The PureKit Blog

Monday, 14 February 2011

Walking Boots or Shoes?

The time has come when your trusty walking boots finally need to be replaced, however since you bought them there has been an explosion of styles, with all of the big name brands producing not only walking and hiking boots, but a range of mid boots, walking shoes and hiking shoes. The choice is often bewildering, so what should you choose?

The line between each of the classes of boots and shoes is no longer clear cut, with many traditional boot manufacturers now producing footwear which crosses the traditional boundaries. Walking and hiking shoes now offer a lot of the technology which is present in their beefier cousins, providing exceptional support and cushioning for tougher challenges, however the main difference between boots and shoes is the cuff. Walking and hiking boots offer far greater ankle support than the shoes, and whilst the underfoot technology can be similar, if you are going to be taking on highly uneven terrain a boot will help prevent you going over on your ankle.

Generally speaking, walking shoes are better used for low level walks, and if you are only ever going to take on the trail for short walks they are by far the better bet. There is a considerable weight advantage to the shoes, and the greater flexibility is much more comfortable for walking on hard packed trails, urban walking and for the path well trodden. There is also a cost advantage, with walking shoes in a lower price band, and for walking the dog or for light off road walking there is usually no need to spend top dollar on a pair of the finest walking boots. Bear in mind that you do get what you pay for, and with walking footwear the higher the price, the better they will be.

Without the need to cope with rocky trails, the shoes can be kept lightweight and breathable, which will keep the feet cool and comfortable. They are ideal for year round wear; however they really come into their own in the spring and summer, when the temperatures start to rise. Where they start to fall behind is on seriously muddy terrain, for ultra hard packed and frozen ground, and for when you want to take on steeper terrain. If you like to venture off the track and get out in all weather conditions then trading up to a good quality walking boot becomes a necessity.

Whilst the technology in walking shoes is first rate, in walking boots you have a host of features which will keep the feet better protected, with the necessary support to allow you to walk for longer. For trekking with a pack, for longer outdoor adventures, and for multi day adventures and walking holidays the extra support of walking boots makes them well worth the extra cost.

Hiking boots are a step up from walking boots and generally feature waterproofing as standard. They are designed for the most punishing terrain and difficult weather conditions, with the boots being highly rigid to cope with tough trails and for venturing well off the beaten track. The aim of the shoes is to keep your feet and ankles feeling just as good at the end of a long hike as they did before you set out, and feature much stiffer soles keep the feet well protected and the arches better supported.

They are the ideal choice for taking on steep terrain and for mid winter walking and for adventures at a higher altitude. If you plan on taking a pack with you, bear in mind that it will add to your weight considerably, and will place an increased strain on both your feet and your shoes. For these tougher challenges such as these, a stiff soled hiking boot becomes vital, with better ankle support and a heel cradle to keep the heel locked in place. For the toughest terrain, walking shoes and boots are no longer a choice, with heavy duty hiking boots a necessity.

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