Whether you are a mountain veteran or an occasional weekend trail warrior, hiking shoes are essential pieces of hiking gear. A proper pair of hiking shoes will provide you with the support, protection, stability and warmth you require.
They will provide you balance, when carrying a heavy pack and will give you grip on slippery unstable surfaces or even snowy and rocky terrain. Ultimately your hiking boots are like your hiking buddies; if you have the right match, you’re in the outdoors heaven, but if there are points of friction, your trip will be a slow descent into pain.
The selection of shoes these days is immense, but with a bit of time (and this guide), you will be able to identify the pair that works best for you and your hiking objectives.
Guide: Men's Hiking Shoes
Shoes or Boots
In this article I am sometimes using the words shoes and boots interchangeably without intending to refer to their specific type. Typically, however, hiking shoes refer to below the ankle, lighter footwear, while hiking boots are heavier, above the ankle ones. The exact specifications and most suitable purpose of each pair will depend on many specific factors that together create somewhat of a footwear continuum.
You should see all hiking wear in a spectrum, where on one end you have barefoot wear that are nothing but just pieces of rubber attached to your feet, to fully rigid, insulated mountaineering boots that can withstand extreme weathers, steep technical terrain and specific crampons.
In this article I am hoping to explain some of the factors, features and characteristics that play into this spectrum; and I hope this will be useful when making your pick for your next adventure.
Criteria When Choosing Hiking Boots
There are a few important criteria you should consider, when choosing hiking shoes. Think about what combination of these qualities is the most important for you and that will allow you to find the best fit.
If you are not sure, what exactly are you looking for in a shoe; think about what you want to use them for. Are you heading out for a challenging multi-day trip, where you will have to carry a heavy pack over snowy passes or do you want something for afternoon strolls up the local hills?
Not all boots are created equal and each of the different types of shoes you might find in a store are tuned to perform best under certain conditions on certain terrain. If you are thinking of buying one pair and use it for a range of different trips, aim to find a good balance of features that include the essentials first; it is better to have a bit heavier and technical shoe, if you ever decide to do something more challenging.
Weight of the Boot
In many cases: the lighter - the better. Weight on your feet translates to several-times fold the weight on your back. However, if you are planning to carry a very heavy pack, heavier boots will provide a more stable platform and a counterbalance, reducing the fatigue of carrying the weight. What could be considered a heavy weight? It will depend on your own weight, your level of fitness, your body built, etc.
Of course, you should choose something you can actually walk in, and it does not mean that the heavier the boot, the higher weight you will be able to handle. You just want to feel stable on your feet. If however, you are expected to carry a light pack, just pick the lightest pair possible – it will make your walks more comfortable, faster and will probably result in fewer blisters.
Stiffness of the Boot
As you probably already noticed, the range of hiking shoes stiffness differs dramatically. This will determine the terrain you can move on and the comfort of your steps. The more flexible the boot is, the more comfortable it will be to walk in.
However, with stiffer boots, it will be easier to cross loose terrain, kick steps in snow and very important – fit crampons, as I will explain later. Stiff boots will fatigue your feet less and will be more durable, when walking on loose rock, scree, mud. It will also be safer. You should not attempt walking on steeper snowy slopes with flexible shoes, unless you are very experienced and the snow conditions are suitable.
Finding the right amount of flexibility for your shoe, requires assessing the toughness of the terrain you will be dealing with versus the number of hours you are planning to spend on your feet and how much comfort you require.
Extremely important, if not THE most important criterion is the fit of your hiking shoes. There is just no way around it – your shoes must fit you really well, otherwise you’re in for a VERY rough ride. Any small discomfort will result in blisters and injuries after hours spent walking in them. When choosing a pair, ideally try them with a pair of socks and inserts you would be using for hiking.
Make sure the boots are not too tight or too loose. You want there to be no movement of your foot, no tight spots or friction points and some additional space around your toes. You will want that space, when your feet will swell from long days hiking or after sustained downhill.
Also, do not forget to be mindful of your feet shape. Hiking footwear should not be too narrow or too broad. Some hiking shoes have very low ankle, which might cause severe discomfort for people with high ankle/heel (I’m one of those people and I know exactly, what I talk about). If your feet are of small size and narrow, do not hesitate to try on some women’s shoe models; they are usually designed narrower.
