My goal this year is to regularly go for 10+ mile hikes. My main boots are size 11.5 Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator's (medium width). Right now I am noticing that around mile 5 I start to experience my toes rubbing against the sides of the boots. When I first put them on, the boots are snug but not tight and there is no rubbing. There is also about a thumb's width between the end of the big toe and the end of the toe box. What would be a good place to start for addressing the problem?
I know I could go with a wide boot, but would that potentially cause other issues in the early stages of the hike?
Possibly you need a half size bigger. Possibly you need a wider boot. Possibly you need different socks. Possibly you need different insoles. Possibly you need different shoes.
For higher mileage Trail Runners can be a better choice.
Pay attention to socks. Quality socks like Darn Tough wool blend make a lot of difference. I would start there. One runner's trick is to start with thicker socks in the morning when your feet are cooler and change to thinner socks later in the day as your feet warm up.
If you try switching insoles make sure to cut them so they are just a little short . Otherwise they won't bend with the shoe and will crowd your feet.
@DarkKnight1713 without actually seeing your feet and your boots, it's hard to know exactly what's going on, however it sounds like your feet are swelling a bit as you hike (very normal) and at their widest, your feet are then too wide for your boots to fit comfortably. A few thoughts:
We hope this helps!
Feet are narrowest, shortest first thing in the morning. Longest, widest at night. My feet become noticeably thinner and longer after week plus long trips.
As for your issue, the first place to start with is an insole. Best of luck