When it comes to equipping yourself with the best walking gear, you first need to do your research. This is not a subject which you can quickly jump into – buy any old shoes or other accessories and get on with it. In order to not only enjoy your walking, but also be comfortable and avoid injury, you need to make wise and calculated decisions beforehand.
One of the most common questions and biggest decisions, is whether you should opt for boots vs. shoes for walking.
The answer is, there is no right or wrong answer. It completely depends on the type of walking you’re doing, the amount of walking, and over what kind of terrain. The best rule of thumb is if you’re going to be walking over tough, wet, and difficult terrain on a regular basis, boots should be a good investment.
If, however, you’re not going to be walking over craggy rocks and uneven ground, and your walking is probably not going to be an every-weekend deal, then perhaps a good quality pair of walking shoes will suffice for you.
It is a personal decision.
You’ll find boots and shoes for every type of walking endeavor – from summer to winter, tough to normal terrain, women’s, men’s, children’s, big name brands, lesser-known brands, leather, fabric, treads, soles, and all manner of other combinations. How on Earth are you supposed to know which to opt for?
Research, and knowing your situation.
What You Need to Know
In order to narrow your choice down a little, decide how often you’re going to be walking, the type of weather you’re likely to encounter, the type of terrain, and whether you’re going to be opt for a long-term activity, or just for a season. For keen walkers, consider this:
- Walking on high altitudes (hills and mountains), rough terrain: Opt for boots or shoes which have a three-season rating. These will grip much easier and be safer
- Mountaineering or rock climbing, on very extreme terrain, in potentially very wet or cold weather: Opt for four-season boots or shoes. These are quite heavy and very stiff, but they give you the protection and grip you need
- If you know it is going to be wet whenever you walk, then look at a Gore-Tex lining in your shoe, or opt for leather. This will keep your feet warm and dry, no matter how wet it is outside of your shoe, and avoid slippage and blisters too
- Summer walking, in dry conditions, leads to lighter walking boots or shoes, as these are less bulky and heavy, and actually feel springier as a result
So, Which Should You Opt For?
As before, it depends on what you’re going to be wearing them for, and when. During the summer months, when you’re out walking on set trails, then it’s totally possible to wear either shoes or boots without any problems. You should always make sure that they fit properly regardless of which choice you go for.
If however you’re going to be walking on unmarked paths or rocky terrain, then go for boots, even if it is summer. This means you will get ankle support, and you’ll have much less chance of turning an ankle and suffering an injury while you’re out and about.
If it’s summer and you’re on tarmac or very smooth ground, perhaps trainers or sneakers will be sufficient! This will give you more bounce and spring and be quite lightweight in feel.
Whichever you go for, remember the fit is the most important thing above all else. You could purchase the most all-singing, all-dancing pair of boots or shoes, and they could be perfect for the type of walking you’re going to be doing, but if they don’t fit you right, they’re a very poor investment.
You should not need to ‘break in’ a pair of walking shoes, as they should feel comfortable from the first moment you put them on. If you feel any pressure, discomfort, or pain, these are not the right boots or shoes for you, and you should continue with your search.
Remember that your feet expand with physical exercise and in heat, so also remember the commonly known tip of going boot or shoe shopping at the end of the day. Basically, whether you go for walking boots or walking shoes, it’s worthwhile taking the time to explore your options and ensure that you get the right fit for you, as well as the option with the right features.