ASO Mammoth’s Guide to Hiking Boot Basics

There are hundreds of miles of splendid Eastern Sierra beauty to explore in the Mammoth Lakes area, but you won’t make it very far past your door if you don’t have hiking boots.

Not just any hiking boots though, you need the right boots for you. Whether it’s the size, material, function, or type of hiking you’re doing, there are enough hiking boot variables to make your head spin. We know a thing or two about hiking boots as one of Mammoth Lakes’ premiere outdoor gear retailers though, so to make your hiking boots search easier the ASO Mammoth team has put together a quick guide to hiking boot basics.

Check it out below and if you have any questions or want to try on a pair of boots stop by ASO Mammoth!

The Basic Boot Vocabulary

The four main parts of a hiking boot are the upper, the midsole, the insole, and the outsole.

Fortunately the names themselves point directly to where each part is on the boot, but it is still important to know the function of each.

The upper is above the midsole and insole. While you may think that the upper’s role is to provide ankle support, the main thing to pay attention to here is the material that makes up the upper. For example, how breathable and waterproof the upper material is can make a huge difference when you’re crossing a stream or hiking on a hot day. If you want ankle support from your upper, you can look into higher, stiffer boots, but if you must have reliable support then ankle braces may be your best option.

The midsole is the outer part of the boot that connects the outsole to the upper and acts as a shock absorber for your foot. The most important variable with the midsole is the stiffness. If you’re hiking a long distance or on uneven and rocky terrain, you’ll want a stiff midsole to keep your foot from bending around every rock or root your step on and wearing out.

The insole is what your foot actually touches inside the boot. Like the midsole, the insole protects your foot. A stiff insole is going to do that better but also be heavier, which could affect the actual fit of your boot. A comfortable and properly sized insole goes a long way towards preventing blisters and discomfort, so if you’re uncomfortable with your factory insole don’t be afraid to look into other options.

Lastly, outsoles are always made of rubber, but the designs and patterns can be customized to the type of surface you’re expecting to hike over.

Boot Types and What They’re Best For

You may have a standard image of a hiking boot in mind but there are a few different kinds of boots you should know about, some of which aren’t boots at all. The main thing to remember here is that extra weight makes a difference, so if you don’t need extra support or material then don’t haul it on your feet.

For example, this low hiking shoe is designed for short day hikes or even runs where the hiker is carrying a very light load or no load at all.

Meanwhile, these mid day hiking boots are designed to be light enough for simple day hikes but still offer enough support for hikers carrying a load.

Lastly, backpacking boots are the heaviest option but also provide the most support, making them ideal for long hikes where the hiker will need protection as well support for heavy gear they are carrying with them.

Got all that? We’ve only scratched the surface here, so if you have questions or want to learn more about hiking boots visit us at ASO Mammoth!

Leave a Comment