How Should Hunting Boots Fit?

Selecting the right hunting boots can be a daunting task. Not only do you need to find the perfect fit, but also consider other features that will work best for your individual needs such as waterproofness, traction, and insulation. It’s important to determine how your new hunting boots should fit to maximize comfort and stability while still being able to provide effective protection during outdoor activities.

In this blog post, we’ll cover tips on what you should look for when buying hunting boots so that you can ensure they are fitted correctly and comfortably. We’ll go over topics like ideal sizing methods, suggested fits based on different foot shapes, performance materials used in today’s most popular styles of footwear, and more! So no matter where your adventures take you – from forests to brush land or even wetlands – make sure that you get the best possible experience by having well-fitting hunting boots equipped with top-notch features!

Understand Foot’s Anatomy

Understand Foot's Anatomy

The human foot is composed of three primary arch types: low arches (commonly known as flat feet), medium arches, and high arches. Each arch type possesses unique characteristics and necessitates specific support and care.

Low Arches (Flat Feet)

Low arches, or flat feet, exhibit a minimal curvature in the foot arch. Individuals with low arches may encounter overpronation, and an excessive inward rolling of the foot during walking or running. This can result in imbalances in weight distribution and heightened stress in particular areas of the foot and leg.

High Arches

Conversely, high arches display a pronounced curvature in the foot arch. Individuals with high arches often exhibit underpronation, an outward rolling of the foot during walking or running. This can lead to insufficient shock absorption and increased pressure on the outer edges of the foot.

How Arch Support in Hunting Boots Work?

Arch support in hunting boots is crucial for ensuring optimal comfort and preventing potential foot-related issues that can arise during extended hunting trips. By providing proper alignment to the foot’s bones, adequate arch support not only reduces fatigue and discomfort but also enhances overall stability.

For individuals with low arches, boots with well-designed arch support can effectively distribute weight evenly across the foot, promoting a more balanced and supported stride.

On the other hand, those with high arches may benefit from hunting boots that offer enhanced arch support to maintain stability and mitigate the risk of overpronation, ensuring a safe and enjoyable hunting experience.

A well-fitting hunting boot is crucial for foot health during outdoor activities. It prevents blisters, provides ankle stability, supports the arch, enhances shock absorption, and promotes circulation. Wearing properly fitting boots is essential to avoid long-term foot issues.


If you have special needs, like flat feet or high arches, consider using higher-grade insoles like Superfeet or Synergy Footbeds.

How Should Hunting Boots Fit

Sizing and Measurement

Your hunting boot size should be based on the length, width, and volume of your foot. It’s important to measure your feet accurately to find the right fit for you. Accurate foot measurements encompass more than just foot length; width and volume are equally vital. Remember, foot length is not always measured from the heel to the big toe. The width should be determined by identifying the widest part of the foot, usually at the ball. Additionally, take into account the depth and thickness of your foot, as some feet require more volume.

I usually apply the following measuring rule:

  • Length: Measuring from the heel to the longest toe, which might not necessarily be the big toe.
  • Width: Determining the widest part of the foot, often at the ball of the foot.
  • Volume: Assessing the depth and thickness of the foot, as some feet are more voluminous.
Sizing and Measurement

End-of-Day Sizing

Now that you understand that not all size 10D shoes are created equal, it’s important to consider that the average person’s foot tends to increase by half a size at the end of a day of walking. When choosing footwear, always take into account the type of socks you’ll be wearing and whether a liner sock is needed. It’s not uncommon for someone wearing both a liner sock and a heavy sock to move up by half a size.

If you’re going treestand hunting, it’s advisable to go up a full size to allow for ample room for insulation to maximize its potential. Anytime your boots feel tight, it restricts blood flow and increases the likelihood of experiencing cold feet sooner. To avoid this, ensure that your toes have enough freedom to move comfortably.

However, it’s important not to assume that a size 10-D from one company will fit the same as the same size from a different manufacturer. Even within the same company, the lasts often vary.

If you wear sizes nine, ten, or eleven in medium width, most general lasts are suitable for you. However, if you have wide or narrow feet, you might need to put in some extra effort to find hunting boots that fit well. Keep in mind that online shopping carries a higher risk unless you are already familiar with the specific product you have chosen.

