Lacing Hiking Boots
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Hiking Boots for Narrow Feet?

QUESTION:
I have narrow feet and am having a hard time finding a pair of hiking boots that fit well. My heel slips and rides up when I hike uphill. Any suggestions?

-Pat, Durham, NC

ANSWER: Sorry to hear that! I have a narrow feet too, so heel slippage is something I’m unfortunately very familiar with.

First, be sure you buy hiking boots for narrow feet – certain brands run narrower than others, such as Teva (for water shoes), Vasque (for hiking shoes) Asolo (for hiking boots), and La Sportiva (for mountaineering boots). Others run very wide, so just make sure you start off on the “right footing” by sticking to the narrower brands.

Next, use insoles if you aren’t already. I like Superfeet (my review on Superfeet is here). That will fill up the heel of the boot and help a bit with slippage.

Finally, and very importantly, make sure you are lacing your boots properly. There is a special lacing technique for people with narrow feet. Check out my pictures below. Please excuse the dirt on my well used (but loved) Vasque Kota hiking shoes :)

Step 1: After lacing up toward the top of the hiking shoe as normal, loop the lace through the last hole as shown in the picture.

Step 1: Make a loop

Step 1: Make a loop









Step 2: After you’ve made the loops, thread the remaining lace through the opposite loop, as shown in the picture. Then tighten the laces.


Step 2: Thread the Laces Through the Loops

Step 2: Thread the Laces Through the Loops










Step 3: Tie as you normally would. Double knots are helpful so your laces don’t get undone!

Step 3: Tie as normal and double knot the laces

Step 3: Tie as normal and double knot the laces










Finished!

Finished!

This technique will help keep your heel in place. Good luck and if you need more info on boot shopping tips check out my instructional video of how to lace hiking boots to prevent heel blisters.

Happy trails!
Hiking Lady

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92 comments to Hiking Boots for Narrow Feet?

  • charlene walker

    Well this is all very interesting but doesn’t help me find narrow hiking shoes one little whit. I have searched the internet and am very frustrated. No one seems to make hiking shoes that come in narrow. Specifically AAA or AAAA. So your advise is useless.

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Charlene,

    I wear a AAA width in dress shoes, so I totally understand your frustration. Since I have yet to find women’s hiking boots that come in widths, I buy brands that run narrow – the 2 that fit me best are Asolo and Vasque. I discuss how these brands run narrow, as well as those that run wide (Keen), in my 10 Tips for Hiking Boot Shopping.

    Once you put in enhanced insoles, and use the lacing technique described above and also demonstrated in this video, you may be able to wear standard width boots like I do.

    Happy trails!
    Hiking Lady

  • OlderPerson

    HikingLady has the right idea- buy a narrow brand. My heels measure out at AAAAAAA width and I wear vintage Vasque in a “N” width. Some of the vintage Italian boots (like 1970s-1980s vintage) are impossibly narrow for most people. Once you find a pair that fits, take good care of them and have them resoled when they’re worn out and they’ll last for decades. It’s also possible to find ice-skating boots or sturdy dress boots in severely narrow widths (new, used, or custom) and have hiking tread installed by a bootmaker.

  • Hiking Lady

    Great tip! Taking care of your boots will make them last a very long time, so when you find a pair that fits treat them like you’ll have them for life! I have found some narrow boots and dress shoes on ebay…which is great for my narrow heel. The older styles were definitely made narrower than current models.

  • Trekker

    Hmm…I also have not been able to find ideal hiking boots. I’ve owned 4 pairs, and haven’t met my perfect match ;)

    I currently wear Vasque. While breaking them in gradually, I developed purple toenails from some bruising (not wide enough at the toe?). But, I feel the heel is too wide? Or the volume is too big? I wear non-custom orthotics in them, and I feel my arch is separating from the shoe too much when I hike. I wear thick hiking socks, and sometimes a sock liner. I do feel some friction on the bottom of my foot sometimes, so I’m thinking they are too big.

    Looking for a brand I guess with narrow heels, wide toes. I like a midweight boot. I haven’t tried different lacing techniquest yet. Maybe that would help.

  • Hiking Lady

    If you get a chance to try my lacing technique I’d love to know how it works for you. If you haven’t tried a liner sock in addition to a good quality hiking sock that could help you too. Happy trails!

  • Long, thin, and flat!

    New Balance has ladies hiking boots in various widths from narrow to extra wide. The 1500, which is on clearance right now, runs narrow, and maybe a 1/2 size small. It comes in 3 widths. New Balance has a *fantastic* return policy too!

    Vasque also has several widths in their ladies hiking boots. I bought the Vasque (B width) in REI last week, but wasn’t able to take up the extra volume even with 2 insoles. Later discovered they make a narrow width, but you have to order from Vasque.

    Only trouble you have is if you wear 11+ like me…most of them only go up to 11…

  • Hiking Lady

    Thanks for the info! I love my Vasques, because even the regular width runs narrow. And yes, I like how they come in widths. I haven’t seen the New Balance hiking shoes, but I’ve definitely bought Narrow width New Balance running shoes in the past.

  • Erika G

    Hello, and thanks for the great info!

    Will this lacing technique work for blisters on the balls of your feet too? I always get blisters in this location and sometimes they are large and cover the area between my big toe and index toe. I don’t have narrow feet – quite the opposite, but will this lacing help with that too?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Erika,

    Great question. This lacing technique likely won’t be helpful for ball of foot blisters. Those could be caused by your feet needing more cushioning, so a softer insole could help.

