Q:

Are any hiking boots designed to reduce toe stress while walking downhill?

My wife’s toes are constantly jming into her hiking boots on day hikes. We do moderate (8 to 14 mile) day hikes, and the downhill portions obviously create the greatest toe stress. Is there a particular type of hiking shoe that would remedy this? Ron Richmond, Virginia

Aug 31, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Montrail Torre GTX Boots

Torre GTX Hiking Boots

A:

Actually, if you’re doing 8 to 14 miles a day in hilly Virginia country, I’d call you serious day hikers.

But because your wife seems to be having this problem, and you are not, it’s pretty obvious that her boots don’t fit. They’re a bit too short, and maybe too wide as well.

Does that mean you need to buy new boots? Not necessarily. For starters, take them to a good shoemaker in your area (yeah, shoemakers aren’t everywhere, but you ought to be able to find one) and have the toes stretched out a little. That might do the trick. If it doesn’t, then the next step might be to swap out the stock insole so that the foot doesn’t slide forward so much. Superfeet (superfeet.com) makes a “high-volume" insole for $35. It provides more cushioning and support than most stock insoles, and it also soaks up some interior space for boots that are loose or too large.

If THAT doesn’t work, then it’s time to buy new boots. I don’t know what she is wearing now, but it’s possible that the boots weren’t built on a women’s last. If they weren’t, then the boots are not going to fit her heel or arch as well as those built specifically for women. Asolo’s Stynger GTX ($165; asolo.com) are excellent mid-weight hikers that are fine for day-hiking but have enough heft so that a downhill stretch won’t torque them out of shape. Same for the Montrail Torre GTX (also $160; montrail.com). Moreover, Montrail’s boots have a uniformly good fit on a wide swath of the population. Lastly, Scarpa’s Mustang ($168l; scarpa.com) is a top-notch new boot from one of the best makers out there.

All three boots have a Gore-Tex liner for a little extra water-proofing. And their leather uppers give good foot protection.

Hope that helps!

You’ve seen our picks for 2007 Gear of the Year, and now the entire Outside Summer Buyer’s Guide is online. Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including hiking shoes.

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