We ask one of our expert boot fitters some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to choosing the correct pair of walking footwear for your feet and where you’re going.
Choosing the correct footwear can be challenging. It can be very confusing choosing between all the different makes and models. When you add on key features to different models and phrases such as A-forme last, Sympatex lining, and Nubuck leather it can be downright disorientating, especially if you’re new to the world of outdoor gear. Where do you begin? What boot is right for you? Will it perform properly for everything you need it to?
We aim to make this process as easy as possible, which is why we offer our renowned footwear fitting service across all our stores in Taunton, Exeter and Bristol. Our experienced, knowledgeable staff will properly measure your feet, talk to you about your intended activities, and help you choose a suitable selection for you to try. You are also free to try any you like the look of to quench your curiosity.
To help answer some of our frequently asked questions about choosing the right boots, we’ve spoken with Stu (left in the top image) originally from the Exeter shop, now a buyer with us is one of our most experienced footwear fitters and has taught many new staff through the years about everything footwear.
1. Who are you and what is your role at Taunton Leisure?
Stu the Exeter shop Assistant Manager I’ve been fitting boots with the company for over 12 years now.
2. What is the first question somebody should ask themselves when searching for a new boot and why?
What type of walking is it that they plan on doing. Dog walking, country rambles, maybe hill and fell walking, or are they going trekking in the mountains? It could be they plan on going scrambling and doing some alpine climbs or want to go winter climbing in Scotland. All these require a “walking boot” but each is a different type.
3. Is there one perfect boot for everyone?
No not everyone will find their perfect boot off the shelf, some people might, but what we can offer is the perfect fit. So we can take a boot that is close to being perfect and make some fit adjustments to make it perfect for you, with a combination of insoles, volume reducers, and tongue depressors, we can show you different lacing techniques and even stretch the boot or adapt the heel cup for that elusive perfect fit.
4. What sort of boot would you recommend for UK hillwalking?
I recommend a stiff 3-season leather boot for most UK hillwalking, the leather will make the boot more water-resistant and robust, a stiff sole will protect your feet from rough ground, giving you better support and also reducing the flexing of the leather meaning it will not crack as quickly.
5. Do new boots need breaking in?
Yes and No, a lot of the boots are now made with more supple and lighter uppers, which should fit well straight from the box, however, some of the heavier leather models will certainly feel better after a few walks. From my experience, all footwear feels better after a couple of months of use. So while the boots should feel great when new the fit will only improve with use.
6. Which products would you recommend for looking after new boots?
Always keep your boots cleaned and proofed. Grangers make an excellent footwear cleaning spray, which works amazing at removing muck and old dead wax. We have a range of waxes for leather and sprays for fabric boots. They are all good if used regularly, just make sure you get the right stuff for your boots. As a rule, try to reproof your uppers every 5th walk or more often if you are out in bad weather.
7. Finally, just out of curiosity, what’s your favourite piece of footwear in the range and why?
My favourite piece of footwear is probably the Altberg Tethera, this classic 3-season hillwalking boot is made with a one-piece leather upper, giving it excellent durability and water resistance and a nice stiff Vibram sole for support and protection. It is a boot made to last a long time, and we stock it in 3-width fittings and half sizes which means its works well for a lot of different feet.
Answering our questions today was Stu, former manager of the Exeter Shop and now a buyer with us. As well as treks in Scotland, Stu has also been backpacking in New Zealand and twice taken part in the Hilleberg Outdoor Academy in Sweden. Living on the border of Dartmoor National Park, he is spoilt for choice when it comes to luscious walks and proper stomps. He is often out wild camping with his German Short-haired Pointer, Hunter by his side.