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Published In: Discount Trainers Shoes UK Created Date: 2017-07-03 Hits: 40 Comment: 0

When shopping for a pair of hiking boots, it is important to know how they are made. No, you don't need to know how to make your own,

When shopping for a pair of hiking boots, it is important to know how they are made. No, you don't need to know how to make your own, but you have to understand what goes into them and how it affects the comfort and durability - the overall quality - of the hiking boots. In this article I will describe the parts of a hiking boot, what they are made of, and how they come together to form the ideal hiking boot for you.

Like any shoe, a hiking boot consists of an upper and a sole joined together by a welt and with an inlet at the front covered by a tongue, and the whole is lined with various pads and cushions. I will discuss each of those parts in detail, in terms of what they are made of and what to look for in various types of hiking boots.

Sole and Welt

Let's start at the bottom. The soul of the hiking boot is the sole.

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Soles are usually made of synthetic rubber in varying degrees of hardness. A harder sole will last longer, but generally will have poorer traction on hard surfaces (such as bare rock) and will provide less cushioning. A softer sole gives you the cushioning you need for long hikes and the traction you need on rough ground, but it will wear out faster.

 

Manufacturers have made their trade-offs in choosing the materials to make their boots out of. The final choice is up to you when you choose which boot to buy. If you expect to do most of your hiking on soft surfaces, such as desert sand or bare soil, you might lean more toward harder soles. But most of us hike on fairly rugged trails with a good deal of bare rock, and we need the traction of a softer sole.

Inside the sole is a shank. It is a stiffening structure, either fiberglass or steel, that prevents the sole of the boot from twisting and that provides arch support. Shanks may be only three-quarter or half-length. Hiking shoes generally have no shank at all, deriving all their stiffness from the molded rubber sole. Good day-hiking boots may have a full-length fiberglass shank. High-quality backpacking boots will give you the choice of fiberglass or steel. It will depend on how strong you need your hiking boots to be, and how heavy.

Look for deep, knobby tread. Deep cuts in the sole allow water and mud to flow out so you can get traction. "Fake" hiking boots, designed to look like hiking boots but not to perform like them, may have thinner soles and shallow tread. Working boots also may have shallow tread, and they generally have harder soles than hiking boots have.

The welt is the connection between the sole and the upper. Virtually all hiking boots these days are glued together rather than sewn. If you are buying a very expensive pair of backpacking boots, give preference to a sewn welt. Boots with a sewn welt will be easier to resole when the original sole wears out. For hiking shoes or day-hiking boots, when the sole wears out, the upper is not worth salvaging, either, so a glued welt is just fine.

Upper

The upper of the hiking boot provides warmth, protects the sides of your feet from rocks and brush, and repels water. It must also allow your feet to "breathe," so that moisture from perspiration will not build up inside the boots and cause blisters.

Uppers of hiking boots are usually at least partially made of leather. High-quality backpacking boots are often made of full-grain leather (leather that has not been split). Lighter boots may be made of split-grain leather (leather that has been split or sueded on one side), or a combination of split-grain leather with various fabrics.

Fabrics that are combined with leather are usually some type of nylon. Heavy nylon wears nearly as well as leather, and it is much lighter and cheaper than leather.

In any hiking boot, especially those made of combinations of leather and fabric, there will be seams. Seams are bad. Seams are points of failure. Seams are points of wear, as one panel of the boot rubs against another. Seams are penetrations that are difficult to waterproof.

The uppers of backpacking boots are sometimes made of a single piece of full-grain leather with only one seam at the back. This is good, for all the reasons that seams are bad, but it is expensive.

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