Low-cut or high-cut? That is the question. Ankle support is required to protect your ankles and provide stability for your feet. Higher-cut boots will protect you from rolling your ankle on uneven surfaces. It is wise to choose ankle-protecting boots, if you’ll be carrying a heavy pack or will be crossing very rugged terrain.
Many rock climbers choose lightweight low-ankle approach shoes, even when carrying heavy packs and crossing difficult terrain, but it is mainly due to the lightness and technical scrambling ability of the shoe. If you are not planning to carry a heavy weight or want something faster, more comfortable and lightweight for faster trips, low-cut shoes ought to be your pick.
Good grip is just something you expect from a hiking shoe. Luckily it’s not an issue for most hiking shoes these days of dedicated outdoors gear companies. Hiking boots and trail running shoes tend to have aggressive irregular grooves and/or lugs that increase traction on a variety of surfaces. Heavier shoes/models usually have harder, long-lived outsole rubber.
On the other side of the spectrum – rock climbing approach shoes that have softer and much stickier rubber. As a result, they have quite incredible grip, including traction on slabby rocky surfaces and superb climbing capacity, when hiking up semi-technical terrain (the reason why it’s the shoe of choice for majority of the climbers and “scramblers”).
Some heavier hiking boots have the heel break that dramatically increases your grip, when hiking down steep slippery and snowy terrain. It also makes gaiters fit easier.
Fitting Crampons on Your Hiking Shoes
Crampons are tools used to travel and climb snowy and icy terrain, traverse glaciers. There are four main types of crampons in the rising level of technicality respectively: micro-spikes for snow walking, general mountaineering, technical mountaineering crampons and finally ice and mixed climbing crampons.
The first category is a non-technical crampon designed for walking on flattish surfaces and can be fitted on most of shoes, even running sneakers. Hiking steeper uphill or downhill might result in the crampon falling off due to flex in the shoe.
The second category – general mountaineering crampons will fit medium to high stiffness shoe. Again, the main thing to consider here is how flexible your shoe/boot is. While walking on flat surfaces might not require a stiff boot, as the gradient increases, you should have a stiffer pair of boots (flexing of your foot makes the crampons fall off).
Third and fourth categories require a completely stiff boot and a special edge on top of a heel to lock the crampon on. These crampons and boots are considered technical mountaineering boots and can handle the steepest terrains and even vertical ice and rock.
For backcountry hiking purposes the second category – general mountaineering crampons are your best choice.
Cushioning and Warmth
This one is probably obvious to everyone and is also very individual. I personally use the same pair of hiking boots for summer and winter hiking; my feet do not get very warm and the choice of thickness of wool socks with whatever boots I’m wearing helps me regulate the level of heat.
If you’re someone, who gets very cold/hot easy, you should choose appropriate level of cushioning for appropriate season. Do remember however, that you do not have to go to extremes, as any boot can easily made warmer/colder with the right pair of socks.
This criterion is that of luxury and mostly applies for lighter shoes, suited for easier/shorter trips. If you are planning to do a lot of short summer hiking trips, getting a pair of lightweight, highly breathable and quick drying shoes is a great idea. If you will be spending weeks in the bush crossing mountains, forests and creeks, don’t even worry about this.
The Shape of the Boot
Heavier more defined-edge boots are a better fit for snow/winter hiking, as it allows more efficient step-kicking and a more stable platform in soft or icy ground. If you’ll mainly be walking on forest trails, you will probably want a pair of narrower profile boots not to trip over all these small things that stick out in forests.
Be careful, when switching between different profiles shoes, as there is a lot of muscle memory involved, when moving over obstacles, hence wipe-outs are always waiting to happen. It’s hard for me to forget, when I bought my first pair of heavy mountain boots, and managed to plant forward, when my boot got stuck behind a root. My 25-kilo pack went over my head, resulting in me lying awkwardly stuck under my own stuff...
Well-Known Hiking Shoe Brands
Some best known hiking boot companies are Salomon, Lowa, Teva, North Face, Asolo, Arc'teryx. I am a big fan of my lightweight Salomon Comet 3D GTX and Lowa Ranger hiking boots. A good outdoors company doesn’t only mean better advertised gear, it also often means better materials, more advanced technologies, innovative designs and very important – quality. These companies tend to stand proud behind their gear and their brand and if you ever have any issues they usually do a good job with repairs and warranty replacements.
