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The Anatomy of a Hiking Boot

Whether on patrol in the Army or on a hike in the wilderness, his words of wisdom ring true: “Take care of your feet, and they’ll take care of you.”

If we take care of our soles, they’ll take care of our souls by carrying us to places of splendor and beauty that can only be seen by going pedestrian style.

I’ll never forget that day many years ago at Fort Leonard, MO. I was a fresh-faced recruit with a newly shaved head. Our platoon was sitting behind the barracks with one of our Drill Instructors.

His name was Staff Sergeant Beager. We were sitting there polishing our boots to a high shine, just to mess them up again, and he told us, “Take care of your feet, boys, and they’ll take care of you.” I have no idea what happened to SSG Beager after I graduated basic training for the U.S. Army, but his words have always stuck with me.

Every day, human beings cram their feet into ill-fitting contraptions some call shoes and boots. These wrongly-sized, poorly made contrivances do more harm than good and you’re probably better off going barefoot.

However, with the proper research and advice you too can follow the wisdom of SSG Beager.

What to Look For:

Know Your Feet

Look for a boot that fits your foot properly.

I may have my favorite boot brand (and I do), but they may not be engineered for your foot. You may have high insteps, high arches, wide toes, or any number of other things specific to your foot.

Know the Boot Make Up

Once you know your foot needs, which can be done through proper measurement or just knowing what hurts, figure out what brand of boots is geared toward your needs.


Once you’ve figured out what you’re looking for, be sure to try on both boots and walk around the store for a while. A good retail store will let you spend time in the boots.

Key Things for ALL Boots

Image courtesy Athlete Audit

Be sure to look for good arch support and ample toe room. Also, be sure to purchase boots or shoes based on your type of hiking. Do you need all leather or breathable mesh? Ankle high or low cut? We could go on and on and on, but the key is to know your feet and your plans.

Once you’ve chosen your boot, be sure to pay attention to your feet. Don’t think, “Well, it just needs to be broken in”. Sometimes this is true, but foot pain is never a good thing.

Remember the words of SSG Beager, take care of your feet boys (and girls) and they’ll take care of you.” And don’t forget, no matter how you choose to spend your time this season; don’t leave the outdoors out, make it a part of every season.



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The Anatomy of a Hiking Boot