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Backpacker Magazine – 2010 Editors' Choice/Gear Guide

Size and Buy the Right Hiking Boots

Buy the right boots for you–and get the right fit.

by: Berne Broudy

>> Before trying a single boot on, decide how much support, protection, and weatherproofing you need. A too-heavy boot can cause fatigue and blisters; a too-light shoe can lead to twisted ankles.

>> Shop at the end of the day, when you’re feet are slightly swollen, like they will be on the trail. Wear the socks and any insoles you use while hiking; they greatly affect fit.

>> Try on a lot of shoes (and different sizes) to get a feeling for variations in fit. Every manufacturer uses a different last, which can have subtle differences in width, volume, and shape.

>> Feel any pressure points, pinching, or an uncomfortable tongue fold? They’ll only get worse.

>> Don’t buy shoes that are too small. It’s easy to do, since a close fit feels good in the store. You need to allow room for normal foot swell–inevitable under a load.

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Jerry W Doyle
Jun 30, 2012

Purchasing boots 1/2 size larger than my foot size always has been my mantra, and this practice has served me most judiciously.

Feet swell when hiking and hikers always should wear thicker Merino wool socks that breathe and dissipate foot sweat.

Hikers always can accommodate for a slightly larger size boot; but there is no such accommodation to a hiker with a too small boot.

Additionally, alternating pairs of socks daily is much advisable, as each quality pair of socks affords different pressure points to the foot inside the shoe bed thus preventing blisters since the foot is never being pressured always at the same pressured area.

Quality socks are as important as the selection of a quality boot, and it troubles me that many hikers seem fixated solely on the boot when it may very well be that wearing a quality pair of cushioned and breathable pair of socks solves whatever boot problem they may be experiencing.

LLbeaner, do you want to depart from your friend of 20 years who has adjusted to your hiking style, or do you want to retain that friendship by simply purchasing a pair of high quality thick cushioned Merino wool socks?

Good hiking my friend (:

Jerry D

Jun 29, 2012

Few AT 2011 Thru-hikers used boots. Many boot users switched to trail shoes. I don't believe any switched to boots.
I was very happy with my trail runners. Tried many pairs till I found the one that fit the best. It wasn't the most expensive one. It was the one that fit my feet the best. Zero blisters. Still have my boots for use at home around the yard. Trail runners are for the tail, boots are not.

Mar 12, 2012

You can add an insert to take up some room and or wear sock liners to help wick the sweat away and prevent rubbing.

Mar 09, 2012

Hey guys, when I bought my llbean boots 20 years ago, they fit very snug but as time and hiking went on, they have loosened up quite a bit. I have to wear thicker socks to get a good fit. Should I buy a new pair or keep wearing the thicker socks because when my feet sweat in them my toes start to rub when hiking down steep trails.


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