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A couple of friends and I are going on a road trip this summer, and we're planning on hiking the Grand Canyon, Half Dome, Observation Point at Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Longs Peak. I've been trying to find a pair of boots for this juggernaut and I've been out of luck so far- at least, I've made it hard on myself in my pursuit.

For starters, I have a small foot. I'm a tall guy, six feet, but my feet are 9s in most shoes. My foot is narrow, too, and definitely low-volume. That probably has something to do with my dilema.

I picked up the North Face Storm Mid, and it was nice. I liked it. Felt right on my foot, except when I tried to crank it down to lock my ankle in- it was too short. My toe hit the front on downhills. To tighten it enough to attempt to stop it meant my sole just felt... pinched. Hot. I can't really describe it, it was just uncomfotable, and it didn't help the toe knocking. So I went back to the store and went up a half size, and the slipping was gone. But, another problem arose; my ankle started lifting in the boot. Again, trying to lock it in meant pain for my sole, so I decided to take those back too. This time, I got the Teva Raith mid, and as soon as I got home I realized I made a mistake. The ankle slipped worse, something I had noticed in the store but tried to tighten to mitigate. The tightness required to keep the ankle semi-solid was painful, again, and the boot just doesn't feel right on my foot. The last isn't the right shape for me. So I'm taking those back, too.

What do I do?

The store I've been going to has a no questions asked return policy, so I've been lucky in that regard. However they only have four makes of boots- Teva Raiths, Keens of some sort (I didn't try them, they're apparently very wide inside), North Face Storms, and a Salomon that was nice but had a little heel slip and was kind of wide in the toes.

Should I take back my boots for store credit, use that on something else, and head to another outfitter? One south of me has a slightly wider selection.

Should I go back to the Storm (which I liked, it was a nice fit- or so I thought) and try new ankle lacing techniques? I read about some that reduced the pain in my Tevas and helped the heel problem a little, they may be of help. Would an insole help with heel lift? Is the general sole soreness an artifact of tightness or a misfit boot? I've never had hiking boots before, so I'm not sure what to expect totally.

I don't want to seem like a Goldilocks of shoes, but I figure that whatever I settle on should be semi-comfortable given the use they'll see.

TL;DR

  1. I can't find a boot that fits and this may be my fault.
  2. Should I go back to the TNF Storm, which fit but had heel lift, and use an insole/lacing techniques?
  3. Is general the general footbed pain I had from the Storm caused by overtighness or a sign that the boot just isn't right?
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I would suggest, for your problem, a selection of four boots is too small. I'd get store credit, use it on something else (the shop has been excellent here by the sounds of it, not many would accept so many changes of boot especially if you've been using them) and go to a bigger retailer. –  Liam Apr 7 at 8:57
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Also I'd get a proper boot fitting, get them to measure the width and length of your foot as well as your arch tendency. –  Liam Apr 7 at 8:58
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Have you thought about whether you really want boots? Many people, including me, are happier with lightweight running shoes. Heavy clodstompers are old-fashioned. –  Ben Crowell Apr 7 at 14:31
    
I'd probably side with Ben here - I'm on my second pair of Salomon fell running shoes and they are comfortable, good for hiking or running across country, and are light and easily washable. Their only downside is the kevlar fastening - after a while it starts to slip and I haven't figured out a solution yet –  Rory Alsop Apr 7 at 15:19
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1 Answer 1

I've had the opposite problem. My feet are very wide from decades of mocassin use. So my ideas might not work.

  1. Certainly lacing techniques are worth trying. Normally I don't find these very effective with a low top shoe. One technique however that may work: Lace up the fore foot for comfort, tie a square knot, then lace up the rest of the shoe. When you have a long down hill, stop and retie the top of the shoe much more snugly. It will be a trade off. Your feet will be uncomfortable for the downhill, but you won't have blood blisters under your toes.

  2. If your foot is low volume, look at adding an insole into it. You may want to experiment with a thin felt insole either above or below the insole that came with the shoe.

  3. More and more I'm wearing minimalist foodwear -- just enough shoe to protect my feet from the rocks. This requires re-learning how to walk. But I have fewer problems with my knees and back. How minimal? I use neoprene booties for backpacking, those 5 buck nylon mesh 1/16" rubber sole for running.

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