Do you find that after a few hours on the trail your feet are getting sore and your legs are getting tired? It could be that your boots are the wrong size, so how should hiking boots fit?
What felt nice and comfortable when you tried your boots on for the first time can change when you’re out walking. Having the right size hiking boots can make a big difference.
Let’s detail some of the things you need to know, to make sure you have the perfect size for your feet. Understanding these and putting them into practice can make your treks more enjoyable.
Hiking Boot Fit
Choosing a pair of hiking boots might not be an easy task. There are so many different styles and brands, it can be like walking through a minefield.
They are made from different materials such as leather, nubuck, nylon, and mesh. They come with or without insoles and support for your foot. Some lace as far as the ankle and some go higher.
One thing’s for sure, you will need to know the size of your feet. Ok, you may be thinking, “But I know what size my feet are.“
The problem is different manufacturers might size slightly differently. Having an exact measurement of your feet lets you check their sizing guide to see if you are in the right ballpark. It might only be a half size difference, but that can significantly affect comfort when you’re out on the trail.
How to Measure the Size of Your Feet
To size your feet, you will need:
- Piece of paper.
- Measuring tape or ruler.
- The socks you intend to wear with your hiking boots.
The Method for Measuring Your Feet
- Put on the socks that you will wear with your boots.
- Sit down on a chair and place the piece of paper on the floor in front of you.
- Put your foot on the paper, take your pencil, and draw around the outside of your foot. Make sure your weight is on this foot.
- Remove your foot and, using the ruler, draw straight lines around the outline of your foot, to form a rectangle. This should touch the outline at the longest and widest points.
- Using the ruler or measuring tape, measure the distance between the two longest points of the rectangle. This will give the measurement from the tip of your big toe to the middle of your heel.
- Once you have this measurement, you can consult a sizing chart to find out your foot size.
- To ascertain the width of your foot measure across the rectangle. You can then use the above sizing chart for the width of your foot.
Measure your feet at the end of the day. They tend to swell throughout the course of the day, and this is when they will be at their biggest.
Left and right feet are often different sizes, so make sure you measure your bigger foot. If you are unsure which it is, measure both and compare.
If your feet turn out to be between sizes, go a half a size up. You don’t want your hiking boot fit to be too tight.
Not all boots are made the same size. One brand might fit perfectly to your foot size while another could be too small or too big. Be sure to check the specific manufacturer’s sizing chart for the boots you intend to buy.
How To Size Hiking Boots
It’s time to try on some hiking boots, but how do you know whether they are going to be the right fit? I am sure we have all tried shoes or boots on in the store only to get home and find they are too tight or too big.
Here are some sizing tips to help make sure you get the right fit:
- If the boot has a removable insole, take it out and stand on it. There should be a space about the width of your thumb between your longest toe and the end of the insole. Make sure it also cups your heel.
- It’s better to try on boots near the end of the day, so you won’t end up with boots that are too small.
- Take along any orthotics you wear. These can affect how much room you have inside the boots so it’s important they are in place. These might be podiatrist-created insoles or off-the-shelf ones, like Timberland Pro Insoles or Superfeet Green Insoles.
- Wear socks that you would normally use when you’re out on the trail. The thickness of socks can affect the fit of the boots. If you are new to hiking, then socks containing Merino wool, like these from Danish Endurance might be suitable.
- Go for a walk around the store in your selected boots to put them through their paces. Try and find an incline to make sure your toes are not cramped, and walk up and down some stairs if you can.
- You shouldn’t be able to feel your toes hitting the end of your boots or any space above the foot when they are laced. You also should not feel any seams or bumps inside the boots.
- If you are shopping online for your hiking boots, ordering a brand you have used before should ensure a good fit. The fit from a brand tends to be consistent.
- Check out customer reviews, they can often tell you if a particular brand tends to run small or large.
This video explains how to choose the right size for hiking boots.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Tight Should Hiking Boots Be Tied?
There are many ways you can lace up your hiking boots, and this can affect the way they fit your feet. Wider lacing at the base will give your toes more room, and tight lacing at the ankle can give more support.
This lacing guide from Mountain Warehouse shows you several ways to adjust your hiking boots. It will also tell you how tight hiking boots should be tied. This video also shows you how to tie your boots to prevent heel slippage.
How Should Hiking Boots Fit Toes?
When trying on your boots with your selected socks and insoles, you should be able to wiggle your toes. You can check out if you have enough room by tapping your toe behind you. To do this, with the laces undone, stand on one foot and tap the toe of the other on the floor behind you.
This will cause your foot to move as far forward as it can go. You should now be able to reach down and fit your index finger between your heel and your boot. If your finger doesn’t fit, the boots might be too small and you need to go up a half size.
How to Tell If Hiking Boots Are Too Big?
When your boots are too big, they don’t flex in the right place. This should be at the beginning of the toes, essentially the widest part of your foot. Called the break point, if this is in the wrong place, your feet will slide back and forth when you are walking, causing blisters.
Another thing to look for is heel slip. A small amount of heel slip, about a quarter of an inch or so, is fine. As the boots wear and mold to your feet, this will stop.
Finally, the width of the boot should be right. It should hold your foot snugly without pinching. Too wide and it will let your foot slide forward, hurting your toes.
How Tight Should Hiking Boots Be?
Hiking boots should feel snug all around the foot but should not feel tight anywhere. They should hold your foot in place, with just a little wiggle room for your toes.
Sizing It Up
Maybe your favorite hiking boots are finally getting ready for the boot graveyard. You have tried new socks and new insoles but they are now just too old and too loose.
Buying a new pair of hiking boots can be a challenge. After all, not every boot you try on will be a match made in heaven. Let’s be honest, no-one loves a pair of hiking boots that aren’t comfortable.
Now you know how to find the perfect size and fit, hopefully, your next pair of boots will be the most comfortable ones you’ve ever had.
We hope you enjoyed our guide and we’ve answered your questions about how should hiking boots fit. Please leave us a comment or share any tips you have. We would love to hear from you, and don’t forget to share the article.