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Staff Q&A: How to choose the right walking boots for your needs

Words by Taunton Leisure

on 15/10/2020 12:23:34

DSC_3793 Stuart Holland, Assistant Manager and Rachel Wicks, Senior Sales person at Taunton Leisure – Exeter

Staff Q&A: How to choose the right walking boots

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 down right 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, will 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.

Safe Bootfit PPE

Our footwear screens in store in combination with PPE worn by all staff allow us to continue giving our full footwear fitting service safely.

To help answer some of  our frequently asked questions about choosing the right boots, we’ve spoken with Stu (left in the top image) from the Exeter shop who can be found at the Exeter Store and 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 some alpine climbs or want to go winter climbing in Scotland. All these require a "walking boot" but each a different type.

3. Is there one perfect boot for everyone?

No not everyone will find their perfect boot of 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 reduce 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 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 regular, 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. What steps have been taken in-store to keep customers and staff safe during the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Along with wearing facemasks and providing lots of hand sanitiser we also have set a limit of the number of people trying on footwear at any one time to make sure that customers and staff have enough room to socially distance. We also have a full height Perspex screen in place allowing us to measure and asses your feet while making sure we are all relatively safe.

8. 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 its 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.


Did you know we offer a footwear fit guarantee? For more information, take a look HERE.

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Answering our questions today was Stu, assistant manager of the Exeter Shop. As well as several other treks in Scotland, Stu has also been backpacking in New Zealand and twice taken part in the Hilleberg Outdoor academy in Sweden. He is often out wild camping with his German Short-haired Pointer, Hunter by his side.

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