How To Measure for Boots

How To Measure for Boots featured photo

Nothing is more frustrating and painful than wearing the wrong size of hiking boots. Imagine walking on trails with loose or tight shoes that result in blisters. Measuring is essential to find the correct boot size.

To measure for boots, you need to correctly determine your foot length and width using the steps below. Then, you can stand in the insoles of the boots and ensure to leave a small gap. You can also refer to the boot size guide of the manufacturer. 

This article will teach you how to measure hiking boots so that you get a comfortable fit. We’ll also answer some of your frequently asked questions about hiking shoes in general.

How To Measure Boots for Hiking?

Before you buy a pair of hiking boots, you must first ensure that it fits you perfectly. Otherwise, you might return home with painful blisters on your feet. 

Below are some tips on measuring boots for hiking, whether you’re shopping online or in-store. 

Measure Your Foot Length

Measure Your Foot Length

First of all, measure the length of your foot. Some people have one foot longer than the other, so make sure to check the length of both feet. Use the longer foot as a reference when shopping for new hiking boots, especially in online stores. Doing so prevents you from buying small hiking boots.

If you’ll buy boots in an actual shoe store, you must put your longer foot inside the hiking boot. Stand up straight with the laces untied. Move your foot forward until you feel your toes touching the front boot. 

Ask your companion or the store staff to check if there is room behind your heel. You want at least a half-inch gap (the size of one finger) for the best fit. 

Avoid buying boots shorter or longer than your foot size because they can only lead to pain and discomfort. The shoes must fit comfortably with little allowance.

Determine if You Have Wide Feet

Determine if You Have Wide Feet

Besides the foot length, you must check the shoe and foot width. If you have wide feet, you may still feel uncomfortable when wearing the correct boot length. That is because the width of the boots is overly tight, ultimately crushing the sides of your feet.

To determine if you have wide feet, measure the broadest part of your feet. This is usually the ball of the foot right below your toes. Then, check the width of the hiking shoes online.

You can also try the hiking boots when shopping in-store. Tie the laces and walk around the stores while wearing the footwear. Your feet shouldn’t feel too constricted. If it does, you may have wide feet. In contrast, you probably have narrow feet if the shoes feel too loose.

Stand In the Insoles

Alternatively, you can remove the insoles from the boots and stand upright on them. This step only applies if you’re buying hiking footwear in physical stores and if they have removable shoe inserts. 

Make sure your foot is aligned with the heel cup and arch before measuring the boot size. Doing so makes it easier to determine how your feet will fit inside the trail running shoes. 

To check for the proper boot length, you must see a small gap between your longest toe and the end of the insole. 

As for the width, you can check if the insole matches the contours of your feet. Do you notice more of the insole along the edges of your feet? You likely need a narrow pair of boots. Those with feet that hang outside the insole have wide feet and must buy a broader shoe.

Refer to the Sizing Guide of the Manufacturer

Shoe sizes can vary between brands because of the unique manufacturing process and designs they use. So, if you’re a size 8 on one brand, don’t assume you have the same shoe size in others. The boots may fit tighter or looser, depending on the standards of the manufacturer.

Always check the boot size chart posted on their website. If you can’t find it, try asking customer support via email or phone. 

Knowing the boot sizes offered by the brand increases the chances of getting the right fit. It can also minimize returns if you’re shopping online.

Consider the Boot Material

Consider the Boot Material

You must also take the shoe material into consideration because it affects shoe sizing. You’ll find that some materials adapt to your feet over time. However, others remain stiff, even after using the hiking boots every day.

For example, leather hiking boots fit snugly at first, but they eventually stretch and adjust to your foot size. Meanwhile, boots made with a synthetic or waterproof membrane tend to be inflexible compared to leather shoes. 

Put on Socks While Fitting

Put on Socks While Fitting

Remember to wear socks to ensure your boots fit properly. And don’t just use any socks—put on the pair that you intend to wear when going to hiking trails.

Doing so ensures you’re getting the perfect shoe size. You see, wearing socks can make your feet slightly bigger. So, if you try on boots without them, you risk getting a pair that doesn’t fit you properly. 

Try the Boots at the End of the Day

Consider trying on hiking boots after walking or exercising. Your feet swell at night because of your activities earlier that day. As such, putting on boots when you have swollen feet helps you find the correct shoe size.

Carry Something Heavy

Although it sounds weird, bringing something heavy while trying hiking boots makes it easier to find the correct shoe size. Think of it as a reenactment of real-world situations when you’re hiking. The heavy load will add weight to your lower body, causing your feet to shift inside the footwear. You want to buy boots that feel comfortable even when carrying something.

Take as Much Time as You Need

Don’t rush into buying new hiking boots just because you have the money. Take plenty of time in the store to walk around with the shoes. Climb up stairs or walk on an incline to test comfort. You can also tap your toes to ensure they aren’t crushed inside the toebox of the boots. If you doubt any part of the footwear (noticeable creases, weird arch, etc.), do not purchase it. 

When shopping online, compare reviews and check the size guide thoroughly. You must also consider the exchange policies of the store in case you buy hiking shoes that don’t fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to tell if hiking boots are too small?

It can be difficult to know if the hiking shoes are small if you don’t have enough experience with them. 

When given the chance, always try the boots on before buying. Your feet should have enough space to wiggle. You can also move your toes without too much struggle. But make sure your feet don’t slip when walking. 

As a rule of thumb, lace up your hiking boots and see if there is space in the back of the boots. You must easily slip a finger behind your heel. If you cannot do this, you likely have footwear that is too small.

Should hiking boots be a size bigger?

No. You shouldn’t get boots that are too big for your feet. Always aim to get the perfect shoe size for optimal comfort.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. You can buy a pair that is half-size larger if you have wide feet or the shoes have a narrow toe box. 

Planning a long-distance hike? You can also pick slightly larger boots because your feet tend to swell after days of hiking. 

Finally, those who want to wear the boots for the entire year can size up since they might wear various socks in different seasons. For example, thicker socks are in during the winter season. But you’ll need thinner socks in hotter weather.

At the end of the day, it’s better to have hiking boots that are too big instead of too small. That said, nothing beats wearing the correct shoe size.

Are hiking boots supposed to be the same size as running shoes?

Yes, hiking boots typically have the same size as regular running shoes. However, you might want to try them on before purchasing because they might be smaller or larger than expected. You can also check the shoe sizing guide from the boot manufacturer. Not all brands offer the same sizes, so better be safe than sorry.


Many people are confused about how hiking boots should fit. Some recommend sizing up, while others suggest the opposite.

To find the right boot size, you must learn how to measure the length and width of your feet. Stand in the insoles of the boots or check the sizing guide from the manufacturer. You must also consider the material and any heavy load you may carry because they affect the measurement.

Do you have more questions on how to measure hiking boots? We highly recommend visiting our blog for other helpful tips!