Hiking involves carrying a heavy load, trekking for long distances, and being constantly on the move. Your hiking boot will therefore make all the difference and will determine just how successful or miserable your hiking trip is.
Buying a hiking boot is one thing, but how well does the boot fit you? Unless you want blisters and continuous foot pain, one thing you need to consider is the toe room.
The toe room you have in your boot will translate to just how comfortable the boot will be. Get it wrong and you might end up ruining the entire hike.
But the question is, just how much toe room is enough when you are wearing a hiking boot? Let’s find out.
How to Achieve the Perfect Fit in Hiking Boots
When it comes to toe room in a hiking boot, there is no universal rule on how much toe room there should be.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how comfortable the boot feels. Get a boot that shapes well to your feet and leaves enough toe room for comfort but not too much that your feet keep moving inside the boot.
The rule of thumb however is to have at least a thumb width of space between the end of the toe and the toe box. There are certain measures you can take to ensure that your hunting boot fits properly right off the box.
Carry your hiking socks
When you are hiking you will most definitely be wearing socks. As such, your hiking socks also play a vital role in determining just how well the boots will fit.
When you are buying a hiking boot, ensure that you don’t try the shoe on with the normal socks you would wear when walking around the neighbourhood or going to work.
Trail socks are different in terms of material and thickness and therefore it would be wise to bring them with you to the store.
When you are trying on a hiking boot, wear the socks you hike in and see how well the boot fits. Try moving around the shop to ensure that they fit perfectly and that there is no unnecessary pressure on your feet. Likewise, try moving your toes up and down to ensure that the toe room is sufficient.
Buy hiking boots towards the end of the day
Your feet in the morning are different from how they are in the evening. During the day your feet are likely to swell.
Likewise, hiking means trekking for long hours, on different terrains, and being constantly on the move. Your feet with therefore swell in the process.
As such, the worst mistake you can make is buying hiking boots in the morning when your legs are fresh and well-rested.
Try as much as you can to replicate hiking conditions, by going boot shopping at the end of the day. This will ensure that you don’t end up with perfectly fitting boots that will end up being too tight when you are in the course of hiking because your feet have swollen and there’s no longer any toe room left.
Try the toe-tap test
So you’ve already selected the best pair of hiking boots after trying on with your hiking socks and with your feet swollen – but it doesn’t end there.
The toe-tap test will determine if you need to go a size up or down. Unlace the laces of the boots and then stand up and tap your toe on the ground behind the other foot’s heel.
If your boot is of the perfect fit, your toe should slide naturally to the front of your boot. Once that has been established, insert two fingers side by side behind the heel. Your fingers should slide in effortlessly. If they can’t then you need a bigger boot size.
Likewise, if the space is too much, then you need to go a size down. This is because too much space will only cause your foot to move inside the boot which causes friction and finally blisters when you are hiking.
Test the boots down a slope
When you are going downhill, your feet will move forward towards the front of the boot. If the toe room is not enough, it could end up ruining your hike due to painful feet.
Similar to breaking in a hiking boot, test your boot down a slope. Most stores will have a ramp to test the boots.
Try going down the ramp to replicate an actual hunting trail and see how the boots behave. If they are too tight, you need to go a size up.
Ideally, at the end of the day, this will all depend on where you will be hiking. If you will be hiking in flat terrain, then you don’t need to pick a boot that is too large. If the trail is however mostly sloppy, then a bigger boot will do you good.
What Determines the Hiking Boot Fit?
When you are trying on a hiking boot, to ensure a good fit, there are four areas that you need to pay attention to.
The arch and heel area
In these areas you want your hunting boot to be snug such that they are hugging the feet just right. When trying on the boot, ensure that there is not too much space that the boot feels baggy.
Likewise, the areas shouldn’t also feel too squeezed or there shouldn’t be a lot of pressure.
This is the area just before the toes and it happens to be the widest area of the foot. If you buy a boot that is too narrow, you will feel pressure across the forefoot.
On the other hand, if the hiking boot is too wide, it will feel baggy and will not have shaped perfectly to your foot.
Your toes when you are hiking need space and should not feel restricted. If the boot is too small and there isn’t much in terms of toe room, then you are looking at painful blisters when you go hiking.
The room should be enough that your toe doesn’t push too much to the front of the boot even when you are walking downhill.
It is because of this reason, that you need to give the toe-tap test a try before you walk out of the store with a pair of boots that you will have a hard time hiking in.
When buying hunting boots, very few people pay attention to the laces even though they play a vital role in determining just how well your boots fit.
You want the laces of the boots to be tight all the way up your boot. As such, if you just tighten the top part of the lace, the bottom part remains loose. Loose laces will mean your feet rubbing inside the boot which can end up causing blisters.
If you are going hiking, your boots need to hug your feet perfectly. Poorly fitting boots end up causing blisters especially since hiking means covering all manner of terrain. Before you buy a hiking boot, ensure that you have enough toe room for added comfort and support. When you are buying hiking boots, therefore, try and replicate hiking conditions by taking your hiking socks with you, trying the toe-tap test, buying hiking boots when your feet are swollen, and most importantly trying the boots on a sloppy surface. If your boots are too tight, go a size up. At the same time, if there is too much room, it means the boot is too big for you. All in all, sufficient toe room means happy feet at the end of your hiking adventure.