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Choosing The Right Footwear For You

Comfy feet make for a comfy walk and with a variety of outdoor footwear types on the market it can be tricky to know what shoe is right for you and your chosen activity. Our handy guide will help you select the right type of footwear to match your ambitions.

 

Hiking Boot

The high or mid cut models of a hiking boot are defined by a collar which covers the ankle to provide stability and protection. Stiffer and heavier than hiking shoes, they often feature full-length shanks to provide additional torsional stability. A good pair will require little break in time (although this is still recommended before a hike).

Ideal use:

  • Any type of hiking that requires ankle support. For example, steep acents and descents, and trails involving a lot of mud and puddles, which is most likely to be during the winter months.
  • Backpacking with medium to heavy loads.

 

Hiking Shoes

These lighter, low-cut models are ideal for day hikes on varied terrain. They provide more support and durability than trail running shoes, but won't weigh you down as much as a hiking boot. They are comfortable with flexible midsoles for motion control and often feature a waterproof membrane.

Ideal use:

  • Day hikes or fast hiking on trails with smoother terrain that don’t require ankle support.
  • Backpacking with light to medium loads.

 

Backpacking Boots

These durable models feature a high cut which wraps above the ankle for excellent support. They feature stiffer midsoles to accommodate heavier loads and accept crampons for alpine hikes.

Ideal use:

  • Multi-day trips deep into the backcountry. They are designed to offer support when carrying heavy loads.

 

Approach Shoes

Approach shoes have a low cut and a softer rubber sole to accommodate those trails that involve a lot of scrambling up ridges. They provide a closer fit than hiking shoes and the lacing system will allow a lot of tightening for a snug fit.

Ideal use:

  • Hikes involving climbing, ridge scrambles or via ferrata.
  • Some people with narrower feet prefer the snug fit of an approach shoe for hiking, however be wary that the sole will not be as durable as a traditional hiking shoe.

 

Trail Running Shoes

Despite the name, trail runners aren't just for running. Many experienced hikers and backpackers use them on all kinds of terrain. They are the lightest type of shoe suitable for outdoor adventures, however they provide much less support and durability than hiking shoes.

Ideal use:

  • Hikers with strong feet and ankles like to use them on dry, well maintained trails with light loads when they want to prioritise weight saving over support and durability.
  • However, as the name suggests, they are best used for trail running.

 

Fitting tips

  • Know your size - it sounds obvious, but in order to know your exact shoe size get measured in store.
  • Wear appropriate socks - it is likely you'll wear thick hiking socks with your winter hiking boots, if so then wear these when trying on your boots.
  • Consider insoles - you may wish to add an insole or footbed to increase underfoot comfort or improve fit. If you do, consider this when trying on your boots.
  • Be wary of differing sizes across brands - one brand's size 8 is another's 8.5, if you are purchasing online try to find out about the fit from reviews or information websites. Or to be safe, purchase a brand you have worn previously.
  • Consider swelling - your feet normally swell during the day's activities, so it best to try on boots at the end of the day. Otherwise bear this mind when deciding between two sizes; the larger size is usually the best choice.

 

Treating your footwear

No matter what type you choose, it’s important to treat your footwear with some regular TLC to keep them working in peak condition.

Need some help treating your kit? See our Reproof Your Kit guide for more details.

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Comments

Neil MacAskill 31-12-15 15:48
Hi, I am really struggling to find a pair of hike boots to replace my old faithful Raichle / Mammut Gore-Tex boots
it seems that after years of living as Police Officer in basic squaddy boots (comfortably though) my arch has fallen...so that most technical running shoes and hiking boots are simply too tight across the arch, and feel like i'm walking on a ridge or ladder rung.

I have looked at and tried boots up to £200 if they were comfortable - and currently have a pair of Meindl Softline GTX at home that Cotswold Outdoors told me to 'live in' for a while indoor, but they make my feet feel cramped when I do.

In the Tonbridge branch of Millets today, I tried everything they had, and found the most comfortable to be a pair of Berghaus Expeditor AQ Trek, size 9

However....do you allow a 'go away and try them for a bit' service - and I would have quite liked to try half a size up...but the staff stated they only stock whole sizes. Could you order say a 9.5 in for me to try ?

And also I have to admit that I do have a concern that they are less than the build I require - being a far more trainer like lightweight boot.

However I see from your website that you do sell their Expeditor AQ Ridge, being a leather outer version of the same boot. But Tonbridge had none in.
Can they get them in, simply for me to try ? - or of so, where should I go ?

If you can advise - particularly concerning the availability to try or these products and half sizes. ..I would appreciate it !

many thanks

Neil MacAskill
Millets Team 06-01-16 16:47
Hi Neil,

Sorry to hear you struggle to find a good fit with your walking shoes.

Unfortunately we do not have any half sizes so we won't be able to get our hands on any and we can't accept shoes back if they are dirty unless there is a fault with them.

If you would like to order the Expeditor AQ Ridge boots to the store you can try them on in store and return them straight away if they are not right for you.

If you would like anymore help, please contact our customer care team at customercare@millets.co.uk and they will help you as much as they can.

Thanks,
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