Written by K2 Team Member - Kevin Reilly
It’s a deadly combination that most bushwalkers dread; downhill with a heavy pack and a momentary loss of focus…..ouch! It happens to the best of us and yours truly recently experienced all of this!
The outcome was a sprained ankle 16kms into a two-day 46km bushwalk! I completed it, but largely because I wear full support leather boots. My boots helped me in two ways, I would have probably broken my ankle if I had softer or even low cut footwear. In addition, my boots supported my foot through the next 30kms. So even though there was discomfort I was able to enjoy the two days in the bush.
Being the most important part of your bushwalking kit, choosing the right footwear for your needs is vital. Ill fitting, too soft and unsupportive or too heavy and inflexible footwear will impact greatly on what you do in the outdoors.
If you are unsure of these factors across our extensive range of boots, asking yourself these following questions will help greatly in choosing the right footwear for you:
How will you use your footwear now and into the near future? Are you a day walker? Maybe you frequent your local National Park for short day bushwalks carrying a small pack with the bare essentials in it. Or you are into multi-day bushwalks requiring everything including the kitchen sink! You could be like me and do all of the above.
For people new to bushwalking, this can be a difficult question because they are just kicking off and have no real idea on what type of bushwalking they will enjoy. I recommend they aim for a mid-type boot that is reasonably light, but offers a little more support than your lighter styles. The aim is for you to want to wear the boots more often in a variety of environments.
You may have dodgy ankles/knees or ones as solid as an Ironbark! Cushioning underfoot may be a priority. The restrictive feel of a mid/high cut boot may not be to your fancy. Bunions or other podiatric/mechanical issues may affect you. Talk to the store staff about your needs to ensure the right footwear is considered.
I wear orthotics and this is a very important area to consider when purchasing footwear. They can change the whole dynamic of the shoe. Make sure you bring them into the store when trying footwear on.
Use of your footwear is important. Purchasing new footwear for a one-off adventure is not a great idea. It is expensive and if you leave your footwear unused in the cupboard for extended periods they will fall apart. Remember full grain leather boots also mould around your foot the more you use them, making them more comfortable over time.
I am a strong believer in ROI on footwear. You are investing in the most important part of bushwalking therefore you should plan to get the most out of them.
Footwear properly fitted is the best way to ensure you are buying the right ones. Walking around in a store and comparing the fit to similar footwear gives you the confidence you are buying the right pair.
The best type of footwear to buy is the one that fits you the best!
For me I wear full grain leather, medium/high cut, waterproof boots, Asolo's TPS 520 Wide. This is because I usually do multiday bushwalks. I also fit day walks around these and use the same boots to ensure they do not fall apart from lack of use.
The naysayers will tell you how lighter, softer, even lower cut footwear is the better option, but not for me, especially if there is a chance I may be kissing Mother Earth again!