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Best Hiking Boots for Wide Feet: A Buying Guide

Updated on September 24, 2014

When Hiking, the Right Footwear is Crucial

The right hiking boots can be the difference between a painful outdoor experience and a fantastic one.
The right hiking boots can be the difference between a painful outdoor experience and a fantastic one. | Source

Get the Right Footwear for Hiking and Backpacking

Seasoned hikers know the importance of wearing the right footwear when hiking or backpacking. After all, you cannot enjoy the sights and sounds of the wilderness if your feet hurt. With the plethora of reputable brands around, it is not difficult to find a great pair of shoes if your feet are average width, but heaven help you if you have feet wider than average. Scouting for good hiking boots for wide feet can be frustrating, time-consuming, and costly if you do not know what features to look out for. This guide will help you zero in on the best options and choose the best pair for your feet.

Look for a Wide Toe Box

The part of the shoe that covers and protects your toes is called the toe box. Unfortunately, most hiking shoes are designed to fit feet of average width and are made with pointed toe boxes. People with wider-than-average feet should wear boots with wide toe boxes. These shoes are wider at the toe end than they are at the ball of the foot. This extra width aligns the toes naturally, improving your comfort, and preventing injuries to your ankle or leg.

Your shoes should fit snugly, but you must also be able to move your toes comfortably while walking. Shop for wide hiking boots, save yourself from the agony of trudging around in tight shoes, and enjoy your wilderness walk.

You are lucky! Shoe manufacturers have realized the woes of wide-feet hikers, and many brands have special wide and extra-wide hiking boots for men and women. Caterpillar, Hunter, Columbia, Hitchcock, Irish Setter, New Balance, Merrell, Wolverine, KEEN, and Rockport are some reputable brands that manufacture these shoes. These shoes are usually labeled "wide" or "extra wide." Find the right size so that your feet are not swimming inside the boots.

Why Do You Need Special Hiking Shoes for Wide Feet?

Walking around in tight shoes for long stretches of time is not only uncomfortable but can also actually harm your feet and legs. Besides suffering from painful and sore feet that take away from the pleasure of walking, hikers in tight boots may also strain their knee muscles or damage the delicate ligaments and tendons that support the knee. Tight hiking shoes also make it difficult for hikers to balance themselves on uneven, rocky terrain.

Wide Toe Box Hiking Boots: A Size Guide

The standards for measuring the width of shoes differ across countries. A label on the packaging says that a pair of shoes is a size 8 or a size 11 tells you nothing about the width of the shoes.

In the United States, a letter after the size number indicates the width of the shoe; a size may have both “wide” and “extra wide” versions in addition to the normal width.

Men's wide hiking shoes will have the letter "E" on the package; it will come after the number that denotes size. "E" indicates medium width and 2E is wide. Men's extra-wide hiking boots usually carry numbers from 4E onwards.

Women's wide hiking shoes in the United States usually contain the letters "W" or "C/D." Manufacturers may use "XW" or "E" on women's extra-wide hiking boots.

In Australia, half-size increase indicates additional width (while a full-size increase denotes greater foot length). For instance, Steel Blue and Redback are two popular shoe manufacturers in Australia. A pair of hiking shoes sized 10.5 by these manufacturers is wider than a pair sized 10.

In the U.K., shoe size usually indicates foot length and the circumference of the widest part of the foot. However, be warned that there is no single standard practiced by all manufacturers. A pair of size 10 hiking boots by one manufacturer may be more or less wide than a size-10 pair by another manufacturer. The words "wide fit" are usually printed on the package for wide shoes. Many shoe manufacturers also make extra-wide hiking boots and indicate "extra wide fit" on the label.

Look for a Convenient Return Policy

If you go on hikes regularly and have wide feet, get yourself a pair of sturdy and wide boots. Use the sizing guide above to choose the best hiking boots, test them in the store, and be sure that you buy from a retailer with a convenient return policy.

Keep in mind how important comfort is while hiking. Your enjoyment is all about how well your shoes fit!

Do you have any favorite brand for wide hiking boots? Please recommend one to help fellow hikers.

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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 3 years ago from Nottingham UK

      That is one amazing lead photo. just makes me want to lace up my boots and head out on a hike.