I bet if you are a hiking lover then you of course heard the controversy about using larger-size hiking boots than the feet. One side stands with the benefits of using larger sizes whereas the oppositions are ready to present the dark points. What’s your sense say? Should Hiking Boots Be a Size Bigger? Or not?

Alright, the destination of the question is quite complicated as both sides have strong logic. Ultimately yes or no depends on some facts and situations. So, let’s know the facts to bring out from that tough condition.

Should Your Hiking Boots Be a Size Bigger?

Before analyzing the answer, it is the priority to know that a fitted boot is a must requirement and it doesn’t matter how big or small your boots or shoes are. 

Two Pair of Larger Size Boots

Now for the question, yeah, depending on some facts you need to go for half-size or one-size larger hiking boots than normal. But to me, a half size bigger is preferable. Because the extra-large can bring blister and also provides you less support for the ankle or knee. I’m sure, you now curiously thinking about why you have to go for a bigger size instead of regular shoes. 

Alright. Now, when and why you need to deal with large boots during hiking are explained below by following the core reasons.

While Downhill Hiking

On camping, walking can’t be a major factor. But while you are thinking about a long hike or trekking then here walking is the main character. So, you need to pay attention to footwear during walking uphill or downhill.

To do it uphill, you have to wear fit and supportive boots to complete the secure step. And here you don’t need any space to protect yourself from irritation or injury.

But what happens on the downhill? While you are walking downhill, you may experience a little bit of slipping inside your shoes. For that, it is quite sure to occur the worst collision between your toes and the endpoint of the boots. And in a result, injuries like Achilles pain or swelling may be happening. Also, you can get an uncomfortable hiking experience.

In that situation, one or a half size bigger shoes you should buy to spend a pain-free trip.

When Hiking in Winter

Look strange? What’s the connection between big-size shoes and the winter? Think simple. What you will be looking for in cold weather? Of course, the warm, right? 

It’s known that to keep your feet warm you need to search for thick, insoles or special types of socks. And of course, those aren’t wearable with normal boots. If you wear it with the regular by chance, then the boot can be caught with those socks. From where you may face uncomfortable with overfitting and low supportive footwear.

So, to make it the right fit and provide a free space for the toes, it is a smart hack to purchase little bigger size shoes.

Because of Warm Body

Though the sound looks funny, a warmer body indeed has a great impact on using larger-size hiking shoes than usual.

You may warm for different reasons like by doing exercise, during summer or else. Furthermore, hiking is such an activity that can feel you warm. So, when is getting warm, the blood vessels will show it’s increasing ability to fly under the heat. And that works pretty deep where the skin is thin, especially your feet and hands. And, that mechanism does the job to increase your feet.

Didn’t get it? Well, because of warmness, the area of your feet experiences extra blood flow and maintains the body temperature well. For this rise in blood flow, the feet inside your boot transfer into a little bit large.

To face that situation, half-size or one-size larger boots can ensure ventilation as well as enough space to eliminate the problem.

Feet Expansion According to Science

Science has a good and proven explanation for the expansion of human feet. Sleeping here plays the main role. Like, our height seems larger in the morning than in the evening.

Now, you may have asked, how the feet can be expanded? During the day, because of walking and other movements, your feet feel more pressure from carrying the body. And, those pressures occur to larger the feet.

Furthermore, there are many whose body deposits fluids in the lower area on day hiking. And that causes expandable feet than normal.

So, in both conditions, for getting secure and comfortable, it is good to buy a little bigger shoe size.


Without the previous, there are also a few minor facts that you can take into concern.

Like the growth. In terms of the growing stage, your feet can also grow and that will make your boot tight. Though it looks silly, you can purchase a bigger size for the future.

Again, no one is free from mistakes. The manufacturer brands can make an error on the sizes and in real life, it is heard that some brands come with bigger sizes than the size they mention. Also, there is a size gap between men’s and women’s hiking boots. And there you may suffer, though most brands offer return facilities. So, in simply thinking, you can buy half-size bigger boots for hiking.

So, almost those are the reasons and times when you should use a bigger size hiking boot to avoid fault. 

Things You Should Remember While Using Bigger

In terms of one or half large size, you need to take some concerns in your mind. And those must be followed. Sometimes, the hiker’s expectation has gone wrong just for boot ignorance. So, let’s move forward with those things and hiking shoe-choosing factors.

Backpack, cup and large size hiking boots

Make It Fit

No compromise can be done with the fitting. To hike safely and joyfully, a well-fitted boot carries the key. 

If you use a small one, make sure it is suited perfectly to your feet and has no chance of blistering. For big, keep notice about the over large. Because extra-large will bring the blister and uncomfortable and support-less walking.

