How to Choose Outdoor Footwear

Selecting the best shoes and boots doesn't need to be a chore. Use this information to put your feet in the right direction.

Don't wait last minute to buy your footwear

Purchase your new footwear at least several weeks (if not months) before an extensive hiking trip or vacation. You need this time to make sure that you are really comfortable in your shoes.

Select socks before getting measured

Socks are essential in the foot-comfort equation. Choose appropriate socks early in the fitting process, and try on shoes and boots with the same socks you plan to wear with them.

Measure feet later in the day

Not everyone knows that their feet will reach maximum size as they are used throughout the day. This affects how your shoes and boots fit in the afternoon or evening, as compared to in the morning.

Measure both feet

With socks on, have BOTH of your feet measured on a Brannock Device® (sounds scary, but it's harmless). This portable metal tool measures the length and width of your feet. Why both feet? One foot is usually longer and/or wider than the other. Fitting to the larger foot is critical. Measure your feet each time you shop for footwear.

Measure twice

Have your feet measured while sitting (at rest) and while standing (weighted). The elongation that takes place determines the need for additional stabilization (i.e., different footbeds).

Choose footwear based on your activity

Select a boot or shoe that will perform the best during the activity that you plan to use it for the most. Factors to consider when select footwear are climate, temperature, the amount of weight you plan to carry, topography and roughness of the terrain you plan to travel across.

Think about lacing

For hiking footwear, kick your heels into the back of the shoe and lace them with enough tension for the laces to snap back when pulled between the eyelets (think of a stringed musical instrument). If this creates discomfort, learn special lacing techniques that can help improve fit (ask an Eastern Mountain Sports Foot Guru in any of our stores).

Protect your footwear investment

Gore-Tex® will perform for you only if you remember to waterproof the exterior of your footwear with the appropriate products. Use only products recommended for Gore-Tex, because the breathability of the footwear depends on it.

Trust your feet

If the shoe or boot hurts or bothers you after a few weeks, chances are it won't get better. Sometimes the shoe or boot just won't fit your foot.

Consider a foot analysis and fitting

Visit your local Eastern Mountain Sports and talk to one of our Foot Gurus. Or call Customer Service and ask to speak with a Foot Guru: 888-463-6367. What's a Foot Guru? It's an EMS sales associate who has been trained to analyze your feet and custom fit your boots - for FREE! - for the best outdoor experience.