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Seeking suggestions for wide hiking boots

Hi - I walk 8 miles a day in the Hollywood hills and canyons to support a 300+ lb weight loss. I've been wearing Merrell Moab 2 Mid Vents wide width, and they are pretty great except they just don't seem to be quite wide enough. I've gone from the 10.5's I started with to an 11.5 (I believe my feet are actually getting bigger, and I think the Merrells run a little small toe to heel) and even the 11.5W isn't quite there. It's funny, I've been checking out various boots that claim to be 4E and 5E (Wolverine, Propet) or wider, and they're not as wide as the Merrells. Given what I've learned, I would call the Merrells a 3E or 4E as delivered, and 5E when they're a bit stretched out. But I think I might need a 6E, and a little bit squarer, deeper toe box than the Merrells, because I'm getting a lot of impact damage to my nails on second and middle toes, and outside toes are getting squeezed in, causing blisters and calluses despite wearing toe socks. Where do I turn? Any thoughts? I'm even exploring custom-made boots, although the cost is a bit daunting. Should I go to a 12W in the Merrells as odd as that seems given that I'm wearing an 11XXW New Balance pretty comfortably, and I have 3/4" between big toe and front of toe box on the 11.5W Merrells? Would the 12W be wider than the 11.5's or just longer? So many questions, but my feet really hurt 😞 Many thanks for any guidance.

5 Replies

@solmssen we're so sorry to hear your feet are hurting so much, especially as you commit to such an awesome challenge! Unfortunately we don't carry any footwear at REI with a 4E+ width however we'll try to offer some ideas and suggestions:

  • It'll be important to get an accurate measurement on the true length of your foot - although sizing up can help gain a little extra width, it's definitely not ideal to go several sizes up because it changes the arch length and the "break" of the shoe (where it bends when you step) may no longer align well with your foot. So, ideally we want to get the right length and then find a model that offers the correct width.
  • It sounds like you're doing great with your sock options - just no cotton! One thing to note is that although the toe socks can be really helpful with blistering, they do add a little extra bulk/width with the extra material between each toe.
  • In our shoe line-up, you might consider either the Lowa Renegage or the Keen Targhee II in a wide width. Both of these models run wide in the regular width, so the wide option will be a generous wide; you'll definitely want to size up in the Keen as they run ~1/2 size short. The downside for both of these styles is that they are full leather and waterproof, which means they may just be too warm for you.
  • You might also consider a trail running shoe, like the Hoka One One Challenger, which is available in a wide width. Hokas also tend to run wider in their regular width, so the wide model will be a bit more generous. An upside of this type of shoe is that they'll be easier to break in and run much cooler than the hiking shoes mentioned above.
  • Outside of REI, we often recommend New Balance as a brand that offers many width options.

If possible, we are beginning to reopen our stores for in-store shopping and it might be really helpful to come in for a footwear fitting. Hope some of this helps!

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

Hi @REI-JenK  - thanks for the extensive reply!

I've tried the Keen Targhee II in an 11.5W and 12W and I went back to the Merrells. I think I'd want to try on the Lowa somehow before committing $250, and yes it might be a bit of overkill for my dry warm-weather hiking. The Moab Ventilators have been pretty great from a temperature standpoint. 

My concern about the trail runners is support - like I said, I've lost over 300 lbs, but my legs and ankles are kind of a mess and it was a real eye-opener switching to the Merrells from the New Balance 990's I started in. I'll add it to the in-store try-on list.

I'm looking into NB and Dunham outside REI, but their boot style seems to max out at 4e and the soles are much less aggressive than the Vibram I am used to. We'll see...

I guess I'll try to come to a store as things open up. Thanks!


So I'm coming back to this thread with my ultimate results after a lot of trial and error. I even ordered specialty 6E boots from Apis Mt. Emey and they were the closest. The thing was, the Merrells were the perfect width after about 6 months of wear and super comfy, but the soles had worn to the point of feeling a little slippery on some of the harder trails I do. I finally twigged and bought a shoe stretcher. I bought a new pair of 11.5 W Moab Vents, put the stretchers in them for a day, and they were PERFECT. The key was to stretch them out on a gizmo, not my feet. No more bandaids, no more blisters! Hope Google finds this for anyone in the same boat!


@solmssen  good luck on you journey!  Don't ever stop!

I've had great luck with my super cushioned hoka one one's.  I also walk every day and have found their cushions to be a life saver...and a knee saver, and a foot saver.

good luck!

REI Member Since 1979

@solmssen I've had good luck with Lowa's over the years, specifically the Renegades.  There are some issues with the durability of the tread, but by an large they're solid boots.  I've used them 10.5 Wide for years without trouble, they may be worth a look.