If you have wide feet and you hike with improperly laced boots, not only will you get blisters, but you could also get foot injuries. Not to mention a completely ruined hiking experience.
I’ve been hiking for a long time and I have experience with various lacing techniques for hiking shoes and hiking boots. The problem is that with some shoes, the top of my feet or my toes feel too narrow. I’ve learned how to fix that with proper lacing techniques for wide feet, and in this article, I’m going to share them.
Hiking Boot Lacing Technique For When Your Toes Hurt
If your toes or the top part of your feet near your toes feel too cramped up, then use this lacing technique. The idea behind it is to free up space in your toebox, by moving your feet as close to the heel as possible, and loosening the toebox while keeping the ankle area tight.
- Skip the bottom loop of your hiking boots
- Lace the next 2-3 loops regularly, but keep them somewhat loose
- Do a surgeon’s knot to lock in the loose part of the bottom loops
- Tie all the rest of the loops tightly, to keep the ankle part of your boot locked in
- Finish off with a surgeon’s knot and a regular knot to keep the tension and keep it from untying
Hiking Boot Lacing Technique For When The Top Of Your Foot Hurts
This technique is useful if the toebox feels wide enough, but the top part of your foot hurts when walking for longer periods. Essentially it’s caused by loops 2-4 (starting counting from the bottom) being too tight, and having too much pressure on that area. This lacing technique skips several loops around the pain area while keeping the ankle part of your boot locked in to keep your feet from slipping forward.
- Do the first loop normally
- Skip 1-3 loops after that, depending on where and how large the painful area is
- After that, do a surgeon’s knot to keep the loosely-laced area locked in place
- Tie all the other loops somewhat tightly, to keep your feet from moving up and down
- Finish off with another surgeon’s knot to keep it all nice and tight, and do a regular or a double knot
- Read Next: How To Tie Hiking Boots For Narrow Feet
Getting Well-fitting Hiking Boots Is Equally Important
Tieing your boots with proper lacing techniques only fixes a part of the problem. However, the most important thing that you should do if you have wide feet, is to look for hiking boots that fit your feet perfectly, which most commonly means that they’re specifically offered in wide sizes.
There should be some room left around your toes, the top part of your foot shouldn’t feel too tight, the ankle should feel comfortable, and the boot should have a lot of padding. You can also try experimenting with hiking shoes and trail runners to see if you can find something that fits you better.
Sizing Up Your Hiking Boots May Also Work For You
Another trick that you can do is to buy hiking boots that are half a size or one size bigger and compensate for that with two pairs of hiking socks and proper lacing techniques. Getting it right might be a bit tricky since you have wide feet, so I recommend always trying on the boots in a store, and walking around for at least several minutes.
Two pairs of socks also help with reducing blisters. In a two-sock system, you wear a thinner liner sock underneath, and a thicker sock on the outside. Any friction happens between the two sock layers, rather than your own feet, which drastically reduces the chances of you forming blisters.
You Should Also Get A Pair Of Good Merino Wool Socks To Prevent Blisters
A bad lacing technique usually results in blisters. But even with a proper lacing technique for wide feet, you can still get blisters if you aren’t wearing good hiking socks, so you’ll have to deal with taping your feet mid-hike. They’re usually somewhat expensive, ranging between 20-40$, but from my own experience, they’re worth it. When I switched to the Silverlight merino wool socks, I pretty much stopped forming any blisters on my feet, and I was used to dealing with blisters all the time.
Good hiking socks work so well because they aren’t made from cotton, they have a much better fit, and they’re usually padded more intensively around the blister-prone areas. Good hiking socks are usually made from a blend of merino wool and synthetics, which helps the sock dry much quicker, be more durable, be more breathable, reduce friction with the skin, and be better at odor resistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best hiking shoes for wide feet?
The best hiking shoes for wide feet are the Merrell Moab 2 Vent, which I’ve owned for several years and they’re the most comfortable hiking shoes that I’ve owned (full review over here). Although it isn’t advertised as a wide hiking shoe, they do offer wide variants for nearly all sizes. The Merrell Moab 2 is also offered as a hiking boot if you’d rather prefer more ankle support.
Another really popular option is the Keen Targhee, which also offers models for wide feet, and is sold as a low-height hiking shoe or mid-height hiking boot. Similar to Merrell, Keen shoes also offer plenty of protection and padding, and they aren’t too expensive.
Generally, though, you have to look for hiking shoes that are offered in wide sizes, and plenty of hiking footwear manufacturers offer this option.
Which hiking boot brands are the best for wide feet?
Not all hiking footwear manufacturers offer models for wide feet, but a lot of them do. The most popular wide-feet hiking footwear brands are Keen, Merrell, and Saloman. Others that are also worth checking out are Columbia, La Sportiva, Oboz, Altra, and REI Co-Op.
What’s better for wide feet – hiking boots or hiking shoes?
It doesn’t really matter whether you go with hiking boots, hiking shoes, or trail runners if you have wide feet. It’s more of a matter of preference, as long as you can find a model that’s offered in wide sizes.
Generally, hiking boots offer the most amount of ankle protection, but they sweat and weigh the most. Trail runners, on the other hand, are the lightest and most breathable option. Hiking shoes offer a good middle ground – providing a good amount of comfort and protection, while not weighing too much and being somewhat breathable.
Personally, I prefer to hike with trail runners, because they’re the most lightweight and breathable option. But sometimes if I’ll be walking shorter distances or the terrain is a bit more rugged, I also use hiking shoes or hiking boots, depending on the season.
Are there any differences between lacing hiking shoes and boots for wide feet?
The lacing technique for wide feet is very similar between hiking shoes and boots. Its main goal is to achieve a wider toebox and the top of the shoe while keeping the ankle part of the shoe/boot tight enough to keep your feet from moving around within the shoe/boot.
With hiking shoes, you lace 2-3 final loops tightly, but with mid-height hiking boots, that can range between 3-5 final loops, depending on their height. Both of them can achieve the same result, but the fit of the boots will be marginally better.