    For blisters between your toes, those are likely being caused by sweat that is keeping the area moist, and therefore a happy place for blisters to crop up. I wear “toe sock” liner socks a lot of the time, which helps prevent this from happening. Here’s more info about them: Hiking Lady’s Toe Sock Liners

    Please share what you try and what works for you!

    Happy trails!

  • Hi, Thanks for the tips. I’m going to Alaska in late JUne 2012 and need something for me A3 narrows. I’ll check out the two brands you all have mentioned.

    Years ago I found I could wear Scandinavian cross country shoes.
    Any one had any ( I think they were Danish???) luck with Scandinavian hiking boots?
    Also, any of you been to Alaska in late June? Wondered if I needed a really warm hiking boiot.

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Kate – I haven’t been to Alaska in June, but with waterproof hiking boots and thick socks you should be fine. I haven’t tried any Scandinavian hiking boots yet, but perhaps one of the readers has and can comment! :) Have a great time in Alaska!!

  • Erika G

    Hi Hiking Lady,

    I did two small (approx. 6mi) hikes this weekend and tried the toed sock liners. Seems to have helped quite a bit, and I only got a little baby blister on one foot (still the ball of the foot). Thanks for the advice!

    I guess I wouldn’t have been able to do your lacing technique anyways because my Keens don’t have the double hole at the top, only the hook thingy. I still have some toe discomfort after down hill, but I just kick the back of my heel to kinda adjust my feet back to the right spot and that seemed to help this weekend too.

    Thanks again!

    Happy in OC – Erika G

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Erika!
    I’m so glad that the toe sock liners helped a bit. I’m not sure what style of Keen’s you are wearing, but if they are more of a boot than a low top, this video will help keep your feet in place on downhills: http://hikinglady.com/hiking/how-to-lace-hiking-boots-to-prevent-heel-blisters/

    Thank you for the comments!

  • Steve Menzel

    I wore a pair of New Balance womens boots for over a year because of the very narrow width. I tried to order another pair in Dec 2011 and learned that they have discontinued the product. They were the first boots I have found in 50 years that fit. Very disappointed.

  • Hiking Lady

    Sorry to hear that! Have you searched online to see if any outlet type stores have them? Places like Sierra Trading Post carry some closeout and discontinued items.

  • John

    We’ve been looking for narrow boots as well. Just wanted to point out here that LL Bean makes Gore-Tex boots that come in size narrow. We will probably buy some, and see how they do.

  • Hiking Lady

    Thanks John! I haven’t tried LL Bean boots. I love their fleeces… great value. Please share some feedback here on your boots after you’ve tried them. Hope they work out well for you.

  • Peggy

    Hi Hiking Lady,
    I, too, have very narrow heels. I don’t do much hiking right now, so I don’t need hiking boots. But I am trying to do more walking and I have the hardest time finding socks that are thick enough to really cushion my heels so that they don’t slip out of the walking shoe. I do have a walking/running shoe store nearby where there is an expert on shoes, so we have found me the shoes with the most narrow heels possible that are still suitable for walking. But even with these, I need to wear socks with very, very thick heels, and I have had the hardest time finding some.
    Thanks!

  • Linda Hamilton

    I have tried many hiking boots for my long narrow feet! Had an old pair of leather Vasques that actually were ‘Narrow’ size from the late 70s never even had to break them in and they were as comfortable as shoes (the ones with the old black and red laces) I lost one boot coming back from the Arctic and nearly wept. I now have Vasque Breeze GTX in narrow and they are ‘OK’ but I still kept the moleskin company alive on long hikes. I’ll try the tying technique you mention. Also even ‘going backwards, top to bottom around the hooks’ at the top on boots will snug them up a little. I ordered the ‘Women’s Gore-Tex Mountain Treads, Mid-Cut and Low Cut’ from LLBean in narrow and they are very stiff so even though they are sort of narrow they won’t tie up tightly at all so I actually sent them back. I have the LLBean leather/gortex Cresta’s and they do fit quite well with Superfeet liners but they are a little uncomfortable/unyielding along the top. Perhaps I just need to break them in a little more. Thank you for your site ….. nice to know I am not alone

  • One commenter above mentioned trying two inserts… Is that something to try? I have Vasque hiking boots and have a lot of issues with my feet sliding forward on the downhill. No purple toenails yet but still painful. My feet are very narrow but also skinny in terms of height. So I think I’m not able to sufficiently tighten the the laces in the lower part across my foot (it seems to get them tight enough, too much of the fabric from the tongue bunches up and digs into my foot). So could an additional insert help take up some volume in that part of the boot? I have some concerns about the 2nd insert slipping.

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Linda,
    Glad you find the Hiking Lady website helpful :)
    I hope the LL Bean boots break in a bit more for you so they are comfortable. I haven’t tried those, so thanks for sharing the feedback that they are a little unyielding along the top. Perhaps a thicker pair of socks could provide additional cushioning for you around the ankle?
    Happy trails!

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Katharine,
    I have not tried the 2 insert method myself, and I agree with you that slippage issues could end up causing even worse problems. Have you tried this hiking boot lacing technique?
    Have you tried the liner sock + hiking sock method too? With thicker hiking socks you’ll have additional cushioning and more volume will be taken up in the boot. You could wear thicker sockers, and while your feet will get hotter, the liner sock will wick the moisture to the outer sock to help prevent blisters.
    Good luck!

