend avoiding cheaper, lightweight boots such as Hi-Tech. They are fine for short day hikes but do not offer enough support, traction, and water-proofness for serious hiking. The other brands such as Vasgue, Merrill, Asolo, Kastinger, and such are all good boots. Boots with gortex liners will add to their keeping your feet dry. The leather should still be treated to retain quality. The trick is that all feet are different and boots need to be tried on. This is one purchase that you shouldn't make on-line.


All these brands will set you back $100 to $200, but if you are caught with blisters and wet feet, or sprained ankles or fallen arches, the money saved by buying a cheap boot will not seem worth it. BTW, you asked about high or low tops - High Tops always: ankle support is something that you can never get enough of while hiking uneven, rocky terrain. Your body will thank you for it.

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Depends on the situation... some things to consider:


Carrying a heavy load in rough terrain - ankle height with good support


Wet trails or grass but no creek crossings - gortex


Creek fording or deep puddles -- quick dry (no gortex)


Light load and/or trekking poles -- low tops or mid-height


These are just a few very general guidelines but it gives you something to think about. I have three pairs of hiking shoes for various scenarios. Montrail full height leather/gortex, Hi-tec mid height and Merrell Ventilators low height. I really like the Merrells and will probably replace the Hi-tec with a pair of Merrell Ventilator Mid height boots as they dry out quicker than the Hi-tec. Gortex boots are great for keeping water out but they also keep water "in".


Proper fit is everything, so try on all of the top brands mentioned in this thread and pick the one that feels right. Don't assume a boot will feel better once broken in, try to find a pair that feel really good off the shelf. Sometimes boots will break in and sometimes you've just thrown your money away!

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Footwear for the trail is a very personal decision. I hiked a small part of the App trail 2 weeks ago in SW VA and ran into a number of Virginia Tech students hiking in running shoes (youth is wasted on the young.....). Back to point...

I wear Limmer mid-weight boots. They are about 3-1/2 pounds, heavy for boots by today's standards, but in spite of the common wisdom that weight on the feet is not a good thing, I am used to them, and the comfort and stability is incredible. I have very gimpy knees that will dislocate in a heartbeat, and I've found that a good sturdy boot keeps my knee from turning every which way as I step over objects. All leather, I would stack them up against any pair of Gore Tex for waterproofness (treated according to the Limmer brothers' suggestions and using their product). I've beaten them to death for a week at a time and at the end of journey could wade a creek without any leaking or soaking of the leather.

Limmers also make a great lightweight boot which actually is probably a good mid-weight boot for backpacking for most people. I've also had Technicas (Gore Tex) - very lightweight but sturdy, and I liked them. All others I've had were sturdy leather boots of 70's vintage (Vasque, Raichle) so no use talking about old stuff. I guess I'm kind of old school, too, when it comes to the feel of good leather (so I like my Limmers). Limmers are pricey big time, though. Worth it in my opinion, but there are many quality boots in the world and it's a real journey to figure out what you really need.

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I'm looking to buy new hiking boots? What brand do you recommend? what do you look for in your hiking boots? waterproof, High or low backs? etc...

Forget brand names and forget what works for other people, that is not the way to buy a hiking boot.

Go to a specialty store like REI (Not a Wallmart or Big 5 type of operation) , and plan on spending time trying on lots of boots from several companies.

Also get some good sox like Smart wool or Thorlos, stay away from cottone sox, they are not good for your feet.


This may help hiking boots


For myself, I like a boot the gives ankle support, I have two boots that I use most of the time. One has a full leather upper, the other has a Leather and nylon upper. Both have Gortex membranes so that they are waterproof and breathable, all my boots have gortex membranes, even the low tops.

All my sox have wool in them, most of are have 100% merino wool, the wool wicks moisture away from your feet and helps to keep them dry, this is something that cotton will not do.

Edited by JohnnyVegas
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like johnnyvegas was just saying, go to a store that specializes in hiking boots. I see you are from NY. I am not too familiar with stores on Long Island, but just over the border in NJ is Campmor. Staff is knowledgeable and have a good return policy if it doesn't work out. Find a good store like that. Ask these guys since they might be in your neighborhood and know of good stores.

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I wear Limmer mid-weight boots.

I've looked at some of their boots online. Are these off the shelf, or did you have them made to measure? I also wear 3.5 lb leather boots (from Merrell) and would never consider any other style - they're heaven. However, Merrell doesn't make them anymore, so one day I may have to look around again - hence my question.

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I'd love to have the ability to buy "top of the line" hiking boots, but I feed a stay at home wife (and her horses), and two kids. As much as I'd like "nothing but the best" i've settled for boots on sale regardless of brand. I bought a pair of cheap, Chinese tactical boots that set me back 25 bucks, and i've tackled some outrageous terrain while visiting aircraft wrecksites. I've hikes well over thirty miles in my "crappy boots," and my only gripe is that they are a bit loose in the heal area. They tend to roll on my feet when I descend talus / scree slopes.


Find a boot that fits you, and you find comfortable.


I lost about ten pounds after this picture was taken :o




Examples of the terrain these boots have encountered.







