Choosing the right footwear is very important. Your feet have to take you in and take you out so look after them. Buy boots that are comfortable, durable and meet your hiking requirements. Look for leather uppers that are well-cushioned around the ankles. The toe and heel should be hard and the tongue sewn into the upper to keep out dirt and water. The sole should be rubber with a good tread.
Different types of boots: Lightweight boots are suitable for day hiking and short overnight trips. Midweight boots are suitable for light to moderate loads over an easy to moderate terrain. Extended backpacking or mountaineering boots offer the best in durability and support. They are suitable for moderate to heavy backpacking loads over a rough terrain. Some are stiff enough to attach crampons.
Test for fit: Fit is critical. Take your own hiking socks along. The boots should feel snug around the ball and instep of your foot with lots of room to wiggle around. Your toes should never touch the end of the boot. Boots do stretch, however, this will not turn a poor fit into a good one!
Breaking in: Break your boots in slowly. Wear your boots for short periods of time inside the house. If you notice significant pinching, rubbing or pain, take them back to the store and exchange them for a different style. Slowly increase the amount of time you wear your boots until the leather has moulded to your feet.
Basic boot care: Keep your boots clean by brushing off dirt and mud between hikes. Most boots can be washed on the outside with mild soap and water. If your boots get drenched, stuff loosely with news paper and dry in a warm place (never dry next to a fire or in direct sunlight). Leather boots should be conditioned periodically.
Waterproofing: There is a selection of waterproofing products. Different types of fabrics will require different solutions so check to make sure you purchase the correct one. Before waterproofing, make sure your boots are clean and concentrate on seams which, over time, will leak.