Making sure your walking boots or shoes fit well

Shoes transform your body language and attitude. They lift you physically and emotionally. Unknown

It’s important to take the time to find the right footwear. Everyone’s feet are quite different, and different brands have slightly different sizing, so trying on a variety of brands and sizes will more likely help to get a good match. Keep in mind that the most suitable footwear might not be an expensive high-end shoe or boot: expensive shoes that are badly fit can make for a miserable bushwalking experience. Be open to trying a variety of footwear types and sizes, and take the time to trial them thoroughly.

General tips:

  • First and foremost, the footwear must be a good fit and feel comfortable. Any discomfort (pinching, rubbing, tightness) will only get worse on a bushwalk.
  • Aim to fit new footwear in the evening, since feet tend to swell during the day. Also, check the fitting again first thing in the morning. In both cases, the footwear should be comfortable.
  • Wear the socks that you’re planning to walk in when trying on the footwear.
  • Trim toenails beforehand.
  • Take any orthotic footbed needed.
  • Properly fitting footwear will lock the heel in place, be a snug fit around the foot but still allow enough room to wiggle toes. Toes should not hit the toebox.
  • Buying footwear online is hard, unless buying a pair that has previously worked well. If trying a new style or brand, take the time to visit a local outdoor shop.
  • Leather boots need breaking in, particularly near the front of the boot, the sides and the heel. Keep this in mind when fitting leather.

Fitting A step by step guide to fitting bushwalking footwear

  1. Select an appropriate footwear style based on the type of walking and areas they’ll most likely be used on.
  2. Try a variety of sizes and brands of that footwear. If possible, get feet measured in a by a standard shoe-fitting device (even if size is known). It’s common for people to have one foot larger than the other. Always size footwear to the biggest foot.
  3. Loosen laces, slip foot inside.
  4. Before doing up the laces, check the length: when the heel is fully down, there should be roughly one finger width between the heel and shoe. Also, check toe-splay when standing up: there should be no rubbing or discomfort.
  5. Lace up footwear, making sure the ankle is securely locked in.
  6. Now check the width: the toes and sides of the feet should not be squashed nor slide from side to side.
  7. Walk around and roll forward onto tip toes several times: the heel should not lift or rub. Check by crouching down and bending forward. If the heel is rubbing, select footwear with a smaller heel.
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  9. Walk up and down an incline: toes should not press against the toebox.
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  11. Check there’s no pinching at any points (e.g. from the laces or tongue).
  12. If everything checks out okay, do a few more laps around the store to be sure. Don’t rush, take the time to figure out what’s comfortable and right. Before purchasing, check the returns policy: many shops are happy to accept footwear returns as long as they haven’t been worn outside.

Custom footwear fitting Tricks for fitting boots and shoes to some foot oddities

Everyone’s feet are slightly differently shaped, and it can be challenging finding footwear to work for some types of feet. There are a few tricks that can help improve fits for some common foot types.

  • Narrow foot
    Use a thicker insole or try a different lacing technique.
  • Narrow heel
    Try a woman’s footwear as they tend to have a slightly narrower heel.
  • Wide foot
    Try a men’s footwear as they tend to be wider. Alternatively, change the lacing technique to remove pressure on the front of the footwear.
  • High instep
    Put in additional arch support on the insole.

Comfort How to make existing footwear more comfortable

There are a few basic repairs and adjustments that can help give an old pair of boots or shoes a new lease of life. As long as the soles are not too worn, and the upper material is still in good condition, it’s worth tweaking a few things to make them last a few more miles.

  1. Replace the laces, which stretch and wear out over time. New laces have better grip and are able to hold the foot more strongly in place.
  2. Replace the insole, which wears thin and degrades over time. A new thicker insole improves support by providing a tighter fit. Using an extra insole is also another way to combat heel-slip by locking the foot tightly in place.
  3. Replace socks, which wear out over time. New socks make all the difference for comfort and support.