Tips on Footwear - Choosing the correct option for your walk
Choosing the correct footwear is always a slightly contentious issue as there are many different views on what is “Correct” so the following “Tip” is what I have learnt myself, this based on my own long distance walking experiences over the last 25 years.
The first thing people have to decide is whether to walk in boots or some kind of training shoe (Trail-Runner) or Trekking Sandals
Over the years I have tried all of the above and, for me, personally, I would now opt for boots. Specifically, “Gortex” fabric type boots as these tend to be lighter than leather’s, need very little maintenance and, in hot dry weather, your feet can breath, and in wet weather, your feet remain dry (When walking in wet weather I also wear gaiters to prevent my socks getting wet and the water then wicking down them to give me wet feet)
Whereas with sandals, stones keep getting into them and I have to keep stopping to remove them and I don’t find that trainers give me enough support nor keep my feet dry in times of rain (Or snow).
Above photo shows Rob’s (Author) boots 300 miles into a 1,000 mile walk
So – Once you have a good idea on what sort of footwear is going to suit your own walk, the next thing is to go out and buy them. Here I would recommend that you go to a reputable outdoor footwear shop where you can try on lots of different options, some places even have the facility of measuring your feet, which isn’t totally necessary, but it can save time ;-)
Don’t be too hung up on a particular make, brand or model, it is the size and fit that are the important things, they shouldn’t be too tight and nip any part of your foot, but neither should they be too big letting your foot wobble around insider them, there should be a little room between the tips of your toes and the front of the inside of the boot so that your toes don’t touch when the boot is laced up, this will help prevent then hitting the front of the boot on downhill sections which would cause blistering.
There shouldn’t be any movement with your heal at the back of the boot, this should be a snug fit at the rear with no movement, as this would again cause blisters.
You should go shopping for your footwear being prepared to try lots of different pairs of boots until you find a pair that fit you correctly, and once you have found them, keep them on for a little while and walk around the shop in them to be as certain as you can be of the fit.
Another thing that is well worth mentioning is socks – I used a combination of Bridgedale liners and Thulo outers for many years, then on my Big 1,000 mile walk, I was given some appropriately named 1,000 Miler’s and I have to say that there were fantastic as I walked my 1,000 miles and didn’t get a single blister. But like boots, different sock combinations suit different people, so getting the right one for you might take a little trial and error, but never-the-less, you should make sure that you are wearing the same sock(s) when shopping for your boots as you will when you will be when walking.
I Hope that the above “Tip” helps you with deciding what sort of footwear (Including your sock(s)) that you will buy, but Finally, DO make sure that you thoroughly test them before heading off on your walk – And test them wearing the same rucksack that you will be using as the weight that you will carry will also be a factor.
Good Luck and Happy Safe Trekking