Tips For Buying The Right Pair Of Boots

Answering these questions will help you find that perfect pair based on your needs.
Pair of boots in the woods on mossy stump
Image Source: Pexels

Footwear comes in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. They can be minimalist, they can be bulky. There are flashy options and there are basic options. It may be comfortable, it may feel cheap.

With few rules or regulations around them, it can be tough to know what is the best route to take when shopping for footwear. In this case, boots in particular. Boots can be fashionable, functional, big, small, tall, short, high quality, downright tacky, or anything in between.

Regardless of what you are looking for your boots to accomplish, these questions are always important to answer to help you find just the right pair for your needs.

What will be the main purpose of your boots?

Various women's boot styles and function
Source: Macy's

This question will likely be the reason you are looking for boots in the first place. It may seem obvious, but is a vital question to answer nonetheless. When beginning with the entire world of footwear with every fashion, function, and fit in existence at your fingertips, whittling down the options as much as possible is important.

Are you looking to upgrade your outfit for a night in the town? Are you taking a backpacking trip? Do you simply not want your feet to get wet and cold while walking your dog in the winter?

It is important to answer this question first and have a good understanding of where your boots will see the most action. From there, it will be undoubtedly easier to figure out what pair of boots will best suit you and the purpose you want them to serve. Once you have a clear picture of where you'll be utilizing your boots, begin to address the features that will best fit your needs.

What features are you looking for in your boots?

Various styles of mens boots
Image Source: Popular Mechanics

A stylish, thigh-high stiletto boot will not be good for long walks. If you are only walking to your car, then to the dinner table with your date, you may not have issues. Be wary of cracks, potholes, and puddles though!

A Chelsea or chukka boot looks great and is suitable for business attire and wearing at the office. Anyone wearing them would not want to attempt a hike in them, however. Built for style, they may even be quite comfortable but are often equipped with thinner walls, skinny soles, and smoother tread.

A hiking boot is perfect for walking all day, however may not be the most waterproof, believe it or not. Many hiking boots are made to withstand a lot of activity, but not all are made to handle harsh elements.

A work boot will be durable and protective, but you would likely be looking forward to taking them off at the end of the day. Often heavy and reinforced, you will be comfortable knowing your feet are well protected. They can be clunky and stiff, although sturdy.

Stylish Boots

Whether they are high-heeled thigh boots for women or flashy chukka or combat boots for men, stylish boots are looking to catch the eye of the beholder more than anything. Style is extremely subjective, so find boots that look cool to you and fit with your outfits.

When you know what style you want, start to look for the quality of the material used to make them as well. Although you may not be wearing them with as much frequency as a work boot, getting a high-quality pair will always get you more life out of your boots.

Water-Resistant Boots

If water resistance is a big factor for your boot, look for a Goodyear welt or something similar. A Goodyear welt is a particular way of securing the sole to the boot. Instead of being glued on like most shoes, or sewn directly together, a Goodyear welt joins solely to boot by stitching another layer of leather or similar material to the boot. This greatly increases water resistance and gives the boot a better ability to be easily resolved when you wear through them.

Leather, Rubber, and Gore-Tex Boots

While many leather boots are water-resistant; this does not mean they are waterproof. there is a difference. Waterproof boots are the only ones you'll want to be wearing if you are going to be in a very wet environment for a long time. Most rubber boots will be waterproof and are why you see most rain boots or galoshes made entirely of a rubber substance.

Many companies have moved to Gore-Tex for waterproofing as well. Gore-Tex is a waterproof textile that can be utilized in many forms, including but not limited to footwear. L.L. Bean's famous two-toned boot with a rubber bottom and leathery top half utilizes Gore-Tex in its product.

With leather boots, look for top-quality leather-like "full-grain". Leather takes time to break in, so it may feel stiff at first. However, high-grade leather will be more durable, will last longer, and age better than other lower-quality leathers. Many boots come treated, but look for oils and waxes that can help keep your leather in good shape with moisture as well as making it water-resistant.

Reinforced Boots

Reinforced boots will be common amongst laborers who need extra protection from elements in their work. There are a lot of different forms of reinforcement. Steel-toed boots are probably something you've heard of before and are as they sound. A metal lining around the inside of the toe cap of the boot provides huge amounts of protection for your foot.

