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Here is reality: most bow hunters take their boot fit for
granted, or have been ill-advised on boot choice, and unknowingly jeopardize
their “hunt of a lifetime” when the opportunity finally comes around. My goal
in this blog post is to educate each reader on the importance of fit and boot
choice in preventing the frustrating foot-related issues I hear about on a
#1: Know your size
Studies show that 40% of all hunters wear the wrong size
boots! Things change, and your feet are no exception. Your feet should be
measured and fit-evaluated yearly to ensure you are still wearing the correct
size. Proper fit may not matter for a pair of sneakers, but it matters when it
comes to demanding treks on a hunt. Get your measurement and evaluation done by a
reputable company with an understanding of feet and your intended use of the
#2: Is that boot right for my feet?
With so many boot manufacturers around today, it is easy to
get overwhelmed by the selection. Each boot brand fits differently, and some
brands will run too narrow for you, while others will run too wide. I suggest
you let the boot pick you.
Try on as many brands and styles as you can.
Wear the weight of sock you will use for your
hunts during the selection process.
Don’t get hung up on brand names.
Be aware of any small imperfections in fit, as they
will be greatly magnified in the woods.
#3: Match the boot to the environment
Your boots are the foundational element for your entire body
structure on a hunt. It is important that you match the stiffness of your boot
to the environment and circumstances you will be hunting in. I recommend a
rigid, more stable boot platform for steep, rocky country, especially when
carrying a heavy load. A stiffer boot will help eliminate excess strain on your
body during periods of heavy exertion.
For lighter-duty hunts or day trips, where the country is mellower
and your pack is lighter, I recommend a more flexible boot. A flexible boot
affords you a bit more freedom of movement. It also allows you to better feel
the ground beneath you, which is a huge benefit when you are trying to silently
close the distance between you and your buck.
Still having trouble?
Maybe your hunt last year was miserable, and blisters became your
middle name. Or perhaps you broke the bank trying to find the right boot, and shipping
back bad boots, and you still didn’t get the comfort and performance you were looking for. If this sounds like you, consider
finding qualified help you get custom-fitted boots. With a mapping packet and a few
simple photos, a custom boot system can be developed to match your feet and
hunting needs exactly.
Good luck out there!
About the Author:
Stephen and James Lathrop are avid bowhunters who own and operate a specialized boot shop and foot orthotic laboratory in Illinois. They have helped numerous big game hunters, including several Hoyt employees, to relieve chronic foot and back issues, and prepare for hunting season, by providing recommendations and/or custom-fitted footwear.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment in our footwear series regarding insoles, foot beds and socks.