Should Hiking Boots be a Size Bigger?

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This is a popular question. When you are buying hiking boots, you will find the phrase “comes true to size”mentioned quite often.

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This shows you just how important size and fit are when buying shoes. Too big or too small could be bad for your feet.

So, should hiking boots be a size bigger? These shoes should in fact be at least a half size bigger. If they fit perfectly they will pinch and make hiking difficult and if they are too big, they will slip and cause blisters on your soles and heels. There is also no harm at all in making the footwear a size bigger, but not any bigger than that.

Why your hiking boots need to be a size bigger

Now that we are agreed that trail boots need to be a bit bigger, we shall look at the reasons why you should make them big. Keep reading.

Your feet expand as the day progresses

One of the reasons is that your feet expand after you have walked for some distance. Remember, you feet have to carry all of your weight and it is no small matter. That is why they start to swell and expand.

If you wear fitting shoes and the feet swell, you will experience pain. And this is not ball of foot pain, but pain throughout the entire foot. You will be tempted to take the shoes off.

Because of gravity, fluids such as blood tend to flow downward. Again, the feet have to accommodate all of that.

That is why you are advised to lay down with your feet elevated when you get home from work.

You will wear thick hiking socks

Hiking socks such as DearMy Performance Cushioned that you can buy on are thick. Therefore, you want enough room in the hiking shoes to accommodate the extra thickness.

If you have a pair of boots for hiking in winter you will need them to be large enough to accommodate extra thick socks.

You should even be able to wear two pairs of socks if the need for that comes up. Therefore, the footwear should be able to accommodate extra thick socks as well as your swollen feet after trekking for a few hours.

You will need wiggling room for your toes

Toes don’t need to be cramped together in a tight toe box. If you wear shoes that fit snugly (not too loose and not too comfortable), your toes will hit against the toe box when you are going downhill.

That can cause excruciating pain, especially if you have not trimmed your toenails.

Suffice to say that you go downhill in the evening. By ten, your feet are already too swollen. Therefore, with fitting shoes, you will not have room for your toes.

The reason for giving your toes enough room in the shoes is because they help you find grip and balance when you are going downhill.

Downhill hikes are too demanding. If you are carrying a backpack with your hiking essentials, the feet have to do more work. For this alone, the shoes must be a size bigger than you wear with your regular shoes.

They should be wider than your regular shoes

Hiking boots should be wider than your regular shoes. The best thing to do when you are ordering them is to measure your width.

You cannot have the sides of the shoes pressing against the sides of your feet. When your feet swell, they expand outwards. You need shoe width that can accommodate the expansion.

Thankfully, if the boots run a bit narrow, you can always stretch them using various methods such as ice, heat and so on.

However, instead of buying and stretching later when you break them in, it is best to always buy the right size. Besides, if you do not stretch them right, you could end up destroying the leather fiber.

How to order the right size for your hiking boots

Buying footwear for your hike is a bit hard when ordering online. It is not as if you are there in the store trying them on.

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However, you can always get the right size, and remember, order one size up. For example, if you wear number 43, order 44 and so on.

Mostly, you don’t have to worry about the width unless you have extra wide feet. Manufacturers match the width with the length.

Just to be sure to order the right size, measure your feet in the afternoon when your feet have expanded. Remember to measure the width too.

Is snug-fitting good? In many cases yes because it means the shoes fit comfortably. However, you should not feel some tightness around the heel area and there should be at least 0.5 inches between your toes and the toecap.


Should hiking boots be a size bigger? They definitely should for all the reasons that we have outlined here. Snug fit might be good when you are on even terrain or when going on an uphill trail. However, the trouble comes when you are on a downhill stretch. Make them bigger, at least with some wiggle room for your toes.