Like good meals, good boots are made up of quality ingredients. So before you even put a pair of boots on your feet, research the materials used for these components:
The outsole: Good boots usually have a high end Vibram outsole, bound to the body of the boot with a tough rubber rand. Similar to a bumper on a car, the rand protects the boot from punctures and cuts.
Insulation: A quality mountain boot has the highest grade 200 grain Primaloft synthetic insulation or something comparable. Look out for Thinsulate, which is used in lower-end boots. This stuff doesn’t dry quickly, and that lasting moisture can mean very cold feet.
Insole: The factory insole in almost any boot is going to be cheap foam. Replace it with an aftermarket insole that is tailored to your foot.
Midsole: The midsole provides all of a boot’s support, but it’s often a place where company’s cut corners. Cheap, foam-injected midsoles tend to break down after a short period of time, leaving the boot with a sloppy fit. Most quality midsoles are made of polyurethane and will never deteriorate.
Leather: Different types of leather offer different experiences. Rough grain leather will not break in as much. It can feel rigid, but offers great support. Fine grain leather is softer, still supportive, but tends to break in faster and mold to your foot over time.
Boot tongue: No shin forms a perfect half-moon shape, so neither do great boot tongues. Anatomical tongues, like on the the Lowa Evo are slightly flat on one side. The shape gives an extra bit of fit, and makes it easy to lace the boot up correctly and to avoid heel slippage and ankle pinching.
Try before you buy