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My Feet Grew &^#$@!)*~

Sectionhiker's Hiking Boot Collection

Mostly Asolo Boots

I switched to Trail Runners this year for all of my 3 season hiking. It was transformative and while I'm cautiously on the fence about using them for winter backpacking and mountaineering, I'm willing to do some experimenting there.

My feet however, may never be the same. I think they grew larger this year. I'm in a bit of a panic about this because I have a fairly large, approximately $1500 investment, in traditional hiking and plastic mountaineering boots.

It's so bad that I've had to remove the superfeet insoles and the thick sock layer to fit into my leather Asolo 520's and get them on. Things are a bit better with my Scarpa Omega mountaineering boots. There, I've just had to drop from a thick outer wool sock to a thinner one.

But, I'm understandably dismayed. Does anyone know how to reverse foot growth, other than having a baby? I want me old feet back!

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12 comments

  1. Well, in the past, the Japanese used to think it was fashionable to have small feet. Women would bind their feet tightly. This caused all sorts of foot problems.

    Feet never really stop growing, albeit slowly. Soo, at age 40 or fifty, it is not unusual to have to change socks and shoe sizes. Long term investments into shoes is not usually a good idea. Most plastic shoes don’t stretch with your feet…For winter boots, a half or a full size bigger is the norm for hiking. Slip on a couple thick socks when you go to try on a pair.

    I have used everything from slip-on moccasins to heavy duty hiking boots. I prefer my ankle protected from rocks and sticks. Trail runners don’t protect my ankles, though they weigh less, but I occasionally pick up something in them. Open shoes (sandals) get twigs, stones and dirt under my feet. Good for canoeing, not to good for straight up hiking. Full Hiking shoes are just too bloody heavy. Plastic doesn’t stretch with your feet over the course of a day, seems they are always too loose or too tight. Your feet swell over the course of a day, start out about a half size smaller(mostly width) than at the end of a ten hour hike. Slip ons slip off, too. Lots of problems, besides breathing, water proofing, footbed, arch support, toe box, etc.

    Anyway, a simple rule when buying shoes: “If they are not comfortable when you try them on around the store, don’t buy them.” I do not expect insoles to” fix” them. Wear what you will be wearing in use. I have problems with my feet…I cannot feel my toes (diabetes.) A visual inspection is MUCH harder than feeing around inside a shoe. If they don’t fit perfectly in the store, I continue to look…

    Black toe or bruised plantar facia is nothing to fool with.

  2. I'm quessing the growth could be because you have had to use and build up the little mussles in your feet while walking in lightweight footwear during the summer time. So returning to over engineered heavy weight foot wear should solve the problem within a year or so.

  3. You are being funny aren't you? Having babies makes your feet grow – a women can add a half a foot size with each pregnancy. So you will have to look for some other method to get your old feet back :) Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Since they seem to have grown relatively quickly two things come to mind. The first is that trail runners, not being as confining as a leather boot, are allowing your foot to spread out. Along the same line, the runners may be causing you to develop your foot muscles. Bigger muscles, bigger foot. The second cause could possibly be some sort of medical problem though I view that as a pretty low likelihood.

  5. I'm not really interested in shrinking or binding my feet. :-) But, I was surprised by the fact that my boots got tight after wearing trail runners all year. My feet have not changed in size for the past 30 years and I've never had a problem with pre-buying boots when they come on sale. Luckily, I haven't used one of the pairs of leather Asolos, so I can return them to REI for a refund, and I'm resigned to giving a pair or two away to charity. I think another factor at play beside foot growth is that my feet have gotten used to having a lot more room in a shoe that I used to have in boots. I'll keep this in mind this winter: I'm on the market for a lighter insulated winter boot, and I'll be sizing up.

  6. Okay I hate to bring bad news but I don't think they ever really go back. Wearing orthotics on a daily basis does seem to help, but your dogs may still feel squished (not good) in your favorite boots that used to feel so great. Doing many miles a day on trail wearing trail runners seems to be the culprit. Still I will sport my trail runners any day when possible over boots. Sorry! :(

  7. Interesting – I've been running in Vibram FiveFingers for the past couple of years, and have actually experienced a little bit of foot *shrinkage*. I think it has to do with the arch of my foot becoming more pronounced as the various muscles and tendons grow stronger and springier.

    As for trail runners for winter mountaineering, I don't doubt it can be done, as long as you're absolutely certain that you're not going to get stranded. Personally, I like warm, dry feet in winter, and I'm rather attached to all ten of my toes, so I'll be stomping round in the Aku Spider GTXs again this season…

  8. Not to worry – I plan on switching to proper mountaineering boots in about a week or so, however I may switch to something lighter and more flexible than my plastic Scarpa's this year.

  9. My feet have been getting bigger every 5 or so years! I'm 42 now, and when I was in high school I wore a 10 1/2 max. Now, I'm up to a 12, and have just recently, in the last year, turned the corner from an 11.5. Feet never really go back down to size, and I think it would cause foot health issues to try and make them.

    I know in hiking, as you hike during a given day your feet can swell 1 to 1.5 sizes larger, generally. Also, if you are thru-hiking a long trail (Say, AT, or PCT) you can actually have a full size of permanent growth by the end of the trail.

    As for footwear, there may be a compromise between wearing lightweight semi-supportive trail runners and the big, gnarly boot. I'm looking into using Inov-8's GTX trail running boots during the snowier/colder sections of the PCT this next year on my PCT thru-hike. lightweight yet supportive, ankle protection if you want/need it, and H20 proof yet more breathable than a leather boot. I haven't tried them out yet, but I'm going to this winter to see if they fit. I'll be using the Inov-8 Roclite 315's over the rest of the trail.

    Dug

  10. Dug,

    I got a pair of Inov-8 Roclite 288 GTX high top trail runners and they are the best hiking boots I've ever had. They're comfy, light, grippy, and have taken me across countless stream crossings with dry feet. I ordered a half size larger than my normal shoe and wear merino wool hiking socks with them. My toes don't bang on steep downhills like they did with my Merrells.

    The only downside is the sole can be punctured by thorns. I put in a pair of Superfeet inserts and haven't had any more problems.

  11. Lol..gotta laugh – my feet grew with both of my kids – and NEVER went back down. So good luck on getting smaller feet again ;-)

    As well, if you let yourself wear comfy shoes your feet will spread – I learned that lesson in college when I found Birkenstocks. In one year my feet went up a size. Once I quit wearing shoes that bound them they went to their actual size.

    Embrace the feet and get bigger shoes is my motto!

  12. Why am I not surprised? I always figured you as a Birkenstock Mama. My wife insisted on being married in white Birkenstocks, and I can tell the type a mile off!

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