Hiking boots are one of the most essential pieces of gear in your hike or backpacking trip. Ankle support and a rigid sole help your ankles stay in one piece and keep your feet going even in extensive use. Lighter, more flexible boots and shoes serve you in easier terrain and when carrying moderate loads on your back. When you spot a letter such as A, B, B/C or C in context with a boot or shoe, you can tell how rigid it is: A is close to a running shoe, B is good for rocky trails and C is ready for rocks and boulders while carrying a heavy pack.
When testing a pair of hiking boots on solid, flat terrain such as a store floor or on asphalt, you'll feel the shoes are... well, a bit too rigid. When going off road, however, you'll benefit from their stiffness in a new fashion, especially when carrying some weight on your back. As these shoes gather kilometers (or miles, if you will), you'll notice them getting a bit softer and more compliant as their leather panels adjust to the strain.
Most hiking boots sold in the Northern countries are equipped with a waterproof membrain. The popularity of Gore-Tex footwear is mostly based on the moist conditions in Nordic countries, where rubber boots or wellingtons used to be the de facto choice for outdoors people. A modern hiking boot will not only keep your feet dry but also give your ankles the support they need when you're walking, perhaps already a bit tired, with a heavy load in rocky terrain. For some conditions a non-membrane option is the one to go for and for that reason you'll find them in our collection as well.
Many hiking boots come with a stiffness rating. This tells you how supportive and rigid the boots are. A and A/B class boots are suitable for day trips and light backpacking, B, B/C and C class boots are at their home in more demanding conditions, especially with a heavy backpack. Some manufacturers have their own stiffness ratings, but we always strive to tell the best uses of each boot model. The stiffness of a boot not only refers to how much ankle support they give but also to the stiffness of their mid sole in terms of torsional and fore-aft-rigidity. Even the stiffest shoes can be adjusted to more moderate conditions thanks to their advanced lacing systems, allowing for independet adjustment of the fore foot and the ankle.
By taking care of your boots you'll keep them going on for ages. Especially if the boots are subject to swamp or marshland conditions or sea waters, it's best to rinse them with fresh water after you come back home. It's also a good idea to swipe or brush off any dirt or muck off them when you finish your hike. All the leather and textile surfaces of our hiking boots are factory impregnated to be water repellent. This not only protects you from water but also helps keep the material breathable: if the surface gets soaked through, there's no chance for the underlying layers to get rid of the moisture from your feet. This impregnation has a lifecycle of its own, and as it wears off you should treat your boots with a refreshing dose of care products. With a brand new boot you'll see that any water will run off the surface while an older boot might show signs of immediately taking in the moisture. When you see your boots sucking in all available moisture, it's time to go for some care products. With leather materials waxing the leather is also a great idea, as it refreshes the leather and prevents it from drying. Meindl, Nikwax and Lowa make excellent shoe care products for this use and they enable you to keep your prescious boots in tick. Pay attention to whether a product is suitable for Gore-Tex or other membranes: we always mention this in the description of care products. Take care of your boots - your feet will thank you!
If you intend to store your hiking boots for a while, it may happen that the soles develop a hardened surface. In this case you shouldn't hesitate using a wire brush. Just brush the sole to break the surface a bit. This brings back the original grip without damaging the shoe. Remember, they were originally made to support your entire weight on rocky terrain. Hiking boots also like to be used: regular use keeps the mid sole materials "alive", keeping them from crumbling. Remember to store your hiking boots in a dark, cool place and never keep them on top of floor heating.
A solid companion to hiking boots is a pair of hiking socks. We recommend you use one pair of thin liners and a pair of regular thickness socks on top. This allows the socks to move in relation to another, saving your skin from a lot of trouble. On long excursions changing the liner sock will get you a long way while the thicker hiking sock can take several days of use. By choosing a weather compatible material to the socks you wear you can make a big difference in your comfort. In cold conditions wool is the master of the universe while in hot conditions synthetic fabrics will be able to get rid of the most moisture.
Although most of our hiking boots will feel great out of the box, we seriously recommend you wear them on extended walks before going for your holiday trip. This allows the boots to acquire the shape of your feet, and also spot any trouble areas that may benefit from protective tape or salve.