  • Heather

    I also have crazy narrow feet & high arches. I tend to wear sneakers on most hikes when I’m not carrying a ton of extra weight–Nike & Solomon work well. For the hikes that call for boots, I found that Lowa makes leather boots in narrow. The toe box isn’t too narrow, but the heel is still a little big. I look forward to trying your lacing & layering techniques.

  • Hiking Lady

    Thanks, Heather! Hope the lacing techniques work well for you :) Happy trails!

  • Sarah

    I am over in the UK and I suffer from the same narrow heel problem, but I also have size 9 feet (I believe a US 11 ish) which causes even more problems :( Most women’s boots seem to stop at a UK 8 and the few rare ones I have found in a 9 are still too wide. I bought a men’s Scarpa boot last year since these are a narrow last, and tried lacing techniques, liners, insoles… you name it! But they still destroyed my heels. I am now about to sell them on ebay! Finding any shoes for my feet really is a nightmare! Next I am trying a boot-maker in Yorkshire in the UK called Alt Berg, since they make their leather boots in 5 width fittings. I only hope and pray that their X-Narrow is narrow enough! Will let you know if it is a success…
    Sarah :)

  • Hiking Lady

    Good luck, Sarah! Please let us know what you find that works for you!

  • Carolyn

    Wow, do I ever feel for all of you. I, too, have a very narrow heel (3A in dress shoes) and am having a terrible time finding a shoe/boot to fit my needs. I am not a continuous hiker, although I do hike some in the woods around our home. My current need is for something that I can wear gardening/landscaping on a steep hillside, as well as hiking. To add to the situation, I have developed psoriatic arthritis in my metatarsal joints and ankles so I need something with metatarsal cushioning and a wide toe box to accommodate the swelling and tenderness across the ball of my foot. I am currently sitting on about $500 worth of shoes/boots that I have purchased either at my local outdoor store or ordered online and ALL of them are going back. I currently have shoes/boots from New Balance, Northface, Keen, and Carolina Womens work boots. If any of you have any suggestions, I would be so very grateful, because as it is right now, I am pretty much sidelined from all the things that I love to do.

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Carolyn!

    I too wear a AAA in dress shoes…and I end up having to spend a lot of money on dress shoes because only the Italian brands seem to make shoes with heels that narrow. For hiking boots, my favorite pair are the Asolo Styngers. Not surprisingly, Asolo is an Italian brand! The price has gone up since I bought my pair a few years ago, but they have a narrow heel area for people like us, and when laced like shown in this short video about boot lacing, my heel stays in place. For me there is plenty of room in the toe box. I bought size 8, even though I wear size 7.5 in street shoes.

    Hope this helps. If you find a particular boot that works for you please share it here so all of the ladies out there with narrow feet can learn from our collective experience.

    Happy trails!

  • Jen Ticsay

    I have AAA size 10 feet. I had a pair of Vasque Sundowner for 11 years and they fit well. Since then I have had good luck with Merrell’s. I have had a couple pair of hiking boots and a pair of hiking shoes that fit well. The Chameleon model plus a soft sol insert fit great. I hike a few miles a couple times a week in Colorado – My problem is that they don’t last more than a couple of years.

  • Jen Ticsay

    PS. I feel all your pain. It is no fun to find any shoes with AAA feet. I dread the decision.

  • Hiking Lady

    Thanks for your input, Jen.

  • Long, thin, and flat!

    For Carolyn:

    Consider trail running shoes. Use the services of your local specialty running shoe store. They tend to have a good selection, and knowledge to help fit you into something appropriate.

    I have Brooks ASR. They have great tread, and I can manage hill sides where I live in rural Colorado. I, too, have foot comfort issues and trail running shoes have been a good solution for me. I have rigid semi-custom orthotics, and I use Spenco plain green on top of those.

    I still have some heel slippage (had that all my life) but my running shoes are more forgiving than hiking boots, so I haven’t had any blisters.

    Good luck!

  • Sandy Johnsen

    My left foot is a solid size 10 in regular shoes, but my right foot is closer to a 9 1/2, so I just purchased Asolo Stynger GTX boots in a 10, went out yesterday for 6 mile hike to test them out with FITS Rugged Hiker socks, but on terrain with little to no incline and was so happy about having no blisters or pressure points. I was very happy with how the boot felt, other than a little tenderness on the balls of my feet – maybe Superfeet would be the solution for this? But I did the hill test today to see how my heels would fare, and almost no suprise – a blister on the larger left foot after only 2 miles uphill. This foot has always been the one with the slippage issue, and I think that heel is slightly more narrow than the other heel. Out of frustration, I googled heel slippage and found this site. I can’t wait to go back out and try the lacing technique on the same hill. This could be the grand solution for me! I’m feeling so hopeful.

    Do you think it would be possible that I may have to go to size 10 1/2 for the larger foot? I’ve never had to go up before?

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi there Sandy!
    So sorry to hear about your blisters…but you are now on the right track to solving your issue. Please try the lacing technique first. Superfeet will definitely take up a bit of volume in your boot, so the fit will be a little more snug and prevent a little bit of slippage. However, a full size larger may be too roomy for you and cause even more slippage problems. Getting the 10 1/2 boots would be the last option I’d try. Good luck, and let me know how it works!

