With the summer season around the corner, we’ve been updating some of our stock of hire boots (see photo above), and take this opportunity to explore how to avoid getting blisters! Many people are worried about buying or hiring boots, and for many good reasons; we’ve all heard horror stories of crippling ski boots, or hiking boots that were worn it to someone elses foot shape. With B3 mountain boots, you avoid these issues if you size correctly…
B3 boots have a soft insulation lining (usually Thinsulate), and a stiff sole. This means that the padded inner is far softer than many boots, and the inflexible sole unit (designed as such to fit crampons) never bends into someone elses gait. In addition the tongue unit can be adjusted to alter the inner volume of the boot, to suit any foot shape. When selecting a boot size to buy, or to reserve a pair of rental boots, you should intially size compared to your best fitting and most comfortable pair of trainers, and then most people find one full size larger is ideal for B3 boots (i.e. size 11, if you are a size 10 usually).
The reason for slightly over-sizing is twofold; your feet swell slightly with fluid retention when at altitude or if they are hot, and you want to avoid black toenails when kicking in with crampons or on a steep descent. This slight extra space avoids these issues, but on the flip side you need to ensure that the heel doesn’t lift, and is securely laced into the boot. Much the same method of fitting is used for ultra-trail runners selecting a slightly larger trainer than usual, so the same logic works for many mountain sports.
When trying on boots ensure that they are a good fit for your foot shape. Try them on with the socks you intend to wear at altitude, and ideally test them when your feet are already a bit hot and sweaty. It may sound a bit minging, but I assure you that after descending a major Alpine peak such as the Matterhorn or Mont Blanc, l’Oreal won’t be waiting at the bottom to offer you a foot modelling contract! Blisters could stop your trip. Make sure you don’t get them in the first place.