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.

Related Post: Are Combat Boots Good for Hiking?

Categories: Hiking

Noah Lam

Noah Lam, is passionate about outdoor recreations, bridging the gap between generations, and sharing his passion for hiking and camping. As an outdoor explorer, he has been to more than forty countries and hiked some of the most intangible trails in the world. His goal is to spread the endless benefits of being a camper and hiker, new challenges, always striving for better performance and ways to explore responsibly.