Pauper Travel

A blog dedicated to ultra-cheap travel. Based on my book "Travel Cheap-Travel Well!- Confessions Of A Travleing Pauper. You can learn how a Pauper travels like a King---all the time!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What's The Big Deal About Hiking Boots?

I'm going to cover an area that Traveling Paupers are always talking about. The fine art of hiking. In a series of blogs over the upcoming weeks I'll use this topic as a base for those who love nothing more than 'walking' the earth and using it as their main means of transportation.

It's really the best, you know. You get a real, slow, deliberate view of the landscape, the townships, the people, the rawness of nature, when you hoof it!

Let me start with the basics:

Hiking Boots

What’s the big deal about hiking boots? Aside from the fact that they’re expensive, that is. But do you really need to buy such an expensive item when you’re only starting out?

The answer is “Yes.”

Your hiking boots, in fact, are the most important item in your whole hiking gear. In hiking, you’ll be using your feet more often than any other part of your body, so all the more reason for you to provide them with ample protection. Hiking boots that are built sturdy can protect your feet from rough trails.

Follow the guide below for a list of things to look for when buying hiking boots:

That “Solid” Feeling

This is what hiking boots are all about. The good ones have that “solid” feeling on the bottom, which means that you should not be able to feel rocks or stones through the soles. What if you can? Well, then sooner or later after many miles on the trail, there is a very good likelihood that your feet are going to start hurting, and that’s no good, especially if you still have a couple of miles to go before breaking camp.

When buying a pair of hiking boots, test its solidity. Try pressing the sole of your thumb in the bottom. If it feels soft, then those boots cannot give your feet the protection they need. You can also try twisting the soles of the boot. If you can, then it’s also probably too soft for hiking.

Always remember that trails are not like the pavement in front of your home. They are most certainly rocky and if you are not wearing a good pair of hiking boots, they can also be a huge pain.

Side Protection

The bottom part of your hiking boots is not the only thing important. Good boots are also expected to provide you with protection on the sides. In fact, the reason they are called “heavy” hiking boots is that they have extra padding to protect your foot from stones, rocks, and branches you may step on which could gouge into the side of the boot.

If you’ve chosen to pick fabric boots, be sure to get those with protective “welts.” They’re found about ½-inch or more up from the soles to give added protection.

Ankle Support

Achilles obviously didn’t know the first thing about boots, so he had nothing to protect himself when Paris hit him with an arrow on the ankle. Don’t follow in Achilles’ footsteps. ( I know, that's corny!) Pick good hiking boots with good ankle support.

Here’s how to pick them:

Grab the top of the boot.
Try to bend it sideways.
If it bends easily, it’s probably not going to provide the level of protection needed on the trail.

The top of the boot should be stiff enough to hold the ankle in place. That’s how you determine a pair of hiking boots with good support.

Don’t Let the Water In

Wet feet cause blisters. Blisters are painful. Blisters are evil. Avoid blisters at all costs. Get hiking boots that are waterproof. If you've found hiking boots that aren’t waterproof, at least make sure that they are capable of being waterproofed. Fabric boots may be waterproofed with special waterproofing solutions, such as liquid silicone. However, these solutions generally do not waterproof enough to make the boots useful.

Just some ideas about a subject that gives me ....(ready?)...a real kick!


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