How Should Hiking Boots Fit? 5 Expert Tips Fitting & Adjusting

"I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post."

How should hiking boots fit to prevent blisters and ankle pain? If I am wearing socks, should my boots be a size bigger? Will my hiking boots stretch out and loose after being used for a while? If you are new hikers wondering those questions, the article you are about to read will solve all your worries.

How Should Hiking Boots Fit?

This way, you can opt for the most suitable solution for your leather boots to get the best result. Here’s the most important part of this article:

Check the length


Firstly, put on the socks you intend to wear with your new boots. Next, determine which of your feet is longer (most people have one which is larger than the other).

Then, loosen the laces of that longer foot’s boot and slip it inside. Still leaving it unlaced, push that foot forward until your toes touch the end of the boot.

Stand up straight and try to measure the space behind your heel by yourself or with the help of your family member or friend. One finger should be able to get in between your heel and the backside of the properly fitting boot.

You can tell if the boot is not fitting when that space is larger or smaller than one finger.

Check the width


After finishing checking the boot length, lace it up and evaluate its width. It is considered too narrow if it painfully pinches your toes or the sides of your feet.

On the contrary, if you can slide your foot from one side to the other, the boot is too wide, which could cause blisters on your feet’ bottom and sides.

If your boots are comfortably snug, they should be alright because almost all boots will stretch enough to fit your feet properly.

Fit adjustments

Fit adjustments

Boot length is a strict requirement because you cannot do anything to fix it if it doesn’t fit your feet. The only solution is to purchase a different pair of hiking boots.

However, boot width can be a little bit more flexible. You can make use of thicker or thinner socks to adjust to this dimension of boots.

So if the boot width is snug but still within your comfortability, you should keep in mind that leather hiking boots will stretch a lot more than synthetic boots and will fit your feet better the more you wear them.

How to find hiking boots that fit when you shop?

Shopping in a store

Man choosing boots for hunters

Trying hiking boots in person is the best option to find out if a pair is a perfect fit for your feet. First, pay attention to the boot dimensions as mentioned above. Also, there are additional tips that you can learn from.

  1. Bring things that you wear inside boots such as socks, insoles or orthotics, and maybe even old boots. A footwear specialist can help you choose a suitable pair based on your preference.
  2. Shop later during the day. The later a day, the bigger your feet, especially after you have done a lot of walking. Therefore, you should try new boots later in the afternoon or the evening to see how they will fit.
  3. Rely on the experts. At the store, an experienced boot-fitter can seek perfectly fit boots for your feet. Trust their expertise, ask them questions, and seek their advice.
  4. Remember that size isn’t fixed across different brands or styles. Boots may be labeled the same size, but they may not be the same. So, the best way to know if they fit your feet is to wear them.
  5. Don’t stop after the first pair. When at the store, you should try different styles, models, and brands to find your perfect match.
  6. Do the tippy-toes test. Stand tip-toe in your boots to allow your toes to splay and avoid catching on the boots’ front or top side. To guarantee your toes have enough space when you are hiking downhill, recreate the situation by gently kicking a wall or using a decline ramp.
  7. Test the boots indoors at home. Almost all retailers offer return policies allowing you to gently wear bought boots at home for a certain period. Just make sure to keep the boots clean and scuff-free when you’re trying them on inside if you want to return them.

Shopping online


With the help of the Internet, you can buy anything, including your future hiking boots, with just a click. Similar to buying in a store, you should pay careful attention to your feet’ dimensions like length and width.

  1. Read reviews for reference. Your online peers can give you useful insight into the boots you’re browsing. Even though positive reviews can encourage you to make a purchasing decision, be aware that it shouldn’t be the sole factor.
  2. Order both when you’re in a dilemma. If you are considering different sizes or styles, you may order them both, then return the pair which is not fit.


1. How much room should be at the end of hiking boots?

You would want this part to snug to your foot without any baggy areas. However, squeezing with a lot of pressure putting on your heel is also not a good idea. The rule of thumb is that one finger should be able to get in between your heel and the backside of the properly fitting boot.

2. How do you know if your hiking boots are too big?

Regarding the boots’ length, if the space between your heel and their backside is larger than one finger, they are too long for you. As for the boots’ width, if you can slide your foot from one side to the other, the boot is too wide.

3. Should walking boots be tight or loose?

Walking boots should be neither tight nor loose. On the contrary, they should be comfortable and snug. There should not be space for your feet to freely slide inside the booths but not too tight for them to stay breathable.

4. How tight should you tie hiking boots?

The standard lacing works well for several people but not for everyone. Precise lacing should be taut but not too tight from the toe to the top of the boot. The contact between the lacing and the boot should be even and firm.

Final words

Our article has mentioned requirements of fitting hiking boots and tips for your purchase in a shop or online. We are confident that most of your worries have been resolved.

However, you can still leave comments below if you have any additional questions related to “How should hiking boots fit”.

Leave a Comment