When we do a review of footwear we factor in key criteria to determine which boots are worthy for 2015, such as: comfort, support, traction, waterproof, weight and durability. Hope you find our analysis useful and thorough.
Note: All these items are available on Amazon, which we find have the best prices and superb customer service. You can also have your boots shipped within 2 days via Amazon Prime.
Hiking Monk’s Top 7 Picks
Selecting the right shoe for hiking is not an easy task – find the right pair and your hike is so much more fun and enjoyable. Yet if you select the wrong pair, your hike is down the drain even before you hit the one mile mark. There’s nothing worse than wearing hikers that give you blisters, don’t give you support and stability, don’t have traction, and those that fall apart on you at the worst possible time – during your hike.
1. Asolo Power Matic 200GV
- True to size
- Provides stability and traction
2. Hi-Tec Altitude IV
- Good value
- Great material endurance
- Wide for size
3. Keen Targhee II
- True to size
- Provides stability and traction
4. Lowa Renegade GTX
- Light in weight
- Extremely breathable
5. Merrell Moab
- Lightweight (2 lbs. 2 oz.)
- Drains well
- Great in hot weather
- Not durable
- Not waterproof
6. Salomon Quest 4D GTX
- Pliable – wide toe box
- Great traction
- Minimal break-in required
- Arch may be a bit narrow
- Squeaking noise
7. Vasque Breeze GTX
- Great traction
- Ankle support
- Good ventilation
- Upper part of tongue not padded
- Toe part may be too narrow for some
We looked at a few factors that contribute to a great boot:
When going for a great hiking boot, comfort is a significant factor that cannot be underestimated. This applies to both the comfort one is to feel while at rest and when in motion. It is easier to select boots that can offer sheer comfort while at rest. Ideally, these should be boots that are padded and soft. In addition to this, they ought to contain a lacing system that prevents the wearer from experiencing a snug fit.
On the other hand, active comfort is a bit difficult to achieve and this is the reason why a lot of caution should be observed when selecting hiking boots. Hikers that are suitable for long periods of running and hiking should have less padding and the design should be lighter. A good example is the Salomon Quest hiking boot.
In order to avoid blisters and chaffing which tend to interfere with the wearer’s comfort, the fit ought to be dialed appropriately. Essentially, hiking boots that have a break-in-period offer more comfort than those that do not have.
A discussion of these factors cannot be complete without mentioning support. Support is more crucial to those who have ankle problems. Support can be important to other people while others might find it quiet unnecessary.
The stiffness of the upper is one of the major factors to consider. This is more evident in boots that tend to have sturdy and quality leather. In all likelihood, a boot that has an upper that is stiffer and thicker can prevent the hiker from experiencing lateral movement that is harmful, but this may affect the suppleness. Nonetheless, having a boot that is both supportive and nimble is not an uphill task.
In the absence of upper integrity, the lacing and tensioning should be superb. Achieving a stiffer upper can be almost impossible if there is no good tensioning. Generally, good tensioning relies on the following factors:
- The padding should be moderate because too much of it can become irregular and lumpy. A thinly padded tongue is the best option.
- Lace bracelets which play the role of holding the boot’s laces in place.
- The tensioning also depends on the way the laces move through the rivets.
The thickness of the sole also affects the support that the wearer will enjoy. When the sole is very thick, it creates a platform that can be unstable. A thicker sole can have a negative effect on the ankles even if the upper is very thick. Even when the thickness of the sole can prevent objects from puncturing the feet, it is not sufficient to create a better platform.
Traction is also an important factor although sometimes it is determined by the way a person is walking. Vibram is one of the top notch materials for manufacturing soles of hiking boots.
Vibram’s origin started in the late 1930’s, when founder, Vitale Bramani, set out to develop a new and better climbing sole, after he lost 6 mountaineering friends in the Italian Alps in 1935. Inadequate footwear was partly blamed for the tragedy.
Vibram offers not only grippy footing, but also comfort and longevity when compared to ordinary proprietary soles. However, it is important to know that the price of Vibram soles is more expensive compared to non Vibram – something to think about when price is an issue in selecting a boot.
Boot manufacturers who have made the best boots have always used materials of great quality such as Gore-Tex and Vibram. Even though the material does not make the boot to have a major difference, it is obvious that the manufacturer wants to create sensibility and class. It is the reason why most of the top-performing hikers are made of Vibram soles.
Waterproof & Protection
This is the ability of the boots to be waterproof no matter the prevailing condition. In this case, boots made of Gor-Tex material have the best water-proofing capabilities. Nevertheless, waterproofing is a very tricky situation when it comes to hikers.
There are boots that boast of the best waterproofing technology, but they become useless when the wearer steps in deep water. When choosing the best hiking boots, impermeability should be considered as a matter of keeping rain, snow, dew and ice off the feet.
Construction is also a crucial factor that will affect the waterproofing capabilities of the boot. Apart from a leaky seam, a blown rivet or a flawed design can affect the impermeability. In essence, the fewer the seams the fewer the leaks.
This is very important because it will determine the comfort of the wearer. Fortunately, most of the modern materials used in manufacturing boots are light with an exception of leather. Hiking enthusiasts who are looking for boots that are lighter should put more emphasis on leather synthetic hybrids. Weight remains one of the easiest factors that should not bring a lot of confusion.
Hiking boots come into contact with the ground quite often, obviously. In addition, there are varied terrain and technical ground, as well as weather elements that come into play when hiking. This is the reason why one should go for those that are durable and sturdy. It is only possible to determine the durability of the shoe by wearing it and using it on the ground.
In essence, there are boots that will require a lot of maintenance in order for it to remain in good condition. Basic care will definitely make the books more durable and add more years. Leather boots can serve you for a longer period compared to synthetic boots, but they are known to succumb easily to harsh mistreatment.
Just like impermeability, durability is largely affected by the construction of the boot. Boots that have a few seams will obviously last longer than those that have numerous seams along the ball.