Graduating from armchair adventurer to trail blazer will be easier when you're sporting a pair of properly fitting hiking boots. Carry a mental checklist of the absolute must-have's in a pair of hiking boots when you hit the sporting goods store. According to Alaskan outdoor expert Lisa Maloney, the best strategy is to “take your hiking socks with you and try on every boot in the store until you find one that actually fits. Don't let anybody sell you boots that don't fit very well on the promise that they'll get better as they break in. If they're wrong out of the box, they'll stay wrong."
If the Shoe Fits
The prime time to shop for hiking boots is later in the afternoon, since your feet tend to swell during the day. Ask for a pair a half size larger than you would normally wear. Before trying on the boot with your pair, or pairs, of hiking socks, do the barefoot test. With your bare foot in the boot, nudge your toes toward the front of the boot and then slip a finger between your heel and the back of the inside of the boot. If you've got 1/2 to 3/4 inches of wiggle room, then the boot is probably long enough. Go up another half size if there's not enough room. Now it's time to pull on your socks, slip your feet into the boots and lace them up tightly. Make sure your toes can move slightly. Test the fit of the heel by walking around the store. Your heels should be able to rise at least 1/8 inch as you walk, but 1/4 inch is too much.
- Lisa Maloney; Anchorage, Alaska
- National Outdoor Leadership School: Boot Fitting Information
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