If you're looking to buy hiking boots, you obviously want to choose the right ones so you don't ruin your hike. And if you're like me, you'll use them for many years to come, so you want a boot that fits YOU.
Which brings me to my first point: before you go shopping for a pair of boots, think about the kind of hiking you'll be doing. Will you be hiking up mountains on rocky trails and uneven terrain? Or will you be going up gentle slopes on relatively smooth trails? You should look for a boot that is designed to provide the support and protection you need for the type of trail you'll be hiking on.
So, with that being said, look for a boot that provides you with support and protection, but also make sure that it's comfortable and durable. And I almost forgot to mention: when you go shopping, bring or wear the socks you plan to wear on your hike. I always wear a heavier pair of socks over a regular pair of socks and I've never had blisters. (Knock on wood. :-))
The best time of day to try on hiking boots is later in the day when your feet are more swollen. Boots should feel snug but at the same time, you need to still be able to wiggle you toes. Most boots won't feel as comfortable as sneakers, but they shouldn't pinch, cause hot spots, or constrict your circulation. They should fit securely around your ankles, and provide support, but make sure they aren't too tight.
As you try on various types of boots, take the time to get up and walk around the store for a few minutes. If possible, walk up and down any stairs that you may see in the store so you can have an idea of what the boots might be like when you're going up or down a mountain. Also, don't worry too much about what a boot looks like; it's more important to find one with a good fit that's comfortable for YOU.
If you're wondering how much you should pay, I would recommend against buying the cheapest ones you see. The best idea is to come up with a price range that you're comfortable with, then start trying on boots within that price range.
Also, I recommend that you always try on hiking boots before buying them. Even though they are sometimes cheaper online, my advice is to go to various stores and try them on. Then, if you find one you like, you can always look it up online, and compare prices. The important thing here is to try them on before you buy them.
So, the next step after arriving back home with your new boots is to break them in. First, you could try walking around your house in them. If that works out, you could then try mowing your lawn or walking your dog in them and see how that goes. If all goes well, you're ready for a short hike of maybe a couple of hours or so. If that goes well too, congratulations...you found yourself a great pair of hiking boots!