How snug should hunting boots be?

When gearing up for a hunting expedition, ensuring your boots fit snugly is paramount for comfort, safety, and overall performance in the wilderness. 

Understanding how snug your hunting boots should be can significantly impact your hunting experience. From preventing blisters to providing adequate support on rugged terrain, finding the perfect fit is crucial. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of achieving the ideal snugness in your hunting boots, equipping you with the knowledge to stride confidently through any terrain.

Starting the boot selection process

Anyone with experience hunting in the mountains knows how important supportive and well-fitting boots can be. Understanding your feet’ importance to a mountain hunt is easier if you’ve experienced the pain and agony firsthand. 

If your feet fail, your expensive hunting gear will be useless because it will not help you succeed while you are laid up in camp nursing your feet. 

Over the last 20 years, we’ve helped thousands of hunters with their footwear needs, and we’ve learned a few “tips” for selecting and fitting boots that will help you find the perfect (or as close to it as possible) boot for your next hunt. 

I say “assist” because taking personal responsibility for the fit of your shoes is essential. Everyone’s feet are unique, and no single brand or style of boot works for everyone.

How snug should hunting boots be

Several factors need to be considered;

1) The terrain you’ll be hunting in: Sheep hunting in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains may require a different type of boot than elk hunting in Wyoming.  

2) Expected temperature range during your hunt: A rut hunt for Alberta Bighorn in November requires significantly different insulation than a desert sheep hunt in Baja, Mexico.  

3) Hunting requires a certain level of durability: The ideal boot for a sheep guide guiding six consecutive hunts after a month of scouting is only sometimes the best option for a hunter going on a single hunt. The extra durability that the guide requires frequently necessitates a much stiffer and heavier boot.  

4) Your toughness: Similar to the previous factor, you must honestly evaluate your physical stamina and hunting intensity. Most of us consider ourselves brutal hunters, but most guides say the average sheep hunter has only four days before they are done. 

Finding your proper size

Finding your proper size

When you’ve decided on a boot style, the next step is to find the best fit. There are many excellent mountain boots available today. They are all constructed differently and on different lasts, so each boot style will fit differently. It is critical to try the shoes on first. I recommend trying multiple styles from various manufacturers to find the best fit for your feet. 

It would help if you tried getting your feet measured with a Brannock measuring device. The brannock will measure your foot’s overall length, arch length, and width. 

After determining your size, you should check for adequate toe length. Then, slide your foot forward. Make light contact rather than smashing them forward. 

Then, look for at least a good finger width behind your heel. This ensures that when the boots are snugly laced, you will have enough toe room in front of your toes, which is essential when going downhill with weight on your back.

Custom-fitting your new boots

Once you have confirmed that you have selected the correct boot size, you can address the boot volume. Your mountain boots should fit snugly, with no pinch or pressure points. The boot volume can be adjusted slightly by adjusting the thickness of your sock or sock combination. 

Most people prefer wearing a wicking liner sock with a fitted boot sock, and using a wool blend that wicks sweat away and insulates when damp is critical. Avoid cotton because it traps moisture against the skin and takes too long to dry. 

The new Kenetrek Hunting Socks are excellent fitted socks available in various thicknesses. When the weather turns colder, some hunters try to keep warm by wearing thicker socks. This usually causes the boot to fit too tight, making your feet harder by compressing the insulation and reducing circulation in your feet. 

Custom-fitting your new boots

 A performance footbed can help your boots fit and perform better. The Kenetrek Cushion Insoles and Supportive Insoles are two of my personal favorites. The Kenetrek Performance Insoles support the arch and heel cup, whereas the Cushion Insoles are ideal for those with low arches. 

You can create a personalized recipe for a mountain boot system that provides the best support and comfort possible by putting some thought into your boot selection and fitting process. 

This new boot system will undoubtedly be helpful on your next strenuous mountain hunt, but you may find it so comfortable that you can use it for all your outdoor activities.


  1. Why is it crucial for hunting boots to fit snugly?

Hunting boots must fit snugly to ensure comfort, safety, and optimal performance during wilderness expeditions. Ill-fitting boots can lead to discomfort, blisters, and compromised stability on rugged terrain.

  1. How do I determine the right size for my hunting boots?

To find the correct size, try on multiple styles from different manufacturers and get your feet measured with a Brannock device. Ensure there’s enough toe room when seated and no pressure points.

  1. What factors should I consider when selecting hunting boots?

Consider the terrain, expected temperature range, required durability, and personal stamina. Other factors like boot height, weight, waterproofness, and breathability also affect the selection process.

  1. How can I adjust the volume of my hunting boots for a better fit?

You can adjust the boot volume by choosing appropriate sock combinations, preferably a wicking liner sock with a fitted boot sock on top. Avoid cotton socks and opt for wool blends for moisture management and insulation.

  1. What role do performance footbeds play in boot fitting?

Performance footbeds like Kenetrek Cushion Insoles and Supportive Insoles provide arch and heel cup support, enhancing the fit and performance of your hunting boots.

  1. Why is it essential to create a personalized boot system?

Crafting a personalized boot system ensures the best support and comfort for strenuous hunts, extending its use to all outdoor activities.


Ensuring the proper fit of your hunting boots is an indispensable aspect of preparing for any outdoor adventure. As hunters, we know that comfort, safety, and performance in the wilderness hinge upon the snugness of our footwear. 

Finding the ideal fit involves a meticulous process, beginning with selecting boots tailored to your needs and the terrain demands.

The importance of personal responsibility in boot selection cannot be overstated. Each hunter’s feet are unique; no universal brand or style guarantees a perfect fit for everyone. 

The diverse considerations, such as the terrain, temperature range, and required durability, underscore the need for a thoughtful approach. Recognizing your toughness and stamina further emphasizes the importance of choosing a boot that aligns with your needs, even if it deviates from the preferences of guides or fellow hunters.

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