Edited by Kit Fox
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Cool photos Kit Fox! I buy comfortable boots on sale too. I bought some really good ones once and they were nice and lasted longer, but the decent on sale ones are almost as good and I get a new pair every year. I'd love to hike in that area someday! Thanks for sharing those! :o


Here are some more albums;


C-46 Commando


C-119 Boxcar


C-130 Hercules


Most Scenic Crash Site

F-105 Thunderchief

Piute Mountains (Home of the F-105 wreck site)

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If you live near a college of Podiatric Medicine, ask if they have a sports medicine clinic. If they do, see if they offer a free screening clinic. Then take the shoes that you wear the most with you when you go. They will be able to describe what kind of boot you should be looking for, if not suggest a particular model.


Unfortunately, most sporting goods store , shoe sales people, only know what has sold well. Some of the better sales people will have been to the manufacturer's clinics, which try to educate them about boots, but will emphasize the advantages of their product line.


Boots that have an EVA midsole material will break down quicker than boots with a polyurathane (PU) midsole. THe EVA boots will feel a bit cushier. How your particular foot hits the ground will be important in choosing the type of boot. You'll notice some boots seem to have a slight curve to the sole and others are straighter. That is not simply a cosmetic difference. It determines how your foot will meet the ground. The last of a hiking shoe, or boot, should be a board last, not a slip last. The board last is a single solid piece, and the slip last has a seam down the middle or across the footbed, between the ball of your foot and your toes. Board lasts are more stable and slip lasts are more flexible. Slip lasts are better in a running shoe or, if you have very stable foot placement, they can work in your hiking boots. Each manufacturer builds on their own idea of what a foot is. A size 13 from one company, is a size 11 in another. Some will have a wide toe box, and others a tighter toe box. If you will be back packing, you'll want a boot with a tougher midsole to keep from getting stone bruises on rougher trails. I have seen people limping out to the trailhead, in their stocking feet and their socks covered with blood. Your feet will actually be a larger size at the end of a long hot hike than when you began the hike.


There is much to say about hiking boots and selecting them. The bottom line is, I believe them to be the single most important piece of outdoor equipment that you will buy, well worth spending time and money to get the pair that work best for you and for the type of hiking that you do. Whatever boots you decide on, a basic knowledge of foot care has to go along with them as well as just plain, "being in shape".


I apologize for my mini rant. I have spent years looking for the perfect boots for myself. It is an ongoing process. I sometimes forget that there are people who would rather get boots that are sorta okay, and hit the trail. That works too. P.S. Don't get me started talking about socks.

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Think about what our shoes are for. If you can imagine strapping pillows to your bare feet and walking, you might get the idea of what the trade offs are for "cushioned" foot gear. Comfy on hard ground, but at the expense of energy and using more muscles around your knees and legs in general, to keep stable as you walk. Then, imagine strapping a 2x4 on your feet...not as comfy but a more stable platform for walking on uneven ground. With hiking boots we are always trying to strike a balance between the costs of comfort and stability. When Nike first came out with their "air soles" it sounded like a miracle. Nike, was a Japanese company and simply designed the shoe for a small stature runner. I weigh 200 pounds and wear a size 13. In two weeks I was disabled with knee pain because I was using my leg muscles to compensate for the reduced stability of the shoe as I ran.


From the Lowa website;



Then there is the issue of how your foot actually meets the ground. It involves understanding Pronation and Supination and to some extent your posture.


Pronation is a term used to describe the arch of the foot becoming flat. A pronated foot is simply a flat foot. To pronate means that the foot is rolling in or flattening. Supination, on the other hand, refers to a foot that is rolling out and creating an arch. A supinated foot is simply a high arched foot. You can try this yourself. Simply put your foot on the floor, and keeping the sole of your foot on the floor, roll the foot from the inside to the outside. There you go. Now you�re pronating and supinating.


A pronated or supinated foot is neither a good or a bad thing. A foot that is mildly pronated may work for a lifetime without symptoms while a foot that is very pronated can indicate many different types of problems. Rigid, pronated feet in young adults may indicate a tarsal coalition. In older adults, a pronated foot may be due to a tendon rupture of the medial arch. Typically, pronated feet are a very flexible and an inefficient foot type. Supinated feet, on the other hand, are usually rigid and stiff. The high arch in a supinated foot can be difficult to treat when foot problems occur.


Some times because of the way your foot strikes a curved sole is preferred and other times a straight. If you know if you have excessive pronation or supination you are a bit ahead when you shop for your boots.


here's a link to a page that might help.

Shoe Analysis


I see that you are in Silicon Valley. The San Francisco School of Podiatric Medicine used to do a free sports shoe screening once a month. It could be worth a trip if you feel you'd like to dig a bit deeper than a trip to REI.


All this may seem like over kill. For most people it probably is way more information than they need or want. I'm just a curious guy about most things, and usually get myself in over my head.

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Thanks for a lot of good info.


All this may seem like over kill.

I don't think it's an overkill. While I am very happy with the boots I have, I will need to look for another pair in the future, and I want to buy something that will serve me well for years, so knowledge will help.

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