Essentials: If the Boot Fits. . .

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, September 1994

Essentials: If the Boot Fits. . .
By Glenn Randall

Boots that fit poorly when new won't get better with time--your feet will give out first. Here's how to get the size right on the initial go-around:

Width Matters
Boots are built on plastic forms, called lasts, that give them their shape--and lasts can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. An informed shopkeeper will know how particular brands run. If anything, buy a boot that's a tad too narrow; it will stretch slightly.

Watch the Front and the Rear
To ensure adequate room for your toes, start off wearing the socks that you'll don for the trail and then unlace the boot and slide your foot forward. You should have about a finger's width of space between foot and boot at the heel. So you don't lose that space over time, use shoe trees to keep your boot soles from curling.

Take a Spin
Shoulder a loaded pack and traipse around the shop. A little up-and-down heel movement in new boots is acceptable, but a lot of rubbing may never go away and will ultimately cause blisters. Test the arch support by standing over the edge of a curb--the sole shouldn't give much--and the ankle support by rocking your foot from side to side. Hook the boot heel on a step to make sure your toes won't hit the leather on descents. Wear the boots around the house and take them back to the store if you're not satisfied. A little carpet never hurt a lugged sole.

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