Best walking boots for travel & hiking

As a soft adventure couple, we love the idea of a hiking adventure. And we know a good pair of walking boots is essential. Before our most recent trip to Norway, we decided to embark on a shopping adventure and try to find the best walking boots which needed to be durable, waterproof, breathable and also comfortable.

To tackle all sort of terrain you definitely need the right footwear. So we started looking for a pair of walking boots which are not only practical but also fashionable. And let me tell you since I found my dream pair of boots, I can’t imagine wearing anything else. In fact, I started investing in sustainable tops which go my footwear so I can wear my walking boots even in the city.

Here is a list with our top pick including an epic buyer’s guide below to help you find your best walking boots.

The best walking boots

We put together a list with the best walking boots which we tried and tested. Usually, walking boots aren’t cheap, and when you are about to have a big investment in the best walking boots, you should expect them to be good quality, reliable, versatile and durable. But above all? You want your walking boots to be very, very comfortable and stylish shoes for travel. As a cautionary tale, before I decided what walking boots to keep, I tried several pairs to find the best one. Each foot is different so what works for me, might not feel comfortable for you. That’s why it’s imperative that you give the boots a good try and only settle for the right pair. After spending hours researching about walking boots, I put together a list (see below) with the absolute best walking boots currently available on the market. I’m certain one of them will fit you and your needs. This was the case for me, and I’m 100% pleased with my purchase.

Hiking Boots Columbia Norway

How to choose the best walking boots

Finding the right walking boots is a matchmaking process. No, really, it can take some time to find the right boot suitable to your needs. I tried and tested over a dozen different pairs until I found the brand that suits me best. Your dream walking boots needs to be perfect for how you hike and what type of terrain you plan on tackling. You have a huge array of walking boots to pick from, from ultralight ones to serious heavy duty boots.

The most important part? Your walking boots need to fit like a glove. For a very long time, I thought this is not quite possible. Many people told me that boots are somewhat uncomfortable but that’s absolutely not true. The moment you try the boots on, it needs to feel perfect. You shouldn’t have to “break them in”. Some of my boots would feel too rigid, too narrow or would press on the toes. The moment I tried my Columbia boots, I discovered walking boots heaven. They were perfect and never have me blisters.

So when you order your walking boots, try them on and walk around the house for a bit. Don’t remove the labels in case they are ill-fitting and you need to return them.

How to know if your walking boots fit?

If you are like me and you never found the perfect walking boot before I’ve got some tricks for you to be able to find your bliss. Here are a few which can help you tell if the walking boot you ordered is the right one for you.

Try the sole

Press your fingers against the sole to check how it deforms. You should feel come cushioning but not enough for the sole to indent a lot or else it won’t provide the right rigidity for terrain full of rocks and stones. You should not be able to twist the sole of the boot as that will be too soft for rough terrain.

Check the ankle

Bend the top of the boot sideways to check how much ankle support your new boot can provide. The stiffer the top the more support you get. It should still feel soft on the inside so your ankle is comfortable when wearing the boot.

Index finger test

This is one of my favourite ways to check if your walking boot is the right fit. You should slide your foot forward when wearing the boot and insert your index finger between your heel and the back of the boot. This shows the boot is a perfect fit but not too large to create blisters when walking on the trail.

Walk around

Walk around the house with your new walking boots. Try to pay serious attention to how the boot feels like when fully laced. Are they comfortable? Does your toe get any pressure? You shouldn’t feel a squeeze when you take a step. What’s the heel like? There should be some minimal slippage but if it’s too much, the boot might be a size too large. You should try half a size smaller but remember that you still need to pass the index finger test.

Walk bare-foot

An interesting way to check pressure points in a new walking boot is to try them on bare-foot. You should be able to feel if the toes are comfortable or your heel gets rubbed or scratched by the back of the boot. Of course, you won’t be hiking bare-foot on the trail, but it’s a different way to check if your foot feels great and comfortable in the shoe. If the shoe passes the test, try them again with hiking socks on.

The paper trick

When I discovered the paper trick, it was a revelation. No more ill-fitting walking boots for me! So here’s what you have to do. With your hiking socks on, trace your foot on a piece of paper and cut the outline carefully. Place the paper outline in your boot firmly to ensure it sits in place. Wear the boots for a few minutes pressing properly on all edges of the boot. Walk around and press your heels, toes and side of the foot. Take the paper out and examine it carefully. If any edges of the paper are folded upwards by more than 1.3 cm (0.5 inches) then this walking boot might not be suitable for your feet.

Walking boots materials

The materials which your walking boot is made of will impact the weight, durability and water resistance. So depending on what you need your boots for, it’s worth considering the materials that go into your shoes. Walking boots uppers made from synthetic materials tend to be a little lighter and more breathable. They can also be very durable. Going vegan is also a better idea for the environment and animal welfare. Traditionally, outdoor enthusiasts would buy leather walking boots for durability, but nowadays, synthetic materials are just as good, if not even better. Gore-Tex is a waterproof, breathable fabric which is nowadays used in most outdoor boots. Gore-Tex is fully vegan.

Different boots for different terrain?

You want to pick the right boot for your activity. While everyone loves a versatile boot, some might not be as great for difficult terrain so it’s time to pay special attention to your sole. The harder the materials, the better for durability. In contrast, the softer, the better the grip. I love a pair of trail runners but those won’t be good enough when hiking a seriously difficult trail which requires proper heavy duty shoes.

Usually, a walking boot can handle all four seasons, but if you need a winter boot, ensure you go for at least a three-season boot for a more advanced gripping system.

The cost of a good quality walking boot

I had boots ranging from £50 to £300. Honestly, don’t be deceived by brands. It’s tempting to go for the top brands out there, but in reality, the walking boot has to be suitable for your needs, feet and terrain. It doesn’t have to break the bank either. As mentioned before, I had a pair of North Face boots which were close to £300 but (as I learned later) were really not suitable for my feet. They caused blisters and issues for my toes. As a novice, I went for the top brand out there because I thought more money can buy better quality. Wrong! I now have my pair of Columbia walking boots which I purchased for a little over £100 and they are perfect. They are my bliss shoes in which I can walk, hike, drive. They are perfect for outdoors and city life. I wouldn’t ever change them. Having said that, walking boots are on the expensive side and not everyone can just afford to spend hundreds of pounds on a new pair. However, as you’ll read below, you’ll see that walking boots are an investment. If looked after, a walking boot can last even for 20 years.

How long should I keep my walking boot for?

If you look after your boots then they can last for 20 years. I’m not even joking. But, you do have to clean them regularly, allow them to dry naturally and reproof them every now and then. There is something charming about a worn pair of walking boots, as they represent the hardship or your past adventures. You don’t need to replace your boots just because they are a little scruffy. However, it’s definitely time to replace the boot if they start leaking.

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Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory Varga is a licensed travel agent and published travel writer. Her main expertise is writing about Japan, where she happily lives with her husband.
Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan and wants to share more about the local customs with the rest of the world.
While Cory has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries, Japan remains her favorite place to live and write about. Cory is multilingual.

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