Can You Hike In Dr Martens (Going For A Walk in Docs!)

If you know anything about hiking then you will know how important it is to find a reliable pair of shoes for your adventure. Wearing anything that isn’t designed perfectly for this activity can see you  in pain or unable to walk over the challenging terrain you’re sure to come across. 

When you think of hiking boots, you’ll imagine a heavy, solid pair of boots with excellent grip and a robust design. Not all that dissimilar to your trusty old pair of Dr Martens. These boots were originally made to be a work boot but they have been at the height of fashion for decades and you can wear them with everything from a pair of ripped jeans to a summer dress. 

Since they’re so versatile, and strong, wouldn’t it make sense to pop on a pair when you’re hitting the hiking trails? Well, yes, if you want to although they probably won’t provide you with the comfort you are looking for. These boots are not designed for hiking and while they might be OK for a casual weekend stroll, they probably wouldn’t be the best choice for serious hikers.

Getting To Know Dr Martens

Dr Martens were invented in 1947 as a type of work boot and are known for their reliability, strength and suitability in a demanding workplace. They were primarily used in a variety of different industries and were praised for their comfort when compared to other work boots.

One of the key features of the Dr Marten boot was their robust sole that could not be punctured as was slip resistant. These were super important things in a demanding working environment but the great thing was that these practical features were also coupled with comfort. This comfort came in the form of a cushioned sole and a soft leather upper that didn’t compromise on durability. All of these from a shock absorbent shoe with a steel toe cap was quite the innovation.

It took some time from the initial invention of the boots in post war Germany before they were widely available on the marker. But in the 1960s you were readily able to pick up a pair of DMs and many working class folk went crazy for these boots. Shortly down the line thanks to the punk culture and social revolutions of the 60s and 70s, Dr Martens became the footwear of choice for many people trying to make a fashion statement. 

Still to this day, they’re high on the wish lists of many style conscious individuals so it’s no surprise that a lot of people would double them up to use as a hiking boot. The boots are considered to  be one of the most well made on the planet and while their features are excellent for working environments, they might not be as adept for hiking.

What Does A Good Hiking Boot Need?

When you’re shopping for hiking boots, it is incredibly important to choose boots that offer features that are suitable for this outdoor activity. Hiking can be somewhat challenging at the best of times so you need shoes that are going to bring a balance between stability, support and comfort. 

Primarily, you will need boots that have a very solid sole with superior traction as this will ensure good grip on all types of terrain and will absorb shock. Moreover, you will need to look for hiking boots that have a firm yet comfortable midsole as this will provide that balance between comfort and support. 

Since hiking often takes place in a wet environment, your hiking boots will need to be waterproof and more often than not, they will be. Moreover, a good pair of hiking boots will feature a breathable vent to prevent the feet from sweating and rubbing on the inside of the boot. 

Finally, hiking boots are designed to withstand the tests and trials of the hiking trail and are incredibly durable. 

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Hiking In Dr Martens?

When deciding whether to wear your Dr Martens when hitting the hiking trails, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons. While Dr Martens aren’t ideally designed for hiking, there are a few plus points that might make them suitable for a more leisurely hike. Let’s take a look at some of these. 

The Pros

They’re Nice Looking

There’s no denying that these utility boots are pretty easy on the eye. They are the perfect blend between style and functionality and they can certainly turn up the personality of any outfit. The appearance of these boots is incredibly unique and you can instantly tell the brand which also demonstrates that you have a love for quality.

While the boots used to come in a pretty uniform colour, there are now several styles on the market including plenty of limited edition designs. If you’re someone who is very style conscious, wearing these boots for a hike is a great way to stay looking on trend. 

My Docs

Durability

Dr Martens are designed to be durable. They’re made from high quality materials that are meant to stand up to the challenges of the workplace. What’s great about having such a durable upper is that this will also protect the feet from the cold so they make a great choice for winter hikes. That said, if you’re too rough with these boots, then they will wear far more easily than a traditional hiking boot. 

Your Feet Aren’t Restricted

One of the things that puts a lot of people off wearing hiking boots is that they aren’t very flexible and they stop you from being able to move your foot independently of the shoe. Now, in some situations, this is a good thing as it gives the feet added protection but when you’re on a long hike, you don’t want the feet to feel restricted and that’s where you Dr Martens are at an advantage. 

The flexible upper is soft and comfortable around the feet allowing for much greater freedom of movement. This is coupled with a thinner sole and heel which further allows you to move the foot easily and without restriction.

They’re Relatively Protective.

While they might not offer the same level of protection as a pair of hiking boots, Dr Martens do have enough durability, weight and strong construction to make them suitable for lighter hikes.

The Cons

Now, we have reiterated time and again over the course of this article that Dr Martens are not the best choice for hiking. Below you will find some of the reasons we believe this.

They’re Very light

Many would agree that a pair of lightweight boots are good for hiking as your feet won’t feel weighed down. While there is some truth in this, Dr Martens’ lightness means that the upper can be easily damaged in the event of a fall or impact. It’s durable enough to withstand long periods of wear but that’s where that advantage ends. 

Sizing Problems

When choosing to hike in Dr Martens, you may not get adequate foot protection simply because of the sizing. These shoes are known to come in a limited range of sizes and when you’re hiking, it’s no good settling to even half a size too big or small as this can lead to pain, discomfort, chafing, blisters…need we go on?

Problems With Breaking In

Anyone who knows anything about hiking boots will tell you that they need to be broken in before you can use them for a long hike. The same is true of Dr Martens although the breaking in process is known to be much much longer! This means that you are more prone to feeling discomfort especially around the ankles owing to the higher top which can cause pain and even blisters. 

No Traction

Hiking boots are designed to be used on a wide variety of terrains but this is not true of Dr Martens and so naturally, they aren’t equipped with the same degree of traction. This means that you won’t get a good grip on the ground and this puts you at risk of slipping and falling down.

If You’re Going To Hike In Dr Martens, Follow These Tips

If we haven’t managed to talk you out of wearing your trusty Dr Martens on your next hike then we would like to give you a few tips to make the most out of the shoes. 

For starters, you will need to make sure that you choose a pair of DMs that fit you perfectly and don’t go anywhere until they are properly broken; you will thank us later! Moreover, it can be helpful to wear longer socks that come over the top of the ankle so that the boots do not rub your skin in this area. Many people would also opt to wear a couple of pairs of socks for added protection against chafing and blisters. 

Finally, since Dr Martens are not waterproof, we would recommend treating your boots with a waterproofing product so that you can hike wherever you please without getting wet feet!

Conclusion

If you can’t bear to part with your beloved Dr Martens or want a change from your regular hiking boots then you may have wondered if they’d be suitable for hitting the trails. While Dr Martens may be OK for shorter, less intense hikes, you’ll find that they won’t be quite as comfortable, durable or supportive on serious hikes so we would always suggest opting for your dedicated hiking boots.

MY FAVOURITE WALKING BOOTS

 

My choice from Regatta is the Edgepoint hiking boot, for both men and women.

A good choice if you want to avoid suede and leather (even on trims). However, we’ve heard from a disappointed reader who found these weren’t as waterproof as she’d hoped. Regatta say they’re water repellent.

A super boot for the price, with good grips and support. They weigh less than 400g too. You might want to go up half a size to accommodate socks or an insole.

Masses of other styles to choose from and often some bargains to be had.

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