Buying Boots: The Importance of the Right Fit

by Stephanie Daniels Tuesday, January 29th 2019

The fit of a shoe can be a major factor in your enjoyment of time spent outside. The last thing you want to have to think about is sore feet. A recent study by the American Podiatric Medical Association found that more than 77% of Americans experience foot pain. Most even think foot pain is normal and don’t seek help to identify or alleviate their issues. Bunions, hammer toes, blisters, black toenails, heel spurs, and plantar fasciitis can be extremely painful and keep you from enjoying outdoor activities. The problem isn’t just our feet, it’s our footwear choices. Are you in the right shoe?

As we celebrate Summit Hut’s 50th year, we are featuring a different Heritage Partner each month. In January, we are featuring Vasque footwear. As a Vasque FitShop Certified Retailer, Summit Hut uses elements of the Vasque FitShop in fitting every shoe and boot we sell. We measure your feet, assess your needs, and provide you with options so you can feel confident on your next hike, trail run, or walk about town.

The ultimate goal with any piece of footwear is to stabilize the foot. It all starts with your foot measurement using the Brannock device. While standing up, we record your heel-to-toe measurement, heel-to-ball (or arch length) measurement, width measurement, and we assess foot volume.

Shoes are designed to flex at the ball of the foot. By determining your arch length, we can better match the bend point of your foot with the flex point of the shoe. If we can match up those two points, we can get a better fit. We ensure the foot is bending where the shoe bends, which allows for extra room for the toes in the front of the shoe. Typically, we look for a finger’s width from the end of the toe to the end of the shoe so that we can be certain your toes have enough wiggle room and will not hit the end of the shoe, which is especially important when hiking downhill.

A supportive insole, such as Superfeet, will cup your heel, support your arch, take up volume inside the shoe, and give your foot the stability it needs. We offer a wide variety of Superfeet to provide the best fit depending on your arch height, foot volume, heel size, and overall comfort needs.

Socks are often the most overlooked item when determining footwear choices. Selecting a sock that will add cushion and provide moisture management is an important piece in any fit package. The soles of your feet have 3,300 sweat pores per square inch. For most people each foot will perspire one-quarter cup per day and as much as one full cup during activity. Feet perspire more than any other part of our body, except for our head and hands. Selecting a sock with moisture wicking properties, such as Darn Tough, Smartwool, Thorlo, or Wigwam, will help keep your feet dry and prevent blisters. Investing in a good pair of hiking socks will help keep you on the trail.

A boot fit isn’t over until we’ve determined the lacing technique that is right for you. The proper lacing technique will push the foot back into the heel cup, preventing forward slipping and excessive friction, which leads to hot spots and blisters. We recommend the sherpa knot (heel lock), surgeon’s knot, or window lacing techniques, depending on your needs.

Once we find the right fit package, it is time to fine tune. If we need to modify a boot to make room for a bunion, provide more width, or stretch out a tight spot, we are able to do so in-store. Our trained boot modifiers are ready to help you with your customized needs.

Our boot fitting philosophy is “it’s all about the fit.” We don’t want to just sell you shoes, we want to help you find the best option for your feet by taking the time to sit with you and find your perfect fit.

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!