When you are preparing for a hike the most important item you are going to need is hiking boots. Your ability to enjoy a hike rests heavily on your feet and the comfort and support they are going to require. Gym shoes are not built to handle the rough terrain and rocky paths. You should select a pair of boots that are designed for the type of hiking you are interested in. If you are going to be mostly in hilly areas with established paths you won't need the most heavy duty boot around. You should find a pair that feels comfortable and provides the stability you are going to need.
There are three kinds of hiking boots and each has a specific purpose. Try to decide which of these three works best for your needs. Trail shoes are designed for short hikes (up too one day) on fairly well established paths without much climbing. Trail hikers are designed for longer hikes (multiple day) on steeper paths or muddy/wet terrain. Mountaineering boots are made for intense climbing and mountain navigating. You should decide which of these activities you are interested in an decide on a boot from there.
Once you have decided on a boot make sure to purchase them with plenty of time before you are going to have to wear them in a hiking situation. Boots take time to break in and you will need to allow them to adjust to your feet and to properly wear in the material. If the boots are leather make sure to purchase leather conditioner to use on any tough spots that cause pinching. Take short one to two hour hikes over a few weeks to break in the boots. Make sure your foot is comfortable and snug but you should still be able to wiggle your toes.
Make sure to take purchase socks that are not made of cotton before going on a long hike.
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