If you are not a shoe geek and do not own a small workshop for tailoring somewhere, then it is difficult to understand what language the consultant speaks to you in the store. In order not to get confused in terms, not to get pierced and choose what is really needed, let’s see what the trekking boots consist of.
How Trekking boots differ from Slippers, High boots, High-heeled Shoes or Marathons
1. Fixes a shin. Mountain tourists walk along the trails, climb the passes and peaks, balance on talus. Tucking a foot on difficult terrain is as easy as shelling pears. A hiking boot tightly fits the ankle, eliminates backlash, prevents dislocations and sprains.
2. Protects the foot from dangers on the terrain. To stumble over a tree root on a trail, hit a stone with a toe, cross a river on slippery logs, go on a spree for half a day – this is a common story in a campaign. No city shoes can handle it, and trekking boots are created for this. The protective buffer on the toe protects fingers from bumps, a durable thick sole allows you to not feel every pebble under your feet and holds it tenaciously on wet and slippery terrain.
Now let’s move on to the main thing – the components of the boot and the technologies that help survive in harsh conditions.
Sole: Foot as a Fulcrum
Before World War II, the sole was made of leather or felt( textile material), laid in several layers, knocked out with metal elements or inserted nails into it. Such outlines did not last long. They got wet, made their way with sharp stones, exfoliated, often because of them, travelers injured their legs.
Pain and frustration followed tourists on the heels until Vitale Bramani, the founder of Vibram, made a revolution in outdoor. The invention of rubber outlines can be conditionally compared with the flight of Yuri Gagarin into space. Both events changed the world.
In the late 50s, climbers in boots with Vibram soles climbed to the top of K2.
More than half a century passed, the sole design was complicated, and now it looks like a sandwich. Each major brand offers its own filling.
Let’s analyze the main elements of the boot.
Outsole of Trekking Boots
It takes the entire burden of responsibility and is responsible for contact with the surface. Outlines should be wear-resistant so as not to fall apart on the route, sticky and tenacious, to hold on a rock, and able to bite into soft soil.
The outlines are made of vulcanized rubber with the addition of other materials in different proportions. These mixtures are called compounds.
Vibram engineers are constantly experimenting with formulations and add glass chips and metal shavings to them.
The most popular compound for trekking boots is Megagrip. It is versatile and holds well on wet surfaces. The tread pattern helps them in this – a specially selected arrangement of channels and recesses for stability and adhesion.
Vibram produces more than 150 varieties of the outsole for different types of surfaces and the purpose of shoes. Every year, 35 thousand soles leave the assembly line of the company’s factories.
Midsole of Trekking Boots
There are two types of midsole: cast and cut.
As the name implies, it is solid. It is believed that such a midsole is stronger and more durable. It is used in boots for regions with harsh conditions: where you can run into dragon glass, there are sharp volcanic rocks, or you have to walk a lot on talus.
You need to be prepared for the fact that shoes with molten soles will seriously add weight to an already difficult route.
The cut one is much lighter, softer and consists of several horizontal layers. For depreciation, manufacturers use ethylene vinyl acetate, commonly known as EVA, in the heel of the composite sole.
But recently, major brands have refused to use this material in favor of polyurethane. It is more wear-resistant, more reliable, does not crumble on an aggressive terrain, but is inferior to EVA in flexibility.
Or a chassis for stabilization. This is a plastic plate that gives extra rigidity.
Responsible for comfort and support. Due to the fact that the foot of each person is individual, and it is not profitable to produce such a variety of insole in series, the insole shape is unified and adjusted to the width of the block.
This is a removable part of the boot, so the uncomfortable insole is easy to replace with a ready-made orthopedic or customized one made by individual standards. Sidas company produces anatomical, it also offers thermoformable.
This is not an element, not material and not technology, but a wooden base – a blank on which the boot is shaped.
With the right shoe, the foot does not hang inside, eliminating the risk of rubbing the foot in the lifting zone, heel and fingers.
There are three main forms: narrow – for narrow feet, classic – suitable for most walkers, and wide – for feet wider than average. But there are specialized instances. For example, Bunion. Did not hear? Congratulations, that means you have avoided the problems that cause bursitis of the thumb – the “bone” in the common people.
