Fit Factors: What Your Feet Are Doing In Your Boots

Proper fit is essential for good foot health and your comfort. 

Your feet are highly evolved flexible platforms. 

They have 3-dimensional form that constantly alters through movement to keep you upright, balanced and in control. If you stand in your socks on one foot you will feel (and see) how your foot constantly adapts to the position of your bodyweight and the floor.  

When under load your foot get longer, shallower, and wider.  

The ideal fit has room in the toe box to allow for the extension of your foot while holding the heel snugly to restrict slipping. 

Boots too big: 

  • Pull out – simply the foot pulls clear of the boot in mud etc. 
  • Friction – as the foot changes shape and moves inside the oversized boot it can rub, causing hot spots, blisters, chafing and damage to the boot lining (especially the heel). 
  • Clawed toes – as you scrunch your foot up in an attempt to keep in on your foot. 

Boots too short: 

  • Leaves no room for your toes, leading to bruising and possibly lost toenails. 

Boots too small: 

  • Restricts the natural movement of the foot, causing discomfort, creating friction, hot spots, blisters and impairing natural mechanics. 

Correctly fitting boots will feel like an extension of you, letting your foot perform naturally, moving with you, not against you and maintaining the footbed and outsole beneath your foot to provide comfort and traction. 

Key points 

  • Allow room in the toe box for your toes to move when under load. 
  • Ensure the heel is snug (but not tight) to reduce heel slip. 

Occasionally the addition of heel grips will aid fit and reduce heel slip. Heel grips are usually self-adhesive suede pads that fit behind your heel in your boots, invisibly aiding fit and comfort. They are inexpensive and available from shoe stores, supermarkets, and Amazon. 

Buy shoes and boots that fit. Any sizing reference is a guide. If they fit – they fit, so wherever possible try before you buy. 

As da Vinci said, “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.”. So, look after them so they can look after you.  

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