  • Elizabeth Hardman

    I have extremely narrow heels and a really high arch (I don’t know if this is the case for you), and I recently bought some LA Sportiva Boulder X shoes that are amazing. They were one of the shoes in the shop that I was least interested in (due to looks and color, of course), but after taking advice from a worker and trying them on, I was literally in love. I never knew shoes could even fit so well. They feel like a part of my feet, with no slide, and have wonderful traction if you like hiking in rocky areas. Good luck!

  • Hiking Lady

    Thanks for sharing Elizabeth! I’m glad to hear that you are so happy with the La Sportiva’s! Hope you got a good deal :) Happy trails.

  • Sandy Johnsen

    I ended up buying Superfeet Berry inserts and would never have actually dreamed they would do such wonderful things. Cured the slippage and now I swear I can walk much further without fatigue. Thanks for the info on the other shoe though.

  • Lisa

    I have a narrow foot and have suffered with finding a narrow boot – I Love my LOWA women’s narrow boots – two pairs later and still they do a great job – check them out – now checking on Scarpa and La Sportiva … more to follow! Happy hiking!

  • Hiking Lady

    Thanks for the tip, Lisa. Glad your like you Lowa boots. Happy trails!

  • Devi

    Wow, Can’t believe that hiking-shoe makers have not taken note of this link as yet! Narrow feet issues seem to be more common than I expected. I tried a Salomon Women’s 3D Fastpacker recently, which supposedly run true to size. I usually wear size 6.5. Salomon size 7 (with a sock liner and hiking socks on) felt fairly comfortable to me around the heel. The toes however felt like they were hitting against the head of the shoe (even though it had a nice big toe box). Size 8 I expect, would be too loose around the heel. At Rei, I was pretty much told that the best option they can offer me was Vasque Breeze 2.0..I find these shoes a bit bulky though..

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Devi!
    There sure are a lot of us narrow footed women out there! I have had good luck with Vasque…they have some other models besides the Vasque Breeze that might work – Vasque Scree and Vasque Velocity 2.0. These are newer ones and I haven’t tried them yet. I have a pair of Vasque Blurs that is an older model similar to the Velocity and they hug my narrow heel really well, and are quite lightweight.
    Best of luck and if you find some you like please let us know.
    Happy trails!

  • Sarah

    I posted back in May 2012, and I wanted to update you on my situation. I am in the UK and suffer with very narrow size 9 feet (a US 11-12?), which is a huge problem, as most women’s shoes stop at a UK 8. And men’s boots are way too wide for me, causing awful heel blisters.

    I had the same pair of leather boots for literally 15 years (Lomer, men’s UK size 9/9.5) but these have all but fallen apart, so I’ve been trying to get replacements for over 2 years now. First I tried men’s Scarpa boots, as these are Italian and have a narrow last (another brand I tried were ‘Zamberlains’, also narrow Italian boots). However, being a men’s boot they were still too wide and the Scarpa’s ultimately ended up on ebay, after obliterating my heels with the worst blisters of my life! Next I tried the German brand ‘Jack Wolfskin’ as they do ladies boots in a EU 43 (a UK 9). However, after 30 minutes walking around indoors I already started to get very bad ‘hot spots’ on my heels, and so I returned these while I still could.

    So a few days ago I finally made the epic drive to the Yorkshire boot manufacturers ‘Alt Berg’ (http://www.altberg.co.uk) after quite a few recommendations to try them out. They make leather hiking boots in UK half sizes and 5 width fittings (including an ‘Extra-Narrow’ option). They measured my feet and told me I probably needed a UK 9.5 in an Extra Narrow. I walked away with a lovely pair of ‘Tethera’ boots (http://www.altberg.co.uk/stockist-product/the-tethera-mens-boot/) and some Superfeet insoles for under £200, which wasn’t too painful a price! I’ve only worn them around the house so far and I’m still a little concerned about the left heel, but I am hopeful that these ones will break in and work out ok. First of all they really are nice and narrow – my feet don’t even look that bulky in them, which makes a change. The leather is incredibly soft, especially around the ankle. And they have a locking nut for lacing at the ankle, which really helps me lace them tight. My heels are STILL moving a little, even though the Superfeet insoles help reduce that, but I am trying a sock liner under my thinner hiking socks, and that seems to reduce any potential rubbing.

    One day soon I will brave going outdoors in them. Fingers crossed this will be the pair I keep! I will report back in a few months.

    For the record, Alt Berg also make completely custom-made boots (for a price tag of £1000 upwards! and a long waiting list…) which may be the only option for people with foot deformities and severe fitting issues. But if your problem is less severe they also offer a service whereby they heat the leather boots and re-mould them slightly in the problem areas. Useful information for anyone in the UK.

  • Hiking Lady

    Sarah, this is excellent information, especially for other UK hikers and trekkers. Thank you so much for taking the time to detail your experiences, and best of luck with the new Tethera boots. Happy trails!

  • Shelley

    I feel everyone’s frustration. Was boot shopping today. I liked the narrow fit of the Vasque Breeze. In fact, it felt great. But I didn’t like the mid height. It digs in too much at the back (around the collar/cuff) just walking around the store, and a full day of hiking would be murder. My preference in height was the Solomon Quest but then I lost my narrow fit. :-( I wish Vasque made a taller boot.