There are also puncture-resistant boots, that are reinforced throughout the sole and sides of the boot to help reduce the possibility of materials piercing the boot. Construction site workers and shop laborers are likely to be interested in something puncture-resistant. You can also find slip-resistant boots that have soles and bottoms designed to give as much grip and as little slip as possible.

Insulated Boots

Insulated boots are exactly as they sound. Geared specifically to help give you extra warmth, insulated boots come with additional layers of material to help give comfort and heat. Sheepskin is sometimes used, as well as thermal fleece, wool, and anything that can be used as extra insulation. The linings may or may not be removable, so double-check that option if it makes a difference for you.

Are the boots a good fit for your body?

How feet affect the rest of the body
Image Source:

Like all footwear, boots should obviously be a good fit on your feet. Additionally, you want to make sure the boot is a good fit for the rest of your body. You may want to look into orthotic inserts if you know you have foot issues and the boots you want are in need of more support. Do the necessary research.

Buy boots true to foot size. Boots are made with the idea in mind that you may wear thicker socks with them, so don't buy boots a half size or full size up from what you normally wear. There should be no foot slip with your boots. Especially in the case of a hiking or work boot, a loose fit will surely mean blisters and much discomfort down the line.

A great article by Dr. Paul Ross from the Podiatry Center talks about how issues with your feet can cause issues in your entire body, from your legs to your back and even shoulders. It is important to address any issues you may have with your feet, as well as avoiding creating issues with your foot and body posture.

Having footwear that fits too tightly or too loosely may change your gait; the way in which you walk. Ingrown toenails are terribly uncomfortable and can cause further infection. Too loose of a fit can cause dragging, flat-footedness and poor flexion of the foot.

High heels have been shown to do damage to your feet, even back, and spine by sending shockwaves through your body. Be careful when selecting those styles and understand how much time you may be spending on them.

Make sure to try boots on and walk around with them before purchase if you are unfamiliar with the brand or style of boot.

How will you be shopping for your boots?

It is extremely important to know how you will be purchasing the boots, especially if you are looking for a new style or brand that you are unfamiliar with. Online shopping is extremely popular lately, with the benefit of being able to do more research in less time than ever before. You are able to see endless amounts of styles, brands, and options online.

There is certainly something to be said for in-store shopping with footwear, however. The ability to be able to walk around and test the boots out before buying them is priceless. Getting the feel for the fit and various features you are looking for is extremely important and not achievable on the internet. You may find the options are much more limited, depending on where you go to the shop.

The best middle-ground option would be to do the shopping online and find a retailer that carries the boots you end up wanting to purchase. Do all the dirty work of weeding out options you don't want while searching online.

Read reviews, watch videos, and do research on functions and brands that interest you. Once you find the perfect boot, figure out where it is sold, so you can go try it on in person before buying.

Worst case scenario, you can order the boot online and have it shipped. I would suggest trying them on in your house for a while and walking around to get a good feel. Don't be afraid to return them to get the right fit or style. Many places won't accept returns if they have been worn outside, so beware not to do so.

Obviously, if you are simply reordering a pair you know you love, online shopping is safe. I would highly recommend visiting a store in person to try on as many options as possible before settling on a boot. It is worth it, especially if you are spending a good chunk of money on your footwear.

How much are you willing to spend on boots?

Within your research, you will find all the things you like and don't like. Naturally, many of the features we like and want will add cost. This is true for just about everything! Boots, cars, houses, food, coffee, you get the picture. If you want waterproof, Gore-Tex boots with extra insulation and premium leather, it could cost $200 pretty easily.

It is important to know what aspects of the purchase will be most important to you so you can effectively choose a price point. Also keep in mind the fact that generally speaking, higher quality items will cost more but also last longer and be more enjoyable across the duration of your ownership. The video below does a great job of explaining why it is a good idea to get good-quality boots.

Regardless of the style, function, and use of your boots, quality matters. Not everyone will be able to afford the most expensive, but most should avoid the cheapest option as well. If there is a pair of boots for $25, you will likely end up regretting that purchase. Many companies work hard to give a good product at a good price point, so don't feel like you have to go with a household name brand either. Get what is best for you. Research, test, and have fun searching!

Enjoying an active lifestyle, focused on family and community. Writing on relevant and helpful topics that most people can relate to.

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