Wearing new boots can be painless if you take care when selecting them. Footwear is built on moulds called “lasts” that vary among manufacturers. Different lasts create different fit characteristics for boots of the same size, so it's best to try on several styles to find the type that best fits your feet. But, be aware that the most common error is buying too small.
When trying on boots:
Indications of a good fit:
Footwear ordered online or by phone can be returned or exchanged as long as it has not been worn outside and is in new condition.
After-market insoles can make a huge difference in boot fit. They provide support, prevent your foot or heel from slipping, and cushion impact. If you have a biomechanical problem, you might consider going to a podiatrist for a pair of custom-made orthotics. If you already wear orthotics, make sure that your new shoes or boots will accommodate them. In some cases, the rigid plastic soles may not be wide enough to fit in the boot.
To reduce the chance of blisters or abrasions, wear new footwear around the house beforehand. This advice applies for light trail shoes or heavy mountaineering boots – very few boots are perfect right out of the box. Try different combinations and weights of socks, or try double-layer socks that wick moisture.
Load up your backpack and climb up and down some stairs. Wearing a pack can dramatically affect pressure points on the foot. Walk on uneven terrain where your foot is bending and flexing in different ways. Make note of places where even the slightest discomfort occurs.
Don't wait until blisters have formed to tend to your feet. A hot spot can start if your sock has slipped, if you have a piece of grit in your shoe, or your boot is rubbing your foot. Stop right away to change your socks, remove sand or stones, adjust your bootlaces, or cover the spot(s) with tape or moleskin. When you apply a cover, take your boots off, dry your feet, cover the area completely, then smooth out any bumps or ridges.