How to Size Hiking Boots

How to Size Hiking Boots
Hiking boots may be the most critical part of a hiker's gear. They're the difference between painful, blistered feet and happy feet that can hike for miles. Various brands of hiking boots come with various differences; a size 6 in one brand may be a size 7 in another, and each boot can be shaped to fit a slightly different foot. As long as you can pick out the key features of a nicely-fit boot, you'll be able to find yourself the right footwear.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Try on your hiking boots in the late afternoon or early evening. Make sure you've been up on your feet beforehand--ideally, you should go for a quick walk before trying on the boots. This ensures they'll still fit your feet after a long day of hiking, because our feet tend to swell a little bit as the day goes on.
Step 2
Put on the same sort of socks you intend to use while hiking before you try the boots on. You'd be surprised what a difference thin cotton socks make vs. wool socks--or the difference among types of wool socks.
Step 3
Try on both boots at once; many of us have one foot that's a little larger than the other or of a slightly different shape, so a boot that fits one foot might not fit the other. Start with your standard shoe size and then adjust size up or down a little bit as necessary; you may end up wearing a different boot size than your leisure shoe size.
Step 4
Tie the boots snug and stand up with your weight balanced between both feet. Raise up on your toes; do your heels lift inside the boot before the boot itself begins to rise? If so, it's not a good fit--this sort of motion can cause blisters with repetitive hiking. Try a half-size smaller or look for a different boot that may be a better shape for your feet. As you do this test, be alert to any pressure points or "hot spots" where your foot is uncomfortable inside the boot.
Step 5
Test the boots by walking around the store, up and down stairs, and if possible go up and down steep ramps or ask permission to try the boots on uneven surfaces outside the store. You're looking, in particular, for boots that keep your toes from sliding forward against the front of the boot when you walk downhill--another sure-fire recipe for blisters.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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