There’s no point in getting the best hiking boots out there if they’re not the perfect fit for you. Don’t fall into the temptation of thinking that good hiking boots has to look rugger in order to fit the wide width, as it’s not all about that.
Ideally, you would need to test each boot design for sole and ankle rigidity, for instance. Nevertheless, there are so many tests you should try, especially if you’re not shopping online.
Here are some fun tests to try
There are several tests you can try when shopping for your hiking boots and some essential especially if your feet are wide.
- The Finger Test
This is the first test and you may need to fully unlace your boot in order to do it. Next, you move your foot as far forward in the boot as you can. You should be able to slip your index finger down inside the boot, right at the back of the ankle –if it’s the right boot for you. You need the extra space when backpacking downhill, as it’s likely that your foot slides forward in the boot, because of the heavy load.
- The Sensory Test
Now you’re up for the test no. 2, when you take off your socks and slip your bare foot into the hiking boot. Put some effort into it and try to see if any part of that boot feels tight. Pay extra attention for the small toes as some boots may give a pinch feel in that area.
As your feet are a tad wider than the regular is, you may want to check if the boot feels too narrow on the sides, right behind your toes. You don’t want the middle part of your foot to be too tight, on either side of the arch.
Some say this is the easiest way to know if a boot is right for you or not.
You need to repeat the test with the socks stretched on your foot also. A good boot doesn’t feel tight in any area, nor too fit loose either. You need just the right amount of “snug” for the foot.
Women tend to get tight-fitting street shoes and they should avoid that when getting hiking boots. Wide feet in tight boots may cause the leather/fabric relax too much, so the foot goes beyond the sole of the boot. The stress on your body raises as you try to keep balance while hiking on a platform that’s simply too short for your wide foot. In some cases, the edge of the sole may even dig into the bottom of the foot, through the fabric/leather. 5 minutes later, blisters and bruises are on the way.
Don’t be shy and try men’s boot also if you can’t find a women model for the wide width. Keep an eye on the sizing and check the heel area just as well. Women do have narrower heels than men do J
- The Stride Test
Now it’s a good time to walk around the boots a bit. You don’t want a pair if the top is jamming the back of your toes. The heel isn’t supposed to slide in the heal area either, but this is common for the rigid boots.
- The Slant Board Test
Ok, you may not be able to try this test in all store, but why not give it a go? Try to see if the salesman has a “slant board” and walk down the incline. Your foot shouldn’t jam into the front and your toes shouldn’t feel pinched either. If they do, get the next half-size larger.
How to test it at home?
Once you got your hiking boots, you may want to slip on the socks you’re gonna wear when hiking. Trace an outline of your foot as you place a blank sheet of paper under your foot. You continue by cutting the foot outline from the paper and slide the “foot cut-out” into your boot. Work the paper into all corners of the boot and remove the cutout when you’re done.
A spot where the paper is folded up is a spot where your boot is tight. Don’t get it wrong though as it’s quite normal to have some snugness.
Take the “long walk” test also. You may do it inside your house or inside a local shopping mall, as it’s good to put some “indoor distance” on the boot. If you’re not feeling ok, it’s better to send them back while you still can.
Some last tips
As your feet swell throughout the day, try the hiking boots in the second half of the day when your feet are at their largest.
You know you got the right pair when you walk and may wiggle your toes without them touching the front of the boots.
If you’re the type who uses insoles, don’t forget to insert them as they may add a whole half size to your hiking boots. They’re a great solution for the low or collapsed arches or in other foot conditions.
So, as long as you’re willing to try, don’t hesitate to put through all the tests your next hiking boots with wide width.