Do Hiking Boots Run Small?

By Amy Johnston | Guides

Nov 30
Do Hiking Bots Run Small

Do hiking boots run small? In a nutshell, the answer is a resounding yes. For some reason, hiking boots seem to have a tendency to be far smaller in size when compared with running shoes, work shoes or just about any other type of footwear. As a result, you may not be able to wear the same size in a hiking boot that you wear in virtually everything else because unlike wellies, these can’t be stretched. Therefore, it becomes more important than ever that you pay strong attention to detail when it comes time to buy a new pair of hiking boots. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a situation where the boots you have chosen are so tight that you can’t hardly stand to wear them for five minutes, much less hike in them.

Why are hiking boots typically smaller than other types of footwear?

Much of the answer lies in the way that they are made. They are designed to be far more durable than a lot of other footwear. As a result, they are made with materials that don’t stretch as much as a lot of other shoes do. In addition, they are designed for both durability and to stand up to the elements. In other words, you usually end up with some footwear that is a superior, more buttoned-down version of the typical shoes you might purchase. They also provide additional support in the soles, both inside and outside. All of this makes the shoes feel somewhat tighter because they are designed to fit more snugly on your feet. At times, it can make it seem as though the shoes are actually too small for a good fit and you have to move to the next size up.

Fortunately, a lot of hiking boots come in half sizes so you can typically move up the next bigger half size and you end up with a near perfect fit. Keep in mind, a lot of people that hike on some of the more serious trails also wear two pairs of socks in order to help prevent blisters and similar problems. When you are trying your hiking boots on, it is a good idea to have on two pairs of heavy duty, thick socks on so you can see how it will feel while you are wearing those particular boots. This will give you a good idea regarding how they are going to fit in a real-world situation.


Nothing is worse than trying to force your feet into a pair of shoes that don’t fit well. If you think that regular footwear that is too small is uncomfortable, think about what it would be like to wear hiking boots that are so tight they are pinching your feet with every step. When it is time to get a new pair of boots, remember that they do have a tendency to run a little on the small side and take that into consideration when you are making your purchase. It might mean that you have to spend a little more time trying to find that perfect size, but it will be well worth the effort in the long run.

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