Light Assault Boots
Light models with flexible midsoles are excellent for a fast-moving environment that requires support but not at the cost of excessive weight. Critical areas such as the outside shank area, sole compound ( Think VIBRAM) and abrasion level? Is it a European or Hot climate boot (ie inner booties). Does it have features such as extreme abrasion-resistant materials like SuberFabic® to protect the boot whilst fast roping?
These range from mid- to high-cut models and are intended to operate in a close country environment. The jungle boot should be puncture-resistant to protect you from stepping on sharp objects. Roll-Stop Ankle Stability is critical to reducing injuries by preventing ankle roll while moving on uneven terrain and on long stomps. Avoid wet environment injuries with cutting edge tech like the Advanced Sieve™ technology from Rocky. It circulates air in and water out as you step out. The old one-way outlet holes on the inside of the boot went out with the Mk111 SMLE.
These are designed to carry heavier loads on multi-day trips deep into the boondocks across any terrain Most have a high cut that wraps above the ankles for excellent support. Durable and supportive, with stiffer midsoles than lighter footwear, they are suitable pretty much for everything.
Hiking Boot Uppers
Materials impact a boot’s weight, breathability, durability and water resistance.
- Full-grain leather: Full-grain leather offers excellent durability and abrasion resistance and very good water resistance. It’s most commonly used in backpacking boots built for extended trips, heavy loads and rugged terrain. It is not as light or breathable as nylon/split-grain leather combinations. Ample break-in time is needed before starting an extended trip.
- Split-grain leather: Split-grain leather is usually paired with nylon or nylon mesh to create a lightweight boot that offers excellent breathability. Split-grain leather “splits away” the rougher inner part of the cowhide from the smooth exterior. The benefit is lower cost, however, the downside is less resistance to water and abrasion (though many feature waterproof liners).
- Nubuck leather: Nubuck leather is full-grain leather that has been buffed to resemble suede. It is very durable and resists water and abrasion. It’s also fairly flexible, yet it too requires ample time to break in before an extended hike.
- Synthetics: Polyester, nylon and so-called “synthetic leather” are all commonly found in modern boots. They are lighter than leather, break in more quickly, dry faster and usually cost less. Downside: They may show wear sooner due to more stitching on the outside of the boot.
- Waterproof membranes: Boots and shoes billed as “waterproof” feature uppers constructed with waterproof/breathable membranes (such as Gore-Tex® or alike) to keep feet dry in wet conditions. Downside: The reduced breathability created by a membrane (compared to the ventilating mesh used on some nonwaterproof shoes) may encourage feet to sweat on summer days. Unfortunately, unless you’re wearing gaiters, no boot is waterproof if you’re up to the waist in the wet stuff.
- Insulation: Synthetic insulation is added to some mountaineering boots for warmth when hiking on snow and glaciers.
The midsole, which provides cushioning, buffers feet from shock and largely determines a boot’s stiffness. Stiff boots might not sound like a good thing, but for long hikes on rocky, uneven terrain they can mean greater comfort and stability. A stiff boot won’t allow your foot to wear out by wrapping around every rock or tree root you step on. The most common midsole materials are EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) and polyurethane.
- EVA is a bit cushier, lighter and less expensive. Midsoles use varying densities of EVA to provide firmer support where needed (e.g., around the forefoot).
- Polyurethane is generally firmer and more durable, so it’s usually found in extended backpacking and mountaineering boots.
Hiking Boot Internal Support
- Shanks: These 3–5mm thick inserts are sandwiched between a boot’s midsole and outsole to add load-bearing stiffness to the midsole. They vary in length; some cover the entire length of the midsole, while others only cover half.
- Anti Puncture Plates: These thin, semi-flexible inserts are positioned between the midsole and the outsole, and below the shank (if included). They protect feet from getting bruised by roots or uneven rocks.
Rubber is used on all boot outsoles, the type and. Additives such as carbon are sometimes added to some different brands of boots to boost hardness. Hard outsoles increase durability but can feel slick if go you in rocky environments
- Lug pattern: Lugs are traction-giving bumps on the outsole. Deeper, thicker lugs are used on backpacking and mountaineering boots to improve grip. Widely spaced lugs offer good traction and shed mud more easily.
- Heel brake: This refers to the clearly defined heel zone that is distinct from the forefoot and arch. It reduces your chance of sliding during steep descents.
Your boots should fit snug everywhere, tight nowhere and offer room to wiggle your toes. Try them on at the end of the day (after feet swell) and with the socks, you plan to wear.
Know your size. It’s best to have your foot’s length, width and arch length measured professionally Foot volume, another key to a good fit must be assessed. A good guide is your runners’ size and what brand it is ie Nike, Reebok.
You can also measure your foot length via a ruler measuring from the centre of your heel to the middle of the big toe to find your size. Double-check length later by pulling the insoles out of the boots and standing on them; you should have a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the insole.
Try on boots at the end of the day. Your feet normally swell a bit during the day’s activities and will be at their largest then. This helps you avoid buying boots that are too small.
If you wear orthotics, bring them along. They impact the fit of a boot.
Wear appropriate socks. Familiar socks help you more quickly assess the fit and feel of new footwear. Make sure the thickness of the socks matches what you intend to wear. And before you head out for that stomp go with synthetic rather than slow-drying cotton socks, which are more likely to give you blisters.
Spend some time in the boots. Take a stroll a home before venturing out into the wild blue yonder. Walk up and down stairs. Find an inclined surface and walk on it.
Fit issues to share with your footwear specialist: You don’t want to feel odd bumps or seams, or pinching in the forefoot, nor toes hitting the end of the boot when it’s on an incline. If the boots are laced firmly and you still feel space above the top of your foot, then the volume of the boot is wrong.
When shopping online, consider a brand you’ve worn before. Most boot companies tend to use a consistent foot model over time, so the fit is likely to be similar.
Change your knot strategy: How you lace your boots can change how they fit. See our previous blog on lacing to improve your fitness.
Consider aftermarket insoles (a.k.a. Superfeet). Insoles come in models that can enhance comfort, support or fit—or all three.