View Full Version : shoe sizes and bounce boxes
did yall experienced folks buy your shoes/boots big at all to compensate for daily swelling? i know jardine recommends something like 2 sizes big, but that seems a bit excessive.
also, what goes in your bounce box? thanks
Ron, I beleive most hikers experience a gain of 1/2 to a full shoe size. Although I'm sure some might experience a gain of 2 full sizes, I'd say that's way out of the norm. Your feet will spread out and increase in size. I started with a size 10 and thought I had plenty of toe room. Within 500 miles I was getting blisters on the ends of my toes because my feet had grown. My next pair of boots were 10.5 and the blister problems went away.
Bounce box can be anything you want or might need further up the trail. IMHO, they aren't necessary but they do get used. If it works for you, use it.
While it's usual that your feet spread while doing a thru-hike, it does vary. And some don't spread at all. So, we suggest that you not try to out think how much and don't buy you replacement boots ahead of time. When the time comes, go into an outfitter along the way.
By the way, a good footbed like superfeet should reduce the spread.
Size bounce box for what you want to bounce. I didn't use one.
During my Springer-Damascus section hike last spring, my feet did not swell at all. From what I've read, feet tend to swell more on the PCT, on which Jardine is more of an expert. I have size 14-15 feet, which makes buying from outfitters along the way difficult. However, it is easy enough to find size 14-15 shoes on the internet and have the company ship them to you on the trail. For example, if you are going the running/trail shoe approach, you could try to get to Damascus and order a pair to be sent to you in Pearisburg. Or, if you are harder on shoes, order a pair in Hot Springs and have then sent to you in Damascus.
I did not use a bounce box last spring, but am planning to use one this summer on the PCT. It seems like a bounce box works well in conjunction with a buy-as-you-go resupply strategy. I will have maps and guidebook sections, a few batteries of various sizes, new (and used) film, a few bits of clothing (both backups and things I am not using at the moment), extra gear (mosquito netting, bivy sack, extra water capacity) for some of the different environments, some extra food.
I'm going to use a 5 gallon paint bucket for the bounce box itselt.
Ron, I did not experience swelling of my feet during the day. Just buy a pair of shoes and be sure to hike all day in them before you hit the trail. If they are comfy, great. If not, try again. As the other guys said, My feet did grow about a size (even with Superfeet) I just picked up new pairs of shoes aling the way. I hiked mostly in Sneakers so finding them was not too big of an issue.
Bounce Box - I did use one. We put our maps and books in there. Big bottle of Dr Bonners, Sun Block, rubbing alc, to refill our tiny trail bottles. Had hair clippers in there to get a buzz every once in awhile. A set of town clothes.
I agree and think it is a waste of money and time to buy new boots in advance. Buy one pair and they can last 500, 1000, or 2000 miles.
You can order new boots online (nearly every trail town has internet access at the library) and have them send it to a town further down the trail. Because sometimes you will find yourself nowhere near an outfitter. By then you will know how much your feet have spread. Don't worry too much about blisters and breaking them in. Most of the time you feet have toughened up enough that the affect is minimal, given you have the right size and had the same pair before.
Remember too that different companies have different ideas of how a foot is shaped.
Getting boots/shoes 2 sizes sounds pretty extreme bro_ron, and I fitted outdoor footwear for over 5 years. First problem that comes to mind is what do you do with all that excess at the beginning ? If a boot is too long for a person there is generally some up/down heel slippage which is an open invitation for friction and blisters. Another thing about a boot that is too long is that the manufatured arch of the boot is too far forward for the average foot. It's true that you can take up a little extra room with bulky socks but only up to a point. A word of caution there too. After a day or so those socks get pretty beaten down and lose a lot of that initial bulk, once again making things pretty loosey goosey. When I put distance hikers into a boot I generally made sure that they had at least one finger but not more than 2 fingers distance between the toe and the end of the boot. You can measure that indirectly by slipping into a loosened boot and running your foot as far forward as it will go and then measuring the distance behind the heel. As far as width is concerned the foot should be "still" in the boot from side to side but not cramped in any way. If there is side to side movement but the boot otherwise fits then I would start taking up volume with inserts/footbeds. Unless you are absolutely confident about the sizing of a boot and how your feet will change I would agree that it is pretty risky to buy an extra pair up front.
I'm using a bounce box this year and for the most part it has back-up items that I believe will break or wear out during the hike. I have my extra AquaMira in there as well as some extra socks/liners. Also I have my vitamins and any other stuff that was cheaper to buy up front in volume. Just in case my alcohol stove bites the dust I stuck a Pocket Rocket stove head in there too. Final items are box tape, labels and a marker pen so that I don't have to hunt around for the materials to re-seal the box and send it up the trail.
Jardine has some good ideas but he's way out there on some things. Everyone's feet are a little different and what may work great for Ray may not work at all for you. I think very few folks will want to start out with a shoe or boot 2 sizes too big. I'm confident that for most folks it would be a big error.
My feet hardly swell at all during the day. They did grow during my hike, though. I believe I started out with a size 10, my next pair I bought was a 10 1/2, and the last was a size 11.
My feet have shrunk back down to about a 10 1/2.
Most folks don't want or need a bounce box, but for others they work great. I didn't use one and didn't miss it.
....hey ray and jenny did the at in less than 90 days. i'm lucky to hike 16 to 20 mile day and my feet go from 11 1/2 to 12 1/2. i'm sure their long days are able to swell the feet another half size or so. take all the facts and variables into consideration. i don't beleive they said anything about boots either, only runner's shoes. what ever you do be kind to your feet and find out what "yours" need.
Let's assume that your foot speads 1/2 size every time you buy hiking boots, and hiking boots last 1000 miles. So, by now Warren Doyle's feet have grown 9 sizes, and Jack's should have grown 6 sizes. (Where do you find size 18 shoes?)
I'm a little confused about the foot swelling thing.
Is it the length of your feet that changes or the volume of your foot?
I can understand why your feet would increase in volume but if you have good arch support, I don't see why your feet would lengthen.
I guess I'm just worried because I wear size 14 and would rather not have to look around for a hiking boot company that makes 15 and up.
In my experience it is more of an overall volume enlargement and you are correct that a good footbed/arch support will reduce the amount of foot elongation. Just for the record though (in case you need em) I know for a fact that both Vasque and Merrell make size 15's. You may have to special order them but they do offer 15's.
If you talk with the foot experts, they tell you that the arch is help "up" by tendons and the like. (I'm not a medical person, so I don't know the proper terms." As you walk, you transfer weight from the heel portion of your foot to the two portion. Over time, and especially under the weight of a pack, these tendons stretch, and the arch tends to fall. As this happens, the foot appears to grow longer.
And, yes, a good footbed like superfeet is designed to reduce foot spread.
If someone knows the proper nomemclature, please correct this post.
I have size 14/15 feet and so finding boots can be a problem. Raichle makes several boots in the 14ish range. Trail runners are easier to find in large sizes on the internet.