It is really important that your hiking boots fit well, as you will be wearing them every day on a multi-day walk.
In this article, Georgie Bull continues her ‘boot’ series, designed to help you choose the best hiking boots to suit your feet.
Three things can help you choose boots that are the best possible fit to your foot.
Get to know your feet and gait.
Before you even think about boots, it is important to get to know your feet and gait. Your feet and ankles basically do three things when you walk – they absorb shock each time your heel hits the ground, they keep the rest of your body stable as it changes position, and they propel you forward or backward. They do this every stride you take, so it is important to consider their welfare and well-being. Part of our natural foot function is to either pronate – roll in, or supinate – roll out, when we stand and walk. Take note of how much you do this, as excessive roll can lead to knee or lower back pain on long walks.
Get the right fit.
Once you are on intimate terms with your feet, you need to have them properly fitted. I have very wide feet and my ankles pronate, but I keep that to myself, and look for a boot fitter who notices. I recently visited 4 well-known outdoor stores before my width and pronation were picked up. The salesman, aka Frosty, told me I should always look for a men’s fitting with a wide shoe ‘box’, an articulated ankle system for flexible ankle support, a well-cushioned, flexible last for good arch support, and shock-absorbing outer sole that wouldn’t impede motion but reduce the impact of my pronation on my knees and hips. Phew! And then he said he had ‘just the boot’.
Get the right size.
Get your feet measured for length and width. Then think about how much fuller your feet feel after you have used them for a few hours, when they are warm and pumped full blood. Remember that feeling and allow for it when you buy your boots. I wear European size 40 in normal shoes, but Frosty recommended I buy size 42, and I am very glad he did. The extra length stops my toes jamming into the front of the boots when going downhill, but is not enough to trip me up. Many people sell their ‘only worn once’ boots on the internet because they bought their regular size. And we have all met walkers hobbling along on sore, painfully blistered or numb feet squeezed into too small boots.
If boots are recommended, try them on with the thickness of socks you normally wear hiking, and do some pirouettes around the shop on your tip toes.
If they are right for your foot:
- they should feel comfortable and snug.
- your heels should feel firmly held and your arch supported.
- your toes won’t scrunch into the front of the boot.
- your foot won’t slide around as you walk and dance, or be pushing out over the edge.
If you have time, take them off and try them on another day – especially a day when your feet are nice and hot.
These three points should have you well on your way to choosing the right size boots that suit the way you walk and are a good fit. Next we look at what boots for what jobs.
Have you ever bought the wrong fitting boots?
Have you sold boots on eBay after one or two trips?
Have you ever bought second hand boots? How were they?
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