How Tight Should Hiking Boots Be?

how tight should hiking boots be

There are so many aspects to consider while purchasing hiking footwear. You may be examining features, brands, pricing, and a whole list of other considerations.

However, the greatest hiking boots in the world are no good if they don’t fit your feet appropriately. Fit is one of the most significant qualities of a hiking boot, but also the most difficult to judge since everyone’s physique is a little different.

When choosing a pair, you might be wondering how tight should hiking boots be. So, to avoid mistakes during your purchase, read on!

What Are Hiking Boots?

Hiking boots are a type of footwear designed to provide extra support and protection while hiking on rough terrain. They are usually made from tough, durable materials like leather or synthetic fabric and have thicker soles than regular shoes.

how tight should hiking boots be

Different Types Of Boots


These shoes, just like every other hiking boot, should have aggressive treads that can safely traverse a wide range of terrain. For long-distance lightweight hikers, this might include trail running shoes, which are becoming increasingly popular.

Mid-rise Or High-rise

These are the boots that reach your ankles. It is common to use this sort of footwear for rough trekking, such as traversing muddy terrain, snow, or water. They’re also more durable for rough expeditions, and they keep you warmer than your low-rise counterparts

Waterproof Or Non-waterproof

Waterproofing is another element that is mostly a matter of personal opinion. The only exception to this is if you trek often in snow or rain, in which case waterproof hiking boots are a must; your feet will thank you. But if you’re more of a fair-weather hiker, the decision to wear waterproof footwear is really up to you.

In the event of a four-hour rainstorm or a knee-high stream crossing, you’re going to get your feet wet regardless of whether you’re wearing waterproof or non-waterproof hiking footwear.

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Waterproof boots, on the other hand, come in helpful whether you’re wading through muddy streams or tromping over snow, or trudging through damp grass or light rain.

Things To Consider When Trying Or Purchasing Hiking Boots

Here are some things to keep in mind while purchasing hiking boots.

Be Aware Of Your Size

Trace the outline of your foot and use it as a guide to finding out what size shoes you wear. Always take your measurements at the end of the day, when your feet are at their largest size for accurate results.

Trace both of your feet since individuals have feet of varied sizes. Even if you know your shoe size, it’s always a good idea to check with the manufacturer’s measuring guidelines to be sure you’re getting the right fit.

It is recommended to have your feet measured by a shoe shop specialist since they can also measure your arch, which is difficult to perform at home.

Check Ratings And Reviews

When it comes to shoes, many online reviews comment on whether a pair “runs big,” “runs tiny,” or “feels tight.” This kind of feedback may be useful, even if it is subjective since it provides valuable information regarding the shoe’s size and fit.

Try Before Purchasing It

Even if you’re purchasing from a well-known brand, it’s a good idea to try on a pair of hiking boots beforehand. Here’s how to ensure that your hiking boots are the proper size for your feet.

Try And Wear Them At Night

Don’t try on hiking boots in the morning since your feet grow later in the day. If your feet are on the smaller or bigger end of the size spectrum, go with the larger size.

Bring Hiking-appropriate Insoles And Socks

If you want to go trekking, carry the socks you normally wear and any inserts you may need. You will need it when you try on a pair.

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Toe Space

You should be able to wriggle and stretch your toes within the boot when it’s laced up.

Heel Space

Fitting two fingers between the rear of your heel and the boot wall should be possible.


The top of the boot should rest softly on top of your foot when laced up. The shoe’s volume is too high if you see a gap at the arch of your foot. The shoe is excessively tight if you experience discomfort while wearing it.

how tight should hiking boots be

How To Test Your Hiking Boots

Stand Up With Your Boots On

Ideally, your feet should not feel any squeezing or pressure.

Move Your Feet Forward And Then Backwards

A little amount of forwarding motion in the boot should allow your toes to glide forward a little. If the boot doesn’t feel right as you roll your foot up to the ball of your foot, you may want to look elsewhere.

Move Your Feet Side To Side

With lateral stability, the boot should be supportive of your ankle.

Go For A Walk

This shoe should not have any seams or pressure areas that you can feel when you wear it. You’ll get blisters from it on the hike if you can feel it in the shop.

Should Hiking Boots Be Tight?

A good pair of hiking boots should be snug enough to keep your foot in place, but not so tight that it puts strain on your foot.

An ideal shoe should provide enough support in the middle, with some wiggle space in the toe and heel areas, where the foot naturally moves while walking.

There are a variety of lacing methods for hiking boots, and if the shoe bottom is supportive and pleasant, you can typically alter tightness and sliding with various lacing techniques.

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Benefits Of Tight Hiking Boots

Tight hiking boots offer a few benefits over loose-fitting shoes, such as:

Reduced Blisters

A snug fit helps to reduce the risk of blisters forming on your feet.

Increased Support

Tight shoes provide increased support for your ankles, which can be beneficial when hiking on uneven terrain.

Less Dirt And Debris

Loose-fitting shoes are more likely to let in dirt and debris, which can be uncomfortable and cause damage to your feet.

Disadvantages Of Tight Hiking Boots

Tight hiking boots also have a few disadvantages, including:

Difficulty Putting On And Taking Off

If your boots are too tight, it can be difficult to get them on and off.

Increased Risk Of Foot Problems

If your boots are too tight, it can increase the risk of developing foot problems, such as bunions or hammertoe.

Less Breathability

Tight shoes don’t allow your feet to breathe as well, which can lead to sweaty and smelly feet.

how tight should hiking boots be

Tips When Wearing Hiking Boots

If you do choose to wear tight hiking boots, there are a few things you can do to make them more comfortable:

Wear Thick Socks

Thick socks help to cushion your feet and prevent blisters.

Break-In Your Boots

Wearing your boots around the house for a few days before hitting the trails can help to break them in and make them more comfortable.

Use Lacing Techniques

There are a variety of lacing techniques that can help to loosen or tighten your boots as needed.

The Bottom Line

A good pair of hiking boots should be snug but not too tight. There are both benefits and disadvantages to tight shoes, so it’s important to find a balance that works for you. If you’re having difficulty finding a pair of boots that fit well, consider seeking out professional help from a reputable retailer.

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