Fine Tuning Your Boot Fit
Feet are weird! The human foot is made up of three arches, twenty different muscles, 24 ligaments, 26 bones, and 33 joints. The bones in your two feet contain one-quarter of ALL the bones in your body. Most Podiatrists recognize five distinct foot shapes, and some anthropologists and genealogists believe the shape of a person's feet can provide insight into their ancestral origins.
In our world here at Crispi all of these variables add up to one thing: Boot fit can be EXTREMELY difficult! The height of your arches, length of your toes, and the shape and width of the heel and ball of your foot all can contribute to a properly fitted and comfortable boot.
Once you have the right boot in the right size, you may begin to wish your boots worked with your feet a bit better. We tend to hear from customers who are experiencing a few common issues. These may include:
- You wish your boot kept your foot at a better temperature.
- Maybe you are right in between sizes or widths and wish your boots fit a little more loose or tight.
- Your boots feel a bit tight but only across the top of your arch.
- The ball of your foot is perfect, but you are experiencing a slight bit of heel slip.
- Maybe you feel soreness on the balls of your feet after a hike.
- Or you may wish your boots had a bit more or even less arch support.
All of these issues can be fine-tuned or possibly eliminated by adding or adjusting one or all of three following things:
- The insoles in your boots.
- The sock you are wearing, OR
- The way you lace your boots.
For a bootmaker, it is almost impossible to make an insole that will fit everyone's foot really well. Most boot manufacturers, even high-end manufacturers like Crispi, tend to put an insole in their boots that is designed to fit the widest range of people fairly well. Because of this, it is generally the first thing I change when I get a pair of boots. Finding an insole that fits your feet well and provides the right balance of support and comfort for you personally is key to getting every last bit of performance and quality out of your boots.
Insoles can eliminate or reduce a number of different issues. By changing insoles you can help to eliminate heel slip, add or subtract boot volume and provide needed arch support. Other benefits can come through increasing cushion and even reducing foot fatigue due to having better alignment and position of the foot. Around the Crispi office, we have worn a lot of different insoles over the years. Here are a few of our favorites.
The Sole Active and Performance Series. These insoles use Polygiene technology to reduce odor and feature an EVA foam base on the Active with a recycled cork base on the Performance. They are heat-moldable to your foot and are available in 3 different thickness levels allowing you to customize the fit of your boot. Sole also offers both of these models with an extra metatarsal pad if you struggle with pain on the ball of your foot.
Superfeet Green is a higher volume insole featuring a deep heel cup and excellent arch support. If you have a medium to high arch or struggle with heel slip, the Green is a great choice. Superfeet uses a high-density foam for the base and organic odor control coatings to help keep your boots scent-free.
Superfeet Trailblazer is a great option if you have a neutral arch and are looking for supreme off-trail comfort and support. The Trailblazer utilizes aerospring foam and a carbon fiber base. That along with a deep heel cup with heel impact technology that disperses impacts in steep country.
The way you lace your boots can also help dramatically with the fit. On the images below you can see some lacing examples that can help with a number of different fit issues. Just because mom taught you to lace up your shoes a certain way, does not mean mom always knows what’s best! By adjusting the way you lace your boots, you can pinpoint the fit along several different areas of your foot. The way you lace your boot can also prevent heel slip which often leads to blisters.
Experiment with a few different methods on your next few hikes and see if one makes a difference for you.
The final piece of your boot system may be one of the most important: Socks. Pairing your Crispi boot with a low-quality cotton sock is typically not going to yield good results. A high-quality sock can reduce hot spots and blisters caused by reducing friction. Moisture-wicking and breathability can also be increased while improving overall foot temperature and comfort. You can find socks with different levels of cushion, thickness, and height depending on your needs.
We generally do not recommend a liner and outer sock, but some folks have been using a two sock system for years with good results. Most of the time a high-quality merino blend sock will provide great results. Here at Crispi we offer three different sock options. The San Juan Lightweight Crew, The Manti Lightweight Midcalf, and The Unita Midcalf Midweight. All three models are a blend of Merino wool, Lycra, and Nylon and are made in America.
A few others we really like are the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew, Farm to Feet Damascus, and the SmartWool PhD Outdoor Hiking Crew. All of these socks are constructed with high-quality materials and should provide excellent performance.
Fine-tuning the fit of your boot can take a little trial and error but having a boot system dialed in and performing perfectly on the mountain is well worth the effort. Now is the time to start experimenting with different boot system pieces. Try a new outsole on some shed hunting trips. Pack a few different socks on your spring bear or turkey hunt. Take the time this spring and summer to dial in your boot system.
When you are leaving the trailhead for a spot and stalk high country deer hunt in August, or you're chasing bugles in September you will be glad you did. Nothing can be more comforting in those moments than knowing your feet won’t be talking to you. Dialing in your boot system can be a process so if you have any questions about socks, insoles, or lacing systems please feel free to give us a call.