When it comes to hiking and backpacking, your footwear is arguably the most important piece of gear you could buy. Nothing will jeopardize your trip faster than an ill-fitting pair of hiking boots. Getting the perfect fit for your hiking boots might not be as easy as checking your shoe size and ordering a pair of boots online. It takes a little more work to find the perfect fit for hiking boots, and trust me, you want a perfect fit when you are hiking several miles a day with a heavy backpack over rough terrain. Below, we will discuss tips for finding that perfect fit.
Before you set foot in a hiking boot store, there are a few things to prepare. First of all, it is a good idea to get some socks that you will be wearing on the trail in advance so you can wear them to the store for the fitting. You can always buy them from the store when you are there as well. Next, take a good look at your feet, or have someone else do so for you (not in a creepy way of course). Look at the features of your feet. Take note to the height of you arch, any bones jutting farther out than the natural outline of your feet, or runners toe (longer second toe than big toe). Lastly, measure your feet, both length and width. This will speed up the process in the store if you already have an idea of what your feet measure.
Store Shopping Tips
When you walk into the hiking boot store, be prepared to spend some time there. It won’t be an in and out job. Measure your foot on the Brannock measuring device (the foot measuring thingy pictured above) to confirm what you already know from your pre-shopping planning. Next, find an associate and explain to him what type of hiking you will be doing and he should get you started on some good boot options. Be patient! Try on lots of boots, and by trying on lots of boots, I mean walking around in each of them, up inclines and down declines. Narrow down your top choices to a few pairs based on the fit and comfort, and then look at the other features and price tag. Don’t, and I mean DON’T shop for features and price tag first (unless you have a strict budget) and fit last. Fit and comfort is the most important aspect of this process.
When you choose your final boots, be sure to take them home and wear them for a few days to make sure they are indeed the most comfortable. Don’t be afraid to return them if not, as this is a common occurrence. Load up a heavy backpack and see how they feel walking up stairs. If they are still perfect, plan an overnight hiking trip just to make sure. You probably won’t be able to return them after hiking on trails, but it never hurts to make sure before setting off on a long extended backpacking trip with boots that become uncomfortable after a couple miles.
Online Shopping Tips
If you are an online shopper and don’t like stores (like me), you might not think it possible to buy hiking boots online. False! I had a successful experience buying my latest pair of hiking boots online, the Asolo TPS 520 GV backpacking boots. I purchased them from Amazon, which was great because they have easy returns. What you need to understand is it might take a little more time to hammer down your perfect fit than if you went to a store. At a store, you can pick up and try on several pairs of shoes in a couple hours. Online, you will need to order a few pairs, try them out, and send the ones that don’t work back. It is tedious, but can be done. If you are mostly interested in online prices and deals, try them on at a local store and buy online (I know, not kosher). It works a lot faster with this approach.
Asolo TPS 520 GV Boots In Action
Your quest for the perfect fit is essential to your comfort on the trail. Don’t take it lightly! Don’t compromise! Keep at it till you find the perfect fit and your feet will thank you after every mile. Hopefully these tips will help you find the perfect pair of hiking boots. For more tips, view the video below or visit the link to Backpacking Samurai for an in depth review on what goes in to high quality hiking boots (part 1) and an in depth guide to fitting your boots (part 2). Thanks for reading, and happy trails!
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- A Guide To Finding The Right Hiking Boot - Part 2 | Backpacking Samurai
In part 2 of our hiking boot guide, we focus on helping you find the right fit. Click here to read tips on choosing the right hiking boot fit for you.