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boots and shoes
hiking boot
hiking boots
piece of leather
running water
If You're A Hiker, You Should Have A Gusseted Tongue
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No, this is not some type of disease or condition that one gets from hiking. It's a method for keeping your hiking boots and shoes waterproof. Let's take a look.

If all of your hiking book is waterproof, yet you don't have a gusseted tongue, your hiking boot is not truly "waterproof" at all.

So, what is a gusseted tongue? It is the tongue of your hiking boot that is attached, at the sides, to the rest of your hiking boot. When you look at the boot from the front, without any laces in it, you should see the tongue area very prominently. Now, open up the tongue and look at the side of it. Is it either tightly stitched to the side or is it just a folded and continuous piece of leather that extends to the rest of the uppers? If so, it is a gusseted tongue.

Now, the important part here is whether or not it is a "full-gusseted" tongue or a "half-gusseted" tongue. Here's how you tell.

If the boot is a full length boot, meaning that it has a lower part and an ankle support area that extends up the ankle a bit, a full gusseted tongue will extend all the way up to the top of the ankle support. If it is a half-gusseted boot, the stitching or the attached area will stop before it goes up into the ankle support area (scree collar).

A fully waterproof hiking boot will have a full-gusseted tongue. For the money, this is the hiking boot that you want to buy if you're looking for first quality hiking boots.

Here's why the full-gusseted tongue is so important.

Say you are hiking along without any problems and still have about 8 more miles to go for the day, and suddenly you encounteer a rain creek that is about 6 feet wide. It has recently rained and a normally dry bed has running water in it now. The water is only about three inches deep. It should be no problem crossing as the creek is not fast running and has a rocky bottom.

If you have a half-gusseted hiking boot or a hiking shoe, water will likely get into the inside of the shoe as you step into the creek. This will probably mean some major discomfort if you are hiking for a long distance or if your boots/shoes are not perfectly fitted.

In the case of the half-gusseted boot, the water will leak into the shoe if the depth of the water exceeds the level of the cree collar or ankle support area of the boot. If the water does not go deep enough to exceed to the ankle support, the boot will stay dry. On the other hand, if the tongue is a full-gusseted one, the water will not get into the boot even if the depth exceeds the ankle support unless it goes over the top of the ankle support area itself. You should evaluate your situation before you cross the creek.

A full gusseted tongue is also called a Bellow's tongue in some circles. So, if you see that term used, you'll know they're talking about a full-gusseted tongue boot and it doesn't matter whether you're referring to men's or women's waterproof hiking boots.

When used in combination with a one piece upper and well glued and attached soles, a boot with this device is the surest method of hiking boot waterproofing. The tongue simply locks out any moisture because it is attached to the boot at the sides and water cannot enter the boot from that point.

This is a simple device and when you are shopping for high quality outdoor footwear, you should be sure and observe for this. Once you start using boots with full-gusseted tongues and cross a few water obstacles, you'll become a big fan and will stop buying boots without it, that's guaranteed.

There's nothing like nice dry boots or shoes to keep the chaffing away and provide great hiking fun.

Street Talk


Great explanation on the fully gusseted tongue! I have been buying/wearing good quality hiking boots for the last 39 years and it only took the first pair which did not have a full gusset to convince me. I did not know what the terminology actually meant but I knew I wanted that doggon tongue sewed to the top or near the top. Not only for the water but weeds and grass can shed unwanted debris into what seems like a perfectly good boot if it isn't fully gusseted. It just seems like a better support for the ankles also. I pretty much live in hiking boots unless it's 100 degrees and in sandals. My basic shoes last me for 10 years because I never wear them. Sorry to ramble on but I was impressed to learn the actual meaning of the full gusset at the age of 57. Thanks - GRZLYBR

  about 7 years ago
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