Walking for hours over long distances is a great exercise and stress-reliever, but if you are wearing tight footwear during your hike, the activity will take you nowhere close to nirvana. Finding the right footwear is like finding someone to marry–one wrong decision could lead to suffering. What people fail to notice is that their feet are as unique as they are. The pain and suffering brought about by ill-fitting footwear could be avoided if people realized this uniqueness. For wide-footed folks, it only makes sense to wear wide hiking sandals or shoes instead of squeezing into stylish, standard ones and feel punished.
While feet come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the footwear that protects them come in such wide range, too. Many individuals assume that their feet is the same as other people’s but in truth, feet are as varied in shape and size as the people who walk in them. They come in narrow, standard, and wide widths and in a variety of lengths. Thankfully, shoe manufacturers have become more responsive to the call for more accommodating footwear.
Wide hiking sandals cater to individuals with wide or flat feet. They are also advisable for individuals with foot problems like bunions and hammertoes. As opposed to the narrow and standard width of most hiking sandals, hiking shoes, and mountaineering boots, these are made using a wide-width last.
A pair of wide hiking sandals simply means that it had been made with 1/8 inch more upper material compared with the standard ones. The extra upper material accommodates the foot volume that standard sizes cannot accommodate. The sole may also be wider than the standard ones. Other than the more accommodating upper and sole, they are made of the same material as standard-width sandals.
When should men and women use wide hiking sandals
Wide-width footwear is meant to be used by individuals with wide or flat feet. Identifying whether you have either of these characteristics, consider having your feet measured or assessed by professionals.
Having wide feet is not a one in a million phenomenon as humans are naturally born to develop feet that are wide enough to support the body. Sadly, there are not a lot of people who realize that their feet are wide. Most would settle for shoes, sandals, or boots that are not their size and end up enduring blisters, pain and foot deformities in the long run.
Many flat-footed individuals also have wide feet. These people have fallen arches, so their feet are forced downward with a broad footprint. A person could either have a rigid or supple flat foot. Having flat feet results in the uneven wearing of footwear especially on one side. And while this is not a painful condition, wearing tight footwear cause blisters and pain on the flat foot.
There are also some instances when people have to wear wide hiking sandals because of some medical conditions. Typically, individuals with bunions, hammertoe, edema, diabetes, and even those who are pregnant must reconsider the width of their footwear if they want to feel most comfortable. The additional upper room of wide hiking sandals can accommodate their feet and avoid pain brought about by these conditions.
A bunion is a bony bump found at the joint base of the big toe. There are some who develop this deformity because of inherited structural defects, constant stress on the foot, or as a result of a medical condition. However, this condition is commonly experienced because people wear tight footwear. It goes without saying that if they switched to wide-width footwear like wide hiking sandals early on, they would have healthy feet.
Hammertoe is another condition that could be avoided by wearing the right-fitting footwear. If people continue to wear tight footwear, there will be an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments of the toes that keep them straight.
Individuals with edema experience swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in the body’s tissues found in the arms, hands, feet, legs, and ankles. People with this condition may find standard size footwear tight and uncomfortable. A way to make it more bearable, especially if they wish to walk around, is to wear wide hiking sandals.
Diabetes patients also have to be very choosy with their footwear since this can have a huge effect on their health. Most often, they experience foot swelling because of their condition. If they wear tight footwear, they may develop impaired circulation to the feet and end up with nerve damage. Most diabetes patients are prescribed medical shoes to ease the discomforts associated with their condition.
Pregnant women also have to brace themselves for changes in their foot size. Since the body produces more blood and body fluids to support the life developing in the womb, women also experience edema. It is likely that the swelling would reduce after giving birth but in the months leading to delivery, women need to use a different footwear size to be comfortable.
What wide fit means
If there are conditions that cause people to have wide feet, it is but fair that they also find wide-fit footwear to suit their size. More and more footwear makers heed to the call of people who need wide hiking sandals, wide hiking shoes, and wide hiking boots and wide mountaineering boots. You have probably come across wide-fitting footwear but wasn’t able to identify it.
The difference between narrow, standard, and wide
It is important to understand first what a narrow, standard, or wide foot is. Narrow feet are those that are thin at the forefoot up to the ankle and often have high arches. Standard feet are those that are ideally shaped which makes them the model of most footwear designs. Lastly, wide feet are those that are usually wide at the forefoot and with low arches, so they look and feel too chunky for standard-sized footwear.
