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Buying Guides: Footwear

With so many types of footwear out there, and such a variety of features to choose from, it's important to know the details before choosing your pair. Having the right footwear will ensure your feet remain comfortable and fully supported in the great outdoors for years to come.

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Hiking Boots

A good pair of hiking boots is essential when it comes to taking your stride to the next level. Picking the right pair of hiking boots is different from picking a new pair of normal shoes where aesthetic and style is usually top priority. When picking a new hiking boot, you want to choose for purpose. Consider a range of factors such as what terrain will you be tackling? What conditions will you be hiking in? or what foot shape do you have?

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In order to know which hiking boot is best for you, you first need to actually understand the hiking boot. Knowing the components of a hiking boot can help you figure out exactly what type of boot you need. The anatomy of a hiking boot can be broken down into four parts:

  • Outsole – Most likely the first thing you'll look at when choosing a new pair of hiking boots. The outsole is the strip of rubber at the bottom of the boot which also features the tread. Tread patterns will vary from boot to boot but all serve a purpose for certain terrain types. Shallow treads are best suited for rocky paths where chunkier patterns are better for mud.
  • Midsole – Sitting between the insole and the outsole, the midsole is the shock absorber of the shoe, designed to cushion and support your feet with every step you take.
  • Upper – The upper of a boot is everything above the midsole on the outside. Usually, uppers are made from sturdy and reliable materials such as a hard-wearing leather. Alternatively, synthetic fabrics are commonly used to create more lightweight boots.
  • Lining – Hiking boots can commonly be found with a waterproof liner, such as GORE-TEX®, which enhances the boots waterproof ability and further protects your feet from the elements, however waterproof liners do compromise on breathability.

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Walking Shoes

Walking shoes are similar to hiking boots in how they should be chosen for purpose and fit rather than aesthetic. Walking shoes are ideal for smoother, flatter terrain because they are lighter, meaning they give you extra manoeuvrability. The weight of the shoe can also be an important factor when we see a change in seasons as lightweight footwear is better for warm temperatures, while heavier walking boots will be ideal for the winter months due to the extra insulation.

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Walking shoes follow the same anatomy of a boot, however, won’t always have a waterproof lining, therefore making them better suited to drier weather. Having no liner makes them more breathable though, which is useful during the dry summer months. The sole on walking shoes may also be thinner than walking boots, offering less protection, but if you choose wisely, you can have an excellent all-rounder shoe that provides protection and support.

Trail Running Shoes

Trail running shoes have been continuously developing over the past few years which has led to a growing trend in hikers replacing their reliable walking boots for a pair. Once a specialist item that only avid trail running fanatics would buy, now a go-to choice for a wide range of outdoor activities. Despite this trend though, are trail running shoes really a viable replacement for a pair of reliable walking boots? Well that depends.

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Let's say it how it is to begin with, you won't get the same amount of protection and durability that you would with a good pair of hiking boots due to their size and purpose, but that's not to say that boots are automatically better. Trail running shoes are made from much lighter materials and will usually have a lighter, thinner sole as well, so they won't stand up to the same amount of rigour that a pair of hiking boots could endure. So why even consider trail running shoes if boots offer more support and protection?

Well due to the lightweight materials used on trail running shoes and their more compact size, you have a lot more flexibility, resulting in a better range of movement. You can also keep light on your feet as the materials weigh so little. It's all down to personal preference really, if you prefer to be quick and nimble on your toes then trail running shoes will be the one for you, however, if you're tackling more challenging terrain that requires you to have support, then a good pair of walking boots are what you're after.

Sandals

There's also an option available for the more casual walker, especially one who likes a walk by the beach. Sandals offer the most flexibility and manoeuvrability but very little support as a compromise, this makes them ideal for easy, urban terrain such as along the beach or around town, but not so great when it comes to rockier and more uneven terrain.

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Here at Millets, we offer a fantastic range of footwear that includes all different types of shoes, boots and sandals and features all the latest technologies designed to keep you protected, supported and comfortable. Take a look now and find yourself a pair that suits your needs!

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