Moreover, shoe makers tend to use the same foot molds for various types of models, hence it’s very likely that if one pair of shoes fit, other shoes by the same brand will also fit. That is the case for me with Salomon; their shoes fit me extremely well, and I never have to deal with aches or blisters. This very useful to know, especially, when buying shoes online.
Let's Talk Price
Price does not guarantee the best fit or best function, but unfortunately it is often a good indicator of the quality. It is worth spending a bit more on your hiking boots as a good quality pair will serve for you years and dedicated outdoor brands will ensure excellent warranty service.
That being said, you do not have to buy the newest model hiking shoe. If you are on a budget, look for sale items; fashion is not the major factor in the hiking community.
If you are spending a lot of time outdoors, it might benefit you to own a few pairs of different types of hiking shoes. As much as a good pair of hiking shoes lasts a long time, having more specialized function footwear will have better performance.
Types of Men's Hiking Boots
Easy Hiking Trails
Easy Hiking Trails
Trail Running Shoe
Leather Hiking Shoes
Leather was what many boots were traditionally made of and it still remains one of the most reliable and very durable hiking boot materials. Full-grain leather is a very good choice for those looking for durability and excellent water resistance; it’s a very common material of choice if you’re heading out for long trips over rugged terrain and intend to carry heavy loads.
However, full-leather boots are very heavy and not as breathable, hence leather is often combined with nylon or similar materials to decrease the weight and enhance the breathability. Nubuck leather is also commonly used in hiking shoe outer and it is a durable, water-resistant and quite flexible that adds to hiking comfort.
Synthetic Hiking Shoes
Outdoors technology has gone incredible distances over the last years; there is an ample supply of materials and specialized designs, allowing outdoors enthusiasts to pursue their adventure goals with trust and comfort.
Often outdoors boot outers are made out of a combination of materials, but some of the more popular materials include polyester, nylon and synthetic leather. Synthetic boots tend to be lighter and take less time to break in, dry faster but the durability is often worse than that of leather boots.
Waterproof membranes used in boots are also part of synthetic materials and have revolutionised all outdoors gear over the years. Some of the most popular players are Gore-Tex® and eVent®. Frequent complaint to these materials is that they have reduced breathability, but as expected, the technologies are advancing fast, and for example Gore-Tex’s new Surround technology is claimed to have solved the problem.
Finally I should add that insulation is a very important part of winter hiking and mountaineering boots and there are many lightweight synthetic materials that do the job perfectly.
Shoes for Well Groomed Easy Hiking Trails
If you are hiking on well groomed, easy trails, most of the shoes and boots types in this article will suit you. You should still look for something with a descent outsole grip, as even the smoothest trails become slippery in the rain. Pair this knowledge with how heavy your pack will be to determine, how much ankle support you will need from your shoe.
La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX - perfect for day trips on variable conditions
The highly praised La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX has the new Gore-Tex’s new Surround technology that combines waterproofness with breathability – not the most common combination. The aggressive Vibram outsole lugs ensure incredible traction on any surface. This is the perfect shoe for day and weekend trips.
Merrell Capra Sport Low - an ideal light hiking shoe for hot weather or desert hiking
Merrell Capra Sport Low are super lightweight, breathable and comfortable hiking shoes. They do not have support for the ankle and the traction is not the most amazing, but they are ideal shoe for light hiking trails on hot days or if you’re clocking hot miles under desert sun.
Shoes for Loose Off-Trail Hiking
If you are going to battle more challenging and steeper terrain, whether it’s loose mud, scree, sleek rocks and loose boulders, you need higher traction and potentially more support from the mid-sole. This is provided by deeper tread, irregular pattern outsole hiking shoes and boots.
Many aggressive trail running shoes also have this feature and despite being lightweight and not having ankle support, they work well in difficult conditions; not surprising, as they are created to allow you to run this stuff (!). If you will be carrying a heavier load, you will want some ankle protection, and hence – a heavier, sturdier boot.
Salewa Alp Flow Mid Boots - excellent for rugged conditions
Salewa Alp Flow Mid boots offer amazing grip, some serious ankle support, excellent climbing performance due to snug and comfortable fit and an extraordinary combination of waterproofness and durability due to the new Gore-Tex’s Surround technology.
