Why should walking boots have ridges? The simple answer is, walking boots should have ridges to make it easier for the walker to keep his or her footing on the muddy or slippery ground. Ridges provide grip and improved contact with uneven, muddy, snowy, wet or icy surfaces – any of which the keen walker is likely to encounter at some time during the year. But before you rush out and buy boots with soles which look rather like cross country tires, ask yourself what kind of walking you’ll usually be doing.
If you are generally going to be walking on well maintained, well-travelled footpaths, or even on roads with just the occasional diversion across fields, then you are probably better off selecting a light boot or even a walking shoe or sandal. These have the advantage of being lighter in weight, of course, and more flexible, bending with your foot as you walk. They also tend to be cooler if you’re walking in hot weather. Lighter weight boots make a difference if you’re walking long trails; at the end of the day, your feet can feel like lead if you’ve chosen footwear that’s too heavy for the task at hand – or foot!
All ridged boots are not created equal, and the rule that the more you pay, the better the boot, does of course apply. Cheap boots with heavily ridged soles will tend to be inflexible and heavy. Now, there is a definite case to be made for stiffer boots if you plan to be walking over uneven ground, tackling scree slopes or rock scrambling during your walk. The stiff ridged sole not only aids your grip underfoot, but it acts as a support, especially when combined with a high over-the-ankle cut. But you should prioritise good footwear over just about anything else when you’re walking; foot comfort and stability is absolutely key to the success of your walk, especially if you are walking long distances.
Boot ridges, generally called lugs, really can’t be deep enough if you’re planning to hit those challenging trails. Rather than simple straight ridges, lugs are designed with complex shapes to resist clogging and throw off clinging mud as your foot flexes. Well, that’s the theory, but of course, when you are up to your ankles in liquid mud, you might feel that your boots aren’t helping a great deal. However, if you were wearing a light duty slick sole, you’d undoubtedly be less safe and have considerably more of a struggle.
Look for deep lugs, with a design which will enable your foot to flex comfortably. Some boots these days are designed with a “hoof” profile, splitting the back of the sole of the boot along the lateral line, and these have received good reports from users.
It goes without saying that even the fanciest ridged boot sole is useless if you don’t give your boots a good clean at the end of the day. In very muddy conditions, clean out the mud from the ridges when you stop for a rest break. After extended use, check your boot soles for wear and tear. Having good ridged boot soles is like having good tires on your vehicle – a safety precaution which shouldn’t be neglected.
Also read: Are Walking Boots Or Shoes Better?