Are you looking to purchase the perfect pair of hiking boots? You may be wondering how should hiking boots fit. Be sure to read on, to learn this and more!
When you’re out hiking, a good pair of hiking boots is your best friend, or they can be your worst enemy!
This I learned the hard way when I accidentally packed two left foot hiking boots in two different sizes) for a solo trip and decided I was still going to hike for miles as is. A decision I definitely regretted halfway in!
Hiking boots aren’t just intended to keep your feet warm; they’re specifically designed to keep your feet well-supported and comfortable on long walks over trickier terrain.
They are also great for reducing the impact of footfalls, and for giving you a better grip on wet and unsteady ground.
If you’re finding that your feet are hurting after only a small amount of walking, it might be the case that your boots don’t fit you properly.
Badly-fitted boots can lead to blisters, aching feet, and even increase the risk of twisting your ankle.
But if you’re unfamiliar with how hiking boots should fit, you might not know where to even start.
Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this handy guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about how hiking boots should fit and how to tell if hiking boots are too big!
So say goodbye to sore feet, and hello to a perfectly-fitted pair of boots!
5 Must-Have Hiking Essentials
- A hiking day backpack
- Comfy pair of men’s boots, or woman’s hiking boots
- Hiking water bottle for hydration
- A cozy men’s and woman’s windbreaker for those gusty summits
- A set of hiking poles
Size (And Shape) Matters – How Should A Hiking Boot Fit
A common mistake people make when choosing a new pair of hiking boots is treating them like normal shoes. Hiking boots have a different purpose compared to regular shoes and, as a result, they have a different design as well.
Your feet need to fit in the boots a certain way for them to be comfortable. This means that even if you get the same size as you’d normally wear, you may still end up with an uncomfortable boot.
There are two main things that you want to look for in a pair of hiking boots. First of all, it needs to be snug at the heel.
This will reduce the amount of slipping and lifting of your feet while you walk. Secondly, there should be a decent amount of wiggle-room in the toes.
Toe-space is important for several reasons; pinching around the toes will make it harder to walk and increase the risk of blisters, and extra space also means your feet have space to swell into (which is inevitable the longer you’re hiking).
Not only that, but it lets your toes spread out to increase the strength of your base and improve your balance.
The shape of your foot will determine what kind of boot you want. You’ll want to choose a boot that fits snug around the widest part of your foot, without pressing on your toes.
If you have wider, spade-shaped feet then you may need to size up.
Meanwhile, if your feet are long enough that your toes touch the tip of the boot you should also get a larger size – you can always cushion around your heels by wearing thicker socks.
Narrow feet are harder to accommodate, although there are plenty of hiking boots out there that will cater to this.
If none of these are available, you should prioritize toe space over the snugness in the heels and size up. There are several ways you can make up the space in your heel, such as thick socks or by using an insole.
Giving yourself enough space in the toes (at least half an inch) will make it easier to hike over longer distances, and reduces the risk of injuries like blisters and losing a toenail.
How To Fit Hiking Boots
When you’re trying to find a well-fitting pair of hiking boots, the first thing you should do is get your feet sized professionally.
You can get this done at most footwear stores, and if you’re buying from a hiking supply store you’re more likely to get an accurate sizing for hiking boots.
You can also do it yourself by measuring the dimensions of your feet with a measuring tape and checking the measurements online (although this is a much less accurate method, so err on the side of caution here).
Once you know your size, you can start looking for a good-fitting pair of hiking boots.
You have a much better chance of finding the perfect pair if you try them on in person.
This will give you the most accurate gauge of how the boot will accommodate your feet and will let you test its toe room, arch support, and general fit.
If you don’t have a specific brand or model in mind, experiment with different styles. While hiking boots tend to stick to a certain design, there can be slight differences that will affect their shape and fit.
Look for the shape that’s right for you, considering the amount of flex you’ll need in the soles and how tall you need the ankle to be. This is important when considering how tight should hiking boots be.
When you have the boots on, try the ‘finger test‘. This will give you an idea of how much movement you’ll have inside the boot while you’re hiking.
Start out by loosening the laces completely and moving your foot forward until your toes are touching the tip of the boot.
Now, try to put a finger between your heel and the heel of the boot. If you can fit one finger in, you’ve got the perfect amount of space.
If you can fit more than one finger, you might need to size down; if you can’t fit any at all, you need more space and should size up. You should also be able to fit a finger between your ankle and the mouth of the boot.
Once you’ve found a pair that seems to fit properly, try walking in them a short distance to see how they feel.
While this won’t be a perfect test as you’ll only be able to take a few steps, it will at least let you know if your feet will start aching straight away.
If you’re happy with how the boots feel, then you’ve got a perfect fit!
Final Thoughts – How Should Hiking Boots Fit
A good pair of hiking boots can and certainly does make all the difference, and can massively improve your hiking experience. Getting the right amount of support, cushioning, and comfort is crucial, especially on longer hikes.
So next time you’re getting a new pair of hiking boots and you’re wondering exactly how should hiking boots fit, follow these instructions and get a pair that is just right for you!