Hiking Boots – Features & Characteristics
When looking for and comparing Hiking Boots, it is important to know the features Hiking Boots can have and understand how they work. In this section, we will look at some of the most important and common characteristics of Hiking Boots:
Hiking Boot Aspects
Hiking Boots have a couple of characteristics that determine how they perform in Hiking:
- Hiking Boot Weight
The lighter your boots, the easier your walking will be. It is generally agreed that one pound extra footwear weight can be compared to five pounds of added backpack weight. Hiking Boot manufacturers are constantly working on creating lighter Hiking Boots while maintaining the support and other features needed.
- Water Resistance
Moisture is one of your biggest enemies when it comes to Hiking. Moisture causes Blisters. There are a couple of things that can improve the chances of keeping your feet dry. Look for breathable and watertight materials that will allow moisture to leave the inner parts of your boots but will not let water enter. Look for fully gusseted tongues that cover the openings of your uppers.
- Lateral Rigidity
Your boot should support your feet and ankles from twisting on uneven surfaces. Higher boots with stiff ankle supports provide a big part of the lateral rigidity.
- Longitudinal Rigidity
Your boot should support your feet from over-bending when placing too much weight on the toe or heel side of your foot. At the same time, the boot should have enough longitudinal flexibility to support the arches’ natural spring action.
- Arch Support
Your boot should support the arch of your feet in a way that your feet are not flattened out under heavy pressure. A curved shank between midsole and insole is often inserted to provide arch support.
Hiking Boot Anatomy & Hiking Boot Parts
A Hiking Boot consists of different elements and body parts that work together to provide the protection you require from your Hiking Boots.
The Upper is the entire upper part of the boot. It should protect the foot with an all-over snug fit and give it the necessary support and absorb shocks. It should be water repellant/proof while being able to breathe. This to prevent excess moisture from causing Blisters and other discomfort.
The soles are the bottom part of the boot. The sole should give the needed friction on all expected surfaces. To achieve this goal, your Hiking Boots should have deep-lugged soles of tough rubber. On solid slippery surfaces, the number of contact points with the sole will be small thus increasing the pressure on those points and the grip. On softer surfaces, the lugs will sink in thus increasing the number of contact points and the number of angles at which the lugs resist slipping. The sole should absorb and redirect shocks and cushion the soles of your feet. They should be stiff enough to give enough support while at the same time being flexible enough to facilitate the natural walking motion of your feet. It should be firmly connected to the upper in a non-separating and waterproof way.
There are different ways of lacing and they are often combined to make use of the advantages of each mechanism:
- Eyelets are punched holes often enforced with metal grommets to prevent tearing out. Still eyelets have the tendencies to break at greater pressure which is why they are mostly used for lighter shoes.
- D-rings use a D-shaped ring connected with a metal rivet. They offer more protection from tearing but can create painful pressure points.
- Hooks are open at the outside allowing the laces to leave the hook altogether. The ankle hooks often have a locking mechanism that allows a difference between the tension on the lower and upper laces.
- Webbing uses strong fabrics to create a loop through which the laces run.
Nowadays, laces are almost always braided nylon cords. Flat laces as often found in fashion footwear are more likely to break so avoid them.
Tongues are the flaps that cover the inlet of the upper. Most Hiking Boots have gussets connecting the tongues to the upper. The gussets make sure that water, dirt, and debris are not able to enter your shoe. With the laces tightened, the gussets and the tongue should fold nicely together to conform to your shin and ankle without causing pressure points.
Lining & Padding
Boots have lining and padding to provide more protection and comfort to your feet. Foam is often used for padding and it protects your feet from the cold and pressure. Make sure there is little to no foam padding in the toe and heel of your boot. The innermost layer is called the Liner. Synthetic fabrics have replaced leather liners as they are more durable and better in redirecting moisture.
Insoles / Footbeds
Insoles are the bottom part of the inner where your feet rest on. Soles should be shaped perfectly for your feet to ensure maximum support and balance. Most soles are removable from the Hiking Boot which enable you to compare them to the shape of your feet. People with certain Feet Conditions can often compensate by using specially made insoles.
On higher boots, your Achilles tendon and ankle need protection from chafing and that is where the scree collars come in. At the back of the outers, a lower cut is made and foam padded leather rolls protect against chafing.
Some C class boots and all D class boots have connection points for Crampons. In most cases, the boots will have enforced edges at the toe and heel side of the boot above the sole that allow Crampons to be levered solid. Most C class boots will allow for some leverage usage on the top of the sole but will mostly work with loose Crampons that work with girdles and laces. D class shoes should have very solid enforced edges. Consider plastic shell shoes if you expect to be using your Crampons most of the time.
These are the essential Features and Characteristics of Hiking Boots. Knowing these aspects will help you in understanding how they perform. Moreover, you will be able to narrow down your selection if you have an idea on the components and features of Hiking Boots.