Scouts are much more likely to outgrow a pair of boots before they have a chance to wear them out. You won’t get much return on investing in top-of-the-line $200.00 hiking boots once they are outgrown.
Quality socks, however, are well worth the return on comfort, a few extra dollars here is very well spent.4
Here’s a my outdoor footwear infographic
Footwear models change frequently, so I am recommending brands rather than specific models.
Fitting boots or shoes properly is important to comfort and function. Wear a liner sock and hiking sock when trying on boots or shoes.
- Length: Toes wiggle easily.
- Width: Feet don’t slide around (too loose) or feel compressed from side to side (too tight).
- A proper fit feels secure, as if hand is holding the foot over the instep where the laces are. The foot should not move around inside the boot while walking.
Outdoor footwear jargon can be confusing!
Most hiking boots and shoes fall into three basic categories:
|Walking Shoes||Hiking Boots||Backpacking Boots|
|Low-cut models with flexible midsoles are excellent for day hiking or camping. They provide less roll-resistance for ankles are more vulnerable to dirt, sand or mud getting inside.||Mid-cut models flex easily and require little break-in time, but lack the ankle support, debris protection, and durability of stouter backpacking boots.||High-cut with better balance and ankle support, designed to carry heavier loads on multi-day trips. Stiffer midsoles than lighter footwear.|
The materials used in the boot impact its weight, breathability, durability and water resistance. I recommend polyester and nylon over leather construction for Scouts. They are lighter, break in quickly, dry faster and usually cost less. Waterproof boots or shoes do keep feet dry but the reduced breathability may make for hot feet in mild weather.
|Hi-Tec Boots and Shoes|
|Hi-Tec offers well-made and cost conscious footwear. Beware of cheaper knock-offs that look similar but do not have the same quality construction. A good test is holding the heel and the toe in each hand and pushing them together. A quality boot or shoe will flex a little in the forefoot area but never bend in the middle.|
|Hi-Tec at Campmor|
|Hi Tec at Amazon|
|Hi Tec at REI|
Sandals and slippers are supplemental footwear. I wouldn’t recommend them as a replacement for boots or shoes, but they do have their place. I always carry some lighter footwear to wear around camp to give my feet a break from wearing heavier boots or shoes.
|Flip Flops, open -toed sandals||Keen Sandals||Crocs|
|After patching up plenty of stubbed toes and cuts to feet I don’t recommend open-toed sandals or flip-flops for camping!||In warm weather, sandals make functional camp footwear. I recommend Keen because they pioneered sandals with toe protection and offer great quality and comfort.||Crocs lightweight footwear make great camp slippers after a long day of hiking or paddling. I have the name-brand and some less expensive knock-offs. I don’t see a significant difference between the two.|
|Keen at Campmor||Crocs at Campmor|
|Keen at REI
||Crocs at Amazon|
|Keen at Amazon|
Sock selection depends on the kind of trip and the weather.
- Liner socks are thin socks worn next to the skin under other socks. Liners wick sweat away and limit blister-causing abrasion between the outer sock and foot.
- Light to mid-weight hiking socks are best for warmer conditions and easy trails. They are relatively thin, but provide more cushioning than liners alone. In extreme cold heavier weight hiking socks are recommended.
- Fleece socks are great for wearing to bed, or with crocks or sandals around camp in colder weather.
|Liner Socks||Wigwam Hiker Socks||Fleece Socks|
|Liner socks are thin socks worn next to the skin under other socks. Liners wick sweat away and limit blister-causing abrasion between the outer sock and foot.||Wigwam Hiker Socks or similar choices are worth the expense (around $10-12 per pair).||Many styles and models available.|
|Liner Socks at Campmor||Wigwam hiker socks at Campmor||Fleece Socks at Campmor|
|Liner Socks at REI
||Wigwam Hiker Socks at REI||Fleece Socks at Amazon|
|Liner Socks at Amazon||Wigwam Hiker Socks at Amazon||Fleece Socks at REI