Shopping for a Hike: Are your boots made for walking?

How often do you splurge on outdoor gear only to regret it the second you step foot outside the store? Retailers try to sway buyers with all sorts of bells and whistle—ultra-gripping soles, sweat-slicking materials and every other high-tech feature available. But is it really worth it? Do we really need the $500 pair of boots better equipped for space than for outdoor travel, or can we safely make due with the pair priced at just under $100? The answer to both is yes. Not all outdoor footwear needs to rival the cost of transatlantic fare BUT a strenuous hike does require a serious shoe (and often equally serious price tag).

According to REI, the first things to do when shopping for new boots is consider the challenge. Are you planning a trek through the Himalayas? Will your next adventure take you through the Appalachian Trail? If you answered yes to any of these questions, reach for the credit card and make your way to the nearest full-service outdoor store to find a pair of sturdy backpacking boots. (While we recognize that plenty neighborhood retailers offer very good choices for gear, when you’re preparing for a serious hike it’s best to turn to an experienced outfitter, such as REI.)

If your goal is a brisk hike around your nearest state park, a less-expensive model will do just fine. Search sites like and by price, scope out the going rate and cross-reference on other sites such as, where users typically vet purchases and make comments that are helpful to future buyers. While some hikes are meant to be challenging, none should be painful. Researching the trail is the first step in ensuring your boots match your challenge. Search for the trail you’ll be hiking on the Pocket Ranger® app to find its level of difficulty and learn a few details about what lies ahead. You’ll thank us later!

Are you in the market for new hiking boots? Tell us where you’re headed and be sure to share your trail with us using the Pocket Ranger® photo waypoint!

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