Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Martina McKeough
If you at buying boots do you know what size you should get? There is a lot of confusion about boot sizing which is why we thought it would be useful to discuss the best way to determine the correct size for your needs. Should boots be a size bigger or should you stick with the same size as your shoes? Hopefully, the following information can help you to make better decisions so that you buy boots that feel comfortable no matter what size your feet are.
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Is Boot Size The Same As Shoe Size?
The first thing that many people assume is that their boot size is the same as their shoe size but in fact, this is not necessarily the case.
When you are buying a pair of boots you need to assess each boot on its actual fit when you are trying it on rather than automatically buying the same size as you are currently wearing. This is because boot sizing can vary depending on the manufacturer, style, boot material, and what you are wearing on your feet when you are trying them on.
As an example, if you are wearing thick socks when you try on a boot the sizing can be a half size or more different. Work boots with a large toe box will give you more room than high-heel boots with a pointed toe and so on.
Our guide below can help you to choose the correct fit when buying new boots. It discusses the various factors that you will need to assess in-store as you are trying on their footwear to make sure you get the best size for your feet.
Do Boots Run Big or Is This a Myth?
The fact is that boots don’t necessarily run big so naturally assuming this when buying a new pair of boots isn’t a helpful rule of thumb. How much room a pair of boots has will vary and sometimes there will be a size or even more difference between brands. Even with the same brand different styles may have different shoe sizing.
Certain boot manufacturers also don’t necessarily offer a half-size option such as Dr. Martens. This means that you will need to assess your boot size on how they feel on your feet to get the right size which adds to the confusion of boot shopping.
Should Winter Boots Be a Size Bigger?
Many people associate a new pair of boots with the winter season. This is because when the weather gets colder, wetter, icier and snowier wearing boots to protect your feet becomes more important.
However, winter boots don’t necessarily have to be just practical boots. Plenty of people wear fashionable boots in the cold weather, especially in climates that don’t have lots of snow and ice. The key to buying boots that are the right size will depend on where you are going to wear them and the climate you are dealing with.
To illustrate this variation this Columbia Bugaboot has been specially designed for snow. It has a roomy front and inner section making it perfect for people wearing thick socks and needing a good stable base for walking in.
Contrast this to these Steve Madden Ankle Boots and you can see the difference is striking. These fashion boots have narrow pointed toes and make feet slide forward onto the ball of your foot. To expect to be the same size is not rational because their fits will be totally different. This is why you need to assess your size carefully by trying on different boots to see what will fit.
Should You Size Up in Boots For Socks?
In icy, snowy regions or where the weather is cold, it is inevitable that you are going to be wearing thick socks on your feet to keep yourself warm. Thicker socks made from wool inevitably take up more room in a pair of boots than thin cotton socks. This means that you need to choose a pair of winter boots that allow you wiggle room in the toe box when you wear thick socks. This means that you are likely to go up a half size or more when wearing thick socks as opposed to thin socks or tights.
If however, you are buying boots that are worn with normal socks and tights your sizing won’t need to change.
To make sure you get the right size boots when you are making the purchase make sure you wear on your feet the socks that you would be wearing in your day-to-day life. That way you can assess the size in the shop rather than at home when it may be too late to change your mind.
Taking Into Account Orthotics and Inserts When Buying Boots
If you have flat feet or suffer from conditions such as plantar fasciitis then you are likely to need a pair of boots with arch support. This can be built into the boot. As an example, Vionics are a shoe and boot manufacturer that has custom-fit inserts inside their footwear that help flat feet get the arch support they need.
Alternatively, you may use orthotics that you place in your boots. If your orthotics are custom made they may not impact your shoe size but in many cases, people buy off-the-shelf devices which can be bulkier and mean that your extra arch support changes the boot’s fit.
When you are trying on new boots make sure you bring your orthotic or inserts with you when trying on different sizes and styles. Whilst orthotics can make your boot feel snug this is ok providing you have enough room in the toe area and your boots are not rubbing or painful.
How to Size Boots
The simplest place to start is by measuring the length of your feet to get a basic idea of the sizes that you might need to try on.
Many shoe shops have machines to help you size your shoes or alternatively you can buy one for yourself relatively cheaply on Amazon to assess your size.
A foot measure or shoe gauge gives you a rough idea of your base shoe size so that you can start trying on footwear around that sizing. Bear in mind that as shoes will vary in size between manufacturers it may have the wrong size in comparison to the boot size you eventually buy.
How Boots Should Fit So Your Feet Are Comfortable
To avoid buying the wrong size boot there are some other simple steps that you can take to make sure that you find the right product for your feet.
Firstly as discussed earlier when you are shopping for boots plan to wear on your feet what you would expect to be wearing every day when using them. So if you are buying winter boots to keep your feet warm make sure that you are wearing a thick pair of socks when you are trying on each boot.
If you are planning on wearing them to avoid the rain and a milder winter then wear your thinner socks or tights. Doing this allows you to pick the right boot fit more easily
Bring your orthotics or regular inserts with you to see that your boot fits when these are being used. Recognize that some orthotics will change your boot’s fit and size.
Next, try and buy your boots in the afternoon. This is because your feet swell a little as the day goes on from standing and moving around. This means that when you try on your boots you will get a better idea of the fit as opposed to wearing them in the morning when your feet are a little smaller.
Make sure that you have enough room in the toe box of the boot. Toe box room is important as if your feet and toes are too cramped your feet won’t just feel uncomfortable you may also cause problems such as bunions or hammer toes.
To check the toe box size push down on the front section of the boot and make sure you have a half inch to an inch of spare space to allow your toes room to move. Some people measure this as a finger width of space between your longest toe and the front of the shoe.
Also, check for heel slippage which can show that the boots are too roomy. Heel slippage can cause foot pain and friction so should be avoided.
Walk around the shop and test the boots to make sure that you have not got the wrong boot size. If you feel uncomfortable when walking around don’t be tempted to think that this will improve as they are broken in. Choose comfortable boots right from the start and you will have to deal with significantly fewer problems later on.
So should boots be a size bigger? As you can see that isn’t necessarily the case. Assess each boot that you try on by our methods and you should be able to find the perfect fit without going on shoe size alone.
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