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  1. #1
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    Sep 2006
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    Modifying Hiking Boots to get a snugger heel fit

    So, I have a pretty narrow heel, mostly on my right foot.

    I've been having a time finding hiking boots that fit snuggly (seems that everybody in the world has fat-ass heels).

    I hit up every store in the SF Bay Area that "specializes" in hiking boots and ended up with some Asolos that fit great on the left foot, but still slip a bit on the right heel pocket.

    Does anybody know if you can get extra foam or cushioning inserted into the heel pocket of your hiking boots to tighten that area up a bit?

    Last time I had this problem (1980's Sportiva Muir Trail boots...they're in near-mint condition and for sale, btw), Marmot Mountain works "solution" was "Just wear thicker socks." Needless to say, that didn't work and I ended up with sick and thick blisters out in the Desolation Wilderness.

    So, can you mod a hiking boot or are there shops/cobblers who will insert/add extra padding to the heel area?

    Or am I just doomed to get blisters?

    Also, if anybody knows of a boot that is tailored to skinny feeted people (although the problem with that would be the ability to try them on).

    Thanks!
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

  2. #2
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    Jan 2007
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    Ft Collins, CO
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    Find some thin adhesive padding often used for ski boot fitting (to tighten up roominess). Sun Valley Ski Tools sells this as do most better ski shops.

    I have had much success (me & friends) with cutting a tongue-shape piece & affixing it to the underside of the tongue. This drives the heel into the heel pocket & reduces heel lift because there is less room for the foot to lift into.

    Can also try lining the heel pocket with the same, but tends to rub off with entry/exit of the foot. And if you line on 3 sides vs. just the left & right, you will move the foot forward & possibly mess up the length fit of the foot - so line just the sides.

    Good luck...

    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Fuck me
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    I believe you can get comercially made heel cup inserts that sholuld take up some room/lock your heel in better. I uesd to use them in my baseball cleats about 10 years ago, I imagine they're still around.

    edit: something like this-
    Last edited by Ccard257; 08-27-2008 at 11:08 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Take them to a cobbler. They'll put a custom heel piece in. I did it on a pair of motorcycle boots.

  5. #5
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    thanks for the tips/suggestions.

    would these heel pieces be in addition to the Surefeet inserts I have or in place of them?
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

  6. #6
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    There are a couple lacing techniques that might work also, have you tried any off those?

  7. #7
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    lace me up (i.e. shed me some light on the various techniques).
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    great ideas from Jet123.

    Also you can try a different lacing pattern on the one shoe that keep the forefoot loose and just tighter in the middle.

    Email me at dave@fatskideals.com for boot fitting questions, or stop by
    http://www.facebook.com/SoulSkiandBike in banff.

  9. #9
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    come to think of it, i may have a lacing technique/pattern article laying around the house somewhere (unless i tossed it).

    but in the interim, if anybody has a lacing guide or a particular technique that works, would love see/hear it.

    thanks again.
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

  10. #10
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    Jan 2007
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    My take on heel lift...

    1) A heel can lift because the heel cup width is too large (sounds like your issue) and can't squeeze enough from side to side

    and/or

    2) Most heel pockets, when viewed from the right angle, start vertical & then slightly curve in (towards the front of the shoe) to follow the contours of the back of the heel. In some heel cup / ankle combos, that curve may not be following the heel enough and therefore allow the heel to lift.

    If either of the above (or other reasons) is in play, about the last resort to hold the ankle down is when the forefoot (top of the foot right about where it bends upward into the lower leg) contacts the tongue area of the boot.

    By adding a heel lift (valid answer) or padding the underside of the tongue (another valid answer), you are decreasing the amount of room a foot/ankle can lift before something stops it.

    However, neither of these address the issue of heel cup width. That can be addressed with those adhesive pads (cut to an 'L' shape). The one area usually not fixable is that heel cup curve - just a tough issue to address that very few cobblers have the skills and/or tools to do.

    Start with 1 change at a time and note the effects.

    Here's my thoughts on what you get with what solution:

    Heel cups = lifted rear part of the foot resulting in possible better contact with the heel pocket curve or lifting the heel to better contact the thicker sides of the heel pocket (heel pocket is padded above where you need it). They also pull the toes off the front just a bit. They usually don't change the 'volume-filling' ability of the foot in the shoe.

    Tongue padding = takes up roominess that the ankle is lifting through or the foot is sliding forward through. Doesn't do anything for heel cup width or heel cup curve. Good choice to ease any pressure points that lacing can create over the sensitive top of the foot.

