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Shoe fitting--how much extra length do you want?
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Rafi Harzahav
(rhz10) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Shoe fitting--how much extra length do you want? on 05/29/2013 08:49:09 MDT Print View


I've spent a long, long time trying to find a pair of low hikers/trail runners that fit my very narrow, low arch feet. One of the problems I've encountered is that when a shoe seems to fit in the heel and mid-foot, there doesn't seem to be enough toe room. Going up a half size obviously provides more toe room, but then the heel slips and I feel like I'm swimming in the shoe (even with thicker socks). As a general rule, how much space between the end of your big toe and the end of the shoe is desired? I've heard anywhere between 1/4" to 3/4".



Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Shoe fitting--how much extra length do you want? on 05/29/2013 08:52:34 MDT Print View

When I jam my foot towards the front of the shoe, I find that if I can put two fingers in the heel portion of the shoe (side by side not front to back), that leaves enough room for my toes and is a great overall fit for me.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Shoe fitting--how much extra length do you want? on 05/29/2013 08:55:26 MDT Print View

I offer my experience as, perhaps, the extreme in one direction. I typically buy shoes with a full inch of toe room.

My wife says they look like clown shoes but they work for me.

Mike V
(deadbox) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
"Shoe fitting--how much extra length do you want?" on 05/29/2013 12:05:20 MDT Print View

I used to sell athletic shoes when I was younger and we always recommended the width of your thumb between the end of your toes and the end of the toe box. If you have shoes you are currently wearing and are getting heel slip you should consider getting a pair of heel grips, but I would suggest looking for a shoe that is uses a more narrow last to begin with. Some companies like new balance offers a variety of widths for most sizes.

Edited by deadbox on 05/29/2013 12:07:50 MDT.

(Joomy) - M
"enough" on 05/30/2013 04:28:07 MDT Print View

Enough is the theoretical answer. Just enough so that your toes ideally never impact on the end of the shoe when you're doing descents. Of course almost everyone experiences some forward foot shift when going downhill for a long period so in practice about a finger's width or about 10mm seems to work for most people. That said, it's often hard to tell just where your toes are in stiff toed hiking shoes/boots so utilise the ramp that many outdoor shops have and really imitate walking downhill.

Edited by Joomy on 05/30/2013 04:44:10 MDT.

Derrick White
(miku) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
2 Tests and Allow for Shrinkage on 05/30/2013 17:38:09 MDT Print View

I follow the thumb rule and the downward ramp walk test to ensure the toes make no contact. I have not yet bought a pair of boots or shoes that have not shrunk a little once they get wet, even with 100% synthetic materials including goretex.

Last year I bought a pair of Five Ten SAR canyoneering boots a full size bigger and they fit fine at first. These boots are designed to get wet and after two days hiking in a river they had contracted enough that my big toes were impacting. It 80K backcountry river hike and I lost a toenail.

I also have a pair of Solomon goretex boots that shrunk when they got wet and hurt my toes.

Tip\Solution for those with boots that are too small: I bought a set of wooden shoe stretchers with all wood and metal parts (no plastic). Put them in the boots (both pairs) and baked them in the oven for 5 hours at 140F. Then removed them and left stretchers in 2 days. It worked like a charm. I tried to find the level of heat necessary to soften the rubber materials so they would stretch gently but not too much to break down the glues or materials.

The goretex boots are still waterproof and both pairs now fit again!


Todd T
(texasbb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: "enough" on 05/30/2013 20:36:04 MDT Print View

I agree with "enough." Don't listen to any rules of thumb, because it just depends on you. I need a *lot* of room down there, mainly because of my ankles--they're about as big around as mop handles, so there's no shoe in the world that will both fit my long feet and hold them from sliding. So consider your feet (width, length, instep, arch, toe taper, volume, etc.), your ankles, and anything else you can think of, and try shoes till you find a pair that makes it impossible to jam your toes into the end. And don't be afraid to look like a clown.