  • Gladys

    I tried the Vasque Breeze but returned it. To get the extra length,it just felt too big and I felt I was walking funny with the ‘rocking’ heel. I normally wear an 8 or 8.5, my feet were measured, solid 8 on one foot, slighly under on the other. Now I am trying a Salomon Sector Mid Gtx. An 8 felt pretty good, I couldn’t feel my toes when walking. The salesman thought I might need extra length(for downhill) so I have an 8.5 but it feels bigger/wider, not so sure. It has lots of room in the toe box, that could be good? Does anyone know if your feet swell when hiking? I also have a size 9 North Face Hedgehog Tall GTX III. I think the fit is a bit narrower, fit shorter too. How much extra room should you have in length? Has anyone tried these boots?

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Gladys,
    Your feet will swell when hiking, especially if the weather is warm. Your toes should not touch the front of the boot when you are walking downhill, or else you’ll end up with black toenails! I personally think you’ll be better off with ones with room in the toe box, and then use this boot lacing technique so your feet don’t slide forward when you are hiking downhill. If readers have tips on the Salomon Sector or the North Face Hedgehog boots hopefully they will share their opinions. Best of luck!

  • Gladys

    Thanks Hiking Lady! I’ve decided on the Salomon Sector boot. I am unsure of size. The boot fits bigger than other kinds I tried. I have the 8.5 at home but went yesterday and tried on an 8 again, they felt pretty good. In the 8, my toes do not touch the front of the toebox. Is this long enough? This saleseman said the boot can be from 5 – 10 mm from the front. I read that your toe should be close but not touching and if pressed down in front of toe, if there is a thumbwidth between your toe and front, the boots are too big. I also read you should be able to fit a finger behind your heel. In the 8.5 (which felt alright too, a bit bigger)there probably is a thumbwidth from front altho kind of hard for the salesman to press too; and maybe more than a finger at the back but again, hard to get the finger to reach down in the boot. Is this too big/long? I am wondering if there might be less slippage with the 8’s. The lacing is a bit different on these Salomons, I am not sure that your boot lacing techique would work. The salesman mentioned a surgeon’s knot too. Does that do the same thing? When I had tried the 8’s before, the salesman said to really jam my foot down on the incline, then I could feel my toe. Unless I need to try a hill/incline again, not jamming the toes too? I wore a Wigman merino wool light hiking sock…but tried a Smartwool one on in the store, that may have been a bit cushier and could make a difference too. Just wondering what you think on size, thanks.

  • Gladys

    That should be – This saleseman said the TOE can be from 5 – 10 mm from the front of the boot.

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Gladys,
    The best thing to do is to try walking in these boots downhill, or walk down a ramp in the store (some good outdoor stores have these in the footwear sections). If your toes touch the front of the boots when you are walking downhill, and the boots are laced properly and your heel isn’t slipping too much, then the boots are too short. Also keep in mind that your feet will swell at altitude and in warm weather.
    A surgeon’s knot can help keep your heel back. Also try this lacing technique for low top shoes.
    Happy trails!

  • Nadine

    Oh man this is great! I’m breaking in a new pair of hikers and I have one foot that was giving me heel slip issues, but this lacing technique really helped get rid of that. Thanks!

  • Hiking Lady

    So glad to hear it Nadine!

  • Helen

    Hi,
    Had terrible trouble trying to find narrow hiking boots in Western Australia. Got a pair of Scarpa – great on right foot but the left foot, I just couldn’t stop from getting blisters on the heel.
    Have now purchased a pair of Merrell Moab Mid. Think?? they may be better although the left heel still feels like it may be a problem. Have tried 1 of the lacing techniques but have got the hook thingys at top not holes to do the loops.
    Any other suggestions would be appreciated as I’m off to kokoda in 4 weeks!,

  • Hiking Lady

    Great question, Helen. For boot lacing, please watch this video on boot lacing technique. Hope that helps and works to keep your left heel in place. Happy trails!

  • Gladys

    Thanks HL, I went with the size 8.5 instead of the 8. I made a makeshift ‘hill’ putting an exercise step down my stairs to test the 8’s (they could not be worn outside), they may have slightly touched the end of the boot, so I returned them. I am now breaking my boots in but the toe box /ball of the foot area seems very roomy, maybe too roomy. I have to lace my boots very tight across the top of the foot or they seem too loose. Yesterday, I took a pair of insoles from a pair of runners and put them in too and I think they were better. Can this work? I am doing a hike to Machu Picchu …if my feet swell, I thought I could take out the extra insoles. I think your boot lacing technique may work also, but perhaps doing it upside down. The guy in the store showed me something similar.

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Gladys,
    Thanks for the update. It sounds to me like you need a size 8.25! :) Too bad they don’t make that. Yes you can use insoles from a different pair of shoes. I like Superfeet insoles because they are well made and better quality than the ones that come with most shoes/boots. You may also want to wear thick hiking socks to take up some of the volume. If you still feel the 8.5s are too roomy after adding thicker insoles and a cushy sock, and the 8.0s are not big enough, it may be time to try another boot. Keep walking in them inside at home on your makeshift ramp to see which ones are the best for you. Don’t settle for a pair that isn’t just right for you. Have a great time in Machu Piccu!

