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Andrew Mowery
(moweryaviation) - F

Locale: Northern CA
Boot fit on 12/20/2009 19:25:56 MST Print View

When I was a kid, dad took me to the store bought me boots, and that was it. They fit, were warm and I had no problems at all. Now I try to get a pair of backpacking/winter travel boots and I am having trouble. How do I fit a backpacking boot? (I am a hard core backpacking shoe fan!) Toe blisters = too small. Heel blisters (heel lift) = too big RIGHT?

I bought a pair of Asolo 520's for winter backpacking, snowshoeing, ocasional crampon use. I had toe blisters and cold feet wiht a size 10. I sent them back ( yea!) and got a size 11. Now I have horiable heel lift problems, with blisters and sore feet. Too big? They don't make a 10.5. I even tried to adjust my sock "stack up", no help. Is it as easy as ordering another brand wiht a 10.5? When I get them how will I know that they fit well wiht out putting 25 miles of hell in them? Thanks BPL!

Matt Ahonen
(Matti) - F

Locale: Western MN
Insoles on 12/20/2009 19:57:11 MST Print View

Maybe try something like a super feet insole in the 11's to decrease the volume and help with heel lift. Using a thin liner sock with your normal sock should help as well. I would also explore some of the creative ways to lace your boots to help lock your heel down.

Most well built boots I have used have taken some time to break in. If you are doing 25 miles out of the box you might get blisters with just about any boot.

There are a lot of good boots out there. Maybe Asolos just don't fit your foot correctly.


Edited by Matti on 12/20/2009 19:59:22 MST.

James Naphas
(naphas13) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Welcome to my world on 12/20/2009 20:53:36 MST Print View

I get heel lift (and heel blisters) to one degree or another in every boot I've tried, the result of low volume/wide forefoot/extremely narrow heel feet. That's why I switched to wearing either trail runners or sandals. I'd never buy shoes, let alone boots, via mail order if I didn't already know exactly how that brand and model fit me.

Also, I can't believe that Asolo doesn't make boots in a 10.5. Maybe just doesn't have any in stock.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Boot fit on 12/20/2009 21:36:15 MST Print View

It bears repeating, buying boots via mail order is a bad way to do it!

I sell boots for a living (well, peanuts actually, but they make good trail food). You've got the general idea right. Keep plenty of space in front of your feet, but not so much that you have excessive heel lift.

It's key to find a boot that holds your instep and heel well. That's what will reduce heel lift. The best way to find a boot that works, is to try a bunch on, in various different lengths.

I repeat, mail order is a bad way to buy a boot.

Joseph Morrison
(sjdm4211) - F

Locale: Smokies
Re: Welcome to my world on 12/20/2009 21:48:51 MST Print View

With a lightweight pack there is no real need in such heavy boots IMO. Asolo 520's are very heavy stiff boots. Even after a good amount of break in time you are always going to have heel lift and blisters. Switch to a lighter boot/shoe and you will most certainly get a better fit. Besides that you should have a good pair of quality merino or synthetic socks with liners on. You might want to look into some custom insoles as well. I prefer Montrail Enduro thermo-moldable insoles.

James, I to have a narrow heel and wide forefoot. Montrails fit me best. Plus it is my expierence that wearing sandals alot throws off the shape of my feet especially in the forefoot and arch. It makes them wider and flatter.


Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
boot fit on 12/20/2009 23:08:33 MST Print View

