Need Some Quality Hiking Boots

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by Cindysphinx, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    My adult daughter will be leading wilderness hikes in Maine this summer. She needs hiking boots, and I would like to surprise her with them as a gift.

    Does anyone know anything about hiking boots? What brand should I get and what should I look for?
     
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  2. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    suggest checking out Keen and Merrell.
     
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  3. North

    North Professional

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    I am a big hiker/backpacker and have worked selling hiking boots in outdoor stores. Have also been an adult Scout leader and taught adults hiking.

    The boots need to be big enough to fit a liner sock and wool sock, with wiggle room for feet swelling during the hike. Fit, fit, fit is paramount. A little area that rubs in the wrong place in the store is not necessarily going to get better with more hiking miles. Some brands do have tendencies: Vasques (great boots) tend to have more narrow toe boxes. Keens, on the other hand, have fairly wide toe boxes and are generally wider boots. Other than that forget about the brand unless there is a question of a reputation for poor quality.

    She also needs to decide on all leather or fabric & leather, as well as low-cut hiking shoes vs mid or full cut boots. Some places, like LL Bean, REI, or Cabelas have easy generous exchange/return policies. You could try going to one of those stores and trying on lots of boots there as they all carry other brands besides their own.

    Another question is waterproof (ie:Gore-Tex liner) vs not. Waterproof liners work for a day if you can then dry the boots out fully before you hike next. Also, there are waterproofing treatments to the boots externally (different for leather vs fabric) that you can reapply when needed.

    Next issue is how she will be hiking. Long vs short daily distances, soft vs rough/rocky trails, pavement, etc. This is relevant to how stiff the sole of the boot needs to be and what material the boot should be made of. Eg: lightweight synthetic material dries quicker - important for boots that will be damp/wet every day - but all leather boots will be warmer (with appropriate insulation in the form of heavier socks) if she will be hiking in cold weather. Northern Maine may get chilly even during summer nights, but should not be bitter cold, so that is not a crucial issue.

    There's probably something I forgot lol, so let me know if you have any questions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
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  4. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    I'm an old Boy Scout. I admire much of the Vasque line, but for your daughter, I'd recommend Hi-Tec's Altitude iV boot. It's reasonably priced and has lots of useful bells and whistles to it. . . very nice. I have LL Bean old-school leather mountain boots and Hi-Tec IV hiking shoes---they discontinued the shoes, making me disconsolate.

    Not too keen on Keen. Merrell has good stuff (see the Ventilators) but also some clunkers.

    If she's just doing day hikes, consider hiking shoes rather than boots. Less heavy, good support, all around more useful.
     
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  5. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    OK, this is all helpful, thanks. I had figured we'd be OK ordering a few pairs from [that footwear on-line retailer that I am apparently not allowed to mention] and sending back the rejects. Shows you how much I know.

    I will tell her to get more info on the hike conditions, length, etc. And then we will head off to REI.

    My daughter is something of a tenderfoot, so I doubt they will be sending her to the backcountry. And she might need to address her fear of caterpillars.
     
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  6. Seth

    Seth Hall of Fame

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    I'm also an advocate for Hi-Tec. I went to college in the mountains of NC, and my Hi-Tecs endured everything from going through a couple feet of snow to summer hikes. I even hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in them. Good boots are an investment, and my Hi-Tecs are now on their seventh year and going strong.
     
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  7. North

    North Professional

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    Make sure whatever boots or shoes she gets, she allows appropriate break-in time (more time for heavier boots). Some low-cut hiking shoes are really just fairly burly boot-like creations that just lop off the top part of the boot and still require significant break-in time.

    I rarely recommend specific brands of boots (though some brands are particularly well-made, cratsmanship-wise) and never recommend any specific boot or shoe until after people try things on and can see, with a good salesperson, what the hiker's feet are like.

    Forgot to mention cost. You may find a great deal and, while low cost does not necessarily mean a poorly made boot, very inexpensive boots may indeed be of lesser quality or not as durable.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
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  8. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Then it won't be a surprise to her
     
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  9. Dedans Penthouse

    Dedans Penthouse Hall of Fame

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    Raichle. I have a pair that feature a thick but supple inner wrap-a-round leather ankle support (totally eliminates any chafing 'shoe bites' when new) and which are very comfortable and oh so stable. She won't 'roll' an ankle in those bad boys.
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Lots of great ideas.
    One more. Be sure you know what the weight loads are, and the expected distances she needs to carry the weight.
    Heavy expedition boots with 20 lbs and short hikes just tire you out.
    Lightweight boots with 50 lbs and long hikes kill your legs.
     
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