  • Gladys

    Thanks, will do! I think you misunderstood,I returned the size 8 boots. I kept the 8.5’s. I’ve worn them outside and done a few hikes with them, approx 5 kms each. The last couple hikes though,I put in the insoles from a pair of running shoes (not special insoles, they were just the ones from my runners) in additional to the ones that came with the boot; so there were 2 insoles in them. They seem cushier with my ‘runner liner’ in too (it also has a bit of a ‘heel cup’)…actually fit more like the 8’! I am also using a midweight wool sock. I am hoping this does the trick with the 2 insoles. So far so good. Unfortunately I don’t have time to try more boots as we leave soon for MP. It would have been nice to try the 8’s outside on a hill but oh well :)

  • Stacey

    I have a pair of Oboz that I want to like, but I feel my heel slipping and it worries me since I am walking the Camino Frances on May 13. I am hoping I am being neurotic and that the slip isn’t really all that bad. How much slip is normal and how much is too much?

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Stacey,

    Great question. Your heels really shouldn’t be slipping. A very small movement is ok, but this is a good rule of thumb: if you are noticing your feet when you hike, then the boots don’t fit well. Have you tried this lacing technique to see if it will prevent heel slippage?

    Perhaps that will help. If not, you should look for another pair and wear them as much as possible before your trip in a couple of weeks! Have a great time.

  • Sharon

    Help Everyone, I have narrow feet, AA-BUT I wear a US 12! Just returned a New Balance because the left big toe was hitting the end, which we know is no good. I have Googled every hiking shoe mentioned and none go to 12. I generally have a problem with men’s lasts, but….I am getting desparate! I don’t need a heavy duty hiker–just day hikes. Thanks.

  • Diana

    Your video lacing technique for boots with hooks to prevent heel slippage is pretty awesome! Thanks for sharing this bit of wisdom. I just bought a new pair of Vasque Breeze Size 9.5, and I too have a narrow foot with little volume and my heel was slipping, tried your technique and it helped, I modified it just a bit and it is even tighter, might be too tight. After the first step of slipping opposite lace under, instead of coming up and double looping on the first hook I crossed over cinching the loops toward the center then hooked onto the next hook. I will have to test it out on the trail it may cause a pressure point on the top of my foot. By the way, I am looking for a shoe partner as my feet are exactly one size different. Left foot is 8.5, right foot is 9.5, narrow.

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Diana,
    Thanks for the comment, and also sharing your modification. I hope you can find a shoe partner. Boots that fit well make all the difference in keeping your feet happy out on the trail. :)

  • hiker

    Hello fellow narrow footed ladies.
    I feel your frustration…life with narrow feet is difficult. So I thought I would share my thoughts. I just tried on many hiking shoes (not boots) size 9 and nothing was useful, everything was too wide (Keen, Patagonia, Merrell). I did some investigating and found that Approach Shoes are interesting because they lace all the way down to the toes. Approach Shoes are a combination of hiking/climbing shoes…some lean more towards hiking….some more towards climbing. I’m not a climber, but these shoes are a good option for hikers with narrow feet because they are designed to hug the foot. I tried on the Crux made by Scarpa, it’s a good choice but the toe box is too big. Then I ordered the Sticky Boulder by Garmont. Spot on! The Sticky Boulder is pretty narrow, small toe box, no heel slip, laces all the way to the toes. Check them out!! I am walking around in them right now, I think they are keepers and I’m going to try them out on a hike this weekend.
    If anyone has any other suggestions, I’m all ears.
    Cheers

  • hiker

    Hello, I emailed a few days ago about my travails finding hikers in a
    12 narrow. I’ve been researching, and other than custom boots in the
    thousands, I’ve had no luck. What do you think of these Bates military
    boots on ebay?
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/WOMENS-BATES-9-US-NAVY-DURASHOCKS-ST-BLACK-BOOTS-us-military-army-tactical-/280983646738?pt=US_Women_s_Shoes&var=&hash=item416bee3212

  • hiker

    Hello, It’s me again — the frustrated lady with the 12 narrow feet
    (well, technically 11.5 narrow). I wrote to the New Balance company a
    few days ago, and I just heard back from them. Apparently the company
    is introducing a new hiker in mid July in narrow widths. I’m assuming
    they will go up to a 12 as well. I’ll be first in line when they come
    out!

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi there narrow size 11.5 hiker! :) The Bates boots may work, but I think they could be on the heavy side. In most situations on the trail you wouldn’t need or even want a boot that comes up that high around the calf – you’re feet and legs will be really hot by the end of the day. In a military combat type situation I can see the use for these boots, but a steel toe is a bit overkill for hiking. I’m thrilled to hear about New Balance! Good luck!

  • Betsy

    Thank you so much for your responses Hiking Lady! On further reflection, I think you’re right about the military boots. I have stability problems due to loose ligaments, but I can see how such boots would actually make me trip more. Also,I see there’s another 12 narrow in the world as I read through all these letters. I had a similar experience to hers with a New Balance hiking shoe where my left toe hit the end of the shoe, but it’s a soft shoe, and it’s getting better as I wear them. Maybe because I can wear some 11.5’s (in dress shoes), I can get by with these light hikers (I like them, but I need a real back packing boot). I hope the New Balance boot coming out is more like the old 1500. Someone above also mentioned that boot for narrow feet. There’s hope!

  • Sheila

    Has anyone considered custom made boots? Many wildland firefighters order custom made boots from either White’s (http://www.whitesboots.com/) or Nicks (http://www.nicksboots.com). The are a little expensive, but they are built to fit and are repair/rebuildable. May be the last hiking boots you may need to buy. Nicks have a lower heel.

