View Full Version : boot size?

Glory Bound
03-23-2005, 17:33
I'm working on getting the last of my gear for my Thru- (can't wait for May 1st to get here)

One question I have left unanswered is about boots- I am currently breaking in one pair, and will soon be buying another to be shipped to me when needed, but-

I have heard that I should expect to be wearing a larger sized boot toward the end of the journey, so should I be buying a size larger for the second pair?

any advice/ clarification would be greatly appreciated before I go out to spend money I don't really have

Glory Bound
GA->ME '05

03-23-2005, 17:53
If you're like most hikers your feet will swell somewhat and might elongate a bit due to relaxing of the arch. It's impossible to know in advance to what degree your actual boot size might change.

I would consider not getting that second pair of boots up front.

AT 2003

The Solemates
03-23-2005, 19:09
Mine didnt grow/flatten/elongate, whatever you want to call it, in the least. Was a size 13, always a size 13. My wife was the same. Was a 7.5 always a 7.5.

Not to be unbelieving (and I have heard and seen many accounts of it actually happening), but I really dont understand how someone's foot can grow so much. the arch should not collapse. do these people not walk on their feet much during their pre-AT hike life? seems like your feet would be conditioned to their normal length if you did any walking at all before your thru. i am a biomechanist and i have yet to understand the why's of foot lengthening during a thru. i guess we're just all made differently.

03-23-2005, 19:21
There are two effects involved here. First is the swelling, which is no more than venous congestion and edema due to the number of hours we are on our feet and the fact that our feet are trapped in rather tight surroundings. The so-called "growth" is the result of downward stress on the foot without adequate arch support.

It's true ...we're all made a bit differently when it comes to our response to wear and tear. But for most of us who don't carry heavy weight on our backs most of the time, a thru-hike is a major shock to our system. Elongation is not a "collapse" of the longitudinal arch ...rather an accomodation of the arch muscles/tendons and ligaments to the added downward pressure in our boots/shoes. With the proper arch support and a somewhat "normal" arch to start with, this effect is generally minimal.


03-23-2005, 19:47
My foot size increased from a size 10 to a size 11 during my hike causing me to discard my first pair of boots before they had worn out. I figure the constant additional wieght bearing on the foot causes it to spread.

After my hike over an 18 month period my foot gradually went back to its former shape and size.

Glory Bound
03-24-2005, 03:45
The idea of not being able to properly break in a second pair before starting bothers me a bit, or else I would be more willing to just pick up a pair as needed

I'm also a little hesitant about finding a pair that works for me- finding a good pair of boots is quite a feat for me, especially as companies tend to phase out anything that I have decided I like- It's a curse, really.

So if my feet did expand, do you think that a roomy toe box (as in the size that I have already) could supply enough "room to grow?"

I'm not so concerned about the spreading side to side, as my feet are especially narrow, and it would probably just make the boots fit more like they were made to.

Any thoughts?

Glory Bound
GA->ME '05

The Solemates
03-24-2005, 10:14
and the fact that our feet are trapped in rather tight surroundings.

I have never understood this either. i always wear a lightweight shoe that is strung really really loose everywhere except the very last lace at the ankles. my feet can move and slide around a lot, which is the most comfortable position for me. the friction from sliding has never caused me to have a blister. you are going to have some amount of friction against the side of your boot regardless, so I think that having a really tight, snug fitting boot (like many are prone to do...I mean they offer workshops on the subject) is actually a disadvantage.

03-24-2005, 10:18
Glory Bound,

Some things to keep in mind. First, I don't think anyone can predict how your feet will change during the thru-hike. Most people's feet do expand, but then some don't. Hikers that use a footbed like superfeet may not expand as much, if any, because it supports the foot better.

Second, IMHO, it's largely a matter of getting your feet into condition rather than breaking in the boot. Myself, once out on the trail, I have found that I can replace my worn out hiking boots with almost anything, and not have problems. So, unless your feet are tough to fit, just go into the nearest outfitter when the time comes.

If your feet are tough to fit, then you need to have a good relationship with your local outfitter. So, that when comes, the outfitter can mail you a replacement that is as close to what you are currently wearing as possible.

Oh, one other point. When I first realized that my boots were nearing their end, I stopped by a local outfitter near the AT to get fitted and check out their boots. Shortly thereafter the boots did tear out. The next town didn't have an outfitter with anything that fit as well. So I have the a pair mailed to me.

03-24-2005, 10:46
I personally would neve purchase a second pair of boots before starting a thru hike. I remember Rhoddy Bill tried at least 4 different models of boots on his thru hike in 2000 before he found a pair that didn't blister his feet. I started out wearing LL Bean Crestas, they usually require no break in and can be worn right out of the box. I wore out one pair and they were replaced free by Bean as the soles came apart and Bean stood behind them. I grew one full foot size on the trail. I wore 9 1/2 E when I started and now wear 10 1/2 or in some shoes 11. I started out with size 10 boots to allow for heavy wool socks and the boots must have stretched as my feet grew because I still wear the same pair. Any new boots I purchase, and that includes a pair of Beans, are now 10 1/2 for a good fit. I like a heavy pack,45-55 pounds so that may account for the gain in foot size. My only point is you don't know what will happen to your feet once you hike for many months with a full pack. The pair that seemed fine for a day hike or short overnights may not work on extended hikes. See what other hikers have success with on the trail and most of all listen to your own feet