Question about boots

1:01 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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I just bought a new pair of boots for hiking/backpacking in the mountains locally (San Jacinto, Mt Laguna). The boot I bought is the Lowa Jannu Mid, trying it on in the store it fit well, my foot doesn't move around or rub in the boot, they were very comfortable. However, now that I have them home and have worn them around the house for a while I notice that on my right foot the top of the boot where it bends when I step is digging into the top of my foot-not bad but over a 4-6 mile hike this could be a problem.

Will this break in over time or should I return this boot and buy something else?

1:31 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Cloth boots don't really break in; therefore it might get worse. Try lacing them up in one of the more unusual ways (I couldn't explain how it is done but start with just missing the eyelets out where the pinch is felt).

As it isn't a familiar problem, it might be that the boots don't fit your feet like the ones you are used to.

Saying all that, I have had leather boots suddenly start to cause me pain right in the same area, on the bridge of my foot, after years of use. I blame a combination of sock and lacing, as I cannot figure out why it happened.

1:34 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Jules: What time of the day did you buy the boots? Morning? Late afternoon?

Believe or not, the time of day you try them on is a factor due to the natural swelling of your feet as the day progresses. Also, when you tried them on in the store, did you try them on with the hiking sock you're planning to wear with them?

If you decide to take them back, I recommend checking out Vasque boots. They have, in my opinion, the best fit for women.

2:44 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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With the caution that everyone's feet are different (different from right to left, different with time of day, point in the hike, etc, as well as from other people), when trying boots in the store, you should wear them for 15 minutes to half an hour, and you should be talking to a trained and experienced boot fitter (your store doesn't have one? Go to another store that does.) A boot that fits one person perfectly can be a miserable fit for someone else. Boot (and shoe) makers use a standardized "foot" model, called a "last" that is different for every bootmaker and even for different styles of footgear in the same company - different length/width/fore-foot/heel/volume/arch combinations at each size point). As kayakoholic points out, wearing the same socks you will wear on the hike is also very important.

The problem of the break in the boot (the place where the toe bends) hitting and rubbing on the top of the foot is all too common. Sometimes it is due to the last having a different volume from your foot, sometimes the last has a different toe length (hence placement of the joint that bends relative to the arch). Usually, this doesn't matter a lot, and it can be cushioned with a sock that is thicker on top (there is a current fashion trend in hiking socks to have a thinner top with more bottom thickness, in theory to cushion the sole of the foot more).

As Pathloser suggests, changing the lacing pattern may help. The Lowa Janu Mid uses the fabric loops on the break section, with hooks only on the ankle area. Hooks are easier to vary the tightness (basically flip the lace over the hook to make a half-hitch, which allows a loose lace or tight lace for each hook pair). You can make the lower part looser by doing the half-hitch on the first hook, but I am not sure if that would keep the foot from sliding well enough. You could also try skipping the 3rd fabric loop which is about where the break would come.

8:06 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Jules: What time of the day did you buy the boots? Morning? Late afternoon?

Believe or not, the time of day you try them on is a factor due to the natural swelling of your feet as the day progresses. Also, when you tried them on in the store, did you try them on with the hiking sock you're planning to wear with them?

If you decide to take them back, I recommend checking out Vasque boots. They have, in my opinion, the best fit for women.

That's great...except I'm not a woman. My name is Julian, my sister calls me Jules for short so I sometimes use that on internet forums.

And I did try them on in the early afternoon with the socks I normally wear during hiking.

8:17 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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I have had 3 pair of Vasque boots. 2 were sundowner's and the most recent are the switchback. They all are very comfortable. The only word of caution I can give is if you were to get the switchbacks ( and it may be true with all Vasque boots these days) is the Vibram sole give you no traction on wet however slightly unless you "rough" them up. I use sand paper and asphalt, now they are not so bad... not great... but not bad.

Oh and I am not a woman either!

11:41 a.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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old shoe guy here


the problem you are having is a combination of things. but the primary is that the height of your foot at the instep and the height of your foot at the toe is not the same as the height of the boot in those same two places. there is actually a little more to it than that; this is the easy explanation.


unfortunately this problem will not ever go away. at least not to make the boots all day comfy.


as you stand and walk around all day your feet swell up. think of all of your body weight on them pushing down. your feet can actually be 1/2 to 3/4 of a size bigger at night than first thing in the morning. the actual best time of day to try any shoes or boots on is mid-day. when your feet are somewhere in the middle of their daily swelling.


do it the easy way, return the boots you bought and keep trying

7:30 p.m. on March 10, 2010 (EST)
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i would return them and find something that fits better, if you can.

i like the suggestion above about changing how you lace up the boots. it can make a big difference. it helps if you have someone knowledgeable where you purchased the boots to get advice from them. sometimes, that "bite" on the top of your foot is caused by the laces crossing over your foot and exerting pressure due to the way your foot is shaped.

So, as an example, it looks like that Lowa boot has four sets of fabric loops on the lower boot, and three sets of hooks in the ankle area. one tactic for taking pressure off the top of your foot is to run the laces parallel up the side of the boot where the pressure point is, rather than crossing the laces over the tongue at that point. in other words, you could consider running the laces across the tongue in the traditional fashion through the first three loops, but between the third and fourth loop, take the lace directly up the side to the next loop, instead of crossing over. you could resume crossing the laces over the tongue into each of the hooks. you could try this between the second and third loop, or even between the fourth fabric loop and the first hook, depending on where the pressure point is.

lacing variations are highly dependent on individual fit and foot characteristics. you also want to take some test walks when you vary the lacing - not much utility in making the top of your foot more comfortable if changing the lacing makes the boot too loose, for example. so, this is merely a suggestion, subject to trying it out.

sometimes, changing socks can alter how a boot feels. my favorite three brands of socks, in no particular order, are darn tough, smartwool, and bridgedale. all brands that use merino wool, very soft, good cushioning.

best of luck!

September 2, 2014
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