The Best Hiking Boots Of 2014

Its tough to say exactly why hiking is so popular. It could be a primal instinct that propels us into nature, or a romanticized idea of exploration, but we're willing to bet that it has something to do with accessibility, as well.

Much like running, the only thing you really need is a good pair of shoes, some space to roam and the desire to go. While you may not need much equipment for a standard day hike, the gear you do have becomes infinitely more important. If you're planning on actually enjoying your time out in the wild, quality, fitted footwear is the key. [slideshow:935]

Improper, shoddy boots, or even those that just don't fit well essentially guarantee you'll be hurting on your hike. At best, they'll give you blisters and at worst, they'll cause an injury.

The last thing you want to do is go to the nearest sporting goods store and settle on a pair primarily for their looks. This exceptionally poor choice becomes even worse if you're heading out on a long trip. Always, Always break your boots in around the house or on short treks before taking off on a multi-day hiking trip.

A two-week hiking excursion in the Andes is a lot more fun when your feet aren't bleeding. Trust our experience, its not fun healing blisters with a small medical kit and limited down time.

The most important element in choosing the best hiking boot is the fit. We advise trying several boots before buying and spending a few minutes walking around in each pair. As a basic rule, when the boots are laced tight, your heels should not come off the midsole and your toes shouldn't be hitting the front. Heels that move around in the boots will be collecting blisters and toes that are jammed in the front will be painful on treks downhill.

The fit is most important, but there are other factors to consider. As a point of reference, check out our list of the best hiking boots.

See also: The Top 10 Trail Running Shoes of 2014