It’s important to evaluate a new pair of hiking boots while you’re still in the store. There are 3 important checks that will go a long way toward ensuring your new boots are right for you.
1. Socks Are More Than Puppets
The first check is to try on the boots while wearing hiking socks similar to what you would wear when hiking. The Smart Wool shown above are my favorite. The boots should feel comfortable while standing. If they are uncomfortable now, don’t assume “breaking them in” will fix this. If you’re uncomfortable wearing demo socks and don’t want to buy another pair just to try on boots, bring a pair from home!
2. Test Drive Those Inclines
The second check is to walk UP a sloped surface. Top outdoor stores will have a “boot ramp” to help simulate this. As you walk up the ramp, pay close attention to the action of your heel in the boot. While a little give is okay, you do not want your heels to move up and down against the back of the boot as this will turn into a painful blister when hiking.
Now walk down the inclined surface. This simulates walking down a mountain and your foot should not slide forward pushing your toes into the boot. If your boot is tied tightly and your toes still touch the front of the boot while descending those boots are not for you.
3. Many Feet, Many Brands
The last tip is to try on as many different boots AND brands that you can. Just like with running shoes, boots come in many different styles. No matter what a name a particular boot has, it’ll be similar in design and fit to other boots of the same brand.
North Face boots will fit drastically different than Asolo. The price is not the important part of brand comparison, the fit is. Price will generally tell you how rugged the boot is, but there’s no sense in shelling out premium dollar for a brand name. Try on multiple boots from different brands- and in different stores. You’ll find they carry slight differences in products.
In my experience, I’ve found Asolo to be amazing boots and fit my somewhat wide, hobbit feet extremely well. I bought my Asolo Fugitive GTX boots at Eastern Mountain Sports (@EASTERNMNTN) in Nashua. They’re pricey, but were the first boot that my feet felt naturally comfortable in- ever. North Face boots have worked great for my wife’s small slender feet.
It’s a very personal and unique fit you’re going for here. No one can recommend on fit, only price, durability and the rest- Just remember that 3 miles from the trail-head, after a long day of hiking, price isn’t going to matter if your foot is a giant blister.
With these 3 quick tips in mind you can grab a pair of socks and hit the stores. You can be confident that the perfect fit is out there and it’s waiting for you to take ‘em on the trail!