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Gear Guide Boot Buying Guide, OutdoorPlaces.Com



 OutdoorPlaces.Com Boot Buying Gear Guide - Fitting


You can buy the best boots in the world, if they are not fitted properly it won't matter, you will be sore, you will have blisters and you won't be happy.  When looking for new hiking boots we offer the following suggestions:


  • Wear/bring the socks you will use hiking.  Cotton socks should general be avoided.  Wool, Cool-Max, VVS, or a wool-blend material are ideal.  Liner socks made of Cool-Max or VVS should also be purchased.  Good quality socks for hiking can range from $7 to $20 a pair, and some even had specific designs for left and right feet.

  • Shop at the end of the day.  Try to go for a walk or be on your feet.  It is not a good time to look after sitting at a desk all day.  Do a day of running around for errands and then go try on boots.  Your feet will be slightly swollen, which will better simulate a couple of hours of hiking.

  • Have your feet measured.  Most people that own a number of shoes know that there size will probably wobble 1/2 shoe size in either direction depending on the style and manufacturer.  Don't assume you are a size 11, get measured because our feet do change over time.

  • Walk around in your boots.  Walk around in the store.  Try to purchase for a location that has an incline ramp.  If they don't hop around from bench to bench (hey, this is a big decision -- and our editors here have done it at a number of stores).  Climb up on benches, chairs, or anything you can and hop down.  Does your heel lift off of the sole when you step up?  Do your toes get scrunched when you step down?  If they do re-lace your boots and try again.  If your foot is moving more than a 1/2 inch off of the heel, or your toes are uncomfortable when stepping down, try a different size or style.  Don't get hung up on buying a particular style from a particular company -- trust your feet.

  • Kick some hard objects.  Find a solid object and kick it a few times.  Do your toes move forward in the boot?  If so re-lace them and try again.  If your toes move forward the boot may be to large, conversely if you can feel what you are kicking and it is uncomfortable, your boot may be too small.

  • One boot may not do it all.  One boot may not cover all of your needs.  If you plan to do backcountry hiking with a heavy pack, and also plan to explore the Rim Trail on the Grand Canyon in a leisurely stroll, you should not expect your On Trail boot to meet your backpacking needs.  Just like many active paddlers own several boats for a variety of conditions, a number of active hikers own a variety of footwear for the conditions they experience.

  • Don't buy boots from the internet.  You read that right, don't buy your boots from the internet.  If you are new to hiking you should get your boots professional fitted.  At the bare minimum try and fit them in a store and then buy what you are looking for on the internet (if your conscious doesn't bother you doing that).  Remember, mass produced products are built in lots, the size 11 you tried on at the local hiking store may come from a different lot off of the internet and not feel the same.  If you find a boot that fits well, go with it.  This is the specific reason why OutdoorPlaces.Com does not offer boots on our site, and we never will.

Other general features you should look for in a new hiking boot include:


  • The less number of pieces the upper is made from, the better.  Try to find uppers made for three or less pieces of material.  Complex stitching and patterns on the upper allow for points for water to get into, make a weaker boot, and each seam is a potential point of irritation.

  • Select a boot that has a reinforced heel.  Just like toe rands are important, a reinforcement of leather or other material stitched over the seam on the back of the heel protects this vulnerable spot from getting cut when hiking.

  • Boots with linings from a number of materials that wick away moisture should be given consideration.  Your feet naturally sweat when you are on the trail and lined boots can help on keeping that moisture away from your skin.  Leather lined boots can be especially comfortable but add a lot of cost to the construction, and require special care to prevent mold from growing on the inside of the boot.

  • Select above ankle boots that have speed lacers.  Instead of eye loops running up to the top of the boot, the laces slip into notches that allow for quick lacing, and easy adjustment to the amount of pressure around the ankle.  Speed lacers also assist in preventing the tongue of the boot from irritating the top of your foot.

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