Our feet mark the most important “piece of gear” any hiker can have. After all, if your feet are sore, the hike quickly will become a death march rather than a pleasurable activity. This is even truer for children, who typically lack an adult’s ability to resist physical pain to achieve a goal. Given this, selecting a good boot and being aware of footwear issues is vital for any hiker.
Choosing a good hiking boot is hardly a simple matter, though. While the mechanics of the foot are essentially the same for every person, individual shape, gaits and preferences means that a hiking boot one person swears by will be a nightmare for another to wear.
To make the best possible decision for purchasing hiking footwear, you’ll need to know a little about the types, cuts, sizes, and parts of a hiking boot. Understanding a little about socks also is useful.
But ensuring your feet are taken care of on a hike isn’t just a matter of selecting the right boot and sock. You’ll also want to know a little about taking care of your boot following a hike and how to avoid and treat foot-related injuries when out on the trail.
During just the past few years alone, I’ve hiked well over a few thousand miles on trails with surfaces ranging from hard asphalt to desert sand a few inches deep, from perfectly dry, compacted paths to muddy, root-laden routes. Because I approached each of those hikes with footwear at the forefront of my planning, my feet neither were uncomfortable nor suffered an injury. I hope you’ll approach your footwear with same zeal so that when hiking you can focus on the reason you hit the trail – the fresh air and beautiful scenery.
Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.