Published Jun 24, 2022 10:38 AM
Wide feet are much more common than many people think. We were unable to find any accurate research on the subject, but many foot care—and footwear—experts think the numbers run into millions.
However, for those who have wide feet, finding good hiking boots can still be a challenge. Many boot makers seem happy just to supply “normal” foot widths. Fortunately, there are a number of leading manufacturers who make boots that fit wide feet. We looked into what’s available, how they perform, and which are the best hiking boots for wide feet in a number of different categories.
Things to Consider Before Buying Hiking Boots for Wide Feet
Fit is obviously crucial, but there are other considerations to take into account when looking for the best pair of wide hiking boots for you.
Leather remains the most durable material for any kind of footwear, and it is still popular in hiking boots. However, it can be stiff when new and require breaking in. Leather must be treated in order to make it waterproof, unless it’s manufactured with a waterproof membrane such as Gore-Tex.
Synthetic leather is becoming more common. While it doesn’t have the absolute strength of real hide, it still provides good wear resistance, is more supple, and weighs less. Nylon weaves are also used to reduce weight, particularly in areas less prone to high abrasion.
Soles are usually synthetic rubber, PU (polyurethane) or EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate). Generally, synthetic rubber is softer but heavier than the other two. More than one compound may be used to maximize traction on different surfaces.
Hiking boots are often described as lightweight, mid-weight or heavyweight, mostly to indicate the severity of terrain they are designed for. Some lightweight men’s hiking boots may be little more than trail running shoes, with limited protection. Mid-weight models tend to be more general-purpose, and heavyweight hiking shoes, as the name suggests, are for more extreme adventures.
Foot, heel, and ankle support are also important. Reinforcement in key areas may be provided. Some hiking boots have a shank in the sole area to prevent twisting. Serious hiking enthusiasts will want to consider individual features. For example, some hiking boots have soles specifically designed for rapid climbs and descents.
The comfort features provided by the best hiking boots can be extensive. Padded collars and fleece linings make boots easier to wear for long periods. A moisture-wicking liner helps with sweat management. A waterproof, breathable membrane is ideal for hiking in wet areas. Winter hiking boots are often insulated. Cushioned insoles and shock-absorbing midsoles make for comfortable hiking on rough terrain.
How you like to hike will impact how important each of these elements are. High-tech materials also often have an impact on price.
Good fit is always important, but even more so when choosing the best hiking boots for wide feet. Historically, people with wide feet typically had to go with a standard-fit hiking boot that was one size larger. Because the heel wouldn’t be held firmly, that often resulted in blisters.
Fortunately there are plenty of properly-fitting solutions now available. However, there is no universally-used standard for what constitutes a “wide fit,” so one maker’s wide hiking boot may be different from another.
Check your hiking boots as soon as they arrive so you can exchange them within the return period if necessary.
Why It Made The Cut
Merrell has a reputation for generous sizing, and the premium materials and technology used to produce the Moab 2 Mid GTX make it an excellent high-performance hiking boot for all-terrain use.
- Materials: Synthetic leather and mesh
- Size Range: 6.5 to 14 with half sizes
- Weight (each): 18 ounces
- No breaking in required
- Gore-Tex waterproof membrane
- High traction Vibram sole
- Unusual boot heel (see below)
- Occasional manufacturing faults
Moab stands for “Mother of all boots,” which is a pretty strong claim. Merrell backs that up with innovative features, high-quality materials, and components from the industry’s top specialists.
Thanks to a synthetic leather and mesh upper, this hiking boot is comfortable from day one, and needs no breaking in. The padded collar and foam-filled tongue create a comfortable but firm seal to keep dirt out. There is a Gore-Tex liner for waterproofing, which is breathable to help clear sweat. An EVA midsole provides cushioning and absorbs shocks, and there’s a nylon shank that resists twisting on uneven ground. It also protects the underside of the foot from painful impacts.
The synthetic sole comes from Italian specialist Vibram. Lugs aren’t particularly deep, but are very effective on smooth rocks, and shed mud well so they give good grip whatever the surface conditions. The heel is designed to maximize traction when descending. Some find it feels a little unusual at first, but soon become acclimated to it.
