What size walking boots do I need?

a person using walking sticks hikes wearing walking boots and walking

To prepare for an enjoyable outdoors adventure, you need the right shoes and socks - and you may find a sturdy walking cane helpful as well. But when it comes to walking boots, the right size can be hard to judge. Walking boots are much sturdier than everyday shoes, so they often feel heavier on your feet. During long periods of walking, your feet may swell, so your walking shoes shouldn't be too tight. Nor should they be too loose.

So how can you find out what size walking shoe is right for you? The first thing to know is how they should feel when you wear them.

How should a walking shoe fit?

Walking shoes are designed to support your feet and ankles as you hike, climb or trek outdoors. You may think they need to fit like a glove - but this isn’t the case. To get the best results, you’ll want your walking shoes to be snug but still have some wiggle room. This helps to prevent blisters, as your feet won’t be rubbing against the sides of the shoe constantly. It also means your feet have room to swell as the day goes on - you want to be just as comfortable at the end of your walk as at the start.      

When considering how walking boots should fit, it’s important to think about how you’ll be wearing them. There’s no sense in trying on your boots without insoles if you’re going to be using them every time you go on a hike. Try to take insoles, gel cushions, and socks into consideration when picking out your walking shoes.

How to measure feet for walking boots

Let’s go through how to choose your size step by step.  


1. Pick your starting point   

 Generally, walking shoes follow the same sizing as regular shoes, so the best place to start is with your normal size. If you can’t find boots in your exact size - for example if you usually wear a half size - then try the next size up. Wearing boots that are slightly too big is better than too small, as it gives your feet more room for swelling.   

2.  Put your feet in - but don’t lace yet!   

 Make sure you try both boots on - you never know if one foot is going to be bigger than the other. At this stage, leave your walking shoes unfastened and stand up. Let your feet relax into the new shoes so you can get a feel for how they fit. You can walk around a little if you like - but be careful not to trip on the laces!   If your boots feel small or cramped now, then it’s time to switch to a bigger size. They’ll only get smaller once you’ve laced them up.   

3.  Use the finger test   

 Once your feet have settled into the shoes, you can find out if the boots are long enough. Sit down and move your feet to the front of the boots so your toes touch the inside edge. Now put your index finger down the back of your heel. Can you fit it easily?   If your finger can’t fit into the gap between your heel and the back of the shoe, then you need a longer walking boot. Too much room is a problem as well, because loose walking boots can lead to trips, falls and injury so you should be aiming for a gap of a finger-width.  

4. Lace the boots   

There are lots of different methods of lacing walking shoes, and these can all affect the fit. Which way you choose is entirely up to you, but we’d recommend that you use the method you’d most likely use when you actually wear your walking boots. Trying new methods can be useful, but making sure your boots fit the way you’ll be wearing them most of the time should be the priority.   If your walking shoes are too big, you’ll find the laces are loose no matter how tightly you tie them. If they’re too small, you’ll likely feel your feet bulging from inside the boot.   

5.  Have a walk around   

Now it’s time to have a walk around with your walking boots all laced up and ready to go, checking for any issues with the fit. Remember, it may be a discomfort you can put up with for now, but how will it feel after walking for hours? You should also feel your walking boots to make sure your toes aren’t up to the edge and that your feet are filling the shoes.   Once your walking boots have been delivered, it’s also worth wearing them around the house for a few days. This can help you to identify problems you may not have noticed before, and so long as you don’t take them outside, you should be able to return or exchange them. 

What socks to wear with walking boots

Picking the right size of walking shoe is only part of the solution. You also need to wear the right socks for walking for long periods of time. Good walking socks should be:

 -        Durable 

 -        Cushioning 

 -        Breathable     

If your socks are all these things, they’ll help to make your outdoors adventure as comfortable as possible. 

Should you size up in walking boots?

You might be tempted to buy a size larger than you usually would when shopping for walking boots. After all, you don’t want to find they’re too small after a long day’s trekking. However, you may not need to do this, depending on when you tried the boots on. In the morning, your feet will be the smallest they’ll be during the day. This means that a good fit in the morning may feel too tight come the afternoon. If your boot feels snug to your foot in the morning, it may be worth getting the next size up to make sure you’ll have enough room.   

 If you try your walking shoes on in the afternoon, though, your feet will already have swollen up. It’s likely that they won’t get any bigger than what they are in the afternoon, so there’s no need to buy a larger size than what feels right when you try them on.


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