Most people actually know their shoe size, but this doesn’t take the foot width into account. It has become a habit for most to pick a pair that is one size larger if the shoe model in their size runs a little too small. However, in order to feel most comfortable, everyone needs to take their foot length and width into account. A Brannock device can help. It is a typical instrument used to measure the length, width, and arch length of a person.
All footwear with varied width sizes take the different foot widths into account. Even the best hiking sandals which are known for their friendly open and webbed designs can torture the feet if they are too tight. Addressing the needs of the wide-footed market, manufacturers also produced wide hiking sandals.
Standard sizing across the world
If you go wide hiking sandals shopping, store attendants ask the style that you prefer, the activities you will be wearing them for, and finally, the size of your feet. They may recommend a few models with sizes that typically come with letter and number indicators. The numbers represent the length of the footwear while the letters represent the corresponding width.
Shoe manufacturers use letters to indicate width differences. Commonly for women’s models, they use letters A for narrow, B for standard, D for wide, and E for extra wide. For men’s models they may use B for narrow, D for standard, and a combination of Es for wide widths. In most cases, the E is repeated to indicate how extra wide it is.
Throughout the world, there are also different ways that footwear is measured and sized. A very popular way is by using the Mondopoint system which was developed by ski boot manufacturers to create a universal sizing system. Aside from the length, it also takes into account the circumference of the foot. Millimeters is used to measure sizes.
In some Asian countries, the Mondopoint system is also in effect. Both the foot length and the girth are taken into account. This time though, centimeters are used instead of millimeters. However, size increments are in 5 mm differences.
The European system, also known as Paris point, uses a 2/3 cm size. The system is commonly used for shoe sizes in Continental Europe. Even if the international standards are now widely used, many traditional shoe manufacturers still build their shoes using the Paris Point.
Shoe width standard across brands
You may consider how wide hiking sandals from one brand feels too loose while another’s is just the perfect fit. The thing is, despite some systems in place, there is no uniform sizing system used by all brands all over the world. The width sizes vary from one shoe manufacturer to another. It can also vary according to the territory as different countries and territories use a different system.
Wide hiking sandals FAQs
What difference will wearing wide hiking sandals give me?
If the way your hiking sandals torment you on each hike is making you stay indoors, now is the time to change the way things go. Pick the best wide width and breathable footwear that you can get. Unlike shoes that can be too restraining, wide hiking sandals have more open space and are more breathable. They are the perfect footwear options for when you hike during warm summer days.
If I can’t fit the medium-width hiking sandals, does it automatically mean that I need wide hiking sandals?
As mentioned, different brands follow different sizing charts, so it is possible that one brand’s line of wide hiking sandals is another brand’s medium. If you wear a pair of wide hiking sandals and not feel comfortable, then maybe you would have to reconsider wearing it at all.
But aren’t hiking sandals already open and can accommodate wide feet?
One misconception is that sandals are already open and could, therefore, accommodate wide feet easily. However, it is important to note that it is also made of a specific last which could be narrow, medium, or wide. Squeezing through a medium and adjusting all buckles and Velcros will only affect the lifespan of the sandals. On the contrary, using wide hiking sandals allow for the feet to splay snugly without stressing the sandal’s materials.
What part makes wide hiking sandals wide-width?
A footwear like wide hiking sandals is considered wide if there is at least 1/8 inch additional upper material. In the case of wide hiking sandals, both open and closed designs should allow the toes to splay perfectly and the whole foot snug. Additionally, the sole also has additional centimeters around compared with the standard-sized models.
Are wide hiking sandals expensive?
Wide hiking sandals are not the same as hiking shoes or boots in terms of materials so naturally, they are not as expensive. Most sandals are priced around $100 and above. The price may be affected however if there are features or technologies used in the wide hiking sandals.
Are wide hiking sandals readily available?
Because there are many people who now have wide feet, it is not so difficult anymore to look for and purchase wide hiking sandals. You may check with your favorite sandal manufacturers to see if they have wide hiking sandals available.
4 best wide hiking sandals
Chaco Z/1 Classic
Chaco Z/2 Classic
New Balance Appalachian
Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.