  • Betsy

    I’ve sized out of the LLBean Cresta hikers, but they were great for narrow feet while they lasted. They go to size 11, and I am now an 11.5, which doesn’t work for down hill. They are really a classic, and I wish they accommodated over size 11. It’s not a super light boot, but I didn’t find it heavy either. So if you’re in the 11 narrow and under range, check out the reviews. I’d buy another pair in a heart beat if they went to 11.5 or 12!

  • Sara

    I have also used Lowa boots in a “schmall” (i.e. narrow). It’s the only boot I’ve ever found that is narrow enough to keep my feet happy!

  • Thehillsarealive

    Hello, thanks Hiking Lady for this great blog entry, so nice to know I’m not alone in my struggles to find footwear that fits. I also have long narrow feet and am a size 8 to 9 uk size, depending on the make and style of boot. I’ve just been on a mammoth boot trying on mission and wanted to share some exciting discoveries I’ve made. Firstly, I’ve found that Salewa, Mammut and Aku’s boots all come in a nice narrow width as standard that fits my feet like a glove, while Brasher, Salomon and altberg are baggy on my feet.

    Salewa go up to a size 9 in ladies sizes which Tiso stock (UK shop), and while I found their size 8s too small, Aku’s size 8s were spot on, even ever so slightly generous length wise. Mammut’s 8s were sadly too short but great width wise. So basically I’m sold on Aku’s boot range now, specially the sl hike gtx as it looks nice and lightweight and not too clunky like some, yet it’s sturdy in the sole with robust ankle support at the same time. Feel like someone had my feet in mind when they made these :-)
    Good luck everyone in finding footwear that fits you

  • Betsy

    Hello SHARON who wrote May 4th and is also a 12 narrow, I’ve been in contact with the Altberg boot company in the UK. I traced my foot and sent in the measurement, and I also sent in the “volume” measurement around the ball of my foot. My volume measurement is less than the extra narrow, but what does that mean? Maybe the boot would fit fine?! If only I could hop on a plane and try them on. From my foot tracing in centimeters, I would be a 10 in UK sizes (though some charts have me at a 9.5). It would be scary to order such an expensive boot from across the pond, but that’s what those of us who are only a half to one size larger than the offerings in the US are stuck doing. If the New Balance boot coming out in July is not a sturdy back packing boot, I will probably save my money and try to order a pair from the UK. I will keep you posted because I think we’re very close in size.

  • Long, thin, and flat!

    Check this out: Saucony Women’s Adventerra GTX up to Size 12!
    I don’t know how narrow they are, but it’s worth a look for us 10+ ladies.

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks for the valuable information! I am looking for your feedback/suggestion: I have bunions WITH narrow feet. I have tried a pair of Merrell low hikers which caused blisters everywhere. I then switched to a pair of Keene high boots. They seem to fit a little better in the toe box area however the heel slips causing serious heel blisters. I have tried superfeet inserts as well as heel inserts, to no avail. I plan to purchase a pair of the Ijinji toe sock liners which you suggested as I feel my socks may be too big AND causing my feet to sweat. I have been considering a few pair of Vasque boots, given the thought that a narrow heel might fit better, however I am not sure about the toe box which might need to be a bit wider to accommodate my bunions. Thanks!

  • Hiking Lady

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I’ve had good luck with Vasques and my Asolo Styngers. I have very narrow heels and bunions too, so I understand your predicament! I find Keen’s to be too wide in most cases. Merrell boots can run wide too, causing heel slippage.

    Sweaty feet are going to create a happy home for blisters, so please powder your feet and wear sock liners to avoid too much sweat. Also be sure to lace your boots properly (video here of how to do it), which will help prevent heel slippage.

    Good luck. Please let us know which ones you end up buying.

    Happy trails!

  • Betsy

    Here’s an update for the New Balance hiking “shoes.” I ordered them, and they run short like the 978’s, but I think they’re pretty great as a trail shoe — not a backpacking boot. I measure an 11.5 narrow, but the 12 narrow was too short, and they don’t come in 12.5. But I’ve been wearing the 13 narrow (sent back the 12’s) with an added insole. I think there’s a good chance the 12 narrow lady above would do ok in the 13’s.

  • Hiking Lady

    Thank you for sharing your update Betsy! :)

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks for the feedback! I have purchased a pair of Vasque Talus, Ijinji sock liners and a new pair of Darn Tough socks (fit better than my previous socks). I haven’t been able to put the new boots to the test yet- waiting for my current blisters to hea1. Thanks for the idea about powdering my feet before hiking as well! I will let you know how it all works once I am able to get out there and hike!

  • Betsy

    Sharon,
    I’ve been wearing the New Balance 1569 13 narrow, and I think it would fit you well. It runs a half to a whole size short, so since you’re a 12 narrow, you have hope! I’m just shy on the brannock device of a 12 narrow, but do fine in some 12’s. Admittedly I’m wearing the 13’s with orthotics (carbon fiber that wraps around the heel and goes up the arch) that take up some space, but you could add a little insole if they were a tad short. I think they’d fit your needs since you said a heavy duty back packing boot wasn’t necessary. The 1569 is a new release or update, and I’ve been testing it on dog walks through rocky woodsy trails, and I love them. Don’t mean to be bossy! I know I’ve mentioned these New Balance before, but now I’ve had some miles to report on.