For those unlucky, Hanwag produces a boot with an extra volume in the right place. Experienced tourists already know which blocks the brands specialize in, so they don’t waste time reviewing the entire range. Hint: Zamberlan often makes narrow models, Scarpa – medium, and Bestard – extra wide.
External Material: Leather
The top of the boot is made of two types of materials: genuine leather and synthetic fabrics.
Traditionally, the skin of yaks or cows is used in shoes for medium or heavy trekking. Due to the porous structure, it does not leak moisture. It also stretches and adapts to the shape of the leg. There are also disadvantages: heavy trekking boot loses its properties when it gets wet, and dries for a long time.
Synthetics are much lighter, they breathe perfectly and demonstrate good vapor permeability indicators – removing moisture from the inside. Therefore, boots for hiking, trekking in hot regions are sewn from it or combined with leather to combine the best qualities of materials.
Our spaceships have already stopped plowing the vastness of the universe, and the best shoes, like 50 years ago, continue to be sewn from leather. Only now they use different dressing, impregnation and adjust the thickness of the layer.
In good trekking boots, it should be more than 1.6 mm. Anything thinner will not stand the test of moisture, low temperatures and abrasive.
Full-grain leather is the purest material and the most expensive. High-quality raw materials are not scraped, polished or impregnated with chemical compounds. On such skin, you can notice pores or grain – a kind of quality mark. They have high indicators of wear resistance. These Shoes go on for ages.
This is where the fantasy of shoe designers played out. They use everything that can improve the performance of their boots. Materials are often taken from high-tech industries. They are updated quickly, so keeping track of high-tech updates is difficult. Composite SuperFabric from specially bonded microplates applied to the fabric protects against cuts and the finest punctures. They increase tear-resistance and help the material to remain unchanged at any temperature and in any environment.
Interior of Trekking Boots
Beyond the borders of civilization, a tourist falls into a hostile environment. If the boot has high-quality padding, then neither long transitions along a difficult terrain nor weather will spoil the mood and impressions of the route.
The interior uses synthetic materials. They are resistant to abrasion and remove moisture well.
Inserted in the lower leg area to fix the leg and prevent dislocations and sprains. Each manufacturer has its own version of support pillows. Most often these are foam inserts, which, under the influence of body heat and pressure, take the form of your foot.
Foam is laid over the entire inner surface of the boot, adapts to the anatomical structure and eliminates the risk of rubbing in problem areas. Arcteryx chose the other path. Designers use a separate inner boot on some models, as in high-altitude or ski shoes. It generally eliminates any contact with the legs with the hard part, it is easy to dry in the sleeping bag.
If you see the abbreviation GTX or the Gore-Tex nameplate on the boot in the model name, this means that there is a membrane inside – Teflon stretched to the state of a translucent film. It does not allow water to pass between the fibers, but it also perfectly removes the vapor molecules generated from the heat of the foot.
The leader in membrane manufacturing is Gore. In fact, she is a monopolist. Yes, there are other brands on the market, and many shoemakers use their own variations, but Gore’s reputation and quality are unshakable. In boots for heavy trekking and climbing, only materials from this company are used.
The thickness of the “clean” membrane is only 0.01 mm. To protect against damage, it is placed between the top material and the lining. It turns out a multilayer design. The capabilities of the material depend on the number of layers.
Four types of membranes are used in shoe manufacturing:
1. Gore-Tex Extended Comfort. Very light and thin pie with a minimum of layers, the membrane is connected directly to the breathable lining. It is used in boots for short trips in the warm season.
2. Gore-Tex Performance Comfort. There is an additional protective layer on the inside of the membrane. Designed for intense loads in wet conditions.
3. Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort. Insulation layer added, suitable for use in cold areas with high rainfall. Found in urban shoes, boots for mountaineering, ice climbing and ski tourism.
4. Gore-Tex Surround. The white crow among the brothers. This is a membrane stocking with a sewn-in absorbent porous insole. It is placed in the inside of the sole. It absorbs excess moisture and removes it from the side air vents. Suitable for intense physical exertion in warm climates. Actively uses technology in Alfa company.
Know more about choosing hiking shoes.