If you’re planning a walking holiday, you’ll need to focus on your footwear. Unsuitable shoes can result in accidents, injuries and a ruined holiday. But there are plenty of safe, quality walking boots on the market. They come in lightweight synthetic materials and in leather, which is dearer and stronger. Here are some of the reasons quality walking boots are essential for rough or steep treks.
Walking Boots Are Best
A pair of good, sturdy hill-walking or mountain boots will provide ankle support, all-round protection and a firm hold on slippery ground. The more substantial versions are warm and virtually waterproof, and flexible yet firm. They are also comfortable to wear. Leather ones can become hot and heavy in warm weather, but the occasional rest and airing will usually resolve this problem. Quality boots are costly, and also heavy and cumbersome to pack or carry, but they are worth all the drawbacks for the durability, ease and safety they provide.
Footwear To Avoid
Wellington boots, or “wellies,” are fine for a splash about in a shallow stream or a wander through muddy meadows, but far too flimsy and slippery for rough ground, hills or long walks anywhere. Their soles provide no cushioning to heel or toe and their waterproof fabric offers no protection from extreme temperatures. Sandals have similar problems with the added hazards of open tops and toes and weak structure. Ordinary outdoor walking shoes are scarcely any better, and even trainers may leave you sore, wet and cold after a short time, if you haven’t slipped in them by then.
Hiking barefoot in the wilds would leave the whole foot exposed to the dangers of rough ground, scratchy vegetation and the elements, and is therefore out of the question. Bare feet on a smooth beach, lawn or path are fine, and can sometimes prove useful for clambering over low rocks, where toe grip may help, but bare feet are always vulnerable.
However good the boots, they’ll be unbearable if they rub your skin and cause blisters. As soon as a blister starts to form, the pain will start building, slowing you down and marring your enjoyment. But a pair of double-thick walking socks usually prevents blisters. The socks rub together, instead of on your skin, as you stride along. A popular alternative is to buy socks with linings, which tend to be smoother and provide more cushioning than two separate socks.
Tips For Ensuring Comfort
Before setting out, wear your new walking boots, loosely tied, around the house to ease and stretch them around your feet in all walking positions. When putting them on for a walk, tie the laces firmly, but not too tightly at the ankle. If rubbing starts, adjust the tightness until the pressure eases. An extra pair of socks, thin ones this time, may also help.
Carry a selection of plasters with you, and some mild painkillers in case of any further problems. Remove mud and vegetation from boot soles between walks. With leather boots, apply a coat of waterproof polish before each outing. If you are still worried about possible discomfort, pack a pair of plastic or rubber sandals in your rucksack for emergencies.
Enjoy your trip! With the right footwear, you won’t want to stop.