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Once you’ve selected the right boot for your needs, making sure it fits your feet is the single most important factor. A great boot that doesn’t fit well simply won’t work.
To fit well, a boot needs to hold the foot securely and comfortably. It needs to be long enough so as not to crowd the toes, and wide enough to accommodate the foot and the usual pair of socks. It also needs to hold the heel securely in place to prevent slippage, the most common cause of blisters.
Boots are made with two size indicators: size and width. Size indicates how long the boot is from the heel to the toe; width from side to side at the ball of the foot. Widths run from A (the narrowest) to E (the widest). The most common shoe and boot sizes are D and EE.
Though you can measure your own foot for sizing, the best place to start is with a qualified sales person at your local Danner dealer. They will be able to accurately measure your foot with a Brannock device, which will provide a starting point for proper fitting. They will also be able to suggest boot styles that will accommodate the subtle variations in your feet.
So, you’ve found the right pair of boots for your needs, and they feel like they fit comfortably. How do you know for sure? Start by wearing the same socks that you’ll most likely be using, and then try to simulate the conditions that you will be wearing the boots in. Many stores have a test ramp or incline that you should walk up and down.
Can you wiggle your toes? A little bit of room is good.
Do your toes press against the front of the boots when you’re on a downward incline? They shouldn’t.
Does your heel stay in place when you walk around? It should.
How about the width? Slightly snug, but not tight, is best.
If you feel any “hot spots” as you walk around, they will likely only get worse and cause blisters.
When the boot is comfortably laced, do the two rows of eyelets stay parallel to each other from your toes to your ankle? If they don’t, it can mean that you need a different width.
If you will be using the boots on rocky terrain or trails, walk around and see if you can feel bumps and edges through the outsole. If you can, you’ll really feel them after a few miles on the trail.
Okay. You’ve done all of this and you think you’ve got the boots you want and fit you need. But if you still need a little adjustment, there are two main ways to improve the fit. The first is simple: tightening and loosening the laces at different parts of the boot to take up looseness or relax a tight area. The second is a bit more involved: substituting a thicker or thinner footbed to either increase or decrease the amount of space in the boot, thereby tightening or relaxing the fit. For example, a thicker footbed will raise the heel to eliminate slipping.