Hiking boots and shoes are generally manufactured with very few seams. The reason for this is to provide water resistance.
Heels are firmly reinforced and padded high cut structural designs are often used to support ankles.
Toes are allowed plenty of room for movement while specific emphasis is placed on traction and durability with regards to sole design. This is why hiking boot soles appear quite chunky and in many cases are heavily lugged.
When chosing a hiking boot follow this check list...
Laces help to keep the foot back in the heel of the hiking boot. This allows the forefoot to function properly and efficiently and also reduces forward pressure onto the toes.
BROAD TOE BOX
This is needed to prevent lateral compression (i.e. squeezing) of the toes. If the hiking boot is too shallow, this causes pressure on the toes which can lead to blisters and the formation of corns.
Always measure your foot while standing as feet elongate and spread with stance. Insufficient toe room can result in nail problems and effect stability. Ensure hiking boots fit the longer of your two feet and approximately 10mm of room beyond the longest toe is available. When purchasing shoes off the net, always measure your foot with the size chart provided by the retailer.
All hiking shoes or boots should bend only at the ball of the foot where the toes bend and not through the arch.
This needs to be firm and feel snug as this helps to keep the heel and the foot stable.
Leather uppers are preferred for their durability and ability to breathe. The heels should be reinforced and have very few seams for improved water resistance.
SHOCK ABSORBING SOLE
A non-slip shock absorbing sole is essential to minimise jarring through the foot, leg, and spine. Avoid hard sole materials (e.g. leather or topei soles). These will reduce traction.
Only a small amount of twisting motion should be available in a stable shoe.
A shoe with a low heel is preferable (i.e. 10mm to 20mm.) Increased heel height ultimately affects the entire body as there is an increase in load and force placed on the forefoot, this causes the body's centre of gravity to shift forward, calf muscles shorten, muscles and ligaments fatigue as they are forced to work overtime to keep you balanced. This leads to an increase of stress placed on the lower back and thus body posture is affected.
MORE HELPFUL HINTS...
Always measure your feet as sizing varies with different brands and styles of hiking boots. The size marked on the boots should be used as a guide only as feet may change in size and shape with time.
If one foot is larger than the other, always fit the shoe to the larger foot.
To obtain the best fit, try purchasing your hiking shoes or boots later in the afternoon as feet may be slightly swollen.
Try your boots on with the thickness of socks you would usually wear when hiking.
If you have been provided with orthoses or innersoles by your podiatrist make sure you try them inside the hiking boots.