Gear Guy

Can you help me in my quest to find the best-fitting boot?

In search of the Golden Boot over the years, I've owned disappointing Danners, Limmer mid-weights that ate up my right heel, and a forgettable pair of Meridians. I have a fairly low-volume foot, and while my current boots—a pair of Vasque Sundowners (Gore-Tex old style)—work pretty well, my feet still get hot spots and ache after a 12-mile walk. What's the boot for me? Stephen Decatur, Alabama


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The boot for you is gonna be the one that fits. And from the sounds of it, you just haven’t come across it yet.

The problem, or at least what I infer the problem to be, is that you’re trying on different boots without a solid grasp of what will best suit your foot type. I mean, I have a fairly low-volume foot, too, and quite a wide range of boots fit me, so there might be something else going on.

So, what you need to do is find a really, really good place that sells outdoor boots and has salespeople who know their stuff. Where would that be in Alabama? Well, I’ll tell you: I haven’t the faintest idea. But you need to find a place like that. Then, you need to spend some time getting your foot carefully measured. Take in the socks you intend to wear, and go later in the day so your foot has swelled to its normal daytime size. Ask for the best shoe-fitter in the store, and wait to see him/her if needs be. Explain your problems and what you have done to solve them. Then, make sure that you know your “true” size on both feet—many people have feet that differ slightly. Have your arch and overall volume evaluated as well. After that, have the salesperson suggest several shoes. Try them all on, in different sizes, and walk around for a bit.

Once you’ve found one that seems right, take it home. Don’t wear it outside for a while—just wear it in the house, so you can return it if worse comes to worse. After a few days, if all seems well, you can venture out on some short hikes. Give the boot a little time to break in—don’t do a 12-miler right out of the box. Do all that, and I think your heel woes can come to an end.

That, or just buy a pair of Cresta Leather Hikers from L.L. Bean ($169; They seem to fit just about everyone.

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