How to Buy Walking Boots that Fit

Images and Text by Angus Whitby.

Well-fitting walking boots aren’t just necessary to prevent bruised toes and blisters. They support your ankles and feet, reducing fatigue and injury over the course of your walk. Following on from our blog post on choosing the best walking boots or shoes, here is a more detailed overview of walking-boot fitting for those who are unable to visit our footwear department on Green Street for personalised walking boot fitting service.

Leather walking boots come in many shapes and sizes:
narrow, regular and wide fitting.

How should walking boots fit and feel?

You want to be well supported and comfortable in your new walking boots. Afterall, you’re likely to be walking great distances in them!

  • To give the additional support offered by walking boots (over trainers or everyday shoes), the fit needs to be snug against your foot. They need not be that tight that you lose feeling in your feet but not too loose that your move around.
  • Your heel should be held secure and shouldn’t lift with each stride.
  • You should have a sufficient amount of length in the end of the boots to wiggle your toes. Even on an incline, your toes should never touch the end of the boot.
  • You shouldn’t experiencing any excessive pressure or rubbing when wearing your boots.  Over time, this can lead to painful blisters and injury.

Men’s and women’s walking boots and shoes come in a variety of different sizes and shapes so it’s important to select footwear with a comfortable fit that matches the natural shape of your foot. Here are a few common fit considerations that are worth factoring into any walking boot or shoe purchase.

Fit Considerations

Footwear for narrow feet
Consider purchasing a boot that laces down to the toe. Boots with this style of lacing allow the wearer to tailor the fit to their feet, removing otherwise excess space on top of the foot. Customers might also wish to replace the boot’s foot bed with a thicker example or a use volume reducer to obtain a closer fit.

Footwear for wide feet
Consider a purpose-built wide-fitting boot, such as part of Meindl’s Comfort Fit range (available for men and women), or Altberg’s G-Forme (unisex-fitting) . These models are built on a wider base offering more space for the toes and the ball of the foot, whilst maintaining a snug fit in the heel.

Comfort Fit by Meindl – wide fitting walking boots and shoes for men and women.

Footwear for bunions
A bunion (or hallux valgus) is a large, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe. Customers with bunions often face great difficulty in buying comfortable walking boots and shoes. Squeezing into a regular-fitting walking boot risks aggravating the bunion, whilst a walking boot that is too wide might lead to blisters due to excessive movement.
If the wide fitting Meindl Comfort Fit walking boots and shoe models made by Meindl are too wide, customers might wish to look at Hallax models by Hanwag which offer additional room around the toe joint without affecting the rest of the fit.

The Hanwag Alta Bunion; a classic lightweight leather hiking boot for women with widened big toe joint area to accomodate a bunion.

Footwear for a high instep
Customers with a high instep would benefit from the additional support offered by a supportive innersole, like those offered by Superfeet.


What size do I need?

If you have never been fitted for walking boots before and are unsure of your size, you can measure the length of your feet at home.

  • Place a clean sheet of paper against a wall.
  • Wearing a pair of appropriate walking socks, stand with your heels against the wall.
  • With equal weight on both feet, mark where the longest part of your foot extends to on the paper.
  • Measure this length (in cm). This is your Mondo Point Size. Repeat for the other side.
  • Use the following chart to work out your approximate UK size.

Trying on your Walking Boots

Once you have established your size, select a walking boot or shoe model that suits your requirements. Begin by placing your foot into your walking boot, stand up and let your feet spread into the boot under the weight of your body. If they are uncomfortable at this point, it is unlikely that they’ll feel better once you lace them up.

Testing Length

With your walking boots still unlaced, tap your toes so that they’re down the front of the boot, before placing your heel back down on flat ground. You should be able to slide your index finger down the back of your the boot (against your Achilles tendon) snugly. If it feels tight or your finger is pressed hard up against the heel of the boot, there is a chance that the walking boots are too small. You’ll also be able to gauge whether the walking boots are too big using this method also. Size up or down as appropriate.


Lacing Your Walking Boots

Once you are satisfied with the length and general feel of your walking boots unlaced, it is time to lace them up. From a seated position, tap your heel on the ground to ensure your heel is seated into the heel cup of your boots. Proceed to lace up your boots, starting from the toes and working your way up to the cuff. Utilise all eyelet hooks on the cuff and finish with a secure bow knot. Tension should be even and firm so that the foot is held in the boot snugly.


Checking the fit once laced

Once laced, stand up to check the overall fit of your walking boots.

Wiggle your toes – you should be able to wiggle your toes freely without making contact with the front of the boot.

Shift your weight around to check the width of the boot – you should feel well supported without restriction or discomfort across the width of your foot.

Rock forward onto the balls of your feet and back onto your heels – your heel should not lift out of the heel cup of the boot. If it does, check that the boots are laced adequately and that your heel is seated ‘down and back’ into the heel cup of the boot.

Feel for excess space – with your hands, check to see that your foot is evenly filling the boot. Pinch and squeeze the boot to check for locations where the foot is bulging out within the boot. Similarly, check for any locations where the boot feels baggy or has excessive space.

Check for heel lift – check to ensure the ball of your foot sits comfortably at the natural flex point of the boot. If you are feeling pressure on the sides of your foot at this point, this might indicate the boot is too narrow. Similarly, excessive space at this location might indicate a boot that is too wide which can cause the material to crease and split overtime, reducing the lifespan of the boot.

Pro Tip – there are many ways of lacing up a walking boot. If you’re comfortable with the overall fit of your walking boots but suspect your heel might be slipping, you could try supplementing the lacing by ‘locking’ the heel. Starting from the toe, lace your boots as you normally would. Where the ankle meets the cuff of the boot, ‘lock off’ the lacing by inter-winding the laces, passing the laces over themselves until they bite and hold (2 – 3 times is sufficient). Pull firmly to achieve a supportive pressure without restriction across the flex point of the ankle where the cuff meets the body of the boot. Continue lacing the boots utilising the remaining eyelet hooks on the cuff and finish with a secure bow knot. Your heel should now be comfortably fastened into the boot.


Test your Walking Boots

Once you have settled on a style you like and that fits well, take them for a walk. Walking boots are typically made of much stiffer materials and rarely have the ‘out of the box’ comfort of everyday shoes, so it’s important to wear your walking boots so you can adjust to how they feel. If your feet feel sufficiently comfortable and supported walking around at home without any discomfort (aching, rubbing, pinching) for an hour or two, then you can be confident you have selected a boot with a good fit.

If you’re unhappy with the fit within the 2 week returns period , you’re more than welcome to bring your walking boots back to us for an exchange or refund. Boots must be returned in an ‘as sold’ condition. As soon as they go outside – they’re yours!

Thanks for reading!

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