Why Are Hiking Boots So Ugly?

Why Are Hiking Boots So Ugly?

If you’re someone in the market for a new pair or hiking boots, you could be forgiven for wondering why so many don’t exactly look the most fashionable.

While there are some boots that manage to look somewhat aesthetic, in a utilitarian sense, the truth is that most hiking boots simply don’t look very appealing, and some look downright ugly.

There are many reasons why this could be the case, and in this guide we’re going to look at these reasons and why hiking boots just aren’t that cool.

Function Over Fashion

The truth is that hiking boots are designed to deliver a very specific type of performance, one that most everyday shoes simply don’t have to worry about providing.

Hiking boots are made primarily for comfort, durability and support, and these things seldom go hand in hand with the sensibilities of most fashion designers and trendsetters.

But much like how you’d never wear dress shoes while out  on a camping trip, wearing hiking boots is usually done in an environment where fashion isn’t a primary, or even secondary concern.

There are many features that hiking boots come with that are difficult to make fashionable.

Thick clumpy soles with aggressive tread patterns will almost always be too utilitarian to be considered fashionable, but they are essential for maintaining grip and traction in challenging terrain and difficult conditions. 

There is also the fact that hiking boots need to provide a lot of support both to the ankle and the arches of the feet and so often come with a small heel as well as a rigid ankle brace that will help keep you safe when navigating very difficult terrain.

It’s difficult to make these kinds of specialist and essential safety features something that looks good, because the design has to focus on making sure they provide maximum protection and comfort, taking any thoughts about aesthetics as more of an afterthought.

There are other things too, like exposed eyelets for easy lacing and securing the boot, as well as heavy duty laces that can stand up to the punishment of difficult weather and heavy usage.

Insulation and waterproofing also conspire to make boots look bulky and boxy, and the materials, whether it be Gore-Tex, suede or leather rarely combine in a way that makes appearance a priority.

It’s all about keeping the hiker’s foot dry and warm in wet weather, and allowing for some moisture wicking to help prevent issues such as blisters and chafing.

There are some boots you can find that limit or mitigate some of these issues, and depending on your personal preference there are some boots which are much easier on the eye than others.

Many of these boots use a range of features from low profile soles, to unique cuts on the boot opening and hidden eyelets to a more low profile tread pattern and a more carefully chosen color profile.

These types of boots will often come at a premium however, and whether it’s a colorful mountain boot or a classic leather hiker, the inherent design of the hiking boot will always make it something more suitable for the countryside than the catwalk!

No matter how you slice it, hiking boots are made to last, not to make you look chique!

There are some other things to consider however, to help you deal with the issue of unsightly walking boots.

Prioritize

First and foremost, you need to consider changing your mindset, and realise that sometimes it’s better to be safe than… sexy.

This is particularly true when there’s a chance you could break your ankle or get frostbite or any number of things that a good hiking boot can help prevent.

When you’re out hiking good equipment will go a long way to keeping you safe, and sometimes getting your priorities in order and reevaluating your need to always look Instagram ready can be a needless and frankly quite absurd obsession and stress to constantly have to consider and deal with.

Focus on enjoying the fact that hiking boots will take you to beautiful places and help you to experience things that are worth not always looking the most fashionable.

There’s something incredibly liberating about casting off trends and trying to keep up with the ever changing world of fashion and aesthetics and developing your own image, one that’s true to your interests and personality.

Own it!

Another important thing to consider here is that you can never guess what will be deemed fashionable at any time, and judging by some of the shoes that are popular on the high street today, it seems possible that hiking boots could just be the next big thing anyway!

The rise of athleisure as a fashion trend shows that you can never account for the whims of the market and trendsetters, and it’s better to own your ugly hiking boots and wear them with pride and aplomb than to be insecure about them.

Who knows, you may just find yourself starting a brand new trend yourself, as confidence is the most important thing of all!

Final Thoughts

While hiking boots are absolutely great at what they do, it’s no secret that they are mostly a very unsightly style of footwear and this is pretty much an immovable fact of their design and purpose.

While it is possible to find lower profile boots or expensive options that provide a wider and more carefully curated profile, tread and color pattern, the truth is that any boot that keeps your feet safe and your ankles secure during a hike is a boot that’s worth it, regardless of how goofy it may look!

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