Whether we go out for a day out in the hills or a long weekend away hiking trip, what is needed is functional, comfortable, and reliable footwear.
So, what things do we need to look out for in a good pair of shoes/walking/hiking boots?
The most important aspect in any footwear whatever is a good fit. Without this bad fitting footwear can destroy your total walking/hiking trip, typically through heat burns (blisters) which can be really debilitating!
A well fitted pair of boots/shoes should offer a range of features including comfort, protection, support, shock absorption, durability, breathability, waterproof.
What you choose will ultimately depend on what ground you may intend to be walking on, whether it is very simple local trails or rugged mountainous terrain, the correct selection of footwear will make a world of difference.
Trail shoes are lightweight and mostly used for fast hiking or trail running in the hills, they mostly have a breathable mesh upper made of heavy nylon and most have a reinforced toe/heel cap. Most have a foam midsole which absorbs impact and are water resistant. NB: Given these offer no ankle support they should not be used with a heavy backpack.
Approach shoes are used in rocky areas or in scrambling and rock climbing. They are also good in long distance flat hiking; they have a good rubber sole and a rubber rand round the shoe most are waterproof/ water resistant. These are best used on firmer normal ground rather than rough terrain as they offer no ankle support
Hiking boots give you more support having a high ankle cuff, they have thick sole which helps in all kinds of conditions but also for giving stability when carrying a heavy backpack. Most have a toe/heel guard and are waterproof and insulated. There are mainly made of leather, these generally offer better levels of support and protection over rough terrain.
Mountaineering boots are made for harsh high winter conditions, they are for technical climbing and made to support the use of crampons. they have a high neck and are insulated, and some come with an inside boot which can be worn apart. They are very waterproof and good for protection in bad weather and keeping your feet safe and warm. Having said all that they are much stiffer boots and may well be less suitable for general hill work.