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How Tight Should Boots Be?

How Tight Should Boots Be
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When buying a pair of walking or hiking boots, how do you know what level of tightness is too much? We’re always told that your boots should be secure and well-fitting, but what does that actually mean?

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We all have different sized feet, so there is no measurement we can give in terms of how tight your boots should be, but what we can say is what the boots should feel like.

The rule of thumb is that a good pair of boots should feel like your foot is being cradled gently and held in place without any slippage possible. You should be able to wiggle your toes, but there should be no spots of pressure anywhere on your foot. If your boots meet these requirement, that answers how tight your boots should be.

Of course, there are many other aspects to finding the best pair of walking boots aside from the tightness, and the entire recipe comes together, to create the perfect boot, no matter where you’re walking and how long for.

good pair of boots

The Perfect Fit

We mentioned that the best fit should feel snug, but we need more detail than that.

  • Boots should feel snug at every point of your foot
  • There should be no spots of tightness or pressure
  • You should be able to wiggle your toes, but not to the point where there is far too much room to stretch
  • You should be able to fit one thumb between the end of your longest toe, and the end of the shoe
  • Prevent heel slippage - the heel should fit comfortable against the contour of your natural heel, and shouldn’t slip as you move
  • Your arch should feel supported, like a hand is cradling your foot gently

That is how your ideal pair of boots should feel. But, what else do you need to know?

You should go boot shopping towards the end of the day. The reason for this is because our feet naturally expand when they are hot and when we have been doing any kind of activity. When you’re hiking or walking, your feet are going to expand because of both factors.

If you go boot shopping early in the day, you’re going to find your feet at their slimmest measurement, and when they expand, your boots are going to feel too tight. If you go at the end of the day, they’re going to be the largest size they can possibly be, and you won’t have pressure spots.

Choose a pair of boots

If you have to wear any specific insoles or orthotics, take them with you when you go boot shopping, as this will allow you to find the best boot in terms of how they impact the fit and feel when you move.

Of course, you should also wear the type of socks that you’re going to be wearing when you’re out walking or hiking. This will give you the best fit once more; we know that outdoor socks are thicker than trainer socks, so it is obviously going to impact on how tight your boot feels.

It is also a myth in that you should ‘break in’ your boots. You shouldn’t have to go through a period of pain in order for your boots to finally feel comfortable.

If they’re uncomfortable at this point, they’re going to be uncomfortable at all points, and the situation won’t improve enough. Only buy a pair of boots if they’re comfortable when you try them on and after you’ve walked around the store a few times.

The final point to mention is having your head turned by big name brands. We have to exercise an air of caution here, because while big name brands are big for a reason, they usually have a higher price tag.

Not all options are the best to go for, and it might be that a lesser-known brand fits your feet much better than the most famous name you can think of. Don’t simply choose a pair of boots because they’re in fashion and they’re going to impress your fellow walkers or hikers.


Choose a pair of boots because they fit you well and they feel comfortable. Even the most all-singing, all-dancing pair of boots can cause blisters and slow you down – it’s about finding the pair which complement your feet and give you that ultimate comfort. If you can find those boots, you’ve truly hit the holy grail of walking boots, for sure!

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