Many can’t tell if their hiking boots are big. To understand it, look for the things “less ankle support” “slippery” “toes pain” and “downhill trouble”. If those are presented then your boots definitely big.

So, fits mean fit. Big or small no one cares, you just go for fit.

Required Footwear Types

Types of footwear also vary here. There are many types like boots, shoes, etc. And They are also different from each other in materials, color, design, and so on.

Some are good for day hiking and some for longer. Again, for winter and summer use those have a different variant to serve comfort. Some are best as plantar fasciitis hiking boots.

For that, considering all those things you should decide which one will be an ideal size to use upper. So depending on your conditions, choose the right types as your hiking buddy.

Suited Socks

Sock takes care of many tasks during your hike journey. It plays a valuable role to fit your boot properly. Additionally, it provides peace feeling and support. And that can able to protect your feet from swelling or blistering.

If your hike is in summer, then go for a slim and breathable summer sock to wear. For winter, you need thick socks to get warm as well as fit. Make confirm those socks are fat enough to attach with a half-size bigger.

So, remembering those terms, use a suitable pair of socks on your short hike checklist.

Don’t Keep Extra Space

The upsize boot doesn’t mean you have to keep a huge empty area inside the shoes. As the early discussion, too much space will bring feet problems. Also, you won’t get the desired stability that hiking required.

So, stay careful as getting the benefits of large size will cause the worst experience.

Follow Wearing Guides

According to the expert hiker, it is good practice to wear those shoes later in the day. The reason behind this is the expansion of your feet.

Furthermore, to understand the fit, have a trial walk uphill or down, or running before the hiking. That boot-breaking will provide you with extra confidence. 

Final Thought

In the end, should one’s hiking boots be a size larger doesn’t exist? Fit and comfortable are all the facts you should care about. In our thought, a half-size-up boot is capable enough to acquire both of the terms on hiking conditions.

Here we represented your required gaps, now it’s you who can decide the footwear way how you will hike.

Question & Answers

Should hiking boots be tight or loose?

Hiking boots should fit snugly but not be tight. They should be comfortable and provide support to your feet, but not be so tight that they cause pain or restrict blood flow.

When trying on hiking boots, make sure you wear the socks you plan to hike in. Your toes should be able to move freely inside the boots, but not touch the front or sides of the boots. There should be about a thumb’s width of space between your toes and the front of the boot. Your heel should be snug and not lift up in the boot when you walk.

It’s also important to break in your hiking boots before going on a long hike or backpacking trip. You can do this by wearing them around the house, or taking them on shorter hikes before your big trip. This will help ensure that they are comfortable and prevent blisters and other problems.

It is also good to consider if you have any specific foot condition and if the boots you choose support that condition.

Overall, it’s important to find a balance between a tight and loose fit for your hiking boots. They should be snug enough to provide support and prevent your feet from sliding around inside the boot, but not so tight that they cause discomfort or restrict blood flow.

What’s the point of hiking boots?

Hiking boots are specifically designed to provide protection and support for your feet while hiking on rugged and uneven terrain. They have several key features that make them suitable for hiking:

  1. Protection: Hiking boots have a durable, sturdy construction that protects your feet from sharp rocks, sticks, and other hazards you might encounter on the trail. They also have a high ankle design that protects your ankles from twisting on uneven terrain.
  2. Support: Hiking boots have a stiff midsole that provides support to the arch of your foot. This helps to reduce the risk of injury and fatigue while hiking on uneven terrain. Additionally, they usually have a good tread pattern that offers good traction and stability on wet, slippery, rocky or loose terrain.
  3. Waterproofing: Many hiking boots are designed to be waterproof, which helps to keep your feet dry in wet conditions. This is especially important for keeping your feet comfortable and preventing blisters on multi-day hikes.
  4. Comfort: Some hiking boots also have padded collars, tongues and insole that provide cushioning and comfort for your feet, even during long day hikes or multi-day backpacking trips.
  5. Durability: Hiking boots are built to withstand a lot of wear and tear, so they will last for many hikes if taken care of properly.

Overall, the main point of hiking boots is to provide protection, support and durability, so you can hike comfortably and safely on various terrains, whatever the weather conditions are.

Are heavier hiking boots better?

It is not necessarily true that heavier hiking boots are better. The weight of a hiking boot can play a role in its overall performance, but it’s not the only factor to consider.

Heavier hiking boots can provide more support and protection for your feet and ankles, which is beneficial for hiking on rugged and uneven terrain. They also tend to have a more durable construction, which can help them last longer. However, a heavier boot can make your feet and legs feel more tired and can make it harder to hike faster or longer.

