Walking boots are the key to a successful walk. You can slow down your pace if you are out of breath, throw on raincoat if the heavens open but once your skin breaks, there is no going back on that world of pain! Investing in high-quality hiking boots is essential and breaking them in before your trek is recommended. I (Gemma) have not had a great time with walking boots. My feet are pretty messed up (sexy) – fallen arches, fat, ‘curvy’ feet, which turns out is bunions. So here is a walking boots review from a taunted walker.
Regatta – Cheap and Cheerful
These Regatta Hiking Boot are made of canvas, are water resistant and sit just over the ankle. These boots made it through a two-day trek in the Sapa Valley in Vietnam (magical experience, I urge you to do it). There was a downpour and they kept my feet dry. However, they did smell after a while and were sent to boot heaven once we made it to Thailand. I started to feel a little niggle in my ankle on Sapa day two, so shared the team (sweaty) ankle brace with Craig. This pushed my decision to purchase boots with a higher ankle for support. Bad decision!
Craig is now on his second pair of Salomon walking boots (big fan!) and lives in them (for work and play). One Boxing Day, Craig went over his ankle trying to juggle four Jagerbombs down the stairs of a local ‘club’ and spent the next fortnight hobbling (funny story – I dragged him to a kid’s Christmas party to see my cousin and he was confronted by a man with a limp in the toilet who thought he was taking the p*ss!) so wanted extra support for his ankles. They too survived Sapa, two treks in Peru (and work).
Scarpa Leather Hiking Boot
Craig has now added a new member to the family, his Scarpa leather boots. The leather provides another layer of protection against water and he describes the boot as like walking on air.
Always the copier, I went for high ankle support too with Kayland walking boots.
My Mum kindly bought me these boots for my birthday. They were very attractive and I am sure a perfect fit for hikers who like to play with avalanches but they were not suitable for the West Highland Way which has many country/farmland roads with a few hills (and a Devil’s Staircase). It may have been the repetitiveness of walking that caused my (new, never suffered from before) Achilles’ heel problem but I think the highly structured boot contributed too. I do not recommend boots this sturdy for hiking.
Salomon (again) trail shoes
This year, I went all out trek trainer on walking boots. I now sport Salomon (such a copier) Trail Walking Shoes and have enjoyed the breaking in honeymoon period so far albeit their exposure to land has been short (longest walk three hours). I am off to complete the section of the West Highland Way that I missed in April due to injury (Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse, Glencoe) next Sunday which will be their true christening. I need to purchase heel cushion pads too (adds to list). *UPDATE* They are perfect, five months into our travels and I have no regrets.CLICK HERE FOR OUR TRAVEL ESSENTIALS GUIDE
The main factor to consider – you must break them in. Helen’s leather walking boots have grown up with her (10 years old) and she had no complaints during the 97 mile walk (WHW).
For hill walking boots: wear one pair of cotton socks, one pair of woollen (and lube, see here), if you have room for one finger at the back when you push your foot forward and room at the front for it when you push your heel back then they are a good. I’m not sure how woollen socks are going to go down on the Lares trek (Peru) in May. I’ll get back to you (no showers for 3 days, I may be single by then…)
Going backpacking? Check out this post on travel shoes!