Our Expert Guide To Fitting Your Footwear
Walking boots that fit properly are the foundation of any walker's kit, but there's more to finding the right fit than meets the eye. Your perfect boots will support your feet and ankles on your adventures to prevent fatique and long-term injury, and there are lots of factors which contribute to a shoe's ability to do that. Here's our guide to finding and fitting the right shoes for you, with helpful videos to demonstrate how to do it from our in-store expert Joe Lodge. If you're still not sure, though, visit us in-store for a free footwear fitting with one of our experts.
Before getting started with footwear, the importance of good-quality walking socks can't be emphasised enough. Walking socks offer great cushioning to reduce impact and prevent blister hotspots, and are made of moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet dry and a comfortable temperature all day. Socks are also a great fitting tool, either for our in-store experts or for you at home, as the socks which fit a person's feet give clues as to what shoe will be right for them. When the time comes to replace your outdoor footwear, that usually means it's time for new socks too, as your adventures up to that point will have worn away the cushioning. Plus, new shoes and socks together will make your next adventure your most comfortable one yet - what's not to love? Check out our guide to choosing the perfect sock here.
2. Choosing the right shoes
Choosing the right type of shoe for your adventures is the first step to ultimate comfort. Here's Joe explaining the different types of footwear:
3. Measuring your feet
The sizes of outdoor footwear may be the same as regular shoes, but often, the fit isn't the same. Your usual size is a good starting point, but we've put together these tips help you get an accurate size measurement. However, like clothes, sizing can vary between brands and even between styles, so it's really important to focus on getting the right fit, whatever size that boot is.
4. Checking the fit
Remove the shoe's footbed and check you have enough space between the end of your toes and the front of the footbed - this should be about a finger's width. We recommend doing this standing up with your pack on to mimic your weight on your adventures, because weight causes your feet to expand. If you notice a significant change in your foot size when you stand up, our range of supportive Superfeet insoles can help to prevent elongation and migration.
Next, while standing with the shoe's laces undone, push your foot to the front of the boot and place a finger down the back of your heel. It should fit snugly: if it can't fit or is a painful squeeze, the shoes may be too short for you. Equally, if there's room around your finger or even space for a second, the footwear is likely too big.
5. Lace them up
Knock your heels against the floor to move your foot to the very back of the boot, and start to lace them up from the toes up. You want the laces to be tight and secure thoughout the lacing system - you should be able to get a fingertip under the crossing of the laces, but not your whole finger.
6. Check the volume
You need to check the shoe has the correct volume to suit your foot shape, which really just means the quantity of space your foot takes up in the boot compared to the remaining space. If there's too little volume in the shoes, they'll feel too tight when laced up. If there's too much volume, there will be significant creasing at the flex point (where your toes bend when you walk), or the eyelets will be nearly touching when you lace the boots up.
Volume can be increased or decreased by wearing socks of different thickness, increased using a different lacing technique or decreased using different footbeds. If you're not sure, bring your boots into your local store and our experts will happily take a look for you.
Different Ways To Lace Your Boots
There are many different ways to lace your boots, and each will offer a different feel. These are the two most common modifcations, but it's really important not to attempt to solve a poorly-fitting pair of boots by changing the lacing.
For greater ankle mobility
Lace the boots all the way to the top, but rather than tying a bow, loop back around the eyelets, heading back down the boot, hooking into the eyelets underneath. Pass the laces over themselves until they bite and then tie a firm bow.
For greater heel tension
Starting from the toes, lace the boot up as normal, but pass the laces over themselves just before the ankle section, inter-winding until they bite and hold. Usually, they need looping three times.nPull firmly, applying supportive but not restrictive pressure through the flex point of the ankle, down into the furthest tip of your heel. This should comfortably fasten the heel into the shoe. Follow the eyelets and complete with a firm bow.
Overall, your boots should fit snugly and securely at the heel and midfoot, with some wiggle room for your toes. Remember that your feet swell during the day, so if you can it's best to try them in the afternoon or evening. Wear the boots inside for a few hours to check the fit, and if you can, use stairs to simulate hills.
We offer an extended returns policy for Explore More members and our customer service team are always on hand to help, so if you can't make it to a store, we encourage you to try as many as possible to find that perfect fit. And, if you need some help and advice, or just prefer to let our experts do what they do best, visit us in-store for a free boot fitting.
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