Should I take a new pair of hiking boots back?
May 26, 2013 3:30 AM   Subscribe

Living in the Alps and going to Iceland in a few weeks, I decided to invest in a decent pair of hiking boots for walking in the mountains, amongst rocks, rough terrain and even volcanoes and glaciers in the case of Iceland. I have not had such shoes for a long time, so am new to such a purchase. After trying the boots at home for a few hours, I am experiencing discomfort in my ankles. Is his normal or should I take the boots back?

After a long time at the store with excellent help from the sales person and the ability to try different boots on a small indoor test area, I settled on this pair of Lowa boots. I found them to be by far the most comfortable while providing great support.

The sales person mentioned that I should wear the boots around the house in the evening as feet swell during the day and that I would have the opportunity to exchange the boots if I found that it was hurting after extend wear. I did follow her advice and found the boot very comfortable except that the side of my ankles (the knuckle) started to hurt slightly after a couple of hours at home. The discomfort is not huge, but I have not been walking with the shoes outside yet. I am conscious that once I start wearing the boot outside, I will not be able to exchange it at the store anymore.

Is it normal to have some discomfort in the side of the ankle (the knuckles on the inside of the foot) initially when you are not used to wearing such boots? Does the boot, or your ankle, improve over time so that the discomfort goes away? Is there much difference between different shoes when it comes to this or is the ankle support usually similar?

Any advice that can help to alleviate the problem and/or to determine whether I should take the boot back would be greatly appreciated.
posted by eurandom to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
Could you call the store and ask the salesperson this question? They may be able to tell you if this can be fixed or if it will lead to worse problems.

Assuming that they were knowledgeable and helpful, they'd be able to tell you if another pair would solve the problem.
posted by jrochest at 3:41 AM on May 26, 2013

You don't actually say what kind of pain you're experiencing. Is the boot rubbing on the side of your ankle irritating the skin? Is it a pressure point because you're not used to wearing boots and thus having anything that high on your ankle and/or have laced the boots too tightly or not tight enough? What socks are you wearing? If it is a question of lacing and/or padding not having moulded to the shape of your foot that is likely to get better with wear. I would do one more indoor trial and if the pain persists talk to the shop assistant. They'll be able to help you work out if it is something that indicates the boots don't fit you properly, i.e. something that will not improve as you break them in.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:41 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is the discomfort from chafing? Are you wearing the boots with a pair of purpose-made thin liner socks under your hiking socks? I find that using liner socks makes a huge diference in the feel of my hiking boots. They're great for preventing chafing and blisters. However, if the problem is more from pressure than from chafing, I am not sure that liner socks will help.
posted by Orinda at 5:55 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mountain boots take some time to break in, and can be painful to use during the process. This is why it is recommended to never go on multi-day hiking trips in new boots. However, you might be experiencing pain from ill-fitting boots (great that you took the time to try them on inside for a stretch before they cannot be returned). Talk to the shop and see what they say.
posted by sockpuppetdirect at 6:07 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It sounds like this could be heel lift. This can be common in heavy boots where the heel isn't locked down. Every time you take a step the boot goes down and up causing chafing.

1. Try tying the boots differently and see if the heel moves at all.
2. Try different socks. Most people tend to wear very thick socks in boots. I only ever wear very thin wool socks even for winter mountaineering and ice climbing.
3. If those fail, go back and try a different brand of boot. This one might just not fir your foot well.
posted by zephyr_words at 7:11 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could also try a heel insert, to see if it lifts your foot up enough that your ankle no longer rubs. Or get a different pair -- boots should feel pretty good from the start, even with a breaking-in process.
posted by lulu68 at 10:52 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for the very helpful feedback. As suggested, I have worn the boots some more inside the house and I continue to experience the discomfort so will take them back to the store. The discomfort I am experiencing is more of a pressure point, but I don't think it will be comfortable when walking longer distances.
posted by eurandom at 10:54 AM on May 26, 2013

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