Introduction: Comfortable Boots and a Great Outdoor Experience
What do we do when we go hiking, backpacking, and camping? We walk a lot and in rough terrain most of the times. A comfortable, lightweight yet sturdy and reliable pair of walking boots is essential to feel comfortable and all geared up for adventure in the outdoors. A stiff heavy pair is going to make your walking all the more difficult.
A little research and careful choice of walking boots can only make you want the outdoors more often. Most of us tend to pay more attention to the other camping gear like tents, backpacks etc., and overlook the choice of a good pair of boots and make do with walking shoes. This is just not ok! A comfortable pair of hiking boots can determine your performance and enjoyment in a nature trail.
Why are lightweight boots critical for the outdoors?
You are planning a hiking/ backpacking adventure trip and there are a lot of things that come to mind. How much thought do you give to buy some exclusive outdoor-friendly shoes? Not really! It’s time to rethink your priorities and do some homework about the importance of equipping yourself with a lightweight pair of walking boots. Because this is the pair that will keep your feet comfortable and safe when you’re scaling a beautiful yet rough terrain.
The Support from Lightweight Boots
It’s important to answer a few questions like do you plan to go on simple hikes or whether you intend to go backpacking and camping for longer durations. If you know clearly what you expect from good walking boots, it is easier to choose. There are different shoes and boots designed to suit different outdoor activities. It all depends on the support you require.
A heavy mountaineering pair of boots may give a great deal of support but they rather tend to be uncomfortable and cause pain when worn for a long time. So, lightweight boots make a lot of sense. Here’s why:
- These are flexible, yet sturdy and strong.
- They give a lot of support despite being low-cut.
- The materials used in the making of these shoes offer comfort to the feet and protect it in the outdoors.
- They are usually worn straight out-of-the-box and no need for waiting out the break-in period that is required with the heavy and mid-weight
- These may be light, but when you choose a good brand, they tend to be durable and reliable companions.
- They usually tend to be cheaper than the mid-weight to heavy weighing shoes.
Whether it’s a walk around a hill or walking in a jungle, it makes sense to invest in lightweight boots that tend to support your feet and make your experience a more comfortable one.
Let us now look at the qualities of a good lightweight hiking boot:
- Reliable Upper Membrane: It is crucial that your boots sit light on your feet and not weigh you down when you have to walk a lot. But it is also very important, that the material used in the upper portions of the shoe be durable and does not rip off on contact with scruffy bushes and branches. Usually, leather is reputed to be endurable and strong. Most modern hiking shoes, however, are made up of a combination of leather and synthetic materials. These give a comfortable yet strong feel and can sustain any natural conditions.
- Water Resistance: It is very important that your hiking boots be water-resistant. You may have to cross small streams, endure some rain in your camping trips. It is crucial that your boots don’t soak in the water and get your feet dripping wet and protect it.
- Stable Heel Cup and Ankle Support: Your ankle and heels have to be well supported to be able to walk comfortably for a long time. This gives stability to the entire feet. A well-fitted stable heel cup lock and ankle support can protect your heel from slipping and also prevent ankle inversion and gives them great support.
- Breathable Material: Many time hikers tend to sweat a lot at the feet. It is very important for the shoes to have a breathable membrane and help keep your feet feeling fresh and light. If the shoes can absorb sweat to a large extent, the feet to be more comfortable and can keep you going for a long time.
- Strong Anti-Slip Sole: The outsole of a hiking/ trekking shoe must be strong and prevent the hiker from slipping or sliding from a muddy slope or falling off a log. The outsole must give good grip and traction to give a firmness to your gait and keep you well-protected. It is also important that the sole is designed in a way that makes it aggressive yet inflicts little damage to the natural environs that it treads on.
- Gaiters Hooks: These are hooks that are placed near the bottom of the shoe lace. The hooks tend to hold the gaiters in place.
- Type, Build and Fit:
Type: It’s important that you decide on the type of outdoor boots you want. Do you want it for simple day long hikes carrying lighter loads and walking a lot, or do you want your boots to help you do some heavy-duty climbing or something intermediate with a fair balance of walking, clambering, climbing/ trekking carrying moderately weighing loads? Answering these questions will help you decide the type of shoes that can work for you.
Build: The next important thing to consider is the build quality of the shoes and the aesthetics of construction. Personally, I prefer a mix of leather and synthetic materials which are strong and durable yet lightweight and comfortable. There are full grained leather options, but these are high end and work well for heavy duty climbing and walking. The outsoles must be hard and prevent slipping, skidding and a good grip in the rough terrain. Almost all the outsoles make use of rubber. The hardness of the rubber varies in the different types and brands of shoes.
Fit: The shoes must fit you snugly and allow your feet to breathe inside. They must not at all be comfortable. Loose or tight-fitting shoes won’t work here. The fit must be perfect and comfortable for the wearer. Therefore, it is essential for a hiker to try different pairs and choose a pair that gives the best fit.
How to care for your lightweight hiking boots?
Taking good care of your boots is what helps them last longer. After every trail, clean your footwear as per the given instructions. Leave them to dry naturally after cleaning them and removing the laces. And remember to brush off the grime from the foot beds too. You can use a soft brush with warm water to do the same. It is also necessary to clean the inside of your footwear to keep their breathability intact. If your shoes have been exposed to water and tough terrain, condition them with waterproofing treatments again.
Below are our five picks for great lightweight walking boots options.
Merrell Men’s Moab Mid Gore-Tex High Rise Hiking Boots
This is a footwear with a good reputation. These boots are comfortable and good value-for-money. They are made of leather and a mesh upper therefore is light, durable and comfortable to be worn on long treks/hikes.
