This section has general points about hiking boots.
In the Scout Troop activities, boots are mainly used for two purposes.
Firstly, we do hiking and boots offer a number of advantages for this.
Boots are also popular (and rightly so) with scouts as footwear at camps, when the terrain or weather is not suitable for trainers. This is a very good choice as they provide foot protection and some waterproofing against wet grass, if they have been treated with waterproofing agent occasionally. Most Summer Camps require hiking boots
First, they can withstand heavy use on rough terrain much more than most other footwear. They can provide considerable waterproofing, if constructed and cared for properly.
They give ankle support, which improves walking ease on rough ground and reduces the chance of ankle twists. Finally good boots have good soles that provide grip.
Since only expensive boots are likely to remain completely weatherproof, for scout use it is better to get boots that will be comfortable, providing a good grip and ankle support, together with some waterproofing.
The typical hiking boot comes up around the ankle,and a sole to give good grip. Most now have man-made uppers, but some are leather. Either are suitable. Some boots (sometimes called semi-climbing) have stiff soles and uppers: these are generally not suitable for Scout use. Boots that come right up the calf are generally not suitable. There is now a wide variety of lighter weight boots, which will be considered later.
LIGHT WEIGHT BOOTS These are intended mainly for dryish conditions. They often have combination uppers (such as nylon and suede), and some rely heavily on running shoe technology, rather than that of traditional hiking boots. Indeed, some well-known trainer manufacturers include boots in their ranges. The result can be a very comfortable boot for general hiking, although some sturdiness is probably lost. These boots can make a good choice for scouts.
ALTERNATIVES Only in dry conditions and easy terrain, strong trainers are a suitable alternative. But in other conditions, nothing approaches hiking boots in suitability.
Both the sturdiness and waterproofing of the boot rely to a large extent on the seams. More expensive boots have a single piece of material for the upper. In any case, the upper is stitched or welded to the sole. A fully sown-in tongue aids the water tightness.
Most boots made for hiking, even those that are cheaper, have padding around the ankle, which greatly increases the comfort while supporting the ankle.
Most hiking boot soles are deeply indented, which provide a good grip on most surfaces, except, for example, wet rock. They also give some spring to the step.
Hiking boots can be worn about camp and can also provide sensible footwear about town in winter. A wide range of qualities and prices are available. Size and fit are very important: hiking puts great strain on feet.
Boots can be worn with up to 3 pairs of thick socks when new, so as to provide plenty of growing room. But it is important to wear the same number of socks when trying boots on. Feet tend to swell during hikes, so make sure there are no tight areas of fit: toes should be able to move freely when the laces are tied tightly.
After buying boots, they should 'broken in' by wearing them several times close to home at least two weeks before the first hike.
Hiking boots can be hired from some shops. The Troop has some used boots available for loan.
After wearing them, clean them free of mud etc., if necessary using a damp sponge, then dry them naturally (no direct heat).
Regular treatment with correct waterproofing liquid will keep them subtle and aid waterproofing.
To go with their hiking boots, scouts can make do with the socks they already have, if necessary. Thicker socks, for example football socks, are better than thin, and pure nylon should be avoided as these can cause blisters. Hiking socks are kinder on feet: less sweating, more padding.
Whatever socks are worn should fit well and not have lumps or holes. Note the comment above, about starting new boots with more than one pairs of socks to allow for growth. There is also a practical advantage of longer hike socks: tuck the bottoms of long trousers inside and this can grealy decrease the amount of dirt on trousers. Socks can easily be changed!
So they do not undo and be tripped over: see here