How Should Hiking Boots Fit [The Ultimate Sizing Guide]


Before hitting the hiking trail, it is important to ensure your hiking boots are perfectly fit; otherwise, you might come home with blisters at the end of the day.

There is a lot of confusion over how a pair of hiking boots should fit. Some suggest that hiking boots should be a size bigger. This post will demonstrate useful tips to help you check if a pair of hiking boots fit your feet perfectly.

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Tip 1: Check for the Length

First of all, check if the boots fit your feet in length. Most people have one foot longer than another, so you should check for the length of boots with your longer foot.

With the laces loosing up, put your longer foot into the hiking boot and stand up straight. Move your foot forward until your toes touch the end of the boot.

Then ask someone to check if there is room behind your heel. The room behind your heel should fit one finger if the boots are correctly fitted.

Your feet will swell after backpacking for a whole day, therefore, it is important there is room left in your boots.

Extra Tip:

Another trick to ensure the hiking boots fit in length is by measuring the insoles. Take the insoles out of the boots and stand on them. Check if there is space between your longest toe and the end of the insole. Space should be as wide as the thumb.

Tip 2: Lace up the Boots and Check the Width

It's also important that your hiking boots also fit in width. If the boots are too wide to support your feet, you will get blisters on your feet; while if the width is too tight, the sides of your feet will be uncomfortably crunched during the whole trip.

To check if the boots fit in width, lace up your boots at first and then feel your feet in the boots. Make sure your feet are not squeezed inside and can't slide from side to side.

It's okay that the boots are a little snug since your hiking boots usually have about a 5 percent stretch.

Tip 3: Ensure There is No Heel Lift

Put on the hiking boots and walk on your toes to ensure there is a heel lift. And if when lacing your boots, leave the top of your feet loose and tighten up the area across your ankles to keep your heels secured. It will give you blisters if your heel slips up and down when you are walking.

Tip 4: Put Your Socks on When Trying the Boots

When checking if your hiking boots fit, put on the hiking socks that you are going to wear for the trip. This can make sure that the boots fit most correctly.

Tip 5: Walk on an Inclined Surface

Since you have to walk up and down during hiking, you should try the boots on an inclined surface and see if they feel comfortable when climbing.

Also, spend 15 to 20 minutes walking around with the boots so that you can get used to the boots.

Tip 6: Try the Boots at the End of the Day

Your feet are usually sweaty and swell a bit after a day's walking. Trying the boots when your feet are a little swollen helps you to make the most correct decision.

Tip 7: Wear a Heavy Load

When trying on the hiking boots, wear a heavy load to simulate the real-world situation in hiking. When you are hiking in the trail, the heavy backpack will add weight and your feet will shift a bit inside your shoes. Therefore, you want to see if your feet feel comfortable in the boots when wearing your backpack.

FAQ: Should your hiking boots be a size bigger?

Many hikers suggest that a pair of right hiking boots should be a half or full size larger than their normal shoe size or even the hiking boots that fit you perfectly.

You should choose a size larger if you are:

1. Going to a long thru-hike

If you are going to a long-distance hike for a couple of days, you should pick hiking boots that are a half or one size up since your feet will swell after days of hiking.

2. Having Boots with a Narrow Toe-box

If the hiking boots you like have a narrow toe-box, you may want to go for one size bigger to ensure your toes won't be squeezed.

3. Wearing the Boots for the Whole Year

If you're going to use the boots for both summer and winter, you may want to size up the boots. Since you might wear thin socks in summer and socks that are thicker in winter. And you might also add insoles in winter. Therefore, a pair of larger hiking boots can fit your different needs.


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