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Backpacking boot fitting

I have a pair of Vasque hiking and my heels hurt after I wear them for more than a couple hours.  They are around ten years old and have done less than 100 miles backpacking.  Normally I only wear them once or twice a year.  

I have a permit to hike Mt Whitney in the fall, so I have started walking in them more.  

I think I should buy another pair that are wide but I am reluctant since the boots have so few miles on them.

Should I buy a new pair of boots or keep the old ones?

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7 Replies

@hllary 

Thanks for reaching out, although we're sorry to hear that you're having this issue with your boots. If the fit of your Vasque boots is still good (i.e. roomy enough for your feet to feel comfortable) and there is still tread on the bottom there are a few options you have that may allow you to get some more time with these boots:

  • Consider and after-market insole. Some insoles will give you extra cushion under your heels, others will keep your natural cushioning in place, and some can help prevent your heels from lifting (and 'crashing' down hard) up while you hike. Check out this Expert Advice article, How to Choose Insoles for more information.
  • Try a different lacing technique. If your issue is from your foot moving around too much in the boot, a different lacing technique might do the trick. Take a look at this Expert Advice article, How to Lace Hiking Boots for some ideas and tips.

Additionally, we encourage you to go into your local REI store and talk with a footwear expert and try on different boots. Over 10 years, even without a lot of miles, the cushioning in your boots may have degraded and is no longer as supportive as it once was. Another option is signing up for a virtual outfitting appointment and chat with someone from the comfort of your home.

Hopefully this helps and you can get out on the trail logging some more miles soon!

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

If you are considering new boots, one more boot fitters' tip:

Please come in later in the day, preferably on a day you have been on your feet a lot. Your feet will be at their longest and widest then.

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You should never have a pair of boots you only use twice a year.  The LAST thing I'd want is a surprise from unfamiliar boots 6 or 7 miles from the trailhead with 25 more miles still to go on the trip.   Yes, the backpacking boots might be overkill for a 5-mile fitness walk near home, but wear them at least every 4 or so weeks so you know what socks work and if they still fit.

So to answer your question, try them near home with different socks,  Maybe try thinner or thicker  100% wool socks.  Experiment near home on walks that are reasonably long.

I used to do the same thing, I had my backpacking gear and my day-hike gear and another set for winter backpacks and it all only got used infrequently.   Now, of late I mix it up and do my normal weekly hike sometime in the heavy boots.  I experiment with new socks near home too and clothing as well.

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You may want to consider that it usually takes a significant amount of wear to get a pair of boots to really break in.  I suggest wearing them to store, out in the yard, etc ..to get them broke in.  You may find that all boots bother your feet at first and will need this process to get them broke in....Good luck...

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
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Consider why you are wearing "boots" in the first place.  They actually have a fairly narrow application and quality trail runners may work much better for you.  Certainly trail runners will work of Mt Whitney in the fall.

If there is early season snow you may want to take a set of microspikes with you in case of icy conditions.  You can wear Katoola microspikes and similar with trail runners.

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Vasque are too narrow for me too. If you are an REI member you can return the used boots and get something that works for you. You can also try this tape for places that hurt on your foot. It has worked for me but isn't at all as good as a correctly fitting pair.

Congrats on the Whitney permits! have a great hike.

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Hilary, nearly none of the high sierra hikers wear heavy hiking boots anymore.  Check out trail runners.  Size up and make sure wide toe box.  I use Topo Athletic, but many brands.  REI great because you can return if they hurt your feet.  All the JMT and PCT and long distance hikers use trail runners.  I have done many 50+ mile trips with my trail runners and thy always are comfortable.  Good luck on Whitney.  I was there last year.  Dr. Bob