Hiking boots buying guide

Our feet are complex and come in all shapes and sizes, our trained and experienced staff will be able to assess your foot shape and guide you through our footwear range. The most important things to remember when buying boots is that they fit well and that they are the right type of boot for the activity you are planning. Our staff have a thorough knowledge of our extensive range and will help you choose the best style for your use. Below is a comprehensive guide to the key parts of a good hiking boot and the different features to consider before buying.

Custom Fit

We will help you find the perfect boot; our boot range is made up of lots of different brands and styles with many characteristics. If you have an irregular shaped foot we can personalise the fit for you by using custom moulded footbeds, heel lifts and volume reducers. The solution may even be as simple as a change of thickness in sock or a trim-to-fit footbed. We actually recommend that you replace the standard footbed that comes in your boot with a Superfeet trim-to-fit, the benefits are brilliant, the footbed provides comfort, support and shock absorption which is essential for a long day out in the mountains.

Buying new boots is all about the fit and we recommend you visit us in one of our stores for a fitting and we will make sure that you leave with a great pair of walking boots that work for you.

Shoe Construction

From the top down footwear consists of an upper, a midsole and the sole unit.

View the following hiking boot features by clicking the numbers on the diagram below.

  1. Upper

    The upper can be made using a variety of materials in a variety of combinations. Leather provides stability, comfort and a good level of waterproofing. On easier terrain, fabric and suede are sometimes used together to provide a lighter, less stiff option. Plastic boots, such as Scarpa’s Omega, are totally waterproof, extra warm and designed for use in extremely cold climates.

  2. Midsole

    The midsole is responsible for providing longitudinal and lateral stiffness where necessary; running shoes tend to have very little internal stiffness to allow for the full flexion of the foot. It also enhances shock absorption, the level of which will be primarily defined by the type and amount of EVA or PU used in the construction.

  3. Sole Unit

    The terrain will affect the make-up of your sole unit. The rubber compound used in the sole alters the performance of your shoe since harder soles are longer lasting but not as grippy as softer versions. Vibram are generally considered to be the market leaders but many brands are now producing very high quality proprietary soles.

  4. Liner

    Many shoe models also feature a liner such as GORE-TEX with XCR Product Technology* to prevent your feet from getting soaked. However lined models are not as breathable as unlined ones, and this should be a consideration when making your selection. Unlined footwear is the right choice in warmer climates or in situations where footwear will get very wet and needs to be quick drying.


Top tips for great fitting boots

  • Buy your boots well in advance of your trip or activity and wear them around the house to soften the fabric
    and mould them to the shape of your feet, also try them with the sock that you will wear.
  • Healthy feet are essential to comfortable fitting footwear and keeping your toenails trimmed to the right
    length is important. Use proper nail clippers and cut straight across (ideally straight after a shower as this
    softens the nail), don’t cut them too short and don’t round the corners as this can cause ingrown toenails.
    Gently removing hard and cracked skin with a pumice stone can also help.
  • Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or a serious athlete, you have probably experienced painful
    blisters or calluses, usually caused by ill-fitting shoes and boots. Blisters strike more often in hot weather,
    they’re caused by rubbing and the key to preventing blisters is to wear socks and shoes or boots that fit
    well. If you do get a blister whilst on the go, try our Compeed Anti-Blister Stick and Compeed Blister Pack and remember at the end of the day not to put a plaster over it, leave it to dry out on its own.
  • When feet perspire on an average days trekking each one can lose up to 400ml of moisture, so wear fresh
    socks daily or try a pair of our merino wool socks to keep your feet dry and fresh.
  • Custom fitted insoles can enhance the fit, comfort and performance of footwear – ask a member of our
    store staff for more information.
  • The best time to buy your boots is in the afternoon, as feet are at their smallest in the morning and as we walk
    on them throughout the day, their volume increases due to increased blood flow.


Footware Care

Caring for your footwear properly will enhance its performance and make it last longer. We recommend cleaning and washing footwear after use, especially if very muddy, as excess dirt on the outside of a boot or shoe will impair its breathability and water resistance, and always try to allow the shoe or boot to dry naturally without subjecting
it to excess heat (i.e open fires or radiators). GORE-TEX* lined footwear needs to be regularly re-proofed to ensure that water continues to bead on the surface rather than soaking into the boot.