Different Sizing Standards (US, UK, EU)

Different Sizing Standards

When purchasing hunting boots, you need to be aware of the different sizing standards applied in different countries. The US and UK use “whole sizes” while the European Union (EU) utilizes “half sizes”. To ensure accurate measurements, make sure you are selecting from a sizing chart that corresponds to your region when shopping for new hunting boots.

Conversions may not always be straightforward, so referring to brand-specific sizing charts is advisable.

Sock Thickness on Sizing

The thickness of your socks affects how well your hunting boots fit. Thicker socks may require slightly larger boots, while thinner socks provide a snugger fit. You must consider the climate and season as well. In colder weather, thicker socks offer insulation. When choosing socks, consider their thickness and the conditions you’ll face.

To ensure foot comfort during long hunts, it’s crucial to wear moisture-wicking socks. These socks effectively keep your feet dry by drawing away sweat, minimizing the risk of blisters. Additionally, layering socks provides added cushioning and insulation. By properly layering socks, you can achieve a snug fit without compromising comfort. Overcome common fitting issues by selecting the appropriate sock materials and sizes. This will result in a more enjoyable hunting experience, allowing you to focus on the thrill of the hunt rather than the discomfort caused by poorly fitting socks.

Choosing the Right Boots for Every Activity

Choosing the right boots that match your specific activity is just as important as ensuring the right fit. Different hunting activities call for different types of boots, each designed to enhance your performance and comfort in varying terrains and weather conditions.

For drier terrains, such as upland hunting, you’ll want to consider upland hunting boots. These boots are specifically designed to provide excellent traction and durability, keeping you steady on your feet as you navigate through rugged landscapes.

If you’re into waterfowl hunting, rubber boots are a great choice. These boots are waterproof and offer excellent protection against wet and muddy environments. They keep your feet dry and provide a secure grip, ensuring you remain comfortable and focused on your hunting experience.

For cold-weather hunts, insulated boots are a must. These boots are designed to keep your feet warm and cozy, even in freezing temperatures. The insulation provides superior warmth while still maintaining breathability, allowing you to stay comfortable throughout your hunting adventure.

Remember that the intended use should always dictate the choice of boot type. By selecting the right boot for your specific hunting activity, you can optimize your performance and ensure a comfortable experience in the field. So, before heading out on your next hunting trip, consider the terrain, weather conditions, and your specific needs to make an informed decision on the perfect boot type for you.

Additionally, it’s worth acknowledging that certain hunting conditions may require specialized fits. For example, mountain hunting often demands a stiffer and more supportive fit to navigate steep and rugged terrains effectively. On the other hand, swamp or marsh hunting may benefit from boots with a roomier fit to accommodate waders or additional insulation.

Trying on and Testing Boots

Once you’ve found a pair of boots that fits your foot size and type, it’s time to assess the fit. The best way to do this is by standing up in the boots and making sure they’re snug but not too tight. You should be able to move your toes freely without any pinching or squeezing at the sides or top of your feet. Additionally, walk around and test the boots in different motions, such as climbing stairs or walking on uneven surfaces. This will help you assess the flexibility of the boot and identify any potential pressure points.

Hunters have different support needs. If you’re pursuing a big game in the West, a treestand boot won’t be suitable. Western hunters often opt for boots with ample ankle support, or even rugged athletic-style boots, that can weigh less than a pound each.

To check if a boot provides enough footbed support, hold the boot’s toe in one hand and the heel in the other, then twist in opposite directions. Some hiking-style mountain boots will hardly move, while athletic shoes can twist up to two inches. When you find yourself wedged into a rock outcrop at 8,000 feet, you’ll be grateful for boots with minimal twist.

Keep in mind that these firm-support boots will take longer to break-in compared to athletic shoes, which may feel comfortable within the first hour. Be sure to break in your boots well before going hunting.

Heavier, more supportive hunting boots offer greater protection and reduce the risk of medical issues compared to ultra-light athletic boots. However, an athletic boot can be a pleasure to wear on a soft, level trail when heading to a bow stand. The right fit should be snug yet comfortable, providing proper foot support without hindering movement. Take the time to try on various boots until you find a pair that is both comfortable and secure. With the right boots, you can ensure safety and comfort during your hunting trips.

What can I do if my Hunting Boots don’t fit?

If your hunting boots don’t fit, there are some things you can do to make them more comfortable.

