Experienced hikers know the importance of the hiking shoes to every successful hiking trip. The first step that ensures an amazing and wonderful road trip is acquiring the right set of boots.
A hiking boot might be the ideal shoe for a specific hiking trip, be very expensive and have all the qualities of a good hiking boot but if it does not properly fit into your feet, then it is of no use.
Acquiring the right boots that will perfectly fit your feet is like finding a good wife, your boots have to match your hiking dreams, where you hike and how you like to go hiking. Before you choose that hiking shoe, be sure it fits well.
With the variety of hiking shoes available, from ultra-light trail shoes to mountain boots, finding the right fit will not be easy for a first-time hiker.
Having a good knowledge of hiking shoes and its components, how the uppers, lowers, midsoles and outsoles should be will help you get that shoe that fits right.
You wouldn’t wish to own a pair of ill-fitting hiking boots. The thin line between blisters and bliss lies in finding the right fitting boots.
So if you are looking to find out how a hiking shoe fit, grab a seat as we throw more lights on good fitting hiking shoes.
- How To Find Good Fitting Hiking Shoes
- Hiking Boots Fit
- Break Your Boots
How To Find Good Fitting Hiking Shoes
Your hiking shoes are the most critical hiking gear you own. The right pair will help you go down the trail happily enjoying every step you take but poor fitting boots will cause you severe pain with every move.
When picking the set of shoes that will fit, you should overlook the appearance, flashy features, numerical sizes and even what people recommend because you don’t have the same size of feet as anyone else and you should look out for your comfort, stability, weight, warmth and water resistance ability of the shoe. Above all, the shoe should perfectly fit your feet.
The most important factor to critically consider when buying a boot is to get a good fit that snugs your feet and gives your toe enough wiggling room. The following points should help you find a good fit.
For your boots to fit you and not cause you pains, you should select your boots based on the terrain you will hike on and the amount of load you intend to carry. For instance, if you intend to carry heavier loads, then you should look for the lightest boots you can get away with.
A pair of off-trail boots would fail you if you are a backpacker who does weekend trips with a light pack and primary trials. Here are what you need to know when choosing the right style of boots.
When you pack light loads and go through a well-kept trail, you should go for those low-cut or mid-cut boots. They are built with a combination of fabric/leather or split-leather construction with multiple seams.
These shoes have stiffer soles, give you more stability and better traction than a typical running or walking shoes. They can also be too unstable if you carry big loads and trail on a slippery or rocky terrain. You should also get the Gore-Tex socks or a waterproof fitting unless the shoes are lined with waterproof/breathable liners.
If your type of hiking is aggressive and you love light backpacking day hiking, then you should go for ankle-high boots. High-ankle boots are usually made of fabric/leather combination or the split-grain leather.
Some of these boots have waterproof/breathable liners, while other types are very porous and well ventilated for the hot desert conditions.
These boots have tapered plastic midsoles or half-length shanks to give them enough sole rigidity to protect your feet against stony trails and still allow you to flex the balls of your feet. Many strong-footed hikers recommend these boots for extended backpacking through the serious outback because when the going gets tough, these boots keep you going!
When you can’t find a good trail and have to take the goat path through talus and alder tangles, you should go for the off-trail boots. These boots are made from full-grain leather with above ankle support, rigid sole stability.
It is the best choice for long backpack trips under heavy loads. These boots give your feet protection through tough terrain and weighty pack. They allow you to flex the balls of your feet. They also offer better waterproofing and durability because they are made with original leather and minimal seams.
Most off-trail boots are very lightweight because of the midsole and sole construction. Some are made to have a lip on the welt of their sole to accommodate certain kinds of crampons for the new generation of snowshoe bindings. These shoes have lengthy break-in time because it takes a while for their sole and the heel cup to soften.
Mountains And Hills
If your hiking plans cover mountain walks and climbs, then you should get the mountain boots. These boots are made to have full-grain leather uppers, minimal seams, good traction and most time with insulation liners.
The mountain boots rise above the ankles and are used with crampons. They have full-length shanks, nylon midsoles, and are usually very stiff for comfortable full-stride hiking. If you are heavily packed, your strides will be shorter and they will get you to your peak.
Watch out for boots with rockered soles, welts for durability and waterproof, rubber rands and minimal heal slippage. When using these boots, make sure they are well broken in before you go on a high mileage trip or you will end up with high-end blisters.
