How Should Hiking Boots Fit

How Should Hiking Boots Fit

Have you ever worn boots that did not fit your feet when hiking? If so, you could get blisters. You might also experience mild to moderate leg pain and might not enjoy hiking at all. Thus, finding the proper boots for hiking is essential.

Today’s article will provide you with helpful information about how hiking boots should fit. Let’s find it out now!

Why Are Hiking Boots Important?

Why Are Hiking Boots Important
Why Are Hiking Boots Important?

Many people mistakenly think that hiking boots are like other casual sports shoes or running shoes. However, it is a misconception.

Hiking boots are a type of mountaineering boots. They are specially designed shoes that include outstanding features for hiking treks. Usually, these treks are in places with rather complicated terrain. Sometimes, hikers even have to cross the forest to wade streams.

So why do hikers have to wear hiking boots? Are they essential for a hiking trek? The answer is always yes for the following three reasons.

First, hiking footwear keeps your feet warm, especially during winter trips.

Second, they will protect your feet from scratches and not be damaged by hitting obstacles on the road.

Third, they support and help you move more quickly, especially in rough terrain.

Different Types of Hiking Boots

Different Types of Hiking Boots
Different Types of Hiking Boots

Hiking boots consist of three types: hiking shoes, day hiking boots, and backpacking boots. Each type has its features and uses. Specifically:

Hiking shoes

They are low-necked shoes with a flexible midsole suitable for mountain climbing. Some riders also use trail running shoes for hiking.

Day hiking boots

Day hiking boots
Day hiking boots

Day hiking boots are rich in badgers and high necks. They are designed for hiking or short trips with light luggage. Usually, these shoes have high flexibility with quick break-in times. However, they are less durable and have poor foot support than backpacking shoes.

Backpacking boots

Backpacking boots are shoes designed to be worn when you have to carry heavy luggage on long trips to remote areas. Most of these shoes have a high collar covering your ankles and provide excellent ankle support.

Also, they are very durable with the ability to support spiked feet due to the sturdy midsole. Therefore, these shoes are highly suitable for both the road and the trail.

How Should Hiking Boots Fit?

How Should Hiking Boots Fit
How Should Hiking Boots Fit?

The most significant factor when buying a new pair of hiking boots is fit. Because when you go hiking, your feet will have to support the weight of your body and the luggage you bring. That is why they must be comfortable.

To know whether hiking boots are fit is not very difficult. When you try on a pair of them, the nice one should fit the sides of your feet. It means they should not be too tight and still have extra space for the toes to move inside. In other words, they should not let your toes touch the end of your boots.

Once you have firmly placed your foot inside the shoes, move your weight to the foot’s front. If you can put your index finger between the heels and the back of the boot, it is fit.

You also have to check the width. A well-fitted pair of hiking boots won’t get tight at the widest part of the forefoot. You also won’t feel like a heel prick or discomfort in your ankles.

Besides, do not let your toes get pinched or touch the edges of the shoes when moving. If the laces are already tightened, and you still feel wide at the top of your foot, the shoe does not fit your foot.

Below are some valuable tips to get the best fit for hiking boots.

Tip 1: Feature suitability.

Feature suitability
Feature suitability

Choosing a pair of hiking boots with few features but fitting your foot is better than picking a feature-packed one that doesn’t work.

Tip 2: The time of day.

The time of day
The time of day

As the day passes, your feet will swell up, looking like they will be on a trail. Thus, you had better buy hiking boots at the end of the day – when your feet are the biggest.

Tip 3: Go to the shoe store instead of shopping online.

Go to the shoe store instead of shopping online
Go to the shoe store instead of shopping online

Most shops will have an available steep slope when buying directly at the shop. You can experience how the boots are like when you hike.

Tip 4: Take some time to go shopping for hiking boots.

Take some time to go shopping for hiking boots
Take some time to go shopping for hiking boots

Good shoes are not cheap, and they will affect your feet as well. So take a moment to choose the best fit.

If you are too busy, you can research online to come up with options first, then go to the store to try on shoes. That way you can save more time.

Tip 5: Try hiking boots at home.

Try hiking boots at home
Try hiking boots at home

Spend time retrying the hiking boots you’ve just bought to make sure they fit your feet before your hiking trek begins.

To better understand how to fit hiking boots, you can refer to this video:

Components of A Hiking Boot

Usually, a hiking boot consists of three main components: the upper part, midsole, and additional add-on.

The upper part

Materials are necessary for choosing suitable boots
Materials are necessary for choosing suitable boots

The material that makes up each shoe affects the weight, breathable durability, and water resistance. Thus, learning the hiking shoes’ materials is necessary for choosing suitable boots.

Full-grain leather

Full-grain leather means the leather that has not been polished, lined, or stamped to remove imperfections on the surface of the skin pad. It helps the skin patch maintain its particles and full cuticles intact.

Therefore, full-grain leather is usually very natural and durable. Its abrasion resistance and water resistance are also excellent. Accordingly, this leather has been popularly used to create specialized hiking shoes for hiking, trekking, etc.

However, shoes made of this material are not as light and breathable as shoes that use a combination of nylon and split-grain leather. They also need to go through a rather time-consuming break-in phase when comfortably worn.

