How to Tell If Boots Fit Right – Your Guide to Perfect Fitting Boots

There’s no denying that the right footwear is essential and finding a snug-fitting pair of quality boots is no easy feat. One of the common mistakes most people make while buying boots is purchasing a size that doesn’t fit quite right. The secret to finding the perfect fit lies in the unique features built into specific styles that provide enhanced comfort, stretch, and extra room.

How to Tell If Boots Fit Right

There can be adverse repercussions of wearing ill-fitted boots on your overall health, and as they say, health is wealth. Therefore, buying properly fitting boots means avoiding discomfort and pain. Fortunately, this guide walks you through everything you need to know on how to tell if boots fit right.

Are Your Boots Too Big?

If your feet are sliding around in your boots, that’s a sign they’re oversize, which can lead to serious consequences. For starters, they can cause pads of hardened dead skin (cones) that stem from repeated pressure and rubbing. Corns can attach to softer, deeper tissue, making them difficult to remove entirely, and they can be painful.

If your feet slide around your boots as you walk, there’s a high likelihood that there’s consistent friction on one discreet part of your skin. Doing so triggers a corn that can result in a permanent fixture if you’re unvigilant.

Furthermore, oversized boots can result in damaged ankle ligaments and Achilles tendonitis, both of which are detrimental to your health and require medical attention. If the footwear offers more than one inch of room for your toes or your heel slip more than ½ an inch at the back, then that’s a tell-tale sign that your boots are oversize.

Are Your Boots Too Small?

Now that you’re aware of the havoc that oversized boots can cause, don’t rush to buy the tightest pair of footwear that can fit. Doing so can cause repercussions equally as painful as tendonitis and corns. In addition, tight-fitting boots result in ingrown toenails that are not only painful but also unsightly.

If your toes are jammed up, there’s a chance that you’re lifting your toenails from their bed, paving the way for microorganisms to enter and cause bacterial inflammation issues. Tight-fitting boots squeeze your foot, minimizing air circulation that can result in athlete’s foot which is a difficult-to-cure and uncomfortable problem that should be avoided altogether.

If you get the pins-and-needles sensation in your feet after wearing your boots for hours, that’s a tell-tale sign they’re a shoe size or two small. Furthermore, if your toes hit the end of the toe box, then it’s time to size up.

Tips to Finding Boots That Are a Snug Fit

Now that you know how to tell if boots fit right, let’s delve into a few pointers to find perfect-fitting footwear.

1. The Flex Point

Every pair of boots has a natural breakpoint. It’s the widest part of the footwear. The part where your boot bends when you’re walking is the flex point and is essential for getting the perfect fit. Given that it must be aligned with your foot that bends at the toes, the flex point is also where your boots bend when you walk in them.

If your boots bend at the wrong point, you’ll feel the friction against your feet that will slide back and forth when you walk. Furthermore, the toe box might begin pinching on your toes. If that’s the case and you intend to add half soles for optimum grip such that the flex point is unaffected, then Vibram is your best bet.

2. The Heel

Typically, after you purchase a quality pair of boots, you’ll notice a bit of heel slippage at first. That’s normal, provided that your heel only moves ¼ to ½ inch. If it moves more than that, it’s time to move one or two sizes down. Boots have a break-in period during which the leather and insoles take the shape of your feet.

Usually, you’ll notice that the boots you purchased with ¼ to ½ inch heel slip perfectly on a couple of weeks later. However, if the heel doesn’t snug up to your foot and the slight room is bothersome, a heel grip that offers great padding is the solution to your problem. Nonetheless, we recommend breaking your boots in first before inserting the heel grip, as the discomfort you feel might stem from the stiff leather.

3. The Width

Did you know that your feet are wider than what you think they are? This is because the width of your feet when you wake up is different by the end of the day. This is because standing and walking cause your feet to swell by up to a half size bigger.

Therefore, it’s advisable to try on your boots in the afternoon when your feet are closer to their maximum size, whereby rather than getting longer, the swelling makes them wider. Boots come in 6 widths, ranging from tripe wide (EEE) to extra narrow (B). Although most manufacturers sell boots in wide (E) and regular (D) ranges, you might require finding brands that offer a larger range of widths.

4. The Arch

While most people don’t require any additional arch support, if you suffer from plantar fasciitis, have flat feet, or need external arch support for other reasons, it’s essential to factor that into your boot size. There’s a high likelihood that you’ll be adding an orthotic sole to alter how your boots fit. If your footwear is a snug fit, you’ll have no qualms slipping slim orthotic inserts at the bottom.

5. The Socks

These can make all the difference between a medieval torture match and a comfortable stroll. A thick pair of socks can alter your effective foot size by a half size. Therefore, if you don thick wool socks when you’re first tried on your boots and now, you’re wearing thin cotton socks, there’s the likelihood that your boots will feel a bit loose.

When in doubt, wear thick socks to know if your boots are a snug fit. The flipside to having boots a half size bigger is a nonissue compared to a half size too small.

girl wearing big boots
Image Source: PXfuel

The Bottom Line

Granted, aesthetics play a big role when buying boots. However, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t feel comfortable when wearing them as well. Now that you know how to tell if boots fit right, you can bust it out and ensure your next pair fit perfectly. These tips work well for all varieties as well, including work boots, hiking boots, or a regular pair of boots.


How should boots fit around ankle?

Roll your ankles slowly with the pressure toward the side of each foot. How does that feel? If you feel supported, you have the right pair of footwear for hiking, work, or other heavy-duty purposes.

Also, make sure that the tongue under your laces does not dig too much onto the top of your feet and front of your ankles after trying. When first sizing them, don’t be too embarrassed to take off your socks. Check your bare feet for red marks. If you see any redness, the boots might rub or chafe too much during regular use.

If they already feel uncomfortable when you first try them, think of how much more they could hurt after wearing them for hours. If you do not want blisters, make enough room for at least one pair of socks when trying on boots. Tighten the laces before you buy them too, so you know how they will feel when tied.

Should boots fit tight or loose?

man trying on boot in a shoe store

Boots are not the same as shoes. If you feel pain, you should find a larger size. They need to hug your feet but not so tight they cut off your circulation. Make sure you also try on both boots and walk in them for at least a few steps to make sure they fit the way you hope.

Width also matters. If they feel too tight on either side of your feet, ask for at least the next biggest size. Otherwise, try a different brand. If stores are open upon shift end, you can also try on a new pair then. Usually, your feet expand the most after working all day and most likely will swell. Therefore, trying on new footwear after several hours on your feet should provide you the most accurate fitting for everyday use. 

How should heeled boots fit?

Your foot arch should fit into the shoe arch support just right. That boot section will reduce foot soreness. Overall, your foot should feel just snug enough not to slide all over the place. Make sure you correct worn heels as soon as possible too. Uneven heels can cause undesirable pain. Better quality boots will not wear as fast, so consider that when footwear shopping.

Ideally, your boots should also set in a heal-lock pattern once tied. If they slide too much, they could cause blisters. You also should make sure the entire bottom of your boots provides enough support. Otherwise, they could cause you pain.

How much room should be in the toe of a boot?

Hopefully, you can wiggle your toes at least a little. At most, you should have a half-inch to an inch of toe room. A little too much toe room is usually acceptable as long as your boot fits every other way. Do not try to force a shoe to fit if you think it feels like the tips of your feet do not have enough space to move. Be careful not to downsize your boots too much if they do otherwise feel comfortable.

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