BOOT FIT TIPS: 4 Steps To Pain-Free Hiking 1. Ignore the numbers and buy the pair that feels the best–even if it's not your normal size. 2. Consider replacing the boot's standard footbeds with aftermarket insoles, such as Sole's Softec ($45, yoursole.com). They can add arch support, prevent end-of-day soreness, and help low-volume feet fit into standard boots. 3. Less weight translates to more comfort: Don't buy heavy-duty boots if you primarily hike with a light pack on mellow trails. 4. Break in boots thoroughly by wearing them around the house and on short dayhikes. Light hikers will be ready in a few days, but heavier, all-leather boots require a few weeks of wear.
The Wet Foot Test
Try this to determine if you need extra arch support in your boots. Completely wet the sole of your foot, then step onto a paper bag. If you can see an imprint of most of your arch, you could benefit from stabilizing insoles (only about half of the arch will be visible if you have normal feet).
WHEN TO CALL AN EXPERT
Some problems are worth fixing but beyond your DIY skills–such as a hole in the upper, broken lace hardware, or worn-out soles on high-end backpacking boots. Call Dave Page (800-252-1229, davepagecobbler.com) or Komito Boots (800-422-2668) for professional repair.
WHEN TO CALL IT QUITS
Get new kicks if: Leather uppers have been worn extremely thin or are severely degraded (due to mildew or too much conditioning); shanks are broken; or the treads on a pair of low-cuts are worn out.