How To Size Hiking Boots?

how to size hiking boots

Hiking is a good way to stay fit. However, if your boots or shoes don’t fit, it might be a terrible experience. Blisters, blue and black finger toes, and missing toenails are all things no one enjoys.

The problem is that many hikers and backpackers are unsure of how to properly measure and size their hiking footwear. If you are one of them and want to learn how to size hiking boots, then read on!

how to size hiking boots

What Is The Ideal Size And Shape Of Hiking Boots?

You should be able to wriggle your toes in the toe box of your hiking boots (and shoes) without causing any discomfort in the forefoot.

At the very least, you should have at least a half-inch gap from your longest toe toward the end of the shoe. ” About the breadth of a human finger, in other words. The additional room will have the following effects:

  • Allow for swelling feet while purchasing footwear, which is usual on long and hard hiking trips
  • Your toes should be able to stretch out freely for a more stable foundation.
  • Make sure your toes don’t touch the end of your boots while descending steep slopes. A typical cause of toe injuries and missing toenails is this.

Your hiking shoe size is likely to be half or even full sizes larger compared to your regular shoe size. It’s not just a matter of going up a size, though. In the end, you’re looking for a hiking boot or shoe that’s a perfect fit for your foot. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to properly fit your hiking boots or shoes.

Methods On how to size hiking boots

If you want to acquire comfortable hiking boots, you should get them fitted by a professional at a hiking store like REI or another such establishment.

There will be someone there who is familiar with hiking shoes, and they can help you choose which ones are best for you and which ones go well with your planned treks. Hikers and backpackers often use a combination of these three strategies to determine the optimum fit for their gear.

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Stand On The Insoles Of The Shoes

Taking the insoles out of hiking shoes or hiking boots and standing on them is the easiest method to get them to fit. Make sure your foot is correctly situated in the heel cup and arch of the insole before verifying the size. This allows you to check how your feet will fit in a certain hiking shoe, trail runner, or hiking boots before you buy one.


As a general rule, you should be able to see at least a half-inch space between the end of your longest toe and where the boot or shoe meets your foot. A stiff boot or shoe may make it difficult to feel the tip of your toes. However, if you stand on the insoles, you can easily measure the length.


Ideally, the insole should fit the shape of your foot to a degree. You’ll need a bigger shoe or boot if your toes are protruding beyond the insole. You may require a smaller fit if you can see a little of that insole at the borders of your foot.

The insoles may be placed back in, the laces tightened, and the boot or shoe can be taken on an indoor test ride after passing this pre-test. It takes a while to remove the soles, but this is the most precise method for determining if hiking boots or shoes genuinely fit.

how to size hiking boots

One Finger Test

It is also possible to fit hiking boots with the help of a buddy using a finger test. The first step is to loosen all of the laces entirely. You’ll want to do this such that your longest toe is touching the tip of your boot or shoe as you slip your foot forward.

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When you’re done, ask your companion to slip a finger beneath your heel, which may be a bit difficult at first. If you can get one finger in there, you’ve got adequate length. If you can’t fit a finger behind your heel, you need a bigger size. You may need a smaller one if you have space for two fingers.

If you can fit a finger behind your heel, you’re wearing it correctly. You may tighten the ties and walk about to check other aspects of fit after you’ve found the ideal length.

Brannock Device

An old-school Brannock instrument may also be used to assess your shoe size. To be clear, manufacturers don’t use the Brannock sizing standard when designing their hiking boots and shoes. You may only use this as a rough approximation of your height and weight. To compensate for this, most hikers should get a half-size larger than their Brannock size.

Here’s how to use the Brannock gadget in its entirety. For each foot, the Brannock gadget will provide you with three measurements: the heel-to-toe measurement, the heel-to-ball measurement, and the foot’s overall width. It’s a good idea to take measurements of both feet, just in case you have a bigger one. It’s possible to get vital information about how well you’ve fit by taking these measurements.

Tips When Buying Hiking Boots

  • Try on a variety of footwear. Discovering brands and designs that are ideal for your particular set of feet may be accomplished in this manner.
  • An uncomfortable item at the shop will be an uncomfortable one on the trail. If you’re going to wear a new pair of shoes, you should be able to wear them comfortably at the shop or home.
  • Socks for hiking are a must! It’s best to try on the socks you want to hike in so that you can acquire an exact measurement.
  • With orthotics, the situation is the same. Make sure to bring your custom orthotics or hiking insoles to the fitting if you wear them.
  • Different-sized feet aren’t out of the ordinary. Because of this, it’s often preferable to go with the larger foot.
  • As you become older and walk more, your weight is likely to rise. The mid-30s is a good time to re-check your measurements.
  • Volume. Hiking boots and sneakers also differ in volume. Swimming in your boots is a bad idea (i.e. low volume foot in high volume boot). Make your high-volume foot fit inside a low- to the medium-volume shoe. Be on the lookout for signs of an incorrect fit, such as pinch spots, dead space, wrinkles, and so on.
  • Late in the day, put on your hiking boots and sneakers. As the day wears on and your feet expand, the best time to achieve a hiking fit is in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Make sure you have plenty of time to walk about, tap your toes (i.e. make sure your toes don’t contact the edge of your boots), test for heel slippage on an incline ramp, etc. before purchasing a pair of boots. Do not purchase a product if it has any minor flaws, such as a strange arch, seams, pinch points, pressure points, rubs, or wrinkles.
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how to size hiking boots

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when sizing your hiking boots. But with a little bit of research and trial and error, you’ll be able to find the perfect fit for your feet. And once you do, you’ll be able to enjoy all the amazing benefits that come with comfortable, well-fitting hiking boots!

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