How Should Hiking Boots Fit – The Ultimate Guide

Before you hit the hiking trail, it’s crucial that your hiking boots fit perfectly otherwise you may come home with blisters and foot pain at the end of the day. There are a wide variety of hiking boots available so you should match your hiking goals with your footwear.

how should hiking boots fit

So, how should hiking boots fit? If you’d like to know what to look for in hiking boots or how to fit hiking boots, this article is for you.

How To Choose Hiking Boots

Hiking boots that fit right can prevent hotspots, blisters, and plantar fasciitis. Hiking boots that fit your fit perfectly will hold your feet securely without constricting them, and proper arch support is an important part of puzzle.

You should also consider the flexibility, breathability, outsole tread, and weight of the hiking boots. You should also factor in firm arch support that can survive over the miles and a structured heel cup to give you extra cushioning.

How To Size Hiking Boots

size hiking boots

Check The Length

The first thing you want to do is to check if the boots fit the length of your feet. Most people have one foot longer than the other, so check the length of the boots on the longer foot. Loosen up the laces, slip your longer foot into the hiking boot and stand up straight.

Try moving your foot forward until your toes touch the end of the boot. Have someone check to see if there is any space behind your heel. Ideally, this space should be big enough to fit one finger. Your feet swell after hiking all day so there must be room in the boot for expansion.

Another way you can measure the length is by measuring the insoles. Remove the insoles from the boots and stand on them. If they’re the correct fit it should have a space as wide as your thumb between your longest toe and the end of the insole.

Lace It Up And Check The Width

The fit of the hiking boots in length is important but so is the fit in width. If the boots are too wide, you will end up with blisters, and if they’re too tight, your feet will be constricted throughout the whole hiking trip.

To check the fit, lace the boots up and then gauge how your feet feel in the boots. Make sure your feet aren’t too constricted and can move a little. It is OK for the hiking boots to be a little snug since they usually have the ability to stretch around 5%.

Make Sure There’s No Heel Lift

Walk around on your toes for a little bit to ensure there is no heel lift. When lacing the boots, leave the top of your feet loose and tighten up the area across your ankles to keep your heels secure. If there is heel lift, you will get blisters when your heel slides up and down as you’re walking.

Try The Boots On With Socks

fitting hiking boots

When fitting hiking boots, wear the hiking socks that you usually wear for a trip. This will help to ensure that the boots fit correctly.

Walk On An Inclined Surface

Generally, while hiking you’ll be walking uphill and downhill. For this reason, you should try the boots on an inclined surface and see how they feel.

Shop For Boots At The End Of The Day

Your feet usually swell a bit after a day’s walking, so trying hiking boots when your feet are a bit swollen can help you to make the best decision.

Wear A Heavy Load

When trying on hiking boots, you can wear a heavy load to stimulate a true hiking experience. Most times when hiking on a trail you will have a heavy backpack that adds weight to your feet and can cause your feet to shift inside your shoe. Trying the hiking boots on with a heavy load will allow you to tell if your feet are going to be comfortable with your backpack on a real hike.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Go Up a Size Or Half a Size When Purchasing Hiking Boots?

Some hikers suggest that to get the right fit for hiking boots, you should go up a size or half a size. However, this isn’t always the case. You should always stick with your normal shoe size and only go up a size if you are going on a long-distance hike for a couple of days. This is because your feet will swell after several days of hiking and may feel uncomfortable in your normal shoe size.

You can also go a size or half a size bigger if the hiking boots you’re thinking of purchasing have a narrow toe box. This will ensure that your toes aren’t cramped for space while hiking.

How To Tell If Hiking Boots Are Too Big?

  • Your feet move around – if you lace up the boots tightly and your foot still shifts from side to side or forward and backward, then they may be too big. The boots shouldn’t squeeze your feet, and they should fit snuggly around everything except your toes. There should be at least an inch of room at the toe.
  • There is no ankle support even when you tighten the laces. One of the major features of hiking boots is to provide adequate heel and ankle support. Bigger boots do not give enough support to the foot and create friction resulting in blisters.

How Should Hiking Boots Feel?

Hiking boots should support your angle and have enough room for your toes. There should be at least one inch of room for your toes and less than 1/4 inch of heel slip. Your hiking shoes should feel comfortable whether you’re walking on an incline or decline.


Hiking boots can make or break your trip, so follow the tips mentioned in this article to ensure you get the perfect fit. This way your feet are fully protected and supported. Make sure you have a snug fit in the heel and sides with an inch of room at the toe for the best hiking experience.

You can also read this article highlighting the best ways to lace hiking boots to disperse tension across your foot, relieve pressure, and give you better support.

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