Lacing Techniques

Start by loosening the laces and ensuring they are evenly distributed throughout the boot. This helps reduce pressure on certain parts of the foot, making it easier to break in your boots. If you still experience discomfort, try using a thicker sock or adding an extra layer of padding.

For extra stability, consider crisscross lacing or even adding an ankle garter on the top of the boot. This prevents heel slip and improves ankle support, helping to ensure that your boots fit snugly without being overly tight.

Hot Spots

Hot spots are a common symptom of ill-fitting boots. To reduce hotspots, try using a moleskin or similar material on any particularly tender areas. This will cushion the area and help reduce discomfort. Additionally, adding an insole can provide extra cushioning and arch support, helping to distribute pressure evenly across your foot.

Break-in Period

Breaking in new boots takes time, but it’s worth investing. Take the time to gradually wear your boots, increasing the duration of your wear each time. This will help mold them to your feet and reduce any discomfort.

Understand Boot’s Anatomy

Understand Boot’s Anatomy

If you want to find the perfect hunting boots, understand their anatomy. By getting to know the common features and components, you’ll be able to choose boots that meet your hunting needs while keeping you comfortable and supported.


Used at the bottom of leather Pac boots. It’s an acronym for “Thermo Plastics Resin.” The stuff has the same properties as rubber, but it’s injection molded and usually 60% lighter in weight.


Generally a rubber or TPR bottom with a heavily insulated, removable liner or insulated leather top.


An acronym for “Ethel Vinyl Acetate.” This foamy material has multiple trapped air pockets that are soft to the touch but will still offer support and insulation. It’s most often used in the midsole of many types of boots and athletic shoes.


A boot’s upper refers to the part that encompasses the foot, including the top, sides, and back. It can be crafted from a single piece of material or assembled from multiple stitched pieces. The upper can be further dissected into components such as the vamp, back, tongue, quarter, and lining.

In hunting boots, the height of the upper can vary. Some boots barely cover the ankle, while others extend near the knees. Boots in the 9-10″ range provide ample support and stability, effectively keeping out water, snow, and dirt.


The insulation layer is typically located beneath the upper part of the boot. Insulation is the reason why some hunters opt for multiple pairs of boots. For an early-season archery hunt, it is advisable to choose a pair that is lightweight and breathable, considering that each foot contains almost 250,000 sweat glands and can produce approximately half a pint of perspiration per day. When trudging through a foot of snow, you will greatly appreciate the insulation provided by Thinsulate. Having higher grams of Thinsulate in your boot is advantageous. A boot with 200 grams of insulation is suitable for moderately cool days or evening hunts with high activity levels. On the other hand, hunting boots with 1,200 grams of insulation are ideal for extremely cold weather, typically during the harsh winter months when the temperature is 30 degrees or lower.


The footbed, also known as the insole, is the interior part of a boot that extends along the bottom of the foot. As mentioned earlier, it can be crafted from synthetic materials or leather, offering a range of options for comfort and durability.


The shank, positioned between the insole and outsole, serves as a vital support structure in hunting boots. It rests beneath the arch, bridging the gap between the ball and the heel of the foot. The shank, composed of materials such as steel, Nylon, carbon fiber, fiberglass, or Kevlar, is responsible for delivering essential rigidity and stability. Its presence is paramount in ensuring the functionality of hunting boots, alleviating the strain on the feet and calves of hunters during strenuous climbs.


Some high-end boot manufacturers, such as Crispi and Danner, take a different approach to providing support in their boots. Instead of using shanks, they utilize foot-shaped molds called lasts that determine the fit of the final product. The entire boot is constructed around the last, which imparts the desired stiffness. This last system offers several advantages. Unlike boots with a steel shank, there is no pivot point or flex point, resulting in increased flexibility. Additionally, the absence of a shank makes the boots lighter in weight. Crispi exclusively employs the last system in their boot production, while Danner goes even further by utilizing more than 15 custom lasts, milled down to half sizes, to ensure the best possible fit.


The midsole, positioned between the footbed and the outsole, serves as a crucial element in running shoes. It offers both shock absorption and support to the wearer, ensuring comfort and performance. Over time, due to regular usage, the midsole gradually wears down, prompting the need to replace the shoes approximately every eight months.


