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How to Choose Summer Hiking Boots

If you own Winter hiking boots, you probably don't want to slip those on for a Summer hike. Those are meant to keep your feet warm and dry, and you may end up with sweaty feet, which will promote painful blisters. You also don't want to be wearing your cutesy Chaco sandals since they won't protect your feet from pebbles, sticks, ticks, or injuries if you tripped.

When choosing Summer hiking boots, look for:

  • A boot that covers your ankle to prevent you from getting a sprain — those rocks can be pretty wobbly, slippery, and uneven.
  • Rugged soles to prevent slippage. You also want them to be durable because if you're spending $100 to $200 on a pair, you want these boots to last.
  • Think about what kind of hiking you'll be doing. Boots made out of a combination of leather and material like these from Merrell and will be lighter, so they're great if you're expecting to carry a heavy pack. They're also easier to break in, which means they'll feel comfortable in a short amount of time. All-leather boots are more durable and they're also breathable and water resistant so your feet won't overheat and you'll be able to splash in a brook or mud.

To find out what else you should keep in mind just


  • Try them on with the lightweight wicking socks you plan on wearing when you hike.
  • The boot should feel snug but not tight. Make sure your heel doesn't slide up and down (this kind of rubbing is a recipe for blisters). Practice walking down an incline to make sure your toes aren't jamming forward.
  • It may take several uses until your boots break in and feel comfy, so I wouldn't buy them the day before you plan on going on a 6-hour hike. Go on a few short hikes at first, and gradually increase the time as they begin to fit you better.
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anon321 anon321 8 years
I have those exact Merrell hiking boots from the picture! My feet always feel great in them, even after a long hike.
chameleon7 chameleon7 8 years
This may be a stupid question, I have only bought hiking boot for the first time last can you tell the difference between winter and summer hiking boots?
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 8 years
I especially agree that it takes several wearings to break the boots in. Last summer I wore a pair of boots for a long hike with backpack and it was probably 2 miles in when I could feel the blisters forming. It became unbearable so I switched to my mom's tennis shoes to continue the hike. Her shoes were small on me but still felt better than the boots. After 10 miles of hiking (camped overnight) I lost several toe nails and endured a summer and fall with ugly, ugly feet. All because I didn't break in the boots!
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