Leather boots in particular benefit from constant care and attention to ensure high levels of waterproofing and breathability. Applying Aqueous wax to the outer layer while it is damp will help the proofing dry into the fabric for maximum effectiveness.

See the whole footwear care range here.


Socks

As well as footwear and accessories we have a great variety of socks that have been designed for specific activities, and not only provide comfort, support and cushioning, but enhance your performance.

See our whole hiking sock range here.


Crampons

Crampons help climbers ascend by allowing them to kick into the ice. Some crampons feature an anti-balling plate, which prevents the build up of snow underneath. Check the compatibility chart below to make sure that the crampons and boots that you pick are indeed compatible with each other.

Crampon Compatibility Chart

Boot Rating Usage Guide Crampon Rating
B1 4-season trekking in Europe and the rest of the world, scrambling in the UK, via ferrata, glacier travel and winter walking in the UK. C1
B2 Scrambling in the UK, via ferrata, glacier travel, winter walking in the UK and easier alpine and winter climbing. C1/C2
B3 Alpine and winter climbing, competition ice climbing, extreme alpine and winter climbing and also higher altitude climbing. C1/C2/C3


Crampon Recommendation Chart

Below is a table recommending the two best crampons for the main types of boot;

Boot Gender Price Boot Rating Crampon Recommendation 1 Price Crampon Rating Crampon Recommendation 2 Price Crampon Rating
Scarpa SL X Male £185 B1 G10 Lux NC Crampon £110 C1 Serac Strap Crampon £119 C1
Scarpa SL XX Male £185 B1 G10 Lux NC Crampon £110 C1 Serac Strap Crampon £119 C1
Scarpa Kinesis Tech GTX Male £200 B1 Air Tech Lite New Classic £135 C1 Neve Strap £109 C1
Scarpa Cristallo GTX Male £200 B1 Serac Strap Crampon £119 C1 G10 Lux NC Crampon £110 C1
Mammut Mt Cliff GTX Male £175 B1 Monta Rosa New Classic £79.99 C1 Neve Strap £109 C1
Mammut Mt Trail XT GTX Male £180 B1 G10 Lux NC Crampon £110 C1 Serac Strap Crampon £119 C1
Mammut Mt Cliff GTX Female £175 B1 Monta Rosa New Classic £79.99 C1 Neve Strap £109 C1
Scarpa Manta Female £220 B2 G12 Newmatic Crampon £135 C2 Serac Clip Crampon £119 C2
Scarpa Charmoz GTX Female £230 B2 Air Tech Newmatic Crampon £125 C2 Serac Clip Crampon £119 C2
Scarpa Manta Male £220 B2 G12 Newmatic Crampon £135 C2 Serac Clip Crampon £135 C2
La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Male £225 B2 Serac Clip Crampon £119 C2 G12 Newmatic Crampon £135 C2
Scarpa Jorasses Pro GTX Male £300 B3 Rambo Evolution 4 Crampomatic £180 C3 G14 Crampomatic £170 C3
Scarpa Mont Blanc Male £350 B3 G14 Crampomatic £170 C3 Neve Pro £109 C3
Scarpa Phantom Ultra Male £380 B3 G20 Cramp-O-Matic £175 C3 Cyborg Pro Crampon £159 C3
Scarpa Phantom Guide Male £400 B3 Rambo Evolution 4 Crampomatic £180 C3 Cyborg Pro Crampon £159 C3
La Sportiva Olympus Mons Evo Male £660 B3 Cyborg Pro Crampon £159 C3 G10 Lux NC Crampon £110 C1
La Sportiva Spantik Male £490 B3 Cyborg Pro Crampon £159 C3 Sabretooth Pro Crampon £129 C3
La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX Male £350 B3 Rambo Evolution 4 Crampomatic £180 C3 G14 Crampomatic £170 C3
La Sportiva Nepal Extreme Male £315 B3 Sabretooth Pro Crampon £129 C3 Serac Strap Crampon £119 C1
La Sportiva Nepal Extreme Female £315 B3 Sabretooth Pro Crampon £129 C3 G12 Newmatic Crampon £135 C2


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