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How do I fit boots during shutdown?

After 10+ years of good use, my boots finally hit the dust. What unfortunate timing! With beautiful spring weather, and my kids out of school, we plan to do some social distancing in the woods. I went back and forth about whether I should visit the retail store or not during this time...and found the decision has already been made for me. Kudos, REI!

So my question is, how can I find a good pair of boots without trying them on in the store? My feet have a wide toe box and a narrow heel, and are infamously hard to fit. Buying online is not usually an option for me. I wear barefoot shoes most of the time, but need something a little more robust for the rocky terrain in our part of the county. Nothing else in my shoe collection will work for the activities we have planned...I need hiking boots! Any tips for shopping online? Thanks so much for your assistance!

12 Replies

@Msgpie84 this is such a great question, and one that we are working to address during this unprecedented time. For now, if you are able to give us a bit more information, we can make a few specific recommendations here in the community, knowing that the fit may or may not be perfect on the first try...

Things that are helpful to know:

  1. What brand/model are the boots that just gave out? This gives us a sense of the shape of your foot...
  2. Do you want waterproof or not?
  3. How many miles will you wear them for at any given time? Are we talking long or short hikes?
  4. How much weight do you carry with you in a pack on your hikes? This gives us a sense on how stiff the boot should be...
  5. Knowing that you have a wide toe box and narrow heel is super helpful - what about the volume of your foot? Do you have a high/low arch and how thick is your foot above your arch?
  6. Finally, should we hone in on men's/women's boots?

Those are some of the main questions we ask in store when doing a boot fitting, so answers to those can get us started. We may have have a few more, but these are the most important ones. Hope this helps!

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

Thank you so much for your help! REI is the best. I will try to answer your questions.

1. My old boots were Keens. They actually did not fit well, and I will not miss them. I think I bought too small in order to address the blisters I was getting on my heels from slipping. They didn't slip...but they pinched my toes.

2. Yes, waterproof please! We do lots of creeks.

3. My kids are still young, so right now trips are usually no longer than five miles.

4. My youngest kid and my overnight pack, when I carry them, are both about 30 pounds. We're getting closer to doing more of the pack and less of the kid! 

5. My foot is fairly slender, both in width and thickness, which makes the wide bony toe box awkward. I have no idea about my arches, but I can't stand Chacos, so probably low?

6. And finally, I wear women's boots.

@Msgpie84 thanks for all the info! As a hiker who also has narrow and low volume feet, I'd recommend considering the Oboz Bridger boot! They are waterproof with a nice tight fit all the way around, heel included. They are lovely for day hiking but also supportive enough if you decide to do some backpacking. If you're between sizes, I would encourage going with the bigger size. Hope this helps!

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

Hi @Msgpie84!

Ten years in one pair of boots! Sounds like they've been a great companion on the journey! I am just adding here to the great advice given by @REI-JenK!

With our retail stores closed, but our online store open, you have the ability to purchase a couple of pairs of boots online to try on at home. Our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee still applies, and you can easily send returns back through the mail, or hang on to them until our retail stores reopen and make your returns or exchanges at that time.

That being said, Oboz would be a good brand to try, as their fit profile tends to lean a bit more narrow in the heel and wider in the forefoot. I'd recommend looking at the Sawtooth or Bridger models if you're looking for a classic, supportive feel in your hiking boots, and excellent traction underneath. 

You might also consider the Altra Lone Peak Mid. It's going to have more of a trail runner feel, but as someone who wears minimal shoes most of the time, you might enjoy the zero-drop, wide toebox that the brand has in all its hiking boots and running shoes.

Once we reopen our retail locations, we're happy to help make fit adjustments in-person. You can speak to a footwear specialist anytime, or even schedule a free, one-on-one hiking boot outfitting at your local store.  

Enjoy your time in the woods! 


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

Thank you so much for the suggestions. I may order a few to try. I am intrigued about the Altra Lone Peak Mid. I have had a hard time deciding if I want a full boot, or a lighter model that mimics my barefoot shoes, so it will be nice to have that as an option.



How did your boots finally hit the dust? Perhaps there is a temporary fix you can use to get out on some trails with your kids until our stores open again. Shoe Goo is an adhesive that dries to the consistency of flexible rubber and bonds to rubber, vinyl, fabric, canvas, leather, and plastic. You may be able to re-attach a boot sole, seal a seam, or cover a hole in your boot if that is what went wrong.

It could provide a temporary fix for you and allow you to get outside on the trails sooner.

Hope this helps!

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

Advice after my own heart, and a good guess. It WAS the sole that came off and we actually tried to use Shoe Goo, but the sole was completely detached, even at the toe. It just wouldn't go back on right. I've been using the boot without a sole, which is NOT my favorite, lol!

An off-topic comment. I've encountered "lost soles" on the trail from time to time. They make me wonder how their owners managed to get back to civilization.

I always carry some duct tape, in part in case I lost my sole I could tape it back onto the bottom of the boot.


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

"And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my...sole?"

-maybe John Muir

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