How to Tell if Hiking Boots Are Too Big

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Do you love the thrill and adrenaline rush that goes through your vessels while you’re hiking? Well, as thrilling and adventurous hiking is, it can also turn into a life-threatening activity if you’re not wearing the right gear!

To hike safely, you need the right kind of hiking boots that fit you perfectly. If they’re too big, you’ll slip in your boots and they won’t give you the grip you need to climb steep slopes.

Therefore, it’s important to make sure that your hiking boots aren’t too big for you. So, how exactly do you know what the proper fit is? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This is a guide on how to tell if hiking boots are too big for you!

Method to Check if Your Hiking Boots are Too Big

If your hiking boots are too big, they’ll slip while you’re hiking and your feet might even come out of your boots if they’re too loose. To check if they’re the proper fit for you, follow the steps below:

  1. Untie the laces of the boot. Make sure you completely untie the laces so that the tongue of the boot is free to move outward. It should be loose enough for your foot to enter the boot without any problem.
  1. Wear the socks you would normally wear while you’re hiking. If you plan on wearing thick socks while hiking, make sure you wear thick socks while trying on the boots.
  2. Wear the boot on your foot.
  3. Now, tie the laces of the boot. Don’t tie them too tightly, otherwise, you’ll feel uncomfortable. Don’t tie them too loosely either because then your boots will keep slipping off. Make sure you get a snug fit that’s not too tight or too loose. Your foot shouldn’t be uncomfortable.
  4. After you’ve tied the laces, put two fingers behind your foot, between the foot and the shoes. Your two fingers should fit in there. They shouldn’t be able to move freely; they should just fit tightly. If they move freely, then the hiking boots are too big for you. If they don’t fit at all, then the hiking boots are too small for you.
  5. Walk around in your hiking boots. Take small, careful steps. Notice if your heels get significantly raised, then your hiking boots are too big for you. However, a small heel lift of about one-fourth an inch is common in all boots so ignore small heel lifts. For low-cut shoes, the heel lift may even become half of an inch. Heel lifts of this intensity are normal and indicate that your shoes aren’t too tight. However, heel lifts that are more intense than these indicate that your hiking boots are too big for you.

Method 1: Testing Distance Between Your Toes and the Front of the Boots

Wear the hiking boots and tie them up, with your socks on. After that, press a thumb on the front part of your boots, the part that’s in front of your big toe. If you press your thumb in the front part and don’t feel your big toe at all, then the boots are too big for you. This means there’s a distance of a thumb between your big toe and the front inside of the boot. On the other hand, your big toe shouldn’t be touching the front part either.

Method 2: Try walking with the boots on an incline

The best way to check if your hiking boots are an ideal fit for your hiking trip is to actually create the circumstances that you face while hiking. Walk around the store and find any inclined surface that you can test your boots on. Sports shops have various exercising machines as well that are inclined, so you can test it on one of those after asking for permission from the shopkeeper.

Walk up the incline. Notice if your heels are moving. If they are moving while you’re walking uphill, then the boots are bigger for you. Now, make your way back down. If your toes are moving while you’re going down an incline, then the boots are too big for you.

Method 3: Walk around the store

Walk around the store while wearing the hiking boots you’ve chosen. Do you feel any sort of a pinch anywhere in your feet while walking? Are the shoes totally comfortable? Does it hurt anywhere while walking?

If the shoes hurt while walking around, you should definitely consider trying another pair or a bigger size. They might be too small for your feet if they hurt and pinch in many places.

TestResults Indicating Perfect Fit
Insert index finger at the back of the feetThe index finger should be snug, not too loose, and not too tight
Walk up and down an inclineHeels or toes shouldn’t slip
Thumb press testIf the distance from the big toe to the front of the shoes is equal to the width of a thumb, the boots are too large. It should be less than the width of a thumb for a perfect fit
Toe wiggle testYour toes shouldn’t touch the front of the boots but they shouldn’t be too far from it either

Tips on Finding Hiking Boots that Fit and Are Comfortable

High-quality hiking boots are a great investment if you frequently travel and hike. However, in order for them to function properly, they need to fit properly and be comfortable. If they aren’t comfortable or hurt you, you’ll eventually end up getting sores while hiking. You don’t want that!

Here are a few tips on how to find how to feel comfortable in hiking boots:

  • Make sure you have good socks. Padded socks that are seamless can make all of the difference. They’re extremely comfortable and prevent your feet from rubbing against the boots. This prevents blisters and sores from forming. It also increases your comfort level and will make hiking a lot easier for you!
  • If you plan on wearing insoles during the hike, make sure you add the insoles and then choose the perfect size!
  • Make sure the width of the shoes fits you. Often, you might find that the length of the shoes is perfect for you but they’re still too tight. In this case, you need to find a pair of shoes with a width suitable for your foot size.
  • Your feet change their size during the day. At the beginning of the day, after you wake up, they’re smaller than they are at the end of the day. This is because you usually spend most of the day sitting or walking. The gravity pulls the fluid in your feet. Although the change in your feet size isn’t that noticeable, it can become pretty significant if you need the perfect shoe feet. Considering that you’re going to spend most of your time standing up while hiking, it’s a good idea to choose hiking boots at night for the perfect fit! Check out why you should wear hiking boots in the evening or night here.

Moreover, your feet will naturally swell on a hike. Keep this in mind because it can make all of the difference in your boot fit!

Here’s a video on what you need to look for when you’re buying hiking boots to make sure they fit you perfectly:

Frequently Asked Questions

I have old hiking boots that now seem to be a bit bigger for my feet. Is there anything I can do to make them fit more snugly?

You can add insoles to your shoes so that they fit more comfortably. If insoles alone don’t work, you can also add toe inserts. Together, insoles and toe inserts will give you a better fit if your boots seem too big for your feet. Moreover, padded insoles are great for your feet and increase your level of comfort.

If I want to wear thin socks while going on a summer hike and thick socks on a winter hike, how should I choose my perfect boot size?

If you’re going to use your boots for both, winter and summer hiking, it’s best to take both, a pair of thin socks as well as a pair of thick socks with you to the store. Choose a size that works best for both!

Tips to Make Your Boots Last Longer

High-quality hiking boots can last a very long time, although most of them eventually break down because of the harsh conditions they’re put under. Here are a few tips on how to make your boots last longer:

  • Add a durable water repellant coating to your hiking boots. This helps keep away water and helps your boots last much longer! Here are a few tips on how to waterproof hiking boots!
  • Keep your boots away from saltwater
  • Keep them in a clean and dry place when they’re not in use, away from sunlight
  • Use warm water to wash your hiking boots after every hiking trip


As important as it is to have high-quality hiking shoes, you also need to make sure they fit you perfectly to avoid any mishaps during your hiking trip. If you’re wondering how to tell if hiking boots are too big for you, then this guide will help you confirm it!

Have a great time hiking and stay safe!

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