    Heel padding (sides only) = doesn't effect length generally & assuming that padding is not sitting behind the heel (or that will push the foot to the front). Helps squeeze the heel & possible reduction in heel lift.

    Now you're probably wondering 'WTF is up with this guy!?!?!'. Well, my story is I have some front & back shop mileage in ski shops & outdoor stores, bad feet and bored at work right now

    Again, someone else's answer is not automatically right for you (including mine). Make 1 change at a time and go from there.

    John

  11. #11
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    thanks John, really appreciate the in-depth tips.

    i always hate getting footwear as my feet seem to be sort of inbetween...not terribly narrow, but narrow enough.

    the left boot fits snug and fine, but the right has slippage. i've been dicking around with various inserts (the factory Asolo ones, 3 types of Superfeet)...sadly the best fit has been with some 10 year old leather lined Superfeet that were cut for different boots and are about 1/4" too short for these boots...they definitely help the right heel stay in the pocket, but then they shift and i'm left with space up in the front of the boot.

    i'll try and track down some of the padding this weekend...though may not be able to score it before a Sunday hike-for-snow adventure.

    again, mucho gracias for the suggestions.

    i think the thing that really gets me is the options for purchasing boots, even in San Francisco, is pretty much limited to REI and Marmot (and a few local sporting goods shops) and they all carry basically the same boots, all of which have what i consider to be abnormally wide heel pockets. not sure where all the skinny heeled hikers are residing, but i know there has to be more of 'em out there than just me and curious why more companies aren't making boots with thicker heel pockets...or is that just a sympton of the fattening of America (i.e. the Euro boot manufacturers figure we're all bloated, so they just make boots for fat ankled mofos?)
    Last edited by dookey67; 08-27-2008 at 02:04 PM.
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

  12. #12
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    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    I got small size 39/24/us7 ft(I take womens ski boots) LOW volume feet and they are flatter than a pancake ...I really have problems finding a boot to fit

    I take a size 39 & 1/3rd salomon xc skate-ski boot ,mountaineering boot , runner ,approach shoe ... I can even buy them on the internet and be certain they will fit me so I can recommend you try salomon if you got low volume feet

    I either use custom orthotics OR lately I been usiing sole footbeds and they been great

    also try the womens models if your foot is small enough

  13. #13
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    Jan 2007
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    Dookey67,

    Due to time, try substituting (don't laugh) some maxi pads or a folded bandana. You're trying to get a thin padded layer, but not totally flattened. Use some double sided tape to hold in place. On the bandana, fold into a rectangle with the edges inside the folding - less chance of coming unfolded.

    This also helps on-the-trail when someone has poor fitting boots (and don't know it... yet).

    Sign of a good fitter? Someone that looks & physically examines your feet so they know what they are trying to fit to. And that's the key - the boot has to fit the foot... not the other way around.

  14. #14
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    thanks again.

    sadly, the only shop that had a good selection of hiking boots was REI and while i frequent the store a lot over the years it has become more like Costco in terms of service (i.e. a lot of stuff, but you are pretty much left to your own devices in terms of expert staff).

    i tried on several boots and the Asolo's were the closest to a snug fit.

    honestly none of the boots they carry really fit my narrow heel.

    and i went to every other shop in the area that sells hiking boots.

    it really seems like the boots out there today are just run off the factory line with a wide heel socket and those of us with narrow heels are kind of screwed.


    given REI's excellent return policy, I can always return the boots, but then i won't have anything for hiking and i'll be back at square 1.

    of course if anybody has any brand rec's for narrow heel socketed boots, i'm all ears.

    that said, i have been wearing the boots fairly routinely for about 2 months around the office and at home and haven't developed blisters...but i realize that trapsing around on carpet and hardwood floors is a far cry from actually being out on the trail.

    btw Jet, i did a google on padding for hiking boots and ankles and this was all i could dig up:

    http://tognar.com/boot_heater_warmer...snowboard.html

    ?
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

  15. #15
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    Ft Collins, CO
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    You were almost there. Hit this link & scroll a bit past half way & you will see many types of boot fitting shims, pads, etc...

    http://tognar.com/boot_heater_warmer...html#bootshims

    As far as fitting narrow heels, my good friend has always been in the same boat as you. He generally has a need for heavier boots - more mountaineering type. In that vain, we (I say that as I have gone with him to fit his boots... but I aint his bitch ) have had good luck with some Scarpas as their lasts are different from most boots and they vary within their own line - increasing the chance to find something that fits.

