Know How

How to Choose : Trekking Boots

Sarthak Madan

Last updated: 26-10-2018

Bikat's HOW TO CHOOSE series provides information about how to choose and use trekking or climbing equipment like backpacks, boots, gaiters, microspikes and a lot more.

A good pair of boots is the most essential piece of equipment you’ll use while hiking or trekking. We’ll discuss what all to consider while buying a trekking boot.


  • Low cut hiking shoes are good for weekend hikes where you’ll be walking short distances without heavy loads. These shoes generally have flexible midsoles and may or may not be waterproof.
  • Mid or high cut trekking boots are more suitable for longer expeditions while carrying heavy loads. They have stiffer soles, require break in time, offer more support and durability, and are generally water resistant or water proof.


  • Synthetic uppers made of polyester or nylon are found in most hiking shoes and some mid-cut boots. They are light, dry quickly, cost less and do not require long break-in periods. However, they are not very durable or water resistant.
  • Leather uppers are not as breathable or light as synthetic uppers. They also require a significant break in period, but are excellent for carrying heavy loads, and are very durable. Leather also has excellent water repellent properties.
  • Most modern boots use a combination of split grain leather and nylon mesh.
  • Some synthetic uppers have a DWR (durable water repellent) membrane that improves water resistance, but compromises on breathability.


Make sure that the outsole has a balance of stiffness and flexibility. Stiff rubbers are more durable but not as comfortable on mud or off trail terrain. Shoes with more aggressive lugs will have better grip while walking on terrain like talus, scree and snow.

Some manufacturers use proprietary rubber compounds (like Vibram or Michelin), that are stickier, and provide better traction and grip than regular rubber compounds.


  • When you try on your shoes, make sure to wear your socks you are using while on trek.
  • Try on your boots at the end of the day.
  • Your shoe must have wiggle room for your toes but your heel must be locked firmly in place.
  • Use different knots or aftermarket insoles to improve fit and comfort.

Sarthak Madan

I work with Bikat Adventures as an expedition leader and technical content writer. Sometimes, I fly. Read more

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