For many people, boots are much more than a fashion item. Work boots are a necessity for many occupations. They can also keep your feet safe in all sorts of bad weather and potentially hazardous situations. They’re used for fashion, for safety, to help you take on tough terrain and bad weather.
But when they don’t fit right, they become the danger. Ill-fitting boots can cause painful foot issues and may compromise your footing, which can lead to even bigger issues. So before you start looking at features like steel toes or decide you love a pair of boots based on their style, stop and figure out how to get the perfect fit.
Children’s Boot Size Chart
Getting boots for children’s feet isn’t always easy because shoe manufacturers don’t use the same sizing standards around the world. This means that size 3 boots from a U.S. manufacturer and size 3 boots from a UK manufacturer won’t have the same measurements. Always go by the length measurement for the foot from the back of the heel to the tip of the longest toe. Record this number in inches down to the eighth of an inch.
The length of the foot will correspond to a number size, though this number will differ across countries. To make it easy, our sizing chart is printable, so you can use this to determine the correct measurement. Always measure feet with no shoes on and make sure the back of the heel is lined up perfectly with the measuring guide. Our chart is much easier to use and quite a bit friendlier than the Brannock device, that metal contraption that’s used to measure feet at the shoe store. However, the measurements are the same as what you’ll see in this frequent shoe store gadget.
Men’s Boot Size Chart
When it comes to adult sizes, width does become an issue. Boot sizes for adults use a numbering system based on the length of the foot. For example, if your foot is 10 3/4 inches long, you will were a size 10 1/2 in the U.S. (size 10 in the UK, 43 in the EU and 29.5 in Japan because sizes are weird).
However, width measurements are also included in men’s shoes and boots. That 10 1/2 could be a 10 1/2 B, 10 1/2 D, 10 1/2 EE, 10 1/2 4E or even 10 1/2 6E. Pretty confusing, right? The letters indicate the width size. Narrow widths are B, which is the smallest width. Next you have D width, which is for medium width feet, then wide at EE, extra wide at 4E and extra extra wide at 6E.
So going back to the 10 1/2 size boot. If your foot width is under 4 inches, you need to look for a 10 1/2 B. If your foot measures 4 5/8 inches, look for a 10 1/2 6E. In any case, the size chart makes it much easier to match your actual foot measurements to the size of boot you should be searching for. Our printable size chart makes it easy to determine your boot size by both length and width.
Women’s Boot Size Chart
Women’s sizes start smaller and don’t go as high as the men’s size. But as everyone knows, women can wear men’s footwear. So why not just do that? Actually, men’s and women’s footwear is made differently because men’s and women’s feet do differ. Men’s footwear tends to be wider because men have wider feet. Men also have longer feet. Women’s footwear is made to be somewhat narrower and in shorter designs that are a better match for the natural shape of the female foot. The female foot also gets even more narrow toward the heel and footwear is designed to match this natural shape. Women also need more cushioning than men because of their natural stride and the fact that their knees are somewhat less flexible than male knees.
In other words, yes it totally matters. Women should stick to wearing women’s footwear, which is more properly designed for their foot shape and structure, in order to get a proper fit.
Because women’s feet are different, their sizes are different from the men’s boots. Sizes in women’s boots typically range from 5 to 12 in U.S. sizes. The width size is AA for narrow feet. The B width measurement in women’s boots indicates medium width, though this may also be marked as M. So a size 6 boot with a medium width may be a 6M or 6B. The wide foot width is a D and extra wide width is EE.
Yes, it can be confusing, particularly when some of the same numbers and letters are used across men’s and women’s boots but they mean different things. Stick to the size chart to make sure you’re getting the right size every single time. The printable sizing guide makes it easy to find your boot size.
How Should Boots Fit?
You can’t always use your shoe size to determine your boot size. Knowing how boots are supposed to feel will help you make sure you’re wearing boots that fit the right way. The boot should feel snug around your entire foot except for your heel. When boots are brand-new, you should notice a little looseness around the heel. However, this should only be a little. You don’t want to get too much heel slippage, as this can actually compromise your traction and become potentially dangerous. Your heel should not be sliding more than a half-inch out of place.
You also want to have just a little bit of “wiggle room” in the toe box of your boots. As you walk and stand during the day, your feet are going to swell a little. A little toe room will ensure that your boots feel good in the morning and at night.
The width of the boots (and your foot) is another crucial factor. While some parts of the new boot will adjust to your feet as they get broken in from use, the boot width will not change. If there is tightness around the width of your foot, this is a bad fit. This will cause discomfort that can lead to blisters and other issues. Getting a good fit starts with measuring your feet for the correct size. If the instep of the boot feels too tight, you need a wider width.
How to Wear Your Boots
It’s a good idea to wear thick socks when measuring your feet to determine your boot or shoe size. Boot socks are a little bit thicker than standard athletic socks, usually made with wool or another insulating material. Feet actually need thicker socks when you’re wearing boots because this gives you a little bit more cushioning and it helps protect your feet from the interior of the boots. This prevents blisters. The exception to this is cowboy boots, which are made to fit somewhat loosely around the lower legs. You may wear thinner socks with a cowboy boot. Most of the time, you’ll be wearing a thicker sock with your boots.
Ski boot sizing may also be somewhat different. You will likely be wearing a very thick wool sock with your ski boots, so you will probably wear an even bigger ski boot size than other types of footwear, and it will certainly be larger than your everyday shoe size.
Another exception to the rule is fashion boots. If you’re wearing boots merely for style, you may be wearing stockings or thin socks, the type you would wear with a dress shoe. Consider the type of boots you’re shopping for and measure your feet with the right type of socks on.
There are some rather unique boot styles out there, such as hoof boots. For unique boots, such as costume boots, you definitely want to get a new foot measurement even if you think you know your size.
Like shoes, boot sizes have numbers that don’t necessarily correspond in any way with the measurement of your foot. Your foot can measure over 8 inches in length and you end up wearing a size 3 boot. So it’s impossible to know which of these random numbers is the right number for your foot until you know what precise measurements each of those random numbers correspond to. Throw in the half size and it’s even more overwhelming. Don’t worry, it’ll get easier.
Start by measuring your foot by length and width. The length of your foot is from the very back of your heel to the very tip of your longest toe. The width of your foot should be measured at the very widest part of your foot. Go across the bottom of the foot from end to end wherever it is most wide.
When it comes to matching these measurements to your boots, the length measurement is represented by the boot size number (0 through 10.5 in children’s sizes, 6 through 17 in adult sizes). The width measurement is usually not present in children’s sizes at all but in adult sizes, it is noted with a lettering system. For example, a narrow width size 10 boot would be sold as a 10B.
A Brief History of Boots
People have been wearing boots since at least 12,000 B.C.E. The oldest depiction of boots, so far, comes from an ancient cave painting in Spain. The picture shows a man and a woman, both wearing what really looks like leather boots and fur boots. A pair of boots was even found in an Egyptian tomb that dates to around 1700 B.C.E.
Back then, of course, there was no such thing as boot size. You basically just took some leather or fur, wrapped it around your foot and lower leg and tied it all together. It was a highly practical and totally not stylish look. In other words, it’s a look that would be super difficult to pull off today. Lucky for modern humans, boot design has gotten much more sophisticated.
And now, boots come in a huge range of sizes for men, women and children. And if you don’t know your size, you could waste a lot of time looking for boots at a physical store and end up making many bad decisions while shopping for boots online. But you can take a lot of the work out of boot shopping. Don’t start by looking at boots. Start by looking at your feet.