The Adventure

Perfect Fit: A guide to purchasing hiking boots

Posted by Jane Carswell on Thu, Apr 07, 2011

By Lyle Grisedale, Hiking Guide, CMH Summer Adventures

Hiking boots - finding the perfect pair for your CMH Summer AdventureAlthough here at CMH Summer Adventures we provide great quality hiking boots (and jackets, packs and rain gear), you may still be in search of a new pair of hiking boots.  CMH Heli-Hiking guide, Lyle Grisedale has put together a few tips to aid you in your quest for the perfect fitting hiking boot.

If there is a good outdoor store near your home they will walk you through the process and help you find a pair that is right for you, but how do you know what they have suggested is going to work?
Here are some tips and guidelines for selecting a pair of hiking boots that will give you years of hiking performance and satisfaction.

Consider the purpose
At CMH Summer Adventures we don't always walk on designated hiking trails such as those you will find in your local parks. We explore a wide variety of terrain from alpine meadows to rocky scree slopes, and even rock slab. We do walk on game trails through forested areas and often we cross streams, walk in wet grasses and snow left over from the winter. If you're planning to hike similar terrain elsewhere, you will need a boot that is sturdy and waterproof that covers the ankle and offers good support to that area. There are lots of boots from many brands that will meet these needs.

The boots you purchase can be all leather, a mix of leather and synthetic, or completely made of synthetic materials. All three choices are good ones. Regardless of the material for the top of the boot, make sure your boot has a Vibram sole.  This is a rubber that provides excellent traction on rocks. Some excellent brands to explore are: Merrell, Salomon, Asolo, Scarpa, Garmont, Vasque and La Sportiva to name just a few.
Purchasing and fitting tips.

Bring a pair of hiking socks to the store you visit to purchase your hiking boots. Try on boots using the same type of sock that you will be wearing out on the trail. Wool or synthetic socks are best.


Explain the sort of terrain you will be using your boots on so that the salesperson can make the proper recommendations. It is wise to find out if the boot you purchase can be resoled after long term use, and any other factors that you think will be important in the purchase of your boots.
Finding a good fit

Size is not as important as fit. I wear different sizes depending on the brand I have selected so start with your normal shoe-size but don't shy away from a larger or smaller size. 

  1. Place your foot in the boot and stand up. Don't worry about lacing up the boots yet.
  2. Stand up straight and push your foot forward into the toe of the boot. You toes should just touch the front but not be jammed against the front.
  3. You should be able to slip your index finger between your heel and the back of the boot. Do this for both boots. Having this space will allow your feet to fit comfortably in your boots and will help prevent your toes from being smashed into the front of your boots when walking downhill.
  4. Sit down and lace both boots. As you do so, make sure your heel has move backwards filling the space your index finger created.
  5. Stand up and walk around.  Do your toes touch the front of the boot? If so, go for a larger sized boot. Also make certain that your toes do not touch the top of the boot. If they do then you will need a boot with a larger (front-side) volume. As you walk, the heel of your foot and the heel of the boot should move together in harmony. If not then your boots are either too large in size or the shape of the arch and heel cup are incompatible with the shape of your feet, or the sole is too stiff. Start over with another boot until you find the perfect fit.

In my next post I'll provide a few tips on how to break your boots in and you’ll soon be ready for a lifetime of happy hiking. 

Feel free to bring your boots on your next CMH Summer Adventure, or use ours.  The glory of having your own is that you'll get to enjoy the many great hiking trails in Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Parks before or after your CMH trip!

CMH's Vacation Planners are happy to assist you in crafting the perfect Canadian Rockies vacation incorporating as much, or as little hiking, horseback riding, dining, rafting or spa-ing as you like! Contact Audrey at 1-800-661-0252 today to get planning!

Tags: CMH Guides, Gear, CMH Experts