Having wide large feet myself, I spent years struggling to find wide fit hiking boots that actually have a wide fit. Many of the boots on the market that claim to be wide fit, simply are not – not to me anyway, and not to a lot of the people who give them poor reviews.
Obviously though, wide fit means something different to everyone. For me I need a wide toe box which means I don’t just want them to be wide around the ball of my foot and then go pointed towards the end – I want the end of the boot where your toes fit, the toe box, to be wide too. To be honest, I’ve never quite understood why boots and shoes taper in towards the end (apart from fashion reasons) – who has pointed feet!? Perhaps I have extra wide feet, like flippers? I don’t know… I’ve always been a good swimmer, so it could be that.
Anyway, thankfully, there are now some brands that make wide fit hiking boots that really do have a wide fit.
One brand I’ve used consistently for years, both for urban footwear and for walking/hiking, is the US company, Keen. Out of all the boots and shoes I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot, Keen seem to be the ones that have the widest fit, particularly in the toe box.
I also find Keen boots and shoes to be the most comfortable – super lightweight, with soft yet reasonably tough uppers. In fact they are probably the lightest of all the wide fit hiking boots/shoes I’ve tried. Keen use their own waterproof technology, Keen.dry, which I find works great. Oh, and Keen seem to be doing some fantastic things for the environment, sustainability and fair trade too. Check out The Keen Effect and Reducing Impact .
The possible downside to all that comfort is that I find the uppers are a little less robust than some other hiking boots. That being said I use Keen for walks in places like the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales without a problem. Also, Keen may (and probably do) have boots with firmer uppers than the ones I have which would be more suitable for tougher hikes.
The most recent pair of Keen hiking boots I purchased were the Keen TARGHEE III, about 2 years ago (the boots are still going strong) plus I also have a pair of Keen Austin boots for urban use.
If you are in the market for lightweight, comfortable wide fit hiking boots or shoes and want them to be wide around the toes too, then Keen is definitely a brand to try – there is a good range of styles available in both boots and shoes.
This fabulous German brand has been making high quality hiking and mountaineering boots and shoes for many many years.
Their Comfort fit® gives more space at the front of the foot and a firm grip on the heel helping the boots fit securely. Meindl boots incorporate waterproof technology such as GORE-TEX and are also really lightweight and comfortable. They feel slightly more robust and supportive than the Keen boots I’ve tried, so they are my boot of choice for tougher mountain hikes in places like the Lake District.
I currently have the Meindl Meran GTX boots, and I’ve had them at least 3 years – they still perform perfectly and are just fantastic. Lighter than some leather boots, great grip, waterproof, and wide enough for me because the waxed nubuck leather uppers have moulded to my feet nicely.
Yorkshire based bootmaker Altberg makes superb classic looking hiking boots and shoes. Their boots come with five width fittings so you have a good chance of finding exactly what you need for your foot shape. There is a full range of boots and shoes available to suit the terrain you plan to hike over, whether it’s the Yorkshire Dales or the Highlands of Scotland. I don’t have any Altberg boots at the moment, but I know a few people that do, and they rave about them.
Altberg provide boot fitting and adjustments at the Altberg factory shop in Yorkshire. They can also be resoled so, as with all boots, it’s well worth looking after the uppers.
Another thing I love about Alberg is that you can visit their factory. If you can’t get there in person, their website gives a great insight into how Altberg boots are designed and made.
So which wide fit hiking boots would I buy for walking/hiking? Well it depends. For rambling, low level hiking, urban walking, easy trails, dog walking, etc I’d probably go for a pair of Keen. For more serious hiking up fells and mountains I’d go for Meindl Comfort fit® or Altberg. Please bear in mind that everyone’s feet are different, so this article is simply my opinions based on my own experiences.