5 Mistakes Beginner Hikers Overlook About Their Foot

Everyone learns on the go. But for an adventure, you should know them well in advance. You can’t afford to have an injury during a hike.

Preparation for a hike starts at least a week before. The majority of preparation goes to your foot care. That’s expected because you’re walking a lot on a hike, and your feet, especially your toes, are the most vulnerable. I wrote an article on protecting your toes during a hike.

Here’s a foot care checklist you should go through weeks before you plan to hike.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for qualified purchases through these links. But it never affects your price or what we pick.

1. Not breaking in hiking boots before an extended trail.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with hiking boots is not breaking them in before hitting the trail. Although most modern boots require little to no break-in time, some require a more extended break-in period. If your boots are not out-of-the-box comfort, you may have to break them in before your extended trip.

Don’t buy hiking shoes for tomorrow’s hike.

Boots that are new or have been sitting in your closet for a while can be very stiff, and if you don’t break them in, you’re likely to end up with blisters. The constant rubbing and friction will irritate your feet and cause pain, making it much harder to enjoy your hike.

To avoid this problem, wear your new shoes around the house for short periods before heading out on the trail. This will help your shoes to conform to the shape of your feet and help you become familiar with how they feel when you’re out on the trail. It’s also important to walk on varying terrains and slopes. Thus walk around the neighborhood on a treadmill, or hike on local routes to ensure that your boots are as comfortable as possible before you set out.

Indeed most hiking shoes don’t need braking. But there are other hiking boots that are not hiking shoes.

As a general rule of thumb, you’d get out-of-the-box comfort if you’ve got a lightweight shoe with a synthetic upper. Heavier leather uppers need significant pre-use before you take them on an excellent backpacking trip. This time is necessary for your feet and shoes to confirm.

2. Wearing the wrong socks

Another mistake to avoid is wearing the wrong socks with your hiking boots. Socks are as important as your boots, as they cushion and support your feet. If you wear the wrong socks or not enough socks, you could end up with pain.

Check out the most popular unisex hiking socks on Amazon.

Too tight boots can rub against your skin and cause blisters, so it’s important to wear socks that will provide a buffer between your skin and the boot. You should be mindful of the four qualities of hiking socks—sock height, cushioning, fit, and fabric.

Your socks should be a few inches above your ankle bone. Such socks are also known as crew socks. They give sufficient protection to your skin from abrasion against your boots.

Cushioning is also very important in socks, as it will help to prevent your feet from rubbing against the inside of your boots. Look for padding socks on the heel, toe, and arch areas where you will most likely experience rubbing.

Yet, the decision on sock cushioning is determined mainly by the weather of your hike. You must choose light, thin, breathable socks if you expect hot weather.

Also, your socks should nicely line up with your heal cup. If not, your socks are not the best fit and may irritate when hiking.

Finally, pick the fabric of the socks you’re wearing. Merino wool is the best material for hiking socks, as it helps to regulate your body temperature throughout the hike. It can also prevent blisters and odor build-up, making them a good choice for outdoor adventure. However, you’d usually find socks with synthetic materials, like nylon. This is needed to improve the durability of the socks.

3. Not lacing them properly.

If you don’t lace up your hiking boots properly, you will likely have hot spots or blisters. Ensuring that your laces are snug but not too tight and evenly distributed across the foot is essential. You can learn several lacing techniques and use them depending on your needs.

Lazing techniques are also effective if you have a not-so-right-fitting hiking shoe. For instance, you can use the surgeon lacing technique for an excellent heel grip. In this case, the surgeon lacing technique conveniently keeps your shoe tight. You may have to buy hiking shoes a size bigger to accommodate swelling.

You should have a thumbs width gap between the toe and your shoe. But if you don’t have that much space, you might need to loosen them up with toe-relief lacing. It will release some pressure in the toebox.

You may also want to consider using a locking lace system, such as BOA laces, which can help to prevent your laces from coming undone. They are so cheap, yet very effective in keeping your laces tied forever.

Check out lock laces on Amazon.

4. Ignoring Footwear Care

Hiking boots are an investment; if you want them to last, you must take care of them. After each hike, clean your boots with a brush or damp cloth and let them air dry. You should also waterproof them regularly, and if they show signs of wear, take them to a cobbler for repairs.

Most shoes today use a Gore-Tex (GTX) membrane. If yours has a GTX upper, you don’t need any unique products. You can clean it.

But if yours has a leather upper, you might need conditioners and waterproofing. You don’t need a conditioner if your boot upper is nubuck or suede leather.

Make sure to clean your boots with a soft brush and clean water and let them soak before you apply any treatments. You must not use conditioners on dry leather surfaces.

Nubuk and Suede leather waterproofing sprays on Amazon

Leather conditioners on Amazon (Only full-grain leathers need them)

5. Not Knowing When to Replace Them

Even if you take good care of your hiking boots, they will eventually need to be replaced. Although boots are more comfortable for your feet, too-old boots are not.

Hiking boot lifespan is a topic of much debate. Some say hiking boots can last anywhere from 500 to 1200 miles, but how do you know when to replace them? There are many factors to consider: comfort, safety, and the quality of construction.

If your boots are no longer providing the comfort and support you need, or if they’re starting to show visible signs of wear and tear, it might be time to say goodbye and invest in a new pair.n


Hiking boots are a significant investment for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors and selecting the right pair for your needs is essential.

This article outlines five common mistakes hikers make when choosing and using their hiking boots. We hope that by reading this post, you can avoid these mistakes and have a more enjoyable hike.

Always take good care of your boots by cleaning and waterproofing them regularly and replacing them when they show wear and tear. Good luck with your next adventure!

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