Footwear can mean the difference between fun and agony. I cannot recommend buying over the internet – there are just too many variables. A pair of shoes or boots is a personal choice, but there are some things you should keep in mind at the store.

Feet swell over the day. How much varies from person to person, but be aware of this when trying on a new purchase.

Clipping your toenails and using the same thickness of socks and insoles (e.g. orthotics) that you’ll use on your hikes will also help you choose the right size.

Stand in them before tying the laces. Are they comfortable? (Lacing them will only increase any discomfort.

Slide your foot forward without crunching your toes – You should just be able insert an index finger behind your heel. Also check that you can not slide from side-to-side, or that the widest parts of your feet are not pinched. For some people, finding the right width may be much harder than finding the right length.

Getting a perfect fit!

Drawing by Margret Bowes

Great Footwear: Essential

Now lace them up. Wiggle your toes and rock back and forth onto your heels and toes. Your heel should not easily slide up and down the back of the shoe. Proper fit and lacing will prevent this very common source of heel blisters.

If possible, walk up and down a steep ramp. It’s walking up and down hills where the proper heel-to-toe fit, and proper lacing are most important.

Spend some time trying on more than one make/model of shoe. Each manufacturer uses different methods to make and measure their product, so you may very-well discover something better than the first pair.

When you get home, try them on again. Walk around indoors as much as you can, Use the stairs. If you decide something is not right, it’s easier to return them if they’re not scuffed and muddied.


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