If only comfort were a quantifiable value! We know that 1 plus 2 always equals 3, but finding comfort with same size foot in the same shoe is rarely this simple. This is the dilemma faced by a shoe fitter each day and is because comfort is based on individual perception and experience, and not always based on definable criteria such as size, width, and sole cushion or construction type.
This does not mean that every time you buy a shoe it should be a lottery as to whether it is comfortable or not. When it comes to choosing an outdoor shoe there are some basic rules that apply. Here are some simple tips to get a successful outcome when choosing your next shoe:
- Know what activity you want the shoe for before you go shopping (be specific here, for example not all hiking terrains are the same and not all hiking boots are the same)
- Do some research for shoes online or discuss with your likeminded outdoor friends
- Choose a retailer with a range of brands and staff that are well trained and use the gear that they are selling
- Have both of your feet measured
- Be aware of what category of shoe is best for the desired activity (consider function here also, i.e. water-proof for cross terrain hiking)
- Try on a range of these shoes, and spend at least a few minutes in each shoe walking and standing in them
- Check the fit, there should be adequate toe room and width in the shoes (although this amount varies from activity to activity)
- Once purchased wear the shoes at home for a few hours before wearing it outside. A reputable retailer will back their products with an exchange policy provided the shoes are not soiled.
If you find that you regularly have problems finding comfortable shoes, it may be a foot problem and not a shoe problem. In this case you might benefit from seeing a podiatrist, as experts in foot problems they are able to identify and treat any potential foot or lower limb issues.
Good luck and enjoy the outdoors.