Here's my experience, for what it's worth.
First, none of the boots most retailers like to carry fit me. After years of suffering, got a pair of custom Limmers years ago that were perfect, even though they weighed almost 5 lbs. Those wore out after several thousand miles, and later Limmers fit poorly. I did the "bootcamp" thing - a waste of time, travel and money. Tried two other custom bootmakers with no luck, and lost $$$ with one. What to do?
First, after 3 tries, found a good podiatrist, Matthew Burrell in Fryeberg Maine. Persuaded him to reluctantly prescribe and obtain a pair of PAL carbon fiber custom orthotics with reinforced blue Spenco footpads.
Next, since I already knew that Asolo, Merrill, and all the other brands most often found at EMS, REI etc. would not fit, I tried not quite so common brands like Danner, Zamberlan, Keene, Garmont, etc in the stores with my custom footbeds. I even found a pair of cheap ($30) Nevados that fit well, fair weather friends that have no water resistance. Whenever I go gear shopping, I bring along the footbeds and try them in several different brands.
I also use a "nine iron," or thick composite flat footbed underneath the orthotic footbed in the one foot that is shorter and has less volume. My feet are narrow in the heel, and splayed at the toes, so boots long and wide enough at the toes are cavernous in the heels, and boots that are snug in the heels crunch the toes.
So far, I have found several pairs that fit OK - not as well as my first Limmers or the raggedy Nevados, but they are sturdy and waterproof enough for treks.
Like the other posters, I have found that the lighter boots are easier on the feet, although I don't go for running shoe height as I enjoy dry feet if possible. Hiking with wet feet would also destroy my footbeds after a while. Good lightweight low W/B gaiters can help with keeping the feet dry also.
But most of the best long distance hikers i read about on this and other sites seem to go for the running shoe height, which must mean something. My own theory is that conventional hiking boots, by "supporting" the ankles, also limit ankle movement, thus putting unusual strain on the leg muscles and meniscal cartilage in the knees, which means pain, and for older hikers, serious damage.
But, whatever you believe, I agree with most of the other posters that if your feet are not easily fit, it is best to 'try before you buy.' When I do mail-order boots, it is with the knowledge that 90% of them will have to go back, and as with the store bought ones, they cannot be used outdoors until I am absolutely sure I will want to keep them. So, I wear them around the house in the evenings.
This all works much better for me than the outdated method of soaking the boots in a bucket and walking them dry.
I am hiking comfortably now, and the $400 for the PAL orthotics were worth every penny.
Sam Farrington, Chocorua NH

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Boot fit on 12/20/2009 23:55:53 MST Print View

> Toe blisters = too small. Heel blisters (heel lift) = too big RIGHT?
Well, sort of. Certainly you have the front bit right.
The heel - I suspect that this problem is a mismatch between your foot shape and the last the boots were made on. This is harder to handle.
One solution is to scrap the whole boots idea and go to soft low-cut joggers. Works for many experienced walkers. Even works for winter/snow use - we have articles about that for subscribers.


Shontelle Adams
(shonkygirl) - F

Locale: Central Coast, Aus.
Boot Fit on 12/21/2009 04:58:11 MST Print View


Question for Sam F.

I have similar problems with finding a boot to fit, and you mentioned that you had found some that fit OK, could you please let me know what brands/model they are?

Thanks heaps

Andrew Mowery
(moweryaviation) - F

Locale: Northern CA
Re: Boot fit on 12/21/2009 13:31:27 MST Print View

Thanks for all the great info. I normaly hike in ( 300 or so miles a year) in low top merrels. LOVE THEM but, for snow or cold conditions I need a warm, rigid, boot for snow shoes, kicking steps, and ocasional crampon use. I like the idea of runners or light shoes but not for snow shoe and crampon use.

I have tried a few diffrent lacing tecniques, and a couple sock stack ups. I always us a linner sock and merino wool. I Studied the fit last night and it seems to be that there is too much room in the Heel Cup. I hae to tie the boot so tight that it hinders my stride just to get my heel to sit still. Any Ideas?

Andrew Mowery
(moweryaviation) - F

Locale: Northern CA
Boot fit on 12/21/2009 13:39:12 MST Print View

I Like the Idea of using insloes to adjust volume of the boot. Anyone have any experiance in heel lift being helped my insoles? If so what do I look for in an insole?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Boot fit on 12/21/2009 14:22:00 MST Print View

> but, for snow or cold conditions I need a warm, rigid, boot for snow shoes,
> kicking steps, and ocasional crampon use.

Actually, people have climbed serious mountains in mid-height joggers with crampons, and lots of us go snowshoeing with joggers these days.
Step kicking is fine with a stiff sole on the jogger and there are plenty which have this.
Warmth - I reckon double socks and joggers 1/2 size larger will give you MORE warmth than stiff leather boots. That's how we travel at BPL.

Leather boots and dinosaurs have several things in common.


Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Boot Fit on 12/21/2009 16:30:30 MST Print View

I have extremely high arches and other foot issues, so, I feel your pain...
Here is one resource I can recommend:
I went to fit clinic put on by Phil and the local mountaineering shop. It was well worth the time.
Also, different lacing techniques may be worth a look. Do a web search and see what you can find. Here is one article to give you some ideas:,7120,s6-238-267--12334-0,00.html
Getting boots that lace farther down toward the front of the boot can give you more lacing options.
A good boot fitter will have other tricks. I use a pad under the laces in the forefoot area of my boots to help push my foot back into the boot. This works in conjunction with semi-custom footbeds to stablize the foot.

