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Hiking Boots Size: 9 Tips To Find Your Perfect Fit!

The right hiking boots size should be one of your highest priorities to consider when buying hiking boots for your next hiking destination. 

If you have poor-fitting hiking boots, your body is prone to physical injuries due to slips and falls, sore feet, and blisters on your feet mid-hike.

I can tell you from personal experience that the wrong hiking boots size can ruin a good hike!

Long-term effects such as foot pain and ingrown toenails are common too, if you use poor-fitting hiking boots over an extensive period. 

Trust me, these problems are avoidable with proper hiking boots sizing.

So how are hiking boots supposed to fit?

To help you make sure to avoid all these problems, here are my 9 tips to help you pick the perfect hiking boots size before your next hike. 

At a glance, the 9 tips to pick the perfect hiking boots size include taking into account:

1. Type Of Boots 

2. Brand Of Boots

3. Measurement Check: Length

4. Measurement Check: Width

5. Fitting Check For Heel Lift

6. Socks Up And Walk Around

7. Inclined Surface Check

8. Comfortability Check With Loading

9. Perform A Simple Hiking Simulation

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1. Type of Boots

Before thinking about how to size hiking boots, first, you have got to pick the type of hiking boots.

Like shoes, there are also a few different types of hiking boots on the market; each built for hiking but with a different purpose. 

The 3 major hiking boots types you will find in the market are: 

Pick these kinds of shoes if you are going on a fairly simple flat trail with minimal loads. Hiking shoes do look like regular sneakers except with extra comfortable padding for that long walk.

If you are not going for a hike, you can simply use this pair of shoes on a casual day out!

With the low-cut, the hiking shoes offer NO ankle protection.

So if your hiking trail has a lot of slopes and involves a lot of climbing these are not the hiking boots to go for.  

Personally, I find that day hiking boots are best for casual backpacking trips and day hikes.

The mid-cut design provides sufficient support to your ankles and you do not need to worry about wet socks if you accidentally stepped into a puddle because these days hiking boots are usually waterproof too!

The day hiking boots are the jack of all trades; offering decent ergonomic support, comfort level, and best of all, a fairly decent price point! 

Backpacking boots are built to take some serious beatings and they are usually waterproof. Perfect for adventurous off-trail hiking routes or mountain walking. 

High cuts that rise above your ankles ensures excellent support for your ankles during your hike. 

With such durability and support, comes the hefty price tag too! 

So, if your hiking trail is fairly simple, the backpacking boots may be a bit of an overkill. Nonetheless, a great pair of hiking boots!

I’d highly recommend doing your research on the hiking trail that you are going to embark on with handy sites like AllTrails or the National Park Service App. 

Take note of the type of terrain and duration of the hike to make an informed choice on the hiking boots that you need. The next hiking trip I have in mind is the Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon. Pretty cool place!

2. Brand Of Boots

Now that you know the type of hiking boots that you need, it is time to decide on a brand. 

If you do plan to go for hikes often, I highly suggest not to skimp on budgeting for your hiking boots. Since hiking activity can be pretty taxing on your body, treat this as an investment for your overall general wellbeing! 

Comfort levels and performance of the hiking boots during hikes certainly enhance the overall experience. That said, expensive hiking boots do NOT reflect their quality! Some of the decent hiking boots brands that you certainly can’t go wrong with are: 

With the type and brand of hiking boots sorted out, now let’s tackle the question of “what size hiking boots should I get? 

3. Measurement Check: Length

Now you are at the store choosing hiking boots size that best fit your feet with questions of “how hiking boots should fit” or “how to fit hiking boots” looming in your head.

Fret not, because there are a few simple hacks to nail down the perfect size for you.

First off in the hiking boot sizing guide, begin with a length check with two simple yet reliable methods. 

  • Length Measurement Check Step 1: 

The finger test. Begin by sliding your feet into hiking boots with the laces all loosen up. 

  • Length Measurement Check Step 2: 

Slide one finger behind the heels to check the fitting level. If it fits just nicely, cool, that is the perfect size for you! 

How to tell if your hiking boots are too small? If it has room for another finger, this means you need to go for a smaller size! And if you are struggling to fit in one finger in that space, your hiking boot is too big. Simple right?

  • Length Measurement Check Step 3: 

The insoles check. Take the insoles from the pair of hiking boots that you have been eying on and place it right beneath your soles. Ideally, you would want to have a finger’s width of space (about half an inch) from the tip of your longest toe to the tip of the insoles for best fit and comfort!

If you want better foot support, you can get Superfeet’s insoles which are designed to reduce hiking fatigue! 

4. Measurement Check: Width

Next is the width check which is often neglected compared to the length check. All our feet are built differently and this must not go unchecked! 

This is why there is a huge range of standardised hiking boots width measurements; 

  • Narrow
  • D-Regular
  • Generic Wide
  • 6E Wide
  • 4E Wide hiking boots

For example, if you know you have wide feet, look for the extra wide walking shoes aisle. You will definitely find one that suits you best. 

But how tight should hiking boots be?

The shoes may wrap around your foot too tightly with barely any breathing space – your feet will definitely not survive the long hike. 

Too loose and blisters will appear in no time as the inner side of the hiking boots scrape against your skin.

Following up on the insoles method, look at both sides of your foot in comparison to the insoles.

If the perimeter of your feet nestles nicely within the area of the insole, great! 

