Whether you’re walking around town in your sailing shoes, dinghy sailing with hiking or trapeze boots or sailing in tall offshore boots, footwear that fit correctly are essential for the overall comfort of your feet. The following tips and techniques are designed to help you get a good fit.
Find Your Shoe or Boot Size
Don’t forget. Feet do change size and shape over time, so if you haven’t had your’s measured in awhile, it’s a good idea, especially before you order boots or shoes online.
Having both of your feet measured using a Brannock device is the most common way. If one foot is large than the other (which is quite common), purchase foot wear for the larger. Be sure to follow step two below when measuring.
Measuring Your Foot Size at Home
If you would like to measure your feet at home, it is easy. Just follow these simple steps:
- Gather two pieces of blank paper, either a pen or pencil, and a ruler.
- Put on the sock(s) you will be wearing. Depending on the type of sailing, this could be a light to medium weight pair of knit socks. It could be knit socks with Gore-Tex over socks to keep your feed dry when wearing deck shoes. If you are sailing in a drysuit you could have on knit sock liners, medium to heavy weight knit insulation socks, the drysuit bootie (rubber or Gore-Tex), and even a Lycra drysuit over sock. All of these combinations will affect your sailing shoe size. Keep in mind that your feet will swell through the course of the day, so it’s best to measure your feet at the end of the day.
- While seated, place your foot flat on a piece of pager. Lean forward, putting more weight onto the foot you are going to trace. Trace the outline of your foots exactly. Be sure the line you are drawing is accurate by looking straight down at the edge of your foot as the pen goes round – don’t over or under state the size. Repeat this for your other foot if you are not sure hat your feet are the same size.
- Using the ruler, measure the length of your traced foot from the heel to the longest toe point.
- Using our sizing chart for Adults and Kids, find your shoe size. If you are between measurements, size up to the next larger size. It’s easy to add a pair of socks to take up a bit of room, but very difficult to make shoes and boots that are too small comfortable.
NOTE: Not all brands’ sizing is exact. Just because you are size 9 in one brand of shoe or boot does not necessarily mean you’re going to be a 9 in another. Footwear shapes and sizes vary from brand to brand; please keep this in mind with using the sizing chart.
Next, check the fit once you get your footwear.
When you receive your shoes or boots, try them on with the socks you intend to wear them with.
- Remember that your feet will swell through the course of the day, so it’s best to try new footwear on at the end of the day.
- Check the initial fit. Seat your heels firmly into the heel cups of the shoe/boots, lace/zip them up and stand up. They should feel snug around the ball and instep of your foot, but loose enough that flexing your foot forward is not uncomfortable.
- Next, move up onto the balls of your feet. Now back on your heels. Do the shoes/boots flex adequately with your feet? Are they comfortable? Don’t be fooled that a shoe/boot can be “broken in.” Sure, a shoe/boot will become “softer” with wear, but a good-fitting shoe/boot doesn’t need to be broken in. Dinghy boots, either rubber or neoprene, tend not to ‘break in’ and remain similar in fit and flex over their entire lives.
- You should be able to wiggle your toes inside the toe box (the front of the shoe/boot). To see if you have enough room, slide your foot forward so your toes are just touching the end of the unlaced/unzipped shoe/boot. In this position, you should have a finger’s width (about ½”) between the base of your heel and the shoe/boot. This will allow toes to spread to keep your feet stable and provide room for natural foot swelling; it will also prevent cutting off the circulation which leads to cold feet.
- Your heel should stay in place. After lacing/zipping there should be no more than ¼” of movement in your heel. This will reduce friction that can lead to blisters and will prevent your foot from sliding forward as you walk on an incline (think slanted deck of a healing boat). If your foot feels like it’s “floating” inside the boot, try a half or whole size down.
NOTE FOR OFFSHORE BOOTS: This type of boot is slip on, and the fit is not adjustable with laces nor zippers. There ease of entry and removal is desirable. If you were to go overboard, offshore boots can be a liability as they fill with water, and easy in-the-water-removal is required. For this reason, overall fit will be looser than shoes or dinghy boots. Be sure you simulate trying to remove your boots while in the water. Sizing offshore boot one size larger than your measured foot size is common if you will be doing blue water sailing.
Adult Footwear Sizing Chart
Kids’ & Junior’s Footwear Sizing Chart