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If the Boot Fits

By Greg Coulter
As an avid outdoorsman, I hear all this talk about the latest gear, fastest this, silent that, best boot, etc. All this is great yet I also hear and read stories of how some guy bought a pair of brand X boots and they kill his feet and the boot is the problem. Wrong! The approach to purchasing the boot along with the sock and insole is the problem. As hunters, hikers and walkers, we are asking a lot from our feet on a daily basis. We wear sneakers, flip flops or Chucks, then put on a stiff soled boot to hike in and check our trail cams, then return and complain about the boot.

It seems silly to me.

First step is to have your foot evaluated to determine the length and width that suits you. Next, go to a reputable shoe store and talk with the salesperson about your needs and budget. If they don't know how a certain brand fits, find a different shop. Once you have settled on a boot, ask them about insoles. Yes, insoles. Most boots factory insoles (the part your foot sits on) are crap and non-supportive. A proper insole, custom or off the shelf, will go a long way to improve comfort and longevity for both you and the boot. An insole aligns the foot in a supportive fashion, cradling the heel and supporting the arch. This allows for better shock absorption and less foot fatigue. Again, it is well worth the money. Next is the sock. I'm, personally, not a double sock guy.

One good pair of merino wool, mid-weight, calf high socks is all most folks need. They wick moisture from the foot, keeping you dryer. They also will keep you warm when wetted are a natural odor fighter and are one of the easiest things to care for. Wash out in a bucket and hang dry.

Boots come in many shapes and sizes and are NOT one brand fits all. Most reputable boot manufacturer’s produce a variety of widths from narrow to wide, aka, hobbit feet. Find the boot that fits you the best. Buy at least a half size larger than you measure and don't lace them too tight.

The foot and body swells with exercise and altitude, lace your boots to accommodate for this. You can thank me later. Numb feet suck!

I hope this helps some of you. Good luck this season! May the odds be ever in your favor!


These are my Irish Setter 200g thinsulate Gore-Tex boot I wear the most. The Lowa Renegade Gore-Tex and the Salewa low top approach are backups, yet I like to change it up a bit. Below are two different insoles and socks. The insole on the left is custom and the green one is an off the rack after market. They both work well. The socks are both merino wool and lightly cushioned. If the black one looks like a ski sock, it is. These are dual purpose. Cotton is a sponge and can only absorb so much. Then you have swamp foot. Ewww!

Next time you are looking for boots consider the whole system, boot, insole and sock.Your body will thank you!