Happy feet = happy hiker!
Having the right footwear for a bushwalk will be one of the biggest factors on how much you enjoy your time in the outdoors. So before you head to your nearest outdoor shop to buy boots or shoes for your next Life’s An Adventure walk there are some things you need to know.
First up, boots or shoes? As a general rule, the more you carry and the tougher the terrain, the more supportive the footwear has to be. If you’ve got a large pack and are going into tough wilderness then a pair of full boots – as opposed to mid-cut or shoes – would be required. The good news for you is as your Life’s An Adventure walk is pack-free, a pair of mid-cut boots or hiking shoes will be enough.
Mid-cuts? They’re sort of a cross between a boot and a shoe. They feature a higher ankle cuff that offers some ankle support and helps keep dirt and stones out of your shoes. Mid-cuts also have a full, grippy sole and a toe protector but aren’t as heavy or bulky as a boot.
A hiking shoe is a bit like a pair of runners– lightweight and flexible, but still featuring a grippy sole and toe protector. They probably have a Gore-Tex outer so water, sweat and heat can exit the shoe
Different boots and shoes take different ‘break-in’ times which is basically the period that your shoe and your foot get to know each other and everything begins to fit snuggly in place. Hiking shoes may feel perfect right out of the box, while burly leather models may require weeks to break in. The leather needs time to soften up so your boots and feet can conform to one another.
No matter what footwear you buy for the outdoors it’s worth doing the following:
Wear your hiking footwear inside the house. Wear the socks and insoles you’ll be wearing on the trail and tie your boots snugly, but not too tight.
Make sure your tongues and gussets are straight. Your new boots will be a little stiff at first, which is fine.
Walk around the block. Make sure your boots feel good at each stage before upping the distance.
Put on a daypack and hit the trail. Off pavement is where serious breaking in happens.
Make sure you check the manufacturer’s guarantee and what the rules are for returning footwear. As long as you haven’t damaged or soiled them, within a reasonable amount of time – say 48hr – you should be able to return ill-fitting boots or shoes.
Listen to your feet
Be vigilant about pain points: Small problems become big ones in a hurry. If your boots pinch or have a hot spot don’t ignore it!
If you have a significant fit issue, you might need a different pair of boots. Consult with your local footwear specialist; they can tell you if the store’s boot-stretching device can alleviate your problem or whether you need to make a bigger change.
Avoid the quick fix
Shortcuts like soaking boots and walking long distances while wearing them are a bad idea. That would be hard on your boots and murder on your feet. Remember: Happy feet = happy hiker!