A hiker’s feet are probably one of their most important body parts. Trust me, I know. Try hiking 5 miles or more over rough terrain with blisters and ill-fitting or incorrect boots.
It’s essential to really consider what’s the best kind of boots for hiking, backpacking, or trekking. It requires more than just a glance at what’s “pretty,” a quick try-on, and a swipe of your card at the outdoor shop.
There are different kinds of shoes you can go hiking with, and you may wonder about hiking boots vs combat boots. Which boot you choose ultimately depends on where you go hiking, the flexibility you need, how long you hike for, the durability of the boots, and what kind of foot support and protection you need.
Learn how to choose between hiking boots or combat boots so you can hike comfortably and not worry about foot protection on the trails.
A Definition of Hiking Boots and Combat Boots
When I think of going hiking and what “shoes” to wear, my mind automatically thinks of hiking boots. The name kind of says it all, right? Hiking boots: boots that are made for hiking.
Hiking boots look rugged, which is ideal for the outdoors where you reap tons of mental and health benefits. These boots are made to provide balance, stability, and grip, whether you are walking on a footpath or an uneven trail.
Traditional hiking boots are sturdy because of their thick soles. This sturdiness helps prevent ankle injuries like twisting or spraining your ankle (and if you’re like me, you need all the support here you can get), especially when the terrain is quite rough.
You also need traction on uneven surfaces so you don’t slip and fall. Not all hiking boots provide the same amount of traction, so this is something you need to check when you try out the boots.
Since these split-grain leather, suede, or nylon boots are made to protect your feet, the soles and boot material is usually weather-resistant. If you know you’re going hiking in areas where it rains a lot, where it snows, or where there’s mud, ensure the hiking boots offer adequate protection.
On the other hand, combat boots, also called tactical boots, military boots, army boots, or military combat boots are traditionally worn by military personnel, especially during combat, training, patrol, and other related duties.
These days, civilians wear combat boots for technical hiking, hiking over rugged terrains, or when more foot protection is needed than what hiking boots offer. Combat boots come in various designs depending on where you are traveling: desert boots, cold weather boots, jungle boots, and so on.
Combat boots are generally made from polyurethane or ethylene-vinyl acetate. Both of these materials are durable, waterproof, and shock-absorbent.
The rubber or Vibram soles are durable, lightweight, and provide excellent grip. The heel zone improves traction, which helps you slow down on a too-fast descent, thus making it much safer.
Hiking Boots Pros and Cons
Pros of Hiking Boots
Cons of Hiking Boots
Combat Boots Pros and Cons
Pros of Combat Boots
Cons of Combat Boots
To Sum Up the Pros and Cons…
Still not sure if hiking boots vs combat boots are right for you? Check out the infographic below where we’ve summarized the hiking boots pros and cons and the combat boots pros and cons to make things easy for you.
How to Decide Between Hiking Boots and Combat Boots
Since we’ve gone over the basics between hiking boots vs combat boots, you are better able to decide which type of boots are best for what kind of situation.
The type of boots you choose for your outdoor activity, because it isn’t restricted to hiking only, depends on various factors like how flexible the boots should be, the kind of grip and traction you need, comfort, balance, and stability.
All of these factors relate to the terrain: the rougher the terrain, the better traction, grip, support, stability, and durability you need.
Also consider the weather. Hiking boots or combat boots are not easy to dry if they get wet, whether from melted snow, rain, or because you slipped and fell into a river or stream. Plus, wet boots equal wet socks, which means your feet will be cold and uncomfortable, and you’ll get blisters that much faster because of the friction of wet socks rubbing on your wet and cold skin.
How long you go hiking or on your activity is another consideration. Hikers that do a multi-month hike through the Appalachian Trail, for example, care a lot about how much weight they carry, so their gear needs to be as lightweight as possible. However, if you go hiking for a half day or a few days (or even longer), and the terrain is very challenging, then combat boots will serve you better.
Wear hiking boots if:
Wear combat boots for hiking if:
Final Thoughts on Hiking Boots vs Combat Boots
Combat boots aren’t just for those with buzz cuts, big builds, and tough personalities. You can use combat boots for recreational activities, but it’s essential to choose the right kind of gear for the kind of outdoor activity you are participating in.
Choosing between hiking boots vs combat boots is pretty easy if you know where you are going, what the terrain is like, for how long you’ll be away, and what kind of grip, traction, stability, support, and protection you need for your feet.
Hiking boots are ideal if your main considerations are comfort, your budget, time to break boots in, and style.
In contrast, combat boots are your go-to if you need to take extreme weather, really challenging terrain for superior foot protection, and a heavy-carry load into account.
If you know hiking boots are right for you, why not check out these popular hiking boot options that are under $50?