The Merrell Moab 2 Mid GTX is competitively priced for such a versatile, high-quality hiking boot, and is a very popular all-rounder. Occasional manufacturing faults have been reported, but nothing we have seen would indicate a consistent problem.
Why It Made The Cut
The KEEN Women’s Targhee II isn’t just a small man’s boot, but has been specifically designed to suit a wider female foot shape. It is tough, supportive, and very comfortable.
- Materials: Real leather and mesh
- Size Range: 5 to 11, with half sizes
- Weight (each): 15 ounces
- Female-focused design
- Excellent foot support and comfort
- Light and maneuverable
- Modest ankle height
- Not the most durable
KEEN is one of few footwear companies that specifically make hiking boots for women. While they don’t come in a wide size, the brand has always used what they call a “wider footwear form.” The KEEN Women’s Targhee II Mid hiking boot is an example of that. It offers generous space without allowing the foot to slide around. However, KEEN does recommend choosing a half size larger than your normal shoe.
The upper is mostly leather, which is extremely durable but does need a few miles to become fully supple. They aren’t uncomfortable during this period, but they do loosen up somewhat. Small mesh panels provide breathability, though under consistent heavy use this is the first area to show wear. The KEEN Women’s Targhee II incorporates a heel lock and a “Torsion Stability Flank” to help keep the foot upright in challenging conditions.
The leather upper is treated with PFC-free water-repellent, and a KEEN.Dry breathable membrane on the inside provides complete waterproofing. The liner uses probiotics for natural odor control. Additional comfort comes from a removable cushioned PU insole that uses “metatomical” design to cradle the foot, and support the arch. An EVA midsole provides shock-absorbing properties.
The composite rubber sole is non-marking, and has multi-directional lugs for all-terrain traction. The sole extends up around the toe of the KEEN Women’s Targhee II, which offers good bump protection.
Why It Made The Cut
The Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II Hiking Boot is waterproof, lightweight, and has a quality sole, all at a very reasonable price.
- Materials: Leather, suede, and mesh
- Size Range: 7 to 16, half sizes through 11.5
- Weight (each): 18 ounces
- Hiking or casual wear
- Good all-terrain traction
- Great value
- Modest ankle support
- Not for heavy-duty use
The Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II Hiking Boot may not be the toughest on the trail, but it’s certainly not just another cheap hiking boot that will fall apart at the sign of rough ground.
The upper is a combination of suede and leather, coated in PU to make the boot waterproof. The use of suede results in a boot that is lighter, and more supple than a full leather model, but still offers good abrasion resistance. That said, there is less support in the ankle area than found in high-end hiking boots. It is plenty good enough for woodland trails, but we wouldn’t recommend them for serious climbing or descending.
The insole of the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II is fairly ordinary, and is not removable. The lightweight midsole provides good cushioning.
Columbia’s Omni-Grip composite rubber sole delivers surprisingly good grip on slippery, and loose surfaces. It extends over the toe and heel to provide additional impact protection. For those who like a hiking boot for casual wear, the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II is available in a dozen different color combinations.
Why It Made The Cut
The Salomon X Ultra 3 Wide Mid GTX Men’s Hiking Boot offers terrific stability and excellent comfort while being light enough for those who want to travel fast.
- Materials: Nylon and Suede
- Size Range: 7 to 14, half sizes through 12.5
- Weight (each): 16 ounces
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Excellent foot support
- Dual compound sole
- Modest durability
- Can let water in
Those who like to travel fast and light often choose a hiking shoe rather than a boot. However, that invariably means sacrificing support and stability, which in turn increases the risk of injury. At 16 ounces the Salomon X Ultra 3 Wide Mid GTX hiking boot isn’t super-light, but it is lighter than most in its class, and offers an excellent compromise.
The upper is mostly nylon mesh, with suede in areas likely to be subject to higher abrasion. It is PU-coated to shed water, and offers good flexibility straight out of the box so no breaking in is needed. A gusseted tongue and padded collar combine to keep out debris. A Gore-Tex membrane provides additional waterproofing.
