Guide To Good Boot Fit
Posted on August 27th, 2017
Shopping for new tactical boots? Here’s what you need to know to ensure you have the proper fit.
When is The Best Time to Try On Boots?
What’s the best time of day to try on boots? In the afternoon. Feet swell as the day progresses, so if you try on new boots first thing in the morning, your feet will be at their smallest. Wait until mid-afternoon to go shoe shopping to get the best fit so you don’t go home with boots that are ultimately too small.
When you go to try on boots, make sure you take a pair of socks with you. For the best fit, they should be the same type of socks that you would normally wear with your new boots.
Try on several different models and brands. See What are Boot Lasts and Why are the Important? for details.
When trying them on, put on both boots, lace them up as you normally would and walk, do knee raises, stand, and run (if space allows). Roll your ankles to check flexibility and support.
What are Boot Lasts and Why are they Important?
Try on several different models. Boots from different manufacturers are made from different “lasts”. A boot last is the foundation from which the boot is formed and determines the fit, and ensures consistency in the manufacturing process. Lasts are typically made from plastic and are shaped to a manufacturer’s size and shape specifications. There can be variations between lasts such as overall shape, width, toe box shape, and depth. Because different manufacturers use different boot lasts, it’s important to try on several models to determine which ones fit your particular foot the best.
The front area of the boot is called the “toe box”. It will not stretch, so make sure you have wiggle room for your toes. The tips of your toes should not be touching the front of the toe box. If they are, the boots are too small. Your toes should have wiggle room. They should not be pressured by the front, sides, or top of the toe box.
The boots should fit and feel somewhat similar to a firm handshake. SNUG but not TIGHT. There should be no discomfort or pain, but the fit should be snug because the boots will stretch with use. You can retain a snug fit as the boots break in by adjusting the laces.
Your heel should be able to rise very slightly from the sole of the boot when taking a step. If you have heel slippage, this is not a good fit. Too much heel movement can cause hot spots and blisters.
If your foot slides forward when you are walking, this is not a correct fit. Feet should stay in place and not slip around within the boot.
Make sure the arch of the boot matches up with the arch of your foot. You will feel a ridge of pressure across the bottom of your foot if the arches are not aligned.
Expect to have a break-in period. Boots will stretch and mold to your feet with normal use. You can expect some stiffness at first, but if you feel a high level of discomfort when they are new, find a pair that feels snug and comfortable right out of the box. Chances are, if a boot causes pain or a high degree of discomfort when new, they will likely never feel comfortable no matter how long you break them in.