Regardless of your budget, there are certain things to keep in mind when shopping for boots, and we’ve got the rundown right here. Some of these tips are pretty well known, but others may surprise you. Read on so you know how to find the right pair of boots for you – and don’t get stuck with sore feet and an empty wallet!
Before you choose a boot to try on, make sure it’s got what you’re looking for. If you need a sturdy winter boot, it should be water resistant and insulated and have good traction. Going on a hiking trip? Get boots with sturdy ankle support and lots of padding to protect your feet as you trek up and down steep surfaces.
Depending on what you’re going to use your boots for, it may be wise to try them on in the afternoon or evening rather than in the morning. Since your feet swell throughout the day, doing so will give you a more accurate idea of how your feet will feel at their biggest.
Once you’ve picked out a pair of boots to try on, follow these steps to assess whether they’re the right match for you:
1. First off, make sure you’ve got a pair of socks with you when you go to the shoe store. You may have the option to buy a pair at the store if you’d rather, but otherwise, the salesperson will often only give you a sheer stocking sock that’s too thin to come close to how your regular socks will feel. And you most certainly want to get as close to that feeling as possible when making your decision.
2. Consider trying a couple of different sizes above and below the one you normally wear. This may not be necessary, but many boots and labels run small or large, so it’s a safe way to make sure you’re covering all your bases and getting exactly what fits your feet best.
3. Once you slide on your prospective new boots (onto both feet, not just one), check behind the heel. You can actually do this before you lace up your boot. Just push your foot forward in the boot and then see how much space there is behind your heel. You should be able to fit one finger there.
4. Lace up your boots, stand up straight and wiggle your toes. How do they feel? Cramped? Or like they’re floating around? You don’t want the boots to feel ginormous; however, the greater concern is tightness. Make sure your toes aren’t tightly wedged and have plenty of room to wiggle around. Think about the three outer areas of the front of your foot – the end of your big toe, the big toe mound (that sticks out to the side at the base of your big toe) and the pinky toe mount (that sticks out below the base of your pinky toe). Make sure these three areas especially aren’t feeling any pressure.
5. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell just how much space you want in your boots. A test you can do to check this is kicking a wall (ideally without alarming any other shoe store patrons or staff). Make sure your toes do not touch the end of the boot when you do this.
6. Now for the heel test: Walk, run, rock up and down, squat, jump – move your body in a number of different directions, all the while focusing on your heel. It shouldn’t move.
7. The foot isn’t the only thing to consider in boot sizing; your ankle needs support, too. By standing on the sides of your feet, you’ll be able to determine whether your ankles are well supported and have flexibility.
8. One last trick – slip your bare feet into the boots and see how they feel. This will give you a different sensation and may help you determine whether there are any spots that could turn into pain points.
And that’s it! If you go through these steps and still like the boots, it’s probably a safe bet that they’re good quality boots that fit your feet well. There will usually be some time required to break in your boots, of course, so plan to wear them for short periods a few times before you go in for the long haul. And if you’re looking for a variety of high-quality options, check out our selection right here. Good luck!