Scrambling And Light Hiking
For scrambling and light hiking trips, you should go for a low cut and mid-height hybrid boot with close fit. Rubber soles and anti-abrasion toe rands.
These boots are best under a lightweight backpack and given good trail conditions. You shouldn’t use them for serious trail travel unless you have gaiters to keep out gravel, sand, and twigs.
Hiking Boots Fit
For your hiking boot to fit properly, you have to observe the following:
Wear The Boots With The Socks You Intend To Use For Hiking
Your boots should fit snugly, have no tight corners and give your toes room for wiggling. You should be comfortable with your boots wearing the socks you intend to use.
You should always wear the appropriate socks. The socks that your feet are familiar with help you more quickly access the fit and feel of your footwear.
Be sure to pick the right thickness of socks to match the boot you intend to wear. While you are on the trail, go with synthetic socks rather than slow-drying heavy cotton socks.
Know Your Size
For your boot to fit, it must be your size. You have to know your foot length, width and arch length to be able to get the right set of boots. If you don’t have all this information, you should go to a specialist and have your feet assessed for the best pick.
You should also double check the length by removing the insoles out of the boot and standing on them. You should have some space for your thumb between your longest toe and the end of the insole.
Try Out Your Boots Before The End Of The Day
To actually find out your boot size, you should try out your boots at the end of the day. The feet normally swell a bit during the day following daily activities and will be largest at the end.
This will help you to avoid buying boots that will end up too small for your feet. You should spend some time in your boot to determine if it will fit. Take a walk through the store, climb up the stairs, go up and down the ramp and see how comfortable your feet are in the boots.
Talk To Your Specialist
If you have any feet issues and don’t want to feel out of the group, you should consult your specialist for proper guidance and directions on which footwear to get. If you feel odd bumps or pinches or your toe hits the end of the boot when you go up a surface, then you will need a specialist to give you the right instructions.
When you shop online, consider buying a brand which you have used before or has been recommended by a friend or specialist. You should also consider after-market insoles or foot beds. Insoles come in varieties that can enhance the comfort, fit and support of your boots. You should see a specialist for further advice.
Break Your Boots
The first important step to take before you use your hiking boots for serious hiking trips is to break your boots. Failure to do so will lead to severe foot damage. Never overlook this important step.
How To Break Your Hiking Boots For A Good Fit
For your new pair of hiking boots to fit you perfectly, you have to work on breaking them in. you will enjoy many comfortable miles on the trail with your boots if you take your time to break-in them.
The break-in time varies with different boots. For light travel boots, it might not take up to a day to perfect break-in while the all-leather boots may take several weeks.
You will need to soften up the leather so that your feet will be very comfortable in them. The following steps will help you achieve a perfect break-in:
Wear Your Boots Inside Your House
Try wearing your boots inside your house first before hitting the trails. Use the same socks and insoles you intend on using for your hiking trips and tie up the boots snugly but not too tight. Straighten your tongues and gussets. Your new boots should feel stiff at first.
Try taking a walk around the block and parks with your boots. Make sure your feet feel good at every stage before you increase the distance.
Put On A Light Day Park And Try Out The Trail
Up in the trail is where serious breaking-in happens. Gradually increase your weight and distance throughout this stage and make sure your feet feel good too before your increase your mileage.
Follow The Manufacturer’s Instructions
Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. You will learn about proper care and use for your boots even if you don’t find break-in tips.
Always Listen To Your Feet
You should always watch how your feet react to your new boots because for your boots to fit, your feet have to synchronize with your boots. Take note of the pain points as small pains grow to become big problems. If you feel any pinch or hotness, try out some other tactics until it goes away.
If you have special feet problems and need different pairs of boots, consult with a footwear specialist to guide you through the process of choosing the right boots and help you with the break-in procedures.
Take Your Time
To properly break-in your boots and do a good job, you will have to put in the time. Avoid cutting corners like walking long distances while wearing your boots and even soaking your boots in water. This will be bad for your boots and will cause you severe boot damage.
You have to carefully observe these steps to ensure you break your boots properly. Many sore-footed hikers have confessed that they tried to circumvent the break-in process and were badly hurt.
Buying the right boots that will fit you is a very complicated task. If done correctly, your hiking trips will be blister free and your feet will always be comfortable with more mileage. That’s why you need to take out time and make the right choice of boots.
We believe that with the above information, you are now properly informed and can go ahead and get a boot that will fit you properly.