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2-3 Season Hiking Boots
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Popular brands in this section... 2-3 Season Hiking Boots - Footnotes
Your 2 - 3 season walking boots will probably be your most important (and most used) outdoor gear purchase. Here's a quick rundown on what to look for.
Grab the boot with the palm of your hand over the laced instep area and squeeze the sides of the upper between thumb and fingers. If there is very little movement, the upper will protect the foot against and stray rocks and hold the foot in place on uneven terrain. These boots are therefore ideal for mountain walking. Softer uppers offer less support and protection, so keep such walking boot for valley paths. Stiff, think uppers are more durable too. A waterproof lining will ensure dry feet, but a well cared for leather upper generally keeps the feet dry.
Pinch the heel counter of the 2 - 3 season walking boot in question between thumb and finger (the heel counter is at the base of the upper at the heel). If you cannot squeeze the heel at all then this area will not distort when crossing eneven terrain, which is turn means your heel will be held firmly in place. The easier it is to squeeze theis area, the less uspport there is for your foot, which means there is more chance of straining the foot when walking over uneven terrain. If the heel is very flexible, your foot will move inside the boot and blisters won't be far behind.
Grab the boot by the toe and heel, bend the toe towards the heel and then twist the toe while holding the heel firmly. Boots with a lot of stiffness in the midsole are better for rocky ground as thet provide a stable platform for the foot, while flexible boots will be more comfortable when restricted to use on level paths and smooth grass.
If the grooves of your chosen 2 - 3 season walking boot are shallower than a pound coin then the lugs won't provide much grip, particularly in mud and on grass, and they'll also wear down quickly on harder surfaces. For regular use on rocky hills and mountains and to get a good grip when crossing boggy terrain, look for a lot of widely spaced lugs that are twice as deep as a pound coin is thick. To prevent clogging, the gaps between the lugs should also be as wide as two pound coins are thick. Also, look for a heel breast, the cutaway section between the forefoot and heel as this also adds a degree of breaking power when descending grass and earth slopes.
A good 2 - 3 season walking boot should have a rubber rand between the upper and the sole. Many boots only have protection at the toe which is fine for general use, but for rocky ground a full rubber rand offers greater durability.
Press your thumb down into the tow box from the top, end and sides. If the toe box is solid throughout you have maximum protection, which is ideal for general mountain walking use.
Stand in your 2 - 3 season boots, raising your heels and then thumping them down hard on the ground. More cushioning is best for hill walking and backpacking, but less cushioning is better for scrambling and climbing. Low-priced hiking boots tend to have less cushioning.
No boot is worth having if it doesn't fit properly. The inside of a 3 season walking boots should be around 13-15 mm longer than your foot. You can estimate if the boot is the right size by placing your foot inside the boot with the laces loosened off, then roughly measuring this gap by placing a finger down the inside of the boot at the heel.
Make sure the laces don't dig into your foot. Look for a bellows design which fits neatly inside the boot, and will prevent water creeping in.
When standing in your 3 season boots, ensure the ankle cuff is comfortable enough to walk in, particularly at the back of the heel when rubbing can be a problem.