Hope this helps.

david fausnight
(rckjnky) - F
Boot Fit on 12/21/2009 17:59:44 MST Print View

First, I am 100% sure that 10.5 does exist in the 520.

Heel lift can be a huge problem with boots as stiff as these, especially when they are new. A boot "learns" where to break and until it has the heel lift is greater. Obviously it's designed to break at a certain point but it takes time for it to get broken in. Because shoes are designed to flex at the ball of your foot the measurement from the heel to the ball of the foot is sometimes more important than the overall length. ie. My feet which measure ~8.5 overall but ~9.25 to the ball. ok ok stop laughing at my short toes.

As others have pointed out there are many ways to modify the fit of a boot, I won't repeat. I will offer a few others. First if the entire boot has too much volume one can add a product called 5-iron which is very dense 1/8th inch EVA under the sock liner/insole. Another trick with a heavier boot like the 520 is to mold the heel. I've never done it myself but have seen it done. This is the process: Basically one dips the heel of the boot wrapped in a turkey bag into hot water (boiling or nearly so)for 1-2 mins until the plastic heel cup in the boot becomes pliable. The boot is then put onto the foot, laced up and the heel is squeezed tight and held while it cools. Ice helps speed things up I think. Once cool the heel cup should retain the new shape and hold the heel better. Last, more space can be created on a rubbing bar if there is certain spot or two that just don't work on a boot that's right everywhere else.

It would be nice if everyone could just put on any pair of size X boots and they would just work, but that's not the case for many many people. This is a huge reason why footwear is getting lighter, cheaper and more disposable, but... I don't want to go off on a rant here.

Best of luck! I hope you find some you like.


Andrew Mowery
(moweryaviation) - F

Locale: Northern CA
Boot fit on 12/21/2009 18:32:01 MST Print View

Thanks Dave, I did find them in a 10.5. However not at With a little more research I should be able to figure it out. Thanks for the Advise everyone!

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
boot fit on 12/21/2009 23:42:17 MST Print View

My best all around boots are Danner Radical 452's with some modifications. Since they are a lace-to-toe boot, I had all but the lowest eyelets replaced with hooks, so I can adjust the tightness at each hook while lacing, in the same manner as Limmers. Then, Peter Limmer (Peter Limmer & Sons, Intervale NH) was kind enough to stretch the toes on his machine with some heat for a couple weeks to give me a much needed extra 1/4" or so length at the toes. (I would never try this myself) He also did this for me with a pair of Keen mids, which feel great, but I have not used them enough yet to know if they will be OK over the long haul. Do not recall the model name for the Nevados, but they were their least expensive mid, not waterproof, but excellent for walking the shelties a couple miles. The Zamberlan model has been discontinued. The Danners are Goretex lined, and appear to have excellent leather and construction. Had them out snowshoeing today for several hours and my feet stayed dry without gaiters and the boots were unfazed as always. They are my second pair, the first ones having been eventually worn out doing trailwork. Danner also makes a very flexible orthotic (not like the clunkers the podiatrists love) that they sell with some models, but also sell separately.
Hope this is helpful. (I have no connection with Danner)
Sam Farrington

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Welcome to my world on 02/24/2010 22:05:02 MST Print View

Joseph Morrison said: With a lightweight pack there is no real need in such heavy boots IMO. Asolo 520's are very heavy stiff boots. Even after a good amount of break in time you are always going to have heel lift and blisters.

I'm going to call BS on the heel lift and blisters bit. I think maybe you were doing something else wrong. Have you actually used these boots?

Christian Aust
(cgaust) - F
Trail runners, joggers in place of hiking boots on 07/02/2011 08:53:36 MDT Print View

Every year hundreds of people need to be rescued from mountains - esp in the European Alps (relatively young mountains and hence often steep).
The most common causes of injuries are inappropriate equipment and lack of skills/experience.
Light weight gear - esp. shoes - is great.
However, before opting to use low-cut boots or trail runners on more demanding hikes, you need to be sure that your feet and legs are sufficiently strong and that you don't have any other problems, e.g. a tendency to roll your ankles. Most people should stick to a boot that provides adequate ankle support when venturing into steep terrain or scree. Low-cuts or joggers should only be used by strong and experienced hikers.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Red Hot heel cups on 07/02/2011 12:36:45 MDT Print View

Among the various Superfeet insoles, the following has the narrowest and most supportive heel cup: "Superfeet REDhot Premium Winter Insoles. Designed for ski and snowboard boots, the Superfeet REDhot insoles align and control the motion of your feet, improving balance and power transmission." The green Superfeet have a wider and less supportive heel cup.