TravelTrained is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. See our disclaimer.

How Should Hiking Boots Fit (8 Tips to Determine Your Size)

How Should Hiking Boots Fit

Hiking boots are the most important accessory when hiking and how they fit could determine whether your hike ends with bliss or blisters. Hiking boots should fit snugly in the heel while comfortable at the forefoot, with just enough space so you can wiggle your toes in the toe box. 

From experience, I’ve seen that most hiking shoes that fit well are about a full size or half size bigger than normal shoe sizes. But there’s much more information that can help ensure you choose the right-fitting hiking boots.

Quick Summary 

  • Finding the right hiking boot fit is of utmost importance as it protects your feet from painful fitting issues like blisters, swelling, and hot spots.
  • You can quickly get the right fit by standing on the insoles of the hiking shoes.
  • Hiking shoes are made from different kinds of materials that each gives your feet a unique feeling.

How to Determine Whether Your Hiking Boots Fit Correctly

hiking boots

There are several easy ways that you can determine whether your hiking boots fit correctly, and this is essential as getting the right hiking boots fit is the most important factor to consider when you go out to shop for some new hiking shoes. 

Your feet will have to do all the work in supporting your weight and any extra weight that you carry as you hike for miles, so it is important that they are kept as comfortable as possible. 

The most highly recommended way to measure the fit of your hiking boots is by using the insoles. You simply pick a couple of high-quality hiking boots and remove the insoles.

Then, place these insoles on the floor and stand directly over them, ensuring that your foot is properly seated in the arch and heel cup. This will allow you to see exactly if your foot will fit properly in that boot. You can wear your hiking socks when measuring so you get a perfect fit.

To get the proper fit, you would want at least an inch and a half’s gap from the tip of your longest toe to the end of the shoe’s insole. You don’t need to get out a ruler, the distance is roughly one finger or thumb’s width. 

hiking in the nature

You also need to be mindful of the width of the shoes to ensure that the insole matches the contours of your feet.

You might need to try a wider boot if your foot is hanging over the edge of the insole, and if you can see a very wide space at the edge of your insoles then you need a narrower fit. 

Once you are done certifying that your feet perfectly fit the insoles, then you can slip them back into the shoes, tighten the laces, and take the shoes out for a ride. This might take a bit of time but it is the most accurate way to find whether or not the hiking shoe fits. 

Another method of hiking boots fitting involves something called a finger test. You would first need to loosen all the laces of the boot and plant your longer foot firmly inside it.

Then, stand and slide your foot forward till your toes touch the tip of the hiking boot. You should then fit your index finger in between your heel and the back of your hiking shoe. 

If the finger does not fit fine, then the boot is too small and you should get a larger size boot so you feel more comfortable. If you have just enough room for one finger, then you most likely have enough space. If you have extra space, then you might need a smaller size of the shoe. 

Also, ensure the boots are wide enough so they feel snug and comfy but not tight and sweaty. You should not feel any form of discomfort on your ankle bones or any pinching at the heels. 

Can the Wrong Shoe Size Cause Foot Problems?

foot issues and blisters

Wearing hiking shoes with fit issues could walk your feet into several problems, especially on longer hikes and rough terrain. And the best way to avoid this is to purchase a new pair with the best fit.

Finding the right pair is essential to a good hike and it prevents your feet from going through a lot of pain. Some issues that you might face if you wear ill-fitting boots include:

Pinched toes
• Bunions
• Ingrown toenails
• Flattened arches
• Heel and ankle soreness
• Swollen feet or toes
• Blisters
• Soreness in the legs, knees, lower back, hips, and calves
• Hammer’s toes

Is the Material Important for Fitting Hiking Boots?

pair of boots for hiking

The material that makes up your hiking boots plays a part in how well it fits. It affects the boot’s breathability, water resistance, durability, as well as its weight, all of which could play a significant part in affecting how your feet feel inside the shoes. The most common materials used in producing hiking boots include: 

Full-grain leather

This material provides some great durability, water resistance, as well as abrasion resistance. It might not be as breathable or light as some of the other materials on this list and you would need some time to break it in before you start hiking for extended periods. It is most commonly used in backpacking boots and winter boots, as well as for extended trips, uneven terrain, and heavier loads. 

Split-grain leather

This is most commonly used to produce lightweight trail running shoe boots with great breathability. It is quite cheap when compared with other materials, although it also provides less resistance to abrasion and water. 

Nubuck leather

This is full-grain material that has gone through a process of buffing till it resembles suede. It is quite durable and highly resistant to abrasion and water, while also being pretty flexible. You will still need a fair bit of time to break in shoes made with this material before going on an extended time of hiking. 


This includes materials like nylon, Kevlar, and polyester which are used to produce mountaineering boots. They are significantly lighter than the other materials, cost less, dry faster, and break in more quickly. The primary downside is that they tend to wear more quickly than leather boots. 

Tips for Buying the Right Boot Size for Your Feet

tips to choose the right hiking boots

Buying the right hiking boots size is very important and it could either make or mar your entire hiking experience. So it is vital that you follow these very helpful tips that I have procured through lots of research into hiking boot fitting. 

Know Your Size

Before going out to get some new hiking boots, you should be well aware of your foot’s length, arch length, and width. You could also get it measured with a calibrated fit device at the shoe store. This will help you choose shoes off the shelf before you even start your own process of getting a proper fit. 

Wear Suitable Socks When Testing the Shoes

If you wear hiking socks while trying out your new footwear, it will help you easily and quickly assess the fit and feel of the shoes and know how you should expect them to be while out on your hike. 

Shop in Person

Getting new boots to fit is best done in a store instead of online. It is much easier and more foolproof for you to test the shoes in person and ensure that they are the right size for you. 

Stick to the Same Brands

This is especially helpful if you will be shopping online as most companies usually utilize a consistent foot model so they would likely be the same size and feel snug. 

Break in the Boots Before Your First Trip

Most hikers that overlook this step end up with very sore feet. After buying your hiking boots, I suggest wearing the boots inside the house for a while. This will allow you to get enough time to walk around and check whether the hiking boot is a comfortable fit. 

Try on the Hiking Boot at the End of the Day

It has been proven that our feet swell and stretch significantly after the activities of the day and will be at their largest at the end of the day. Trying on boots in the evening will help you avoid buying boots that are too small. 

Fit Is More Important Than Features

I have found that most boots that fit snugly but have fewer features are always better than boots with a load of features that don’t fit well. Getting the proper fit of your hiking boots will ensure that your feet are held securely and there is no cause for irritation.

Take Your Time in the Store

Do not be in a rush to buy a pair of hiking boots. Ensure that after wearing them, you spend as much time doing the different kinds of movements that you are likely to replicate while out on the hiking trail. Flex your toes, jump around, and walk up the stairs or an incline. If anything feels even mildly annoying, do not buy the shoes. 


This is all the information that you need to ensure you get the best-performing hiking boots. The rugged terrains of hiking trails can take a huge toll on your feet if you don’t get a good fit, so it is important that you take out time to invest in a good-fitting pair of hiking boots. 

Based on each foot type, we researched, analyzed, and created buying guides to help you take the best decision and save your time:

Getting a pair of hiking boots that are either too big or too small can prevent you from having an enjoyable hiking experience and even may harm your feet. Follow these tips and get the best fit for a great hike.