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How to select the correct shoe size for Bikepacking, Backpacking and Hiking

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Measure your feet

Take the measurement from the most prominent toe point to the most prominent heel point. Your feet usually swell during the day, so take the measurement in the evening. If you are going to wear particularly thick socks, measure with these on.

Most of us have one foot larger than the other. It would be quite unusual to be able to buy two different size shoes as a pair, if this is possible it would be ideal, alas, normally it is not possible, so buy for your largest foot.

My right foot measures 248mm, going by the chart at the bottom of the page, this roughly equates to a UK size 7. My left foot measures 252mm and that equates to roughly a UK size 7.5

If I was buying a casual shoe I would simply go for a UK Size 8. If I was buying footwear for a vigorous activity I would need to add 15mm (20mm if being used in an extremely hot climate) to the largest measured length. 252mm + 15mm = 267mm, this is the length I need to look up on the chart.

Size 9 are for 271mm length feet, this gives me the 15mm additional ‘rule of thumb’ length and is proven out by the fact that the UK size 9/US size 11 Altra Lone Peaks I wear have given my feet a very comfortable time over the past 18 months. I noticed in my recent bikepacking tour that riding on a very hot day, 35+ Degrees C, by the time my feet swell, the shoes are tighter, so perhaps next time I may go up a half size.


Shoe width

Generally the width of the shoe increases as the size gets larger. Not only does the width gets wider, the depth of the shoe also increases. The measurement for width is taken across the widest part of your foot, the bunion point. As with shoe size charts, the width assignment of whether it is Regular, Narrow or Wide varies from country to country, manufacturer to manufacturer.

My right foot measures 250mm long and 90mm wide, this sets me within the Regular zone. By my calculations, the width of the foot in a regular shoe is approximately 37.5% to 38% of the length

Measure yours to see what range you are in. If you need a narrow or wide shoe, the range of footwear available will be considerably reduced but it is essential you buy what will suit your feet


Wide toe box

You may have noticed that the shape of modern footwear nowhere near resembles the shape of your foot. Our toes are squeezed into tapered pointy shoes, even if the arc from the big-toe area to the small toe area may be slightly rounded, if we could see how our toes sit, it would be found that the toes and forward foot bones are unnaturally positioned and squished up

This squeezing up can cause bunions, hammer toes, Morten's Neuroma, in-growing toenails, numbness and numerous other foot ailments

I only have experience with one type of wide toe box shoe, and that is the Altra Lone Peak, so have no comparisons to offer you but I can say that the wide toe box on the Altra has transformed my feet, no longer are they painful due to in-growing toe nails, numbness and Morten's Neuroma

For your current or future foot-health, I would say seek out your chosen footwear in a wide toe box version if at all possible

It is important to note that wide shoes are not the same as wide toe box shoes

Different width shoes are a different fit for the whole foot, being tailored to slim, regular or wide feet. The wide toe-box is just the shape around the toes

Foot arch type and insoles