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Advice for fitting boots inside?

I ordered two pairs of hiking boots from REI online. One Merrell and one Aku. Both seem to small for hiking, but both are in my normal size. How do I make sure my boots fit before I try them on a trail? I don't want to return used boots.

4 Replies

@Roadturn thanks for asking! There are a few things you can try at home to determine if a pair of boots fit, although at the end of the day, the only real way to know if a boot is going to work for hiking is to hike in them. If possible, because it's really hard to fit hiking boots online, we always recommend visiting your local REI store for a fit appointment so we can help you hone in on a great fit. Now that you already have 2 pairs at home, you can try:

  • Test them on your stairs, paying close attention to your heel as you go upstairs - do you feel any movement or friction? If yes, this may not be an ideal fit.
  • Find a way to stand at an incline, facing both up and down on the slant. When facing up and taking small steps, again pay attention to your heel. When facing down, do your feet slide forward in the boot to the extent that your toes touch the end of the boot? If yes, these may too small or may need some modifications to keep your foot in place better.

Hope these suggestions at least get you started with a good fit!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I have no indoor stairs or inclines, and I don't want to wear them outside. Looks like I'll need to find the brand/model/size that works and stick with it before ordering online again. Thank you.


@Roadturn once you've worn them around the house and have a good sense that one pair will work, we recommend heading outside; it's true that the only way you'll know a pair will work hiking is to go hiking in them. At REI, we offer a 1-year Satisfaction Guarantee, so even if you take them outside and then discover they don't work, you can still return them for a refund or exchange. Hope this helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

"How do I make sure my boots fit before I try them on a trail? I don't want to return used boots." I can relate,  here's what I do. 

Try them on at the end of your day when your feet are their largest. Wear the insole and socks you expect to use on trail. Walk around in each indoors for at least 10-30 minutes, the longer the better.  Ask yourself which shoes are more comfortable and why. Can you make them more comfortable? Adjust fit with lacing, tongue, tightness?  Keep wearing them indoors until they are either "right" or not right by gut feel.  Heels should stay in place securely.  Toes should be away from shoe inside perimeter not touching anywhere. Your foot should feel it can spread out and that it is not constricted in any way, sides included.  There should be an overriding sense of comfort everywhere.  If not, keep looking.