If not, go for a size larger if your foot area exceeds the insoles boundary or go smaller if there are too many visible insole areas. 

Once you have got the width of the insole checked, put on the boots and strap up. 

Wriggle your feet in the hiking boots and make sure your feet have a little space to move around; just enough not to suffocate your poor feet. 

Personally, I have wide feet so I usually head straight to the wide feet walking boots section.

5. Fitting Check For Heel Lift

With the length and width verified, it is now time to lace up and secure your shoes up to your ankles. This should secure your ankles in place nicely.

Walk around in it to see if the hiking boots slide at the back of your ankle which is also known as a heel lift. 

If you have performed the length and width check thoroughly, the chances for a heel lift are rare.

However, it is essential to check this box rather than being surprised by blisters mid-way through your hike. 

6. Socks Up And Walk Around

This is important! You need to know how should your hiking boots fit with socks on!

If possible, bring a pair of your own socks (fresh ones please!) and try them on with the hiking boots you intend to purchase.

The reason for this is that your sock’s material may be quite thick and may eat up all the comfortable space that you have accounted for through the steps above.

Pro tip!  For your hiking trips, I would highly recommend you use synthetic socks rather than cotton-type socks which will cause blistering during long walks. 

7. Inclined Surface Check

We all know a proper hiking trip is not exactly a walk in the park. Some of the world’s best hiking trails are going to be a little challenging with up hills and down hills.

And that, my friend, must be accounted for when picking out the right hiking boots size for you.

So how should a hiking boot fit on inclined surfaces?

If your hiking boot size has too much space, you will notice that your feet will slide a little forward or backward depending if you are going downhill or uphill. 

Not only will you feel uncomfortable, but your footing also will not be stable and this is extremely hazardous during hikes. 

The tip here is to try on your hiking boots and walk on an inclined surface to judge how severe the slide is on your feet.

Once again, if you have applied the measurement check under Tip #2, you will most likely be fine. But no harm checking!

8. Comfortability Check With Loading

If you are going on a fairly long hiking trail, chances are you will load up your backpack with supplies and various gears.

So what happens if you are carrying a loaded backpack on your shoulders? 

This will cause additional downward pressure to your feet in the hiking boots and may shift the positioning of your foot. That said, I do highly recommend you to try on your hiking boots with a loaded bag. 

But of course, you do not have to bring out your whole arsenal of hiking gear to the store! Simply bring a loaded backpack while trying out your hiking boots and see what size hiking boots fit best!

9. Perform A Simple Hiking Simulation

After clearing all doubts about how big should hiking boots be, the final step is to perform a simple hiking simulation. 

The end goal of purchasing a pair of hiking boots and sizing hiking boots properly is to ensure that your feet will be comfortable throughout the hike. 

As you try your hiking boots (with socks on and mock loading!), walk around, sit, squat or whatever movement that you may do during a hike.

Here, you should try to identify if any of the motions feel uncomfortable as this is probably the last and final chance before the cashier gladly takes your money!

If the hiking boots size causes no discomfort, viola, you have found your perfect hiking boots size, and your feet are all set for a comfortable hike!

Are Hiking Boots The Same Size As Shoes?

You’ve probably wondered if hiking boots are the same size as shoes.

It is a common misconception that hiking boots are the same size as hiking shoes. Keep in mind that each of them is designed with a different purpose.

When picking your hiking boots for your next hike, many hikers suggest that a pair of right hiking boots should be a half or full size larger than their normal shoe size as a good starting point.

How Do I Know What Size Hiking Boots To Buy?

So if you’re thinking to yourself how do I know what size hiking boots to buy, most experienced hikers share that a pair of right hiking boots should be a half or full size larger than their normal shoe size

You should choose a size larger if you are:

1. Embarking on a long 

If you did not know already, your feet will swell after a long hike. Slightly larger hiking boots will ensure comfort level is not compromised! 

2. Experiencing narrow toe-box

Notice that your toes are all squeezed together in your hiking boots? That is not healthy for your feet’s health over the long term. 

3. Planning to wear your hiking boots in different seasons

This applies if you are using hiking boots in both the summer and winter seasons. Larger hiking boots sizes allow you to wear thicker socks during your winter hikes!

Do Walking Boots Need To Be A Size Bigger?

Do walking boots need to be a size bigger? Personally, I think that the rule that walking boots need to be a size bigger can be fairly inaccurate.

One fail-safe way to check for the perfect hiking boots size for you is to put one finger behind your heels with your boots on. If there is too much room to move your finger, smaller size is needed, and vice versa.

Are Hiking Boots Supposed To Be A Little Big?

Yes! Hiking boots are supposed to be a little big.

 But how big? 

To give you an idea, hiking boots should fit snug everywhere, tight nowhere, and offer room to wiggle your toes for ultimate comfort levels. 

Ideally, try on your hiking boots with a pair of socks to judge the fitting more accurately.

Conclusion: Hiking Boots Size: 9 Tips To Find Your Perfect Fit

We certainly do not want our trusty hiking boots to fail on us mid-way through a hike!

I can guarantee that hiking boot sizing is one of the most important factors for a pleasant hiking experience. With these tips in mind, you will definitely have no trouble at all to pick out the perfect hiking boot size for your next hike. 

With this hiking boot fitting guide, go out there and pick the best hiking boots for yourself with confidence! 

If you have any more tips regarding hiking boots size picking, do leave a comment below so I can share your valuable insights with other seasonal hikers out there reading this! 

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