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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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