The interior features a soft and very comfortable breathable liner. The cushioned insole comes from foot care specialists Ortholite, and there is an EVA midsole for shock absorption. The sole uses Salomon’s Contagrip dual-compound rubber, with a lug pattern designed for all-weather, all-terrain use, but with a focus on technically challenging descents. Molded into the sole is an “Advanced Chassis” that adds lateral support without reducing natural foot flex.
Why It Made The Cut
The Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot is very durable, comfortable, and a proven hiking boot.
- Materials: Leather and mesh
- Size Range: 8 to 14, some half sizes available
- Weight (each): 20 ounces
- Excellent water resistance
- Outstanding stability
- Good ankle support
- Heavier than some
At first glance, the Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX looks like a traditional hiking boot. The upper is almost entirely nubuck leather, making it very durable. The collar is comparatively tall for a mid-height boot, so it keeps out debris and moisture. The boot also incorporates modern design features and materials.
The leather is fully flexible when new, so there’s no breaking-in period. The tall collar also helps keep the ankle and heel in place, and reduce friction. A Gore-Tex membrane ensures the boot is completely waterproof, and a moisture-wicking insole helps manage sweat.
The midsole is DuraPU, a polyurethane that provides cushioning and shock absorption. Beneath that, a nylon shank resists longitudinal torsion, and reduces rollover injuries. There is also a PU frame around the outside of the boot that adds further support.
The various elements of the boot work together to produce excellent stability without impeding natural foot flex. This is enhanced by a hard-wearing Vibram Evo sole with aggressive lugs that work well regardless of the weather or terrain.
The Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX is undeniably expensive, and not the lightest of hiking boots, but it gives confidence-inspiring support, has proved to be a quality hiking boot, and is likely to outlast many rivals.
How We Made Our Picks
So how do you choose the top hiking boots for wide feet? I have wide feet, and in the past I often had to go up a size to get the necessary width, but that’s a poor solution. Fortunately there are many more choices now.
Good hiking boots for wide feet still have to be based around sound hiking boot design and structure. The considerations above were a major factor, so we looked at all the leading brands to satisfy those criteria first. Then, having narrowed down the field, we checked whether a wide version was available.
There are also various subcategories to think about—weight, waterproofness, budget, gender. We tried to find as broad a range of solutions as possible.
Finally there’s cost. While we avoided cheap hiking boots for wide feet that didn’t meet the necessary levels of durability and comfort, we did try to find a good compromise between cost, and performance. Several of our top picks offer especially good value.
Q: How much do hiking boots for wide feet cost?
Hiking boots for wide feet should be in the same price range as normal sizes. This will vary depending on size, materials, and quality. We don’t recommend cheap hiking boots because they seldom live up to expectations. Our top picks run anywhere from around $70 to over $250.
Q: Should hiking boots be a half size bigger?
It is often recommended that hiking boots be a half size bigger to allow for your foot swelling as it gets hot. This is not necessarily true, because a loose boot will be equally uncomfortable, and liable to cause blisters. A proper fit is snug, but allows for natural flex, particularly in the toes and ankle.
Q: How much toe room should you have in hiking boots?
There’s no specific formula or measure for the amount of toe room you should have in hiking boots. Most experts suggest you have just a little “wiggle room.” If you can’t move your toes at all, your boots will soon become uncomfortable.
Q: How do you know if your hiking boots aren’t wide enough?
Your hiking boots aren’t wide enough if the shoe feels tight across the top or sides of your foot, and your toes are crushed together. However, loose hiking boots will also rub and cause blisters, so correct fit is very important. It’s a good idea not to try on hiking boots when your feet are cold, because they will swell slightly once they get warm. Also consider the socks you intend to wear.
Q: Do hiking boots stretch?
Good hiking boots do not normally stretch, but natural leather may “break in” and become more comfortable after a few miles. Synthetic leather and nylon mesh tend to have less give than leather. Insoles may compress a little, particularly memory foam.
Those with wide feet need to be very particular about hiking boots, because buying a boot in a larger size to accommodate width often won’t fit well and will cause blisters and other problems. When you order boots, try them on with hiking socks at the end of the day, when your feet will be at their largest.