Contact Us
Call Charlie or Gaynor

01242 895272


Choosing the right hiking boots

Choosing the right hiking boots

Choosing the right boots

One of the most common questions we at Tribal Tracks are asked before a trip is, "Which boots should I get?" Here, we help answer that question.

A good, well-fitting pair of hiking boots is crucial for an enjoyable trek, but with so many brands and models available, it can seem daunting to know what to look for.

Tribal Tracks has a huge catalogue of adventurous and challenging expeditions, so we'll aim to explain the main differences between boots and which style is best for what type of trip, as well as let you know what boots we use ourselves.

Key points:


Breaking in

Types of boot



Our boots!


As with most purchases, price is often the first consideration. More expensive boots are often made of better quality materials and boast better construction, although this isn't always the case. The amount you spend may depend on how often you plan to use these boots. Will you be completing your trek or challenge then hanging up your boots, or do you foresee yourself spending a lot of time outside on tracks, trails and mountains? We hope the latter! If so, get yourself the best pair you can realistically afford, your feet will thank you for it. We've known people to keep the same good-quality walking boots for over 20 years!

Types of boot

There are typically three types of boots — lightweight shoes, lightweight, midweight boots and heavyweight boots. Hiking shoes are an alternative.

Most Tribal Tracks expeditions will require a midweight boot as, due to their nature, they will undoubtedly feature uneven or tough terrain. Hiking shoes would be appropriate for well-maintained trails or casual hill walking, but we're really looking for Tribal Tracks adventurers to show up to the airport (yes — wear them on the plane!) in a durable pair that provides sufficient ankle support for trekking long hours over multiple types of terrain (rocks, sand, tree roots, river crossings, gravel and so on). Heavyweight boots might apply to some of our expeditions — the ones where we will encounter the most challenging terrain or will be trekking through snow.

Midweight boots have a higher ankle collar to provide support when working on uneven terrain, and a substantial midsole (the layer between the hard rubber sole (outsole) and the inner material of the boot that reduces impact and shock.

Sole and traction

One primary purpose of hiking boots is to prevent slipping while walking on uneven terrain. The design on the bottom of boots differs, and this isn't just for aesthetics. The little rubber knobs on the bottom of hiking boots are called lugs, and the arrangement of these have different purposes. We won't delve into all the different patterns and their purposes, but for most of our treks, we would suggest multi-directional lugs as they are the best suited for enhancing traction and stability over a range of terrains. Lots of lugs will help distribute your weight/pressure more evenly to reduce wear and tear on individual lugs and, in turn, increase the lifespan of your boots.

If you're going to be trekking somewhere particularly muddy (such as the Rwenzori Mountains), you'll want deeper lugs that will help with 'self-cleaning'.


There are several reasons to have breathable walking boots. The most obvious is temperature regulation—allowing heat to escape will make your feet feel much more comfortable and reduce the risk of painful hotspots or blisters caused by heat/moisture build-up. Sweat and moisture in your boots can cause unpleasant odours. Breathable boots help to reduce the accumulation of sweat. On some treks, you might not have access to the washing facilities you're used to — spare a thought for your tent mate and team members...and also your long-term term foot health.

Although it might seem counter-intuitive, breathable boots will help your boots/feet dry faster after water crossings (like those in Borneo and Costa Rica, again, reducing the risk of blisters (not to mention that 'yuck' feeling of walking with wet feet!)

We'd recommend boots with GORE-TEX® — a trusted waterproof, windproof and breathable fabric that provides protection from the elements but allows moisture and sweat to escape.

Our recommendations

Though the choice is obviously yours, here are a few boots we'd happily recommend, based on our experience and feedback from previous Tribal Tracks clients. We don't receive affiliate money for recommending these boots — we just think they're good!

Though they cost around £200, we think the Scarpa RUSH TRK GTX are great value for money and will last for years to come, they'd be suitable for pretty much all of our treks. They are great in colder climates, too, as they are warm but breathable.

For desert-centric trips like our Sahara 100km and Wadi Rum100km, we would recommend the Salomon X ULTRA 4 MID GORE-TEX, which are available for men and women. Here is an alternative link where they are — at time of writing — reduced by 20%.


Your boots should feel snug but not tight, and your heel should not lift or slip. Remember to leave about a thumb's width of space between your toes and the end of the boot to accommodate swelling and downhill walking. Make sure you try the boots on with the same style of socks that you will wear on your trek.

Break them in

We cannot emphasise this enough. Do not turn up to your trek in brand new boots. Trekking without 'breaking them in' can cause a lot of discomfort and problems on the trip.

The material in new boots can be stiff to start with. You need to walk with them to soften the material and help to mould them to your feet. If not, you'll likely quickly get painful blisters. Taking them out on plenty of walks will encourage the cushioning to be optimised for your feet and to help you to move more naturally in them. If you're not used to walking in them, or they cause you to change your usual gait, you're more lightly to slip and potentially cause ankle sprains or other injuries.

Most boots will come with some sort of 'care plan' to increase their life expectancy. Though it may seem superfluous, we would recommend following it. This might involve applying Nikwax for waterproofing, applying a seam sealer, or replacing the insoles to keep them fresh!

There are plenty of other resources online for choosing the best walking boot, and we'd recommend going in-store to chat with an expert but feel free to drop us an email if you have any trip-related questions about your boots!

Speak to Charlie or Gaynor - Tribal Tracks

Speak to Charlie or Gaynor

Let’s get you on the right track!

Call Charlie or Gaynor

01242 895272