    I also have a Backpacker buyers guide laying around and in their boot review, they do list widths (when the company offers something other than 'medium'). A quick glance, I see the following mens 'narrows' mentioned:

    Asolo Powermatic 200GV / 500GV
    FiveTen Savant, Insight
    Lowa Renegade Mid GTX, Trekker, Banff
    Vasque Breeze XCR (always had good luck fitting this one back in the day)
    Vasque Wasatch GTX
    Zamberlan Ouray GT

    Now, I have no friggin' idea what your foot is like nor what kiind of boot you need. So those above are just mentioned as they have narrow specific lasts mentioned.

    Back to the shims & padding from that link. Those folks are very quick on turnaround (but I don't remember your timeframe) - maybe order some stuff tomorrow morning and get it shipped ASAP. Nuttin' ruins a trip faster than messed up feet .

    I hear you about REI (and most shops) and I used to work for them in varying capacities. But you know what heel lift feels like so do your best. Also, once laced up, bang the toe 3-4 times pretty darn hard and make a note on which boot you touched your toes the least (if at all) afterwards. Good test for the dreaded toe bang on the descent.

    Keep the heels down, keep the toes off & everything else usually falls into place...

    John

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Banff
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    Are you looking at higher cut boots, or low cut (runners) shoes?

    if high tops try this:

    for the first few lace loops lace as per normal (cross the lace over and up one loop) The do the following to one side then the other, one step at a time

    1) Right side: at the lock lace holder, go up to the hole above (don't cross over, stay on the right side) and lace into that one,

    2) Cross over to the left and thread the lace between the lock lace, and the one above.

    3) Then pull back across to the right side

    this has now made a 2:1 pulling ratio, and should give you a bit more power to tighten the laces. Also as this is above the lock laces the extra tightness shouldn't just go right into the forefoot area.

    this and some padding over the instep/flex point and you should be good to go

    Email me at dave@fatskideals.com for boot fitting questions, or stop by
    http://www.facebook.com/SoulSkiandBike in banff.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
    Also, if anybody knows of a boot that is tailored to skinny feeted people (although the problem with that would be the ability to try them on).
    IME most Scarpa boots are narrow, and Oboz boots seem to have a really snug heel but with a wider toebox than Scarpas.

  18. #18
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    Jul 2007
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    Adelaide Australia
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    Second on the oboz, too bad the ones I sell at work look like you have strapped turds to your feet. Salomon also pad the shit out of their heels (from the 2 models i've seen)
    "When the mountains speak, wise men listen" -John Muir

  19. #19
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    i actually think i'mma see if I can return 'em to REI.

    i've had 'em for 2 months, 95% wearing them around the house and office.

    but last night i took them on a wee walk from my house to the Upper Haight. i had 'em cinched so tight i got a hot spot on the right inner ankle nub. i was sliding around a bit, too. while not terribly bad for a 15-20 block mostly level trek, i could see them being a problem on a longer trek over rough terrain and with weight.

    gonna try on the women's model and REI in SF just started carrying the Zamberlan.

    we shall see what their return policy is on the boots...since they're only semi-broken in, but still new otherwise.
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

  20. #20
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    I have narrow heels, but D-width forefoot (forefeet?). I use Salomon hiking boots -- no slippage.

    Tried Asolo, Merrill, Vasque -- no good, lots of heel movement & blisters. Salomon all the way.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Maine
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    ...

    Useful stuff from all, especially JET123....Backpacker's website can get you into good info, and I think there is another one or couple..."hiking boot choice", somethin' like that. Don't give up cuz all lasts, like in skiboots, aren't identical in volume...between brands. ..but if cobbler or you find & add the proper thickness of solid padding plus some over top(mentioned)...great.

    $.01,
    SteveD
    Last edited by steved; 08-28-2008 at 08:13 PM.

  22. #22
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    Try the maxipads if all else fails... and we will try our best now to call you douche bag . You know I had to go there!

    Seriously, good luck with the boots & by the sounds of it, I would return those current boots too.

    John

  23. #23
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    yeah, bums me out.

    they fit awesome in the forefoot, but the heel is just loose enough that i can tell with some added weight and uneven terrain that it's blister city waiting to happen.

    i believe somebody earlier in the thread suggested trying the women's models and i believe i may have read that in an article after searching for "narrow hiking boots."

    btw, i also tried several lacing options and nothing really relieved the problem.

    so it's back to square 1...bummer as i needed something for this weekend in my quest for August turns...looks like i'm digging the 7 year old Adidas trail runners out of the trash for one last hurrah!

    thanks again for all the advice and suggestions...good stuff for future reference.
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

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