Footwear designed for off-trail hiking must provide lateral support for the ankle without restricting movement, have water resistant qualities, protect from brush and fit a man's, woman's or kids' foot shape. The best boots are made from material such as leather or Nylon. The weight is important when walking long durations or distances, but medium or heavy is needed for thick brush or rocky off trail terrain. Regardless of the weight or material, the hiking boot's main strengths lie in traveling across uneven terrain and through underbrush providing protection and support to the ankles. These qualities are markedly different from the mountaineering boot, which is made for ascending mountains and enduring harsh high altitude conditions; or the trekking shoe, which is made for flat and level defined paths. For backcountry and off trail adventures, hiking boots provides the attributes and advantages over other types of boots.
Waterproof vs Water Resistant
To prevent moisture buildup, hiking boots need to breathe, allowing vapor to exit, but keeping water out. Both breathability and waterproofing can be achieved by using a special Gore-Tex lining that allows molecule-size water vapor to move through the material. Additional treatment is usually needed to make them fully waterproof. Additional waterproofing can be achieved by adding a protective coating to the surface. Nikwax Waterproofing has many products for enhancing the waterproof or water resistance qualities of a boot. Apply the treatment to improve the material's ability to repel water while keeping hiking boots breathable. There are a range of applications and products, from restoring the factory coating, to improving the interior liner's water tightness.
Synthetic material will break in faster than leather, however, some synthetics are not as durable. Both men's and women's hiking boots are available in synthetic or leather. There are some characteristics that vary slightly with gender. Lightweight hiking boots excel on short day, or backpacking hikes. The weight is reduced through the use of nylon. So if you are looking for less weight, the best option is to get synthetic. However, the weight does not determine the quality. While its true, the lighter the boot, the easier your level of effort will be, in some cases the lighter version is less durable. Medium weight hiking boots provide better support than lightweight, and can take the heavy use and abrasion better.