Last week I went shopping for a new pair of hiking boots for our trip to Madagascar, and it got me thinking how buying hiking boots is a bit like choosing a wedding photographer.
If you’ve even been shopping for a pair of hiking boots, you’ll probably have been overwhelmed by the selection. Their prices can range from around €50 to almost €400. But they are still all hiking boots. They all do the same basic job, protecting your feet when you go out walking. Right?
After a bit of searching online, you find out that there is more than one type of hiking boot. And it’s quite overwhelming!
Some are suited for gentle walks on footpaths, some are for mountaineering across glaciers.
Some are soft and more like trainers while others are stiffer with a full ankle support.
Some have very heavy, sturdy soles and are fully waterproofed for full protection from all of the elements, while some are lightweight and thinner, designed with comfort and a budget in mind.
When you first go in to the shop (or a few different shops in my case) you usually have a budget in mind and you know you want hiking boots. After a few conversations with a shop assistant, you realise that what you are looking for is a specific type of boot suited to the type of activities you will be doing. The shop assistant then points a few options out to you and you decide to try them on.
Some of them are above your budget, so you start with the cheapest pair first. They are pretty comfortable, but you don’t feel like you are getting much support around the ankle, and ideally you’d like ones that are fully waterproofed and these aren’t. But they are in your budget!
The next pair feels looks great and they are in the sale! They are waterproof and have really sturdy soles. But the only size they have left is just slightly too big, and you can feel them rubbing on your heel as you walk.
The final pair you try on has everything you are looking for, including the right size, and they are so comfortable you could just wear them all the time. You can see that they are top quality, and they offer you great support with all of the premium features like gore-tex. But there’s one problem. The price. You know they are exactly what you want but you are not sure if you can afford them. You know they are a great brand, they will last you for ages, but you still can’t decide.
You try on one of the the cheaper pairs again. You walk up and down, and try to convince yourself that you will be ok with these ones. They’ll be fine. But a voice in the back of your head is telling you that you’ll regret this decision when you’re miles from home and your feet are burning from all of the blisters.
Finally, you go back to the last pair. You try them on again, and you know that they are the right ones for you.
You might have to forfeit a couple of nights out, but in return you’ll have something that is the best fit for you, that will give you pleasure for years to come!