Hiking Boot 101

Hiking terrain

Generally, there are 3 types of hiking terrain:

  • Easy trails: The track surfaces are stable and even, with a few slight hills.
  • Uneven trails: This is a technical terrain and can be found in the mountains or undulating landscapes with slanted trails.
  • Off-trail: this terrain is uneven, often unstable with loose rocks, grass tussocks and the trails are not usually marked.

In Kenya we have uneven and off-trails therefore your hiking boot needs to offer wholesome protection.

Things to look for in a good boot

  1. Stiff outsole: Gives you more stability. A higher cut shoe protects and supports your ankles. Reinforcements (rubber toe, heel protector, side and instep protection etc) and thicker outsoles, increase the durability of your hiking shoes but they make the shoes heavier. 
  2. Water resistance: An impermeable membrane, like Gore Tex, protects your feet from dampness but makes the shoes less breathable.
  3. High cut shoes will give you extra ankle support.


  • A pair of shoes that have reinforcements (rubber toe, heel protector, side and instep protection etc) give you added protection and they last longer. Thicker outsoles protect the soles of your feet. 
  • Light weight shoes reduce fatigue but are not as durable.

Buying the boot:

  • Start by putting on a good pair of hiking socks (they’re thicker than the usual sports socks)
  • Even if the shoes are new you shouldn’t be able to feel any pressure points at all on your feet. The fit of your shoes (the shape and volume of the inside of the shoe) should be adapted to the anatomy of your foot (and not the other way around!).
  • You must be able to adjust your shoe easily without pulling hard on the laces, no matter what the lacing system.
  • Ideally, try on different styles at the end of the day, wearing hiking socks, as your feet tend to swell a little.
  • When your shoe is undone, you should be able to fit one finger behind your heel when your toes are in contact with the front of the shoe.
  • If you fall between two sizes, choose the bigger size as your feet will swell during your hike. You can easily reduce the size of a shoe that is too big by adding an insole. The other way around isn’t so easy!

Author: mountainslayerskenya

The world is God’s gift to us. To enjoy a gift, you need to unwrap it. Mountain Slayers seeks to unwrap this gift through exploring various destinations in Kenya, East Africa and the world at large. There is no better way to interact with the world than on foot- 'One step at a time' Our tenet as Mountain Slayers- Kenya is; ‘Treasure and nourish relationships’  Relationship with God  Relationship with Self  Relationship with others  Relationship with the environment

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