Split-grain leather

The Split-grain leather boot
The Split-grain leather boot

Split-grain leather is often used in combination with nylon or nylon mesh to create lightweight and breathable shoes. This skin type is the fibrous part of the patch’s skin after the top-grain and the full-grain leather.

Although it is cheaper than other leather, it is much less resistant to water and wears.

Nubuck leather

Nubuck leather is a machined full-grain leather (sanded or polished) to have a softer, suede-like surface.

This leather is very resistant to water and excellent abrasion resistance.  Also, it is very comfortable to wear because the leather has been processed.

The nubuck leather is quite flexible but needs to be broken in before you can comfortably wear it. Besides, you must also take care of it to maintain its beauty.

Synthetic leather

Synthetic leather boot
Synthetic leather boot

It includes polyester nylon and other synthetic leather materials commonly used to make shoes and boots today.

The shoes made of this material are much lighter than the leather break-in shoes, which takes less time than fast drying and low cost. However, they have the disadvantage of wearing out faster due to more stitches outside.

Waterproof coating

The waterproof coating of some shoes and boots has the upper body coated with water to keep the feet dry in wet conditions. However, this waterproof layer reduces the ability of the feet to sweat easily in hot weather (compared to the breathable mesh used on some non-waterproof shoes).

For vegetarians

The Vegetarian hiking shoes
The Vegetarian hiking shoes

Vegetarian hiking shoes are not made with any animal products.

The ability to hold heat

Some climbing shoes have a thermosetting layer made of synthetic fibers to keep the feet warm when traveling in icy areas.


The shoe's sole is a cushion that prevents the foot from bouncing
The shoe’s sole is a cushion that prevents the foot from bouncing

The shoe’s sole is a cushion that prevents the foot from bouncing and is an essential factor in the shoe’s rigidity. A sturdy shoe may not sound very appealing to wear.

Still, it is most comfortable and stable when traveling on rocky and uneven surfaces. Because of its sturdy construction and excellent off-road grip, it will always protect your feet. The most common materials that make up the midsole are EVA resin and polyurethane.

EVA plastic: EVA is softer, lighter, and cheaper. The thickness of the EVA midsole depends on which foot position needs to be protected the most (e.g., the toe tip).

Polyurethane plastic is sturdier and more lateral, so it is often used for hiking shoes.

Additional add-on

Commonly, the inside of hiking boots includes the shank bars and the plates. Specifically:

The shank bars are 3 to 5 mm thick and lined between the midsole and the shoe’s outsole to increase the load on the midsole. These bars can be about a half of the sole’s length.

The plates are thin, flexible plates lined between the midsole and the shoe’s outsole (underneath the shank if present). These panels can help protect the foot from injury when stepping on roots or uneven rocks and blocks.


The outsoles of all hiking shoes are made of rubber material
The outsoles of all hiking shoes are made of rubber material

The outsoles of all hiking shoes are made of rubber material. Other materials like carbon fiber are occasionally added to increase the rigidity of the shoe. A sturdy outsole will be more durable but less off-road when walking on trails.

The outsole pattern is the protrusion on the eye surface of the outsole. Hiking shoes often have more profound and thicker claws for increased terrain grip. Outsoles with spaced nails are better for walking on mud.

The heel brake is a heel section designed to reduce slipperiness when riding on a slope.

Crampon Compatibility

Suppose you have already planned to climb or hike in icy areas. In that case, you should choose shoes dedicated to that and add crampon soles (detachable spikes for hiking shoes) for added security complete.

Sizes of Hiking Boots

Sizes of Hiking Boots
Sizes of Hiking Boots

Hiking means you have to move in rugged terrain constantly. Besides, you may also wear a backpack on the shoulder. That will create friction, and your feet will be bigger than usual. Therefore you should choose a larger size from 0.5 to 1 size than regular shoes.

The heel lift may also affect what size hiking boots you should choose. The heel lift is a space that you mechanically create while you step. It will transfer the weight from behind your heel forward until your toes.

You cannot know precisely how much the heel lift is. However, you can walk around and experience whether your boots have too much heel lift or not. In case you cannot feel any heel lift, your shoes may be too small.

Also, it is necessary to check the width of your feet because sometimes the boots mat fit your feet’s length but a little tight for the width. Currently, many shoe stores provide a boot fitter to measure customers’ feet. Thus, choosing hiking boots in the correct size will be easier and more accurate.

We hope you will select great hiking boots and experience wonderful hiking trips! Do not hesitate to give us comments below if you have any questions about hiking boots.


Is a hiking boot bigger than normal shoes (same size)?

Some boots may look more extensive because of the materials and styles than the regular shoes, though they have the exact sizes.

Should I size up or down for hiking boots?

Due to the backpack’s weight and the friction created during the hike, your feet will be bigger than usual. Sizing up the hiking boots will make you feel more comfortable.

Should hiking boots fit snug?

The answer is yes. Also, it should be tight nowhere and has space for your toes to wiggle.

How are walking boots supposed to fit?

Fit hiking boots should have enough space for your heel. That way, they will not squash your toes.

Should I buy a boot half size bigger?

Yes, it will make your feet more comfortable when you are hiking. You can choose a larger size from 0.5 to 1 size than regular shoes.