This shoe has received a lot of praise from people hiking all types of rugged terrains from mud and grass to rocky technical terrain and snow. The shoe is also reported to fit a wide range of feet types due to its unique lacing system.
Hiking Technical Terrain
Semi-technical hiking trips also known as scrambling and peak bagging are becoming more and more popular in the outdoors community. Choice of footwear is very important in these trips; don’t forget to think about the grip of the outsole – choose either deep treaded and prominent lug outsoles or if hiking in summer season – softer rubber outsole approach shoes.
Another important feature about technical hiking is that your shoe should fit well and ideally have a relatively narrow profile for movement specificity. Salewa Alp Flow Mid Boots, described above, are known to fit this description well.
Light Hiking Shoes for Day Trips
A day tripper has an intention of making the entire trip in one day or often in a few hours. This means that he/she is not carrying overnight gear or a lot of food. The usual day hiker’s kit might include water and snacks for the day, emergency kit and some additional extra layers. It usually makes up a small weight and is completely compatible with lightweight footwear.
If you are a primarily day hiker and are not planning to deal with too gnarly path conditions, do yourself a favour and get a comfortable, lightweight pair of hiking shoes or even a pair of trail running shoes. Choose the aggressiveness of the out-sole tread depending on how rugged the terrain you will be hiking and if you’re likely to spend time in wet and snowy conditions.
The North Face Ultra 109 GTX - for light hiking
This shoe is routinely reported as one of the best light shoes out there. It was created based on trail running shoe design, hence it is very comfortable and easy to move in, but is a bit sturdier and heavier, providing more foot support and durability. If you want to go for a day hike around with a light pack, this is the best shoe for you.
Midweight Hiking Boots
If you are planning to spend a few days on a trail and will have a bit more gear with you – approximately 10 kilos or more; depending on your weight and fitness level, you will need more support in your boots.
Choose something that has a higher ankle and a bit more rigid shoe construction. You are more likely to sprain your ankle, when carrying a heavier weight, as there would be a higher force exerted. Higher-cut stiffer boot will protect you from such injuries and will also provide you with better stability in each step.
Also, think about how rugged the terrain will be. If you’ll be dealing with soft, loose and slippery ground, stiffer and/or more aggressive outsole boot will you make life easier, your steps quicker and more effortless.
Salomon Comet 3D GTX Hiking Shoe - excellent for midweight hiking shoe
Salomon Comet 3D GTX hiking shoe is my absolute favourite for such trips. It is very lightweight and has running–like fit, at the same time having some major ankle support and major outsole grip that works well both on wet mud, snow and even some light scrambling.
I can easily be comfortable in a 10 kilo pack in them on multi-day trip. What I like lot about them is that they have minimalist, yet very on point cushioning that makes you feel quick and agile in your step, but you do not result in soring blisters and fatigued feet.
Heavy Duty Hiking Shoes
If you’re into some serious on-foot challenges and do not imagine a trip without at least 25 kilos on your back or are planning some more serious many day outing in Yukon or Patagonia, you should definitely consider getting a pair of some resilient beauties.
If you’ll be carrying a heavy backpack for many days over rugged terrain, you need to a stable supporting platform for your feet. It both protects your feet from uneven surfaces, making your feet and ankle less sore after those miles you’ll be bagging and makes it easier to balance a heavy load; it helps you lower your mass centre. These boots are also really durable and if taken care of properly will last you many years and hundreds of trips.
Lowa Ranger II GTX - best for challenging trekking
I bought Lowa Ranger II GTX, when I was heading for trekking in Nepal. Although the treks I did ended up not being that challenging and I would have easily been fine with a pair of lightweight hiking shoes, I completely fell in love with the boots I got.
Super sturdy, but so comfy! Walking over loose terrain and snow is made super easy due to stiff sole. And I felt quite indestructible with them too. They have a bit of a platform, turning me into 1,9m from already tall 1,85m. When I was walking around in them in the streets of Kathmandu, I was approached three times (!) by locals, asking me if I was a warrior.
There is nothing military-looking about them, but they make your steps feel stable and powerful. Something to note before buying a pair like this, is your body built and experience in hiking. If you are of a smaller frame or are still building hiking strength, too heavy hiking shoes might be too exhausting. Do not rely solely on gear reviews, visit a store and take your time stomping around, ideally up an artificial slope or stairs, to see if the weight of the shoe is easy to manage.
