Choosing a pair of hiking boots isn’t as simple as it might seem. If you order online or walk into a store looking for the cutest pair, you risk a lot more than blisters on the trail and padding out of your wallet. Wearing the wrong hiking boots can be downright dangerous.

I talked with Dave Dolph, Training and Outreach Manager at Oboz Footwear, for the lowdown on how to choose the right boot for a day hike—just in time for summer adventures.

Dave travels all over North America training Oboz dealer staff. He’s well-equipped to talk gear, as he comes from a twenty-year background of testing materials, production management, manufacturing and product development. He loves to hike—and luckily, it’s a requirement of the job.

Three Easy Steps to Finding your Cinderella Fit

photoStephen Matera

Step One: Find a reputable hiking store

“For your first pair of hiking boots, it’s essential to go to a retailer that specializes in outdoor footwear and that really understands hiking and backpacking. Find a brick-and-mortar store with a really good boot fitter first,” Dave suggests.

“It’s a good idea to call ahead and ask for the best time of day or day of week to come in and get personalized focused attention. Also check to see if the retailer will schedule an appointment, as this will increase your chances for fitting success."

Step Two: Enlist in-person help from the experts

“The number one thing is to get your feet measured. They should have a metal Brannock device or 3D scanner that can accurately measure the length, width and arch height of your foot. If the retailer doesn’t have these tools, you may not be in the right place.

“The employees should be asking you all kind of questions: where you are hiking and what kinds of trails, how much load are you carrying, etc. It’s okay if you’re new, but you should have an idea of what you realistically want to do. Also have some idea of what you’re aspiring to do. If you want to go out and hike the Continental Divide trail ‘someday’ in the next ten years, tell them that! Or if you’ve been hiking in running shoes, tell them that also.”

Step Three: Forget about aesthetics

“The salesperson who’s helping you will take the external shape of your foot and try to match it to the internal shape of the boot. That’s the most important equation in all of this. They will find a boot in their selection, not based on colour or style. Instead, they’ll sort by category (backpacking, trail run, etc) pack weight and by size (width and volume).”

Special circumstances

photoStephen Matera

“Your boots will also depend on if you have any injuries or specific needs, like Achilles pain or bunions. This can even affect material selection. A really good boot-fitter can modify a leather boot or stretch it if necessary,” Dave explains.

Options from Oboz

photoStephen Matera

Dave was able to recommend me his top choices for day hikes—and specifically hiking trails across Canada—from Oboz:

Day hiking: Look for a three-quarter shank or mid-height, like the Sawtooth Low Waterproof (Men's | Women's) or Mid Waterproof (Men's | Women's). Then get more specific…

Are you trekking:

In the West: For hikes in Banff, Waterton and the Rockies, where you’re scaling serious rock and gaining significant elevation, try a boot with more support like the Bridger Mid Waterproof (Men's | Women's).

In the East: If the trails you’re hitting are Mont Tremblant or Lake Superior, look for something more breathable, that’s lighter and offers more ankle mobility, like the Sawtooth Mid (Men's | Women's).


This article was sponsored by Oboz