A good pair of waterproof walking boots makes exploring the countryside on foot a pleasure. With the right boots, you can visit many places you might otherwise not be able to access. Therefore, finding a pair that fits well and provides the right level of support is important as knowing how to maintain the waterproofing properly.
The only perfect waterproofing option would be something like a pair of Wellingtons, but wellies make terrible walking boots. Aside from issues of fit, a boot has to let moisture out or your feet just get wet from sweat. Look for either full-grain leather boots with as few seams as possible, or a breathable synthetic membrane, like Gore-Tex, or both. You can apply a waterproofing treatment, which should be enough to let you splash through puddles with dry socks.
Getting the Right Fit
Boot fit is complex, and there is no way to ensure a good fit without trying the boot on. Once you buy a model you like, you can pick up replacement pairs online at a lower cost, but buy the first pair in person. Feet change over time, so have a professional fitting every few years, and ask if you need inserts for arch support. Look for a boot that does not let your foot shift inside it. Check especially for heel rub, which causes blisters, and whether your toes can slide forward when you go downhill. Ask around about a brand, because some boots feel great in the shop and then never fit right again. Do not compromise on fit, since a mistake here is uncomfortable and could become a health concern. Make sure to replace your walking boots when they start to wear out, since worn boots can also damage your feet.
Ensuring Ankle Support
Taller boots provide better ankle support and keep you dry in deeper puddles, but they also weigh more than low cut boots and walking shoes. Some people find the extra protection worth the extra weight, while others find that a pair of hiking poles or sticks, not just one walking stick, provide more effective protection against rolling an ankle than a boot ever could. Remember that short boots are not waterproof in deep puddles.
Choosing Rigid or Flexible Soles
A rigid sole makes the boot heavier, but also protects your foot from rocks and roots. Rigid boots also last longer and you can usually replace the sole on them. Mostly, flexible soles are better for short excursions while rigid boots are better for backpacking, but some backpackers prefer light, flexible boots.
Ensuring Traction and Control
Good traction is necessary for both comfort and safety; you should be able to stand on a sharply inclined slab or rock and not feel in any danger of slipping. Look for soft tread that can grip rock. Hard tread either fails to grip or damages the path surface.