How to Fit Boots

Reviews and product information can help in your search for quality outdoor footwear, whether you're in the market for lightweight trail shoes or sturdy backpacking boots. But ultimately the most important aspect of choosing a hiking boot—or trail runner or climbing shoe—is a good fit.

Here are some tips to help you properly fit hiking and backpacking boots:

  • Try on boots at the end of the day, when your feet are their largest.

  • Wear the socks and any insoles or inserts you would normally use with the boots.

  • One of your feet is probably larger than the other. Size boots to the larger foot. Better to have one shoe a little loose than the other too tight.

  • Walk around in the boots for at least 15 minutes.

  • Toes should have a little room to wiggle, and shouldn't jam into the toe box.

  • Heels should feel firmly in place with no heel slippage.

  • Walk up and down an incline to check for heel slippage on the uphill and any toe jamming on the downhill.

  • Try different styles and widths. You may be a different size in different brands.

  • Women should consider footwear that's built on a women's last, instead of models sized down from a men's last.

  • Boots should feel like they fit initially. Don't rely on breaking them in to make them fit. If they don't fit now, they won't stretch to fit later.

  • While you want to pick a boot that fits from the start, you can tweak boots with custom orthotics and insoles (to fill up extra space), professional stretching of the boot (to add space), and different lacing techniques (to reduce foot movement).

  • No matter how well they fit, don't forget to break in your boots around the house or on some easy day hikes before you embark on that weeklong backpacking trip.

Filed under: Buyers' Guides

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Guide to Outdoor Footwear  |  Boot Reviews and Information  |  Caring for Your Boots

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July 25, 2014

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