The outsole made of Vibram (gum rubber) and a compression molded EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) polymer gives a good traction and a snug midsole. These make the boots shock-resistant and lends stability to your gait. The Gore-Tex lining gives a lining to the feet which keeps them cool and dry. This gives good breathability to the feet.
The heel is flat and ideal for walking over a long period. The laces need to be tied-up to give a closure to the overall fit and the gusseted tongue of the boot does not allow the debris to get inside, increasing the comfort level to a great extent. The padding is thick and gives good protection to the feet. This is an Ortholite anatomical design which is good for summers and day hikes.
On the downside, I am not very happy with the waterproofing and the material and construction of the boots makes it very difficult to clean them. The breathability quality could be increased. They do not feel great when exposed to water and feel a bit warm. The glued soles and toe protectors look a bit tacky, but overall a good product for day long hikes, short backpacking trips and wide-open trail conditions.
Keen Men’s Targhee ii Mid Wp High Rise Hiking Boots, Brown 7M the US – Review
Made with a combination of leather and textile with a gum rubber sole this is a brand that regularly features dependable hiking shoes. The material used makes it breathable and increases the comfort level of the wearer on his outdoor adventures.
The heel height is low and gives good support and stability on hard surfaces. It is very handy for day long hikes, and general nature walks. It can be used regularly, is durable and rugged. The Keen Men’s Targhee is waterproof and comes with a good traction. These boots are easy to clean and maintain.
The lacing system and the closure with the speed laces need to be improved because there’s no pinch hook or something that allows the hiker to adjust the ankle tightness to suit his comfort level. The lacing loops tend to give out and are not very useful in adjusting the tightness.
The split-grain leather feels a little heavy and thick. Though the outsoles are made of gum rubber, the quality needs improvement. The soles do have well-spaced, firm lugs but they may not be enough to hold out on slippery, muddy terrain.
Berghaus Men’s Expeditor AQ Trek Boot – Review
Berghaus is a well-known brand for its camping and outdoor equipment. The Men’s Expeditor AQ high-rise boots are made up of suede leather and an AQ Berghaus lining which makes them comfortable, lightweight, and waterproof. The underfoot stability is because of the Opti-Stud soles. These give a good grip in rough and tough terrain conditions and prevent slips and falls and protects the wearer from most injuries.
The membrane makes the shoes breathable and maintains the comfort-level of the wearer for a long time. These are simple-designed shoes, but their fit and performance are pretty good. They may not be the best known for offering traction and grip in the snow. But they work very well for rough terrain climbs in regular weather.
They offer protection to the feet and have a good lace system. They offer good heel and ankle support. They give a warm and dry feel to the feet.
The Berghaus AQ trek boots’ sustainability over prolonged use is a little doubtful and we have seen complaints about the need for regular maintenance and waterproofing regularly and the soles tend to wear out or get separated from the upper portion of the shoe. The fitting is narrow when we compare it with other hiking boots and this could pose an issue if you have wide feet or do not like a close fit across the feet.
Johnscliffe ‘Typhoon’ Super-Lightweight Hiking Walking Boots
This is the unisex shoes in our list. The materials used here are leather and textile, a combination that makes the membrane breathable, comfortable, and long-lasting. It comes with a 2density PU-Rubber sole, which gives a firm grip to hikers.
The Jontex waterproofing is decent and the closure is made of speed laces. These boots are lightweight and hence can be worn on long nature trails and walks. The cleaning and maintenance are easy and liquid sponge cleaners work well in this case. It is best to waterproof it when it gets exposed to rain and wet soil to increase the durability.
However, on the flipside, the nylon laces do not give a comfortable snug fit. The padding in the tongue of the shoes tends to wither out and the leather used in the membrane is not of very good quality. There are a few complaints about the eyelets too. These boots come with block heels which and a heel height of 3. Personally, not my type but may suit a few who tend to go on regular long walks on easy terrain.
Adidas Men’s Terrex Fast R Mid GTX High Rise Hiking Shoes
The Adidas men’s boots help the wearer to move fast and agile on mountains and hill sides. They are lightweight because the outer material is synthetic and the inner material is textile-based.
Adidas shoes are known for their great fit and these shoes are no different. But the fit is narrow if you don’t like the snug fit across the feet, these shoes may not be suitable for you. They come handy for long walks and nature trails. Regular cleaning improves their comfort factor and performance.
The Gore-Tex lining improves the breathability of the shoes. The waterproofing is good but needs to be maintained periodically when used frequently. The outsole is TRAXIONTM with a trademarked rubber which gives reasonable traction and good grip during speedy movements. The Ortholite liners used to keep the feet dry and are detrimental to fungi formation and bacteria. Overall, the Adidas shoes lend stability and smoothness to the wearer’s gait and give a very light touchdown to the feet.
These are good for moderately tough hiking conditions and ideally suited for day long trips and short backpacking adventures that involve some trekking, walking, and clambering in a moderately rugged terrain.
Though it comes with a lot of good features, the pricing does seem bit expensive when compared to the pricing and performance of the models in the same category. These boots are heavy for lightweight walking boots. When compared to the traditionally heavy hiking boots, these weigh less and give a good performance.
When taking the overall performance into account, the Merrell Men’s Moab Mid Gore-Tex High Rise Hiking Boots seems to be a notch higher. Though the Berghaus and the Adidas score well on the comfort factor the Merrell seems to be better in the comfort and reliability department.
The Merrell performs better in different natural conditions compared to the Adidas or the Johnscliffe which work well on light and easy terrains. The sustainability and endurance are better in the Merrell than the Berghaus. It seems lighter on the foot and gives ease and balance to the touchdown in difficult terrain because of its smooth grip. Though the glued soles give some doubts on the reliability, we feel this is a good product if you love lightweight comfortable boots for your short nature expeditions and camping trails.