The lowermost section of boots offers essential stability, traction, and protection. Your hunting boots probably feature a Vibram logo on the outsole, considering they are utilized by more than 1,000 shoe manufacturers worldwide. If your boots are designed to be rebuilt, chances are the outsole can be replaced when it becomes worn out.

Stitch Down:

A term used when a leather midsole and hard rubber tread bottom sole are sewn to a leather boot allowing resoling later. This construction requires vastly more break-in time.


The section of the lower boot between the ankle and the ball of your foot.


What is the best height for a hunting boot?

Boots in the 9-10″ range provide ample support and stability, effectively keeping out water, snow, and dirt. This height is perfect for providing extra protection while still allowing freedom of movement. It also ensures enough ankle support to reduce fatigue that comes from walking through rough terrain for long periods.

What is a steel shank?

The shank, positioned between the insole and outsole, serves as a vital support structure in hunting boots. It rests beneath the arch, bridging the gap between the ball and the heel of the foot. The shank, composed of materials such as steel, Nylon, carbon fiber, fiberglass, or Kevlar, is responsible for delivering essential rigidity and stability. Its presence is paramount in ensuring the functionality of hunting boots, alleviating the strain on the feet and calves of hunters during strenuous climbs.

How do I know when to replace my hunting boots?

Over time, due to regular usage, the midsole gradually wears down, prompting the need to replace your shoes approximately every eight months. Likewise

How tight to tie hunting boots?

Ensure that your entire foot feels snug in the boot, except your heel. It’s normal for your heel to slip into a properly fitted new boot. As you start wearing the boot, you’ll notice that the heel leather will soften and the boot will gradually mold to your foot, eliminating the slippage. Finally, use additional lacing techniques such as locking loops or crossing the laces for a more secure fit.

Can hunting boots shrink?

Yes, hunting boots can shrink over time. To avoid this from happening, make sure to keep them away from direct sources of heat such as dryers or radiators. Additionally, some manufacturers recommend applying a waterproofing agent regularly to maintain the size and integrity of the leather material.

Is it better for boots to be tighter or looser?

For optimal comfort, boots should have a snug fit that is not too loose or too tight. They should provide enough room for toe movement and allow a maximum of a quarter to a half-inch of slippage at the heel.

Is it better for boots to be bigger or smaller?

Many boot companies suggest going down half a size from your sneaker size, meaning that most boots tend to run half a size bigger. For example, if you wear a size 12 in sneakers, you will likely be a size 11.5 or even 11 in boots, as sneakers often have a slightly larger fit.

What types of lacing systems are used in hunting boots?

Most hunting boots feature two lacing systems – lace-to-toe and speed-lace. The lace-to-toe system allows you to customize the fit of your boots from top to bottom, providing a superior fit for most foot shapes and sizes. Speed lacing is a quick and easy way to adjust the tightness or looseness of the fit. It consists of one single pull tab at the upper part of the boot that quickly tightens the entire boot at once. Speed lacing can be found on many high-end hunting boots, as it provides a superior fit and hassle-free adjustment.

What are some tips for breaking in new hunting boots?

Breaking in your new hunting boots is an important step to ensure they provide the best performance possible. Before wearing them, it’s best to apply a leather conditioner or waterproofing spray to the boot. This will help keep them clean and improve their durability. After conditioning, wear your boots around the house until they feel comfortable. You can also put on two pairs of socks for added cushioning and support. Lastly, make sure you wear your boots gradually, taking plenty of breaks throughout the day

How can I keep my hunting boots in top condition?

Proper storage is essential for preserving the life of your boots. Make sure to store them in a dry, cool area away from direct sunlight. Avoid placing heavy objects on top of or near them as this can cause them to lose their shape and form.

How much room should you have in boots?

Ensure that you can wiggle your toes within the toe box of the shoe. Test the fit by sliding your foot forward until your toes gently touch the front of the unlaced boot. At this point, there should be approximately a finger’s width (about ½”) of space between the base of your heel and the boot.


Photo of author
Leo Massy
Leo Massy, the hunting boots expert, seasoned hunter, and owner of the Hunting Boots Store located at 1460 West Franklin Street, Dothan, Alabama. With a deep love for the outdoors and a wealth of knowledge in hunting boots, Leo is the go-to resource for hunters of all levels.
Leave a Comment