Lighter hiking boots, on the other hand, are often less durable and may not provide as much support and protection, but they can be easier to hike in and put less strain on your feet and legs. They are also suitable for less rugged terrains or shorter hikes.

It’s important to find a balance between weight and the support and protection your boots provide. A boot that is too light might not be suitable for your needs, but a boot that is too heavy can also be a hindrance. It might be beneficial for you to try on different boots, and take them for a walk around the store or if possible, on a short hike, to get a better feel of how they perform and how they feel on your feet.

It’s also good to consider your own personal preferences and needs when choosing a hiking boot. For example, if you are a lightweight or fast hiker, you may prefer a lighter boot. If you are carrying a heavy load or hiking on challenging terrain, you may prefer a heavier boot.

Ultimately, the right hiking boot for you is one that fits well, feels comfortable, provides the support and protection you need, and is within your budget.

Why do hiking boots have high heels?

Hiking boots typically have a slightly raised heel, also known as a heel lift. This is to provide additional support and protection for your feet and ankles while hiking on uneven terrain.

The raised heel helps to keep your heel secure inside the boot and prevent it from sliding around while you’re walking. It also helps to reduce the strain on your Achilles tendon, which can be particularly beneficial when hiking uphill.

The heel lift, or the angle of the heel, also helps to maintain an upright position of the foot and the ankle by keeping it in a neutral position. It helps with maintaining the natural gait, reduces strain in the feet and provides better balance.

Additionally, a raised heel can help to prevent injuries to the ankle caused by rolling it over on uneven terrain. The raised heel provides a higher level of support and stability that helps keep your ankle from rolling or twisting, which can reduce the risk of sprains or other injuries.

It’s important to note that not all hiking boots have a raised heel, there are also boots that has a zero drop, where the heel and the forefoot are at the same level. This design can be beneficial for people who prefer a more natural gait, or people with conditions that affect the heel and ankle.

Ultimately, the purpose of the raised heel in hiking boots is to provide additional support, protection, and stability while hiking on uneven terrain, by keeping the heel secure and maintaining a neutral position of the foot.

Can I wear hiking shoes for walking?

Hiking shoes can be worn for walking, but it’s important to consider the specific needs of your walk before using hiking shoes. Hiking shoes are designed specifically for hiking and backpacking, and may not be the best choice for other types of walking.

Hiking shoes typically have a stiffer sole and a more aggressive tread pattern than walking shoes, which can provide additional support and traction on rugged terrain. They also often have a higher ankle design to provide additional support and protection for your ankles. These features can be beneficial while hiking, but they can make walking on flat surfaces or pavement feel less comfortable, and may not be as flexible as walking shoes.

Additionally, hiking shoes tend to have more durable and waterproof construction than walking shoes, which can be beneficial for protecting your feet in wet conditions, but may not be as breathable and may not provide as much ventilation for your feet during walking.

Walking shoes on the other hand, are designed for flat pavement and urban environment and often have a more flexible sole and a less aggressive tread pattern. They also tend to be less durable, but also more comfortable and breathable than hiking shoes.

If you’re planning to do a lot of walking on flat, paved surfaces or in an urban environment, you may be more comfortable in a pair of walking shoes. However, if you’re planning to do some light hiking or walking on more rugged terrain, hiking shoes can be a good option.

It’s also important to consider the distance and duration of your walk when choosing the shoes, and your own needs, such as the level of support and the level of breathability you need, and then make a decision based on those factors.

Are thick or thin socks better for hiking?

The thickness of the socks you wear for hiking depends on a variety of factors, including the time of year, the climate, and your personal preference.

In general, thicker socks are better for colder weather or for hiking in higher elevations, where temperatures can be cooler. Thick socks made from materials such as wool can help to keep your feet warm and insulated. They also provide extra padding and cushioning, which can help to reduce the risk of blisters and other foot problems.

On the other hand, thinner socks are better for warmer weather or for hiking in lower elevations, where temperatures can be hot. Thinner socks made from materials such as nylon or polyester can help to keep your feet cool and dry by wicking away moisture. They also provide less insulation and padding, which can help to reduce the risk of overheating and make the boots more comfortable for your feet.

Some hikers use a combination of thin and thick socks, using thin liner socks that wick away moisture and then wearing a thicker sock over it. This will keep your feet dry and comfortable while providing extra insulation and padding.

It’s important to try different types of socks and thicknesses to find what works best for you and your feet. It’s also important to consider the activity you’re doing, the distance and duration, and the expected weather conditions to make the best decision on the socks to use.

In any case, it’s important to choose socks that are made from moisture-wicking materials, comfortable, and well-fitting to provide the best support and comfort to your feet while hiking.

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Categories: Hiking