Walking Boots and Shoes

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Look for the best quality and fit

Even if you're buying  walking boot sale items, try to keep a couple of things in mind – boots should be as comfortable and light as possible while keeping your feet dry, warm and secure. Here are a few points to help you find the ideal boots and you may even pick up a bargain from the above walking boot sale items 

Alternative Fittings

There's no such thing as the 'right boot', just the right boot for your foot. Different manufacturers make boots in different shapes and volumes based on what they reckon the typical buyer will want. That means Italian boots may be narrower than, say, American boots. You want the brand which is closest in shape and volume to your foot, so if possible shop around and try different brands then stick to one that suits you. The best reviewed boot in the world is useless if it doesn't fit you.

Leather or Fabric

Leather is a great boot material -  modern leathers use special processes to give a durable, water repellent finish while maintaining toughness and breathability. 'Fabric' boots on the other hand, tend to use a mix of synthetic materials and suede with a waterproof liner for added protection.

Fabrics tend to be lighter and can be more comfortable at first, but the water-proof liners can be sweaty in hot weather. For all round performance, leather, we think, still has the edge.

More and more boots are lined with a combination of wicking fabric and foam. High quality foam will be comfortable immediately and need less breaking in, though this is less of an issue with modern boots anyway, but fit is still crucial.

Waterproof Breathable Liners

Many boots, both fabric and leather, are now available with waterproof and breathable liners like Gore-Tex. In most conditions these work pretty well but in warmer weather they may not be breathable enough and lead to hot, sweaty, damp feet.

Waterproof leather performs well and combined with a high-wicking lining, may be a better all round solution for many hikers.

Lacing Systems

The dream walking boots will have solid, durable and lightweight lacing hardware. This is likely to come from non-rusting metal or specialist plastics, but either way will allow you to make adjustments throughout your journey. Your feet tend to swell and get larger towards the end of a walk, so with some easy adjusting hardware, you can customize the fit.

Rubber “rands” (at the heel) and toes bumpers are great for protecting the leather upper, particularly in stoney or scree environments, less important for lowland walking.

Construction

Most boots, even cheap walking boots, are made in similar ways -  an upper, designed to encase the foot and protect and support it, a stiffener or shank element which gives the boot lateral stability and torsional rigidity which you need to walk on uneven ground, a mid-sole to provide cushioning and an outsole of lugged rubber which provides grip and protection.

Some of this is visible from the outside, much isn't, and often it's the invisble bits which give better brands an advantage. There's a simple three step guide to checking the basics though:

  1. Pinch the heel area of the boot upper between thumb and forefingers. You're looking for a stiff, supportive heel-cup which is essential to stability. If the area feels soft and pliable, your heel is more likely to shift around leading to overall instability.
  2. Grasp the forefoot and rear section of the sole and try and twist them in opposite directions. There's should be minimal give. If the sole twists easily, it will give limited support on uneven ground and when using a heavy pack.
  3. Try bending the forefoot. You're looking for a flex point that corresponds to where your foot bends. The boots doesn't need to be massively stiff, but it needs to flex where your foot flexes.

Get these three right and you're on the way to a good boot.

Buying Boots

If you have the time, the best approach is to, put aside a decent amount of time so you can try out several boots and maybe several shops. The other option, particularly if you're hoping to find cheap walking boots, is to buy from an online, walking boot sale supplier who will allow you to exchange the boots if you’re not happy with your first choice.

If you are visiting shops, be patient and allow plenty of time and do it in the afternoon when your feet will have swollen slightly, take your own walking socks along with you and choose a shop with experienced staff and a decent spread of brands.

Explain to the shop staff what you're looking for and try a selection of boots for fit. In general terms, you're looking for a comfortable fit with no tight spots. The boot needs to be long enough that your toes don't hit the ends on descents but still prevent your heel from lifting when climbing.

When you've found a pair that feel about right, wear them around the shop for ten minutes or so and see how they feel - watch out for rubbing, tight spots, heel lift or a forefoot that flexes in the wrong place. Check if the shop will allow you wear them at home for a while and return them if there are problems

If you've purchased walking boot sale items  from one of our online retailers, wear them indoors for as long as practical to make sure they are a good fit. If you’re not confident that the fit well and are comfortable you can exchange them for a different size or model.