  • Lorie

    I am thrilled to have found this website as I too have suffered with shopping for narrow feet. I have worn many New Balance low cut hiking/trail boots but found that they really don’t hold up over time, thus I have gone through many pairs. I just bought the Oboz women’s Firebrand II multisport shoe and have worn it on several day hikes and love it. I have a narrow heel- low volume and flat arches. I use insoles as well. For backpacking I wear Lowa Renegades which come in a narrow width and they have a narrow low cut as well. Good luck to everyone I know the frustration of finding the right boots~

  • Hello :-)
    I have read this whole thread and know I am totally illiterate!!
    I have NARROW from toe to heal feet…meaning my widest point up front (by toes/knuckles) to my heel are almost the same width…seriously skinny…but high arches.
    I see the thread address narrow heels, but nothing for people with all over skinny feet…help!!
    Need a boot with ankle support for hiking but honestly my feet swim in “hiking boots”.
    Am I just an odd ball??
    I wonder…if anyone could point me in a good direction I would be so grateful!

    Tinytoosies

  • Betsy

    Lisa,
    I have the same type of feet that you do, and if you don’t mind a heavier boot, I would try the llbean cresta hikers. I have such long feet that I’ve sized out of them (at least going down hill), but I loved them. They’re not like these new light weight day hikers but more of a back packer boot.Good luck! My feet are like a skinny rectangle, so I know what you’re talking about!

  • Liz

    Major blister problems with all my previous boots despite being sold asolo stynger as the narrowest boot on the market (that’s what the guy at Cotswolds shop told me).

    Today I went to Whalley Warm and Dry, Lancs, UK after booking a boot fit session with them. Lovely young girl, Emma, I think her name is, took one look at my boots and said they are wAy too wide. If you like I can look at making some custom inserts? I went for trying a new boot. Over an hour later, after much measuring, many different lacing techniques, and various standard foot beds in variety of boots I settled on a pair of Lowa Khumbu11gtx (narrow) boots with a Sidas footbed and because I apparently also have a shallow foot, an extra thin footbed beneath as extra filler in the boot.

    Emma, like me also has narrow feet, has suffered blisters and is also studying podiatry and prosthetics. In other words….she really understood my problems.

    Anyone having problems like me who lives in the uk, have a weekend in the ribble valley (it is a truly beautiful area) and book a session here. You will not be disappointed. I can’t wait to get out in the hills!!

  • Hiking Lady

    Thank you so much for sharing this Liz. I’m really glad Emma was able to get you set up with a pair of boots that sound like they work really well for you. Happy trails!

  • Laurie Palmer

    Betsy, thanks for your input. I also have long, narrow and flat feet. I have worn various NB “country walkers” for at least 10 years. The last I had were the 978, and although I had previously worn 12N (I actually wear an 11N in regular shoes), as NB got shorter I had to get the NB 978 in 13N. They still didn’t fit, because they actually have too much volume for my narrow feet, but they were all I could find. They are not very good quality. I am an avid hiker and cry over the fact I can’t find good hiking boots. I just ordered the NB 1569 in a 13N, and will let you know how they do. Thanks, Hiking Lady, for all the good advice!

  • Christine

    I wear a size 9 narrow. My work just changed over from the classic black uniform boot to a brown boot, which includes hiking boots 6″ high. I recently bought two pairs to try from Zappos.com. The first was the Vasque St. Elias GTX and the second were Lowa Renegade GTX Mid. They both come in narrow thankfully. The Lowa’s were more narrow in the heels then the Vasque. The Lowa’s actually felt narrower overall then the Vasque. The Vasque fit pretty decent overall. I will have to find on insole to help with my heels. The only problem with them that I find is they don’t have the classic holes to lace on the top so I can’t use one method you describe. I have been using that tie method on all my tennis shoes for more years than I can count. Both pair of boots are expensive. The Lowa’s the most expensive at $225 and the Vasque came in at $190. I will be keeping both sets of boots and selling some of the many boots I purchased last year that didn’t fit. I can’t wait to break them in and be allowed to wear them at work.

    Thanks for your advice. It’s difficult when you have narrow feet to find anything decent.

  • I have done very well with Monorail boots. I have suffered blisters all my life but not a single one with my Monorails. I generally run A to AA.

  • Katie

    I wear a size 10.5 AAA. I have found a successful and comfortable fit in the Lowa Renegade (narrow) boot, plus green Superfeet. However, this will be my second pair that is delaminating after a year and a half. This is super frustrating, but I still can’t seem to find a suitable replacement.

    For the first year and a half, though, they were GREAT!

  • Jean

    I’m laughing at those with big fat AAA feet. You think you have problems. I’m a 5A toe, 8A heel and have high arches. I have bought casual and dress shoes at a place in Toronto that caters to narrow feet, Harry Young, but he doesn’t have hiking boots. For some peculiar reason the few brands I’ve found that have some kind of narrow designation are not available in Canada. I really am loathe to order from the U.S., pay extra, pay shipping, pay duty only to try them on and find I have to ship them back. Anybody else in Canada that’s found a solution? Cross border shopping trip my only option? Not living that close to a border crossing.

  • Esther

    I too am having hiking boot problems. My left foot gets heel blisters and the 4th toe gets black and blue. I had a great pair of Merrell’s that were broken in but the sole is worn out and the top hook is pulling out. I have orthotics but my new Merrell’s just are not as good as the old ones. I will try the lacing technique. Thanks and if that doesn’t work I will try buying the narrow boots. Thanks for your blog.

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