guide to buying walking boots

Whether you’re buying for the first time, or you’re ready to replace your old “trusties” as they just can’t do one more year and you are panicking as buying new walking boots can be such a problem to get right can’t it?

At Footfriend we get asked all the time on what to do or what to look for when buying walking boots. Here are our top tips which should give you confidence and hopefully avoid most problems to get you trouble free walking boots which will soon become your “new” friends.

1. Never buy your boots online!

You really need to examine the boots and try on several pairs to be certain they are the right ones for you. Even if you are replacing your boots with the same brand and size they may not be identical to your original pair as manufacturers often make slight alterations from year to year which may or may not suit your feet. It is only through trying them on that you will know if they still suit your feet.

2. Mid afternoon is the best time to buy walking boots!

Our feet gradually increase slightly in size during the day due to the effects of gravity increasing fluid pooling in our feet and ankles. So boots bought in the morning can be too tight by late afternoon!

3. Wear walking socks when trying on your boots.

If you try your new boots on with thin socks or tights then when you go to wear them and are wearing thick walking socks they will be too tight.

4. Don’t be brand conscious.

All brands build their boots on different lasts. Some will be wider than others, others will be shallower or deeper than others. Different brands will suit some feet better than others so try on several brands to compare.

5. Make sure you buy the right size.

Not as simple as it sounds! A large percentage of people buy walking boots that are too short for them. They may be the same size as your street shoes and feel great in the shop but the trouble will start when you are walking downhill! When we walk downhill our feet slide slightly forward in our boots. If there is no extra room for this your toenails will bang on the front of your boots and you will get painful blood blisters under your toenails.  This is a totally avoidable injury! A technique I teach people to avoid it is to remove the insole from the boot and stand on it. You should see minimum 1cm (approx. 1 finger width) extra length of insole beyond your longest toe. This could be your big toe or your second toe!

6. Make sure the insole is removable.

This gives you the flexibility of replacing your insole with an extra cushioning one if needed. People who need orthotics also need this.

7. Look for a boot with a very stiff sole.

Walking boots need stiff soles as you will be walking on a variety of terrains not just pavements! You will need to walk occasionally over very sharp rocks which very quickly can split or puncture a soft sole and injure your feet. Typically a “vibram” sole or something very similar is what you should look for.

8. Select the right type of boot for the terrain you will walk most.

There are two main types of walking boot. A solid leather construction type boot is heavier but ideal for very hard, uneven and particularly stony ground. These will protect your feet the best and offer ankle support. The more fabric based boots are lighter and perfect for gentler walking. They have stiff soles to protect your feet but there is a little bit less ankle support. A different benefit of these boots is that they are often lined with “gortex” or similar fabrics which are waterproof so are great especially over wet grassland.

9. Make sure they are 100% comfortable in the shop.

You can be 100% certain if they don’t feel right when trying them on in the shop then they will give you trouble when trying to enjoy you walk!

Hopefully, if you follow these tips, buying walking boots won’t be such a daunting prospect and you are more likely to get it right. If you like these tips and know someone who will benefit from this advice – please share it!