Choosing the Correct Hiking Boots for you

Choosing the Correct Hiking Boots for you

Getting the right fit of hiking boots is crucial. Get it wrong and you'll be uncomfortable and may even end up with blisters by the end of your trip.

Here are some tips to help you get it right first time when choosing the right hiking boots.

When should I try boots on?
The best time to try boots on is at the end of the day, or after a long walk. This is because your feet are usually a little larger once the blood circulation kicks in, rather than first thing in the morning.

Always try boots on with similar socks to those intended to be used. With the footbeds and padding in modern boots most walkers prefer to wear one thick pair of socks. Ideally bring your socks for the try-on, but we also have socks in store for this purpose if needed. Remember quality socks in good condition make a huge difference to foot comfort so don’t get brand spanking new boots and then go walking in old socks.

Try the shoes on starting with a size that you consider to be your normal foot size. However, don't get caught up too much on your 'normal shoe size' as shoe sizes are often inconsistent between brands and can even vary between different models of the same brand!
As a guide, you should have approximately a thumb's width of space between the end of your toe and the end of the boot.

How can I tell if they fit?
The shoe should feel like it's wrapping around your whole foot comfortably, with no side-to-side slippage in the shoe. You should be able to wiggle your toes, and the shoe should not feel like it's crushing your foot on the sides.

Take your time to do the laces up properly and take a walk around the shop. Your heel should fit snugly in the heel counter and not have an excessive lift. A small amount is normal, especially in stiffer boots, but this will settle down once they're broken in. While you walk, take note of anything that feels like it's digging in or creating a hotspot on your foot.

Remember, only you can tell if the shoe is comfortable. Most of the time, the right shoe is the one that instantly feels comfortable from the moment you put it on.

Fitting Guide
Allow enough length in the boot. A good test is to slide your foot right to the front of the boot while unlaced and slip your fingers down the heel. There should be 1 to 1.5 finger widths clear at the heel. This space becomes available in front of the toes when the boot is laced.

Check there is room in the heel, 1-1.5 fingers is a good fit

Seat your heel into the rear of the boot and lace firmly. Once laced, tap the toe of the boot firmly on the ground or a wall a few times. If the boots are a good fit, your foot should stay snug and your toes shouldn't touch the front of the boots.
Tap your toe to the floor to check they don't hit the front of the boot

Look for a good fit in the heel cup and across the toe box. Boots are made in different widths so you may need to change models or brands if the width does not suit. For example, Scarpa boots are quite a narrow fit, however KEEN boots might be a good option if you have a wider foot. Make sure the boot is wide enough for your foot and also long enough so that your foot doesn't rub. This is one oe the main causes of blisters when you're walking.
Make sure the boot is wide and long enough so your feet don't rub


Odd sized feet
Most people have one foot slightly larger than the other. You must buy for the larger foot.

Wearing In
Wear the boots inside for half a day or so to ensure that the fit is right. If you've worn them around the house for a few hours and the size doesn't feel right, we are happy to exchange sizes with you, providing you haven't worn the boots outside or gotten them muddy/dirty. 
Once you're confident they are a good fit, then wear them for some short walks to ease them in before heading off on a big trip. If they feel a bit tight put on an extra pair of socks and go for a short walk, perhaps 30 minutes, around your neighbourhood. They will feel uncomfortable but this will usually be enough to stretch them a little into exactly your foot shape. Do not do this just before an actual walk; your feet may need a day or two to recover.


  1. Do I need waterproof boots?
    While a waterproof shoe is great in cold and wet conditions, they can be counterproductive in hot conditions. This is because while the waterproof liner is breathable, it isn't as breathable as not having it there at all.
    In warm environments, a waterproof shoe is hotter than a non-waterproof model. This is important to note because hot feet are more prone to blisters so you should carefully consider when and where you will be mostly using your shoes.
  2. What is a Vibram sole?
    Vibram is an Italian company that manufacture the outsoles of shoes. They are one of the market leaders and the yellow Vibram symbol is an indication of a good quality sole.
    However, some high-quality shoes utilise their own brand of sole, which shouldn't always be considered inferior quality.
  3. What are the best hiking socks?
    The golden rule for hiking socks is to NOT wear cotton. You should choose wool, synthetic, or socks with a blend of these fibres.
    Good quality socks maintain a comfortable fit while providing support and cushioning. They also last much longer than cheaper varieties. Socks stitched from Merino wool or synthetic fibres have the added ability to 'wick' moisture away from your foot and will dry a lot faster.
  4. Do I need insoles?
    The inserts that come with shoes provide cushioning and some support. If you have particularly high arches or a low volume foot you, may need to consider different inserts to make the shoe fit correctly.
    We also have a lot of customers who have been recommended a custom insole by their podiatrist, so it becomes a necessity that the insoles are removable and they can use their custom insole. Most of the shoes in our current range enable you to do this.
  5. What's the best way to lace a hiking boot?
    If the shoe fits correctly, you shouldn't need to do anything overly complicated with your lacing. There are some techniques that can be used to fine-tune the fit of your boots (eg. Lock Lacing, Hiking Lacing, Army Lacing).
  6. My mate says to get a pair of Scarpa Terra's, his are great!
    What works for one person, does not necessarily work for the next. Depending on your build and foot shape you will probably find a different shoe that is just as suitable for you.
  7. I'm a size 9 in my Scarpa's, my KEEN boots don't fit but they are the same size?
    Most hiking shoe brands have different traits. Some are true to size, some are smaller or larger, some are narrow and some are wide. The best way to find the shoe for you? Try them on. At the end of the day, only you can feel if the boot 'fits right'.

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