Shoes for Different Hiking Seasons
Hiking seasons dictate their own, when it comes to hiking boots. What works well in pleasant dry summer weathers might be completely not suitable for temperatures below zero and wet or snowy conditions.
Hiking in Summer
It is very difficult to be very clear, when defining seasons and giving recommendations for the gear, as the weather conditions differ severely between different areas. So you should use your common sense and understand that the following described characteristics are just guidelines, features to aim for, but the right balance should be decided upon by the user.
Hiking in summer assumes warmer temperatures and dry conditions. The perfect summer hiking shoe will be highly breathable, lightweight, possibly with ventilation holes and/or airy mesh covers. Aggressive outsole will only matter if you’ll be planning to spend time hiking on wet terrain, but will not be a necessity like, when hiking in snowy or icy conditions.
However, if you are planning to go on longer challenging multi-day trips and carry heavy pack or deal with rugged and potentially snowy conditions, you should not go with the lightest option as you will need some of the extra protection that a heavier boot will provide.
Most of general hiking boots are suitable for both winter and summer conditions (if we are not talking about some extreme weather climate zones), but if you are likely to spend majority of your time in specific conditions or tackle some harsher conditions, you should consider the following features, when making your pick.
Hiking in Winter
Hiking in winter is a demanding endeavour. Ensuring you have the right gear is important for your health and safety. Think about what temperatures you will be dealing with? Is there likely to be a lot of rain and snow? How good is your blood circulation?
The latest point is especially important to me; I know I have very poor circulation in my fingers and toes, and for me the first line of defence against very cold temperatures are good warm gloves and heavy boots with thick wool socks.
Best Hiking Shoes for Rock Climbing Approaches and Scrambling
If by hiking you mean some more challenging scrambling or if you’re a rock climber looking for a perfect boot for approaches to your climbs, the so called approach shoes are your best pick. They are designed to be lightweight and comfortable with super grippy climbing-shoe like Vibram outsole that allows you to do some light climbing on the way, at the same time offering the protection for your feet and adequate durability and weather resistance from the outer leather or synthetic cover. All approach shoes balance between a good hiking and climbing shoe.
La Sportiva Boulder X - excellent approach shoe
La Sportiva Boulder X has amazing reviews and performs superbly especially in hiking part of the mission. It is durable and has great traction for mud and dirt, at the same time performing really well on rock.
Mountaineering boots are designed to provide support, insulation and technical ability for your feet for your climbs. Mountaineering boots are completely stiff with a very aggressive outsole and boot profile. They are usually insulated to provide warmth and have and the most elaborate ankle support.
Gronell Annapurna - an excellent mountaineering boot
The boot I’ve been using and I am very happy with for my mountaineering and ice-climbing trips is Gronell Annapurna. It’s very comfortable and highly cushioned for, when it gets very cold. They are completely stiff with an aggressive outsole and sharp edge and are suitable for technical crampons and the most technical terrains.
They are very comfortable to hike in and do not cause any issues during long hike-ins to climbing base camps. One complaint I do have though is that they are difficult to tighten around the ankle, and they often get loose from a lot of foot flexing.
Trail Running Shoes for Hiking
Hiking and mountain sports have been experiencing a sort of lightweight revolution of the last years and with rising popularity of epics such as speed mountaineering, mountain running, the philosophy of moving “fast and light” has taken over the outdoors community. The rise of technical mountain running sports branch, there has been an incredible advancement in trail running shoes and they are becoming increasingly more popular among hikers.
People, who want to move fast, cover long distances, bag some peaks and are choosing these shoes; you do not have to be a trail runner to appreciate all the advantages a trail running shoes in your hiking pursuits. To read a full overview of trail running shoes out there, click here.
Running Shoes vs Hiking Shoes on the Trail
If you like moving fast and go on short summer hikes, try trainers for hiking shoes. Being very light on your feet, they will not slow you down and will provide you with climate protection and the level of traction you might desire. Some of the models are also amazing for scrambling and “skyrunning” – technical running in high elevations.
The advantage of hiking in trail-runners is, if you find a beautiful single-trail and feel like “flying down”, you can always choose to have a fun run back.
Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 – trail running shoe excellent for hiking
Trail running shoes that are great for hiking have advanced foot protection and stability and are exceptionally durable. Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 is exactly that; these shoes combine all the benefits of a fast trail running shoes – comfort, lightness and traction, combined with great foot protection. This is an example of footwear that you can really enjoy your hikes in.
Hiking in Barefoot Shoes
As we are talking lightweight, there is another layer of it – barefoot hiking. The philosophy and justification behind choosing barefoot wear is that it restores your natural stride, leg movement, strengthens and develops the muscle and connective tissue of your feet, ankles and calves, decreasing levels of injury. It has become a bit of a movement, and rightly so. If you want to feel closer to nature, this might be it.
Companies like fingers and Vibram produce many different models of barefoot wear suited for different purposes. Of course, carrying weights or travel through very rugged and/or snowy terrain would be a bit intense and potentially dangerous with barefoot shoes. Vibram Fivefinger Seeya and Luna Sandals are both very popular choices for people of minimalist philosophy.
Hiking Boot Care
A quality pair of hiking boots will last you many years, but you need to make sure you take a proper care of them. A quick list of responsibilities each hiker has to their boots:
- Clean your boots after every hike, using a brush/cloth, some water and possibly some specialized cleaners. Do not wash your boots in a washing machine or use regular soap and detergents as this will impact the waterproofness of synthetic boots.
- Dry your boots properly in the room temperature. Remove insoles allowing the boot to dry properly inside. Do not expose you boots to extreme heats, but rather use the good old trick of stuffing your boots with newspaper – works like a charm!
- If you’re feeling your boots are losing waterproofness or just a part of regular care, use some waterproofing treatment to restore this mighty capacity.
Break in Your Boots
I’m quite sure that even the most experienced of us have been there… Thinking that brand new gear is best for some difficult or long challenges. The truth is often the opposite, and it has the most dramatic effect on hiking boots. The sturdier and heavier the design of your hiking footwear is, the more time you will potentially need to break them in.
Trail running shoes and light hiking shoes are designed to be comfortable from day one, while the heavier options require some time before they are at their optimum. So if you are about to head on some massive multi-day adventure, do not, and I cannot stress this enough wear a pair of brand new boots, or at least be ready with a preventative layer of tape.
Hiking Shoes for Traveling or City Use
Hiking shoes are suitable not only for distant mountains and forests, but also make a very comfortable choice for travelling, backpacking and casual daily used. Many hiking shoes these days are light and stylish and make an excellent choice for people who live active lives. I tend to wear my hiking shoes a low over winter, as they have excellent traction, are waterproof and are very light and comfortable.
A Word About Accessories
Socks are an essential part of your hiking experience
Regardless of your hiking shoe choice, you will need a pair of socks to match the function. Socks provide cushioning and warmth, the right choice can also prevent blistering. The best choice for hiking is socks made out of wool, especially merino wool, or synthetics. Wool socks are an amazing piece of gear, as they keep you warm even when they are wet. Your hiking buddies will also love the merino wool choice, as is keeps the odours away.
The general rule of thumb is the heavier the boots, the thicker the sock; this helps you prevent blisters, and provides extra cushioning. You can also add a lot of warmth to your boots, by fitting it with a thick sock. I tend to use the same hiking boots for hot summer weathers and freezing cold winter days, by just alternating the type of socks I’m wearing.
Hiking gaiters are an important piece of gear
Hiking gaiters will protect your lower legs from scratches, will water, snow, mud and everything else away from your boots. They are a very useful piece of gear for anyone who spends some time in the backcountry.
Gaiters come in various lengths and sizes; pick yours depending on your intended use. I own a pair that ties on top of calf muscle below the knee and a few pairs of short running and short summer hiking gaiters that I alternate depending on the conditions.
As you can see, the selection of types and models of hiking footwear is endless, and hence even the most specific of your needs can be satisfied. One thing to note though is unless you’re heading out for mountaineering or technical climbing trip, comfort of the shoe is more important than specific shoe features.
I would really recommend spending quite some time trying on many pairs by different brands. Talk to shop assistants too(these people tend to be outdoors junkies and might even have the same pair themselves), read reviews and do not rush into buying the first pair that “looks cool”. Find a pair of boots that is comfortable and you feel stable in, and you will have many months of happy hiking.