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Why The Hiking Boot Top 10 Lists DON’T Matter

Why The Hiking Boot Top 10 Lists DON’T Matter

I’m a top 10 list junkie. If there’s a list reviewing gear I. Am. On. It. So when I got my first pair of hiking boots back in 2017 I made sure that they were sitting on more than one of those lists because gear is expensive and I wanted to do it right, ya know?

I got myself a mid height pair of keens at my local EMS and felt like I had totally lucked out because they were on sale. I felt so confident in my purchase because they had gotten so many good reviews how could they be anything but perfect!?  

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So, I bought my boots and took them for a spin on a mountain near my house with a boy I was trying to impress at the time. We did a 3.7 mile hike with 2,260 ft of elevation gain, nbd. The trek up was a breeze. I felt like a total badass in my new boots, and I was way more sure footed than I had felt before, but on the way down I noticed what I didn’t realize at the time was going to be a persistent problem.  

Basically, I found that every time I took a forceful step down my toes were ramming into the toe box of my shoes. At first I wrote it off as something that just happened, like this was standard for any descent. It was just one of those things I was going to have to deal with. And as someone who was mostly only doing day hikes this was fine. I was still rolling my ankles way less then when I was hiking in my running shoes, so in my mind the shoes were a success.

Fast forward a year to my first overnight backpacking adventure and things were NOT going well. We covered 12 miles of terrain in the first day and my toes were dying, it felt like the nails were going to fall off, and my right hip was freaking out on me in a way that can only be described as what a 72 year old man pre hip replacement feels when he gets up in the morning.

I had to face a harsh reality. I needed to admit that despite the fact that they were rocking great reviews, the shoes I thought I was investing in just weren’t right for me. The top 10 lists had let me down. I had spent all this money on boots that were supposed to be lapping the others only to be let down.

But here’s the thing. The keens are GREAT hiking boots. They’re just not great boots for ME!

A trip to REI, a lot of trial and errors, and a hit to my bank account later and I had boots that fit me perfectly! I went in for a pair of boots that my friend had recommended thinking they were going to be my golden ticket only to have my heel lift out of them with every step I took.

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Once I submitted to the fact that not all boots are equal when it comes to every individual and I left with the best possible boots for my feet! Since then I haven’t had any issues with my feet hurting while hiking.

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So why did I write a whole article about hiking boots and top 10 lists? Because here’s my takeaway that hopefully you can learn from: Top 10 lists can have a lot of value when it comes to choosing items that don’t have to conform to your body. But, when getting your first pair of hiking boots (or ANY pair of hiking boot) forgo the top 10 lists and instead talk to a real life person who’s trained in helping you find the best gear for you! Trust me on this one you’ll save a toenails and money in the long run.

Question: What’s one Item that you wish you had tested out before you bought it?

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