Blisters, sore feet, aches and pains… it’s all part of the game. You get used to it sooner than later. You build up a certain tolerance for it, and even an appreciation. If you’re feet are hurting, it means you’re on the right path. However, there’s a difference between the normal aches you can expect, and actual injuries. We’re certainly not advocating that you push through actual, dangerous injuries that could cause lasting harm.
Everything you do, every step you take, it all goes through your feet. Making sure that you have shoes that offer adequate support for your own weight, along with the weight of your pack, is crucial. There are different theories and preferences when it comes to this, but next up let’s look at some advice that is universal.
Keeping out the elements
You need to keep your feet dry and warm. When we talk about dryness, that means keeping them dry from sweat, but also from water getting in from the outside. Whether it’s raining as you hike, or it rained earlier, water can be a serious issue. Granted, there are some seasoned hikers who follow the mantra “Just let your feet get wet and deal with it while you’re resting.”
But why let them get wet, when it can be avoided? First things first, you can minimize the discomfort of sweat by wearing a pair of moisture-wicking socks. Gore-Tex socks can do the trick, as can a nice pair of woolen socks.
Now that we’ve got a handle on moisture from the inside, it’s time to think about outside moisture. The most practical way to keep rain, puddle water, snow, or anything else from getting into your boots is by choosing a pair that is waterproofed. Gaiters are often recommended as another way to keep your feet dry.
When your boots are soaking wet, they’ll feel a little bit heavier, and if it’s cold outside – they’ll feel freezing. Even with the right socks and waterproof boots, you’ll likely want to kick them off occasionally while you’re resting along the way, but at least they’ll be more or less dry. Putting on a pair of wet, cold hiking boots is no fun at all.
The longer you’re backpacking for, the more important this becomes
For a quick hike, many people don’t really bother, but if you’re covering some serious distance over the course of days, weeks, or even longer (like thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail), you’ll want to concern yourself with keeping your feet as dry as you can.
When it rains, it pours… and your boots aren’t the only piece of gear that gets hit
Here’s a video covering some of the basics of waterproofing your pack, because if it’s raining out – your boots aren’t the only thing to worry about.
Every single one of the boots we’re featuring on this list are great in a lot of the same ways but sometimes in unique ways too. They’re all high-quality, and fully capable. They’re well-made, durable, and of course – waterproof.
You can’t go wrong with any of these choices, so look for something that fits your budget, your style, and just feels like “the one.” If you’re on the fence, we’ve also made our choice for the top overall pick.