Are You Wearing the Right Shoe Size to Climb Kilimanjaro?

You probably think you are wearing the correct size shoes for your feet. But statistics say you’re probably wrong.

A study of more than 2,000 adults showed that one third of men are wearing shoes that do not properly fit them. The same study reported that half of women are wearing shoes that do not fit. While you may get away with discomfort on day to day casual jaunts, making the same mistake on the mountain can effectively end your trip.

Wearing ill fitting shoes or boots can result in issues while climbing Kilimanjaro. Blisters are a common problem, caused by constant rubbing of the shoe against the skin. Blisters first develop as “hot spots” before bubbling up as fluid collects between the epidermis and the layers below. “Toe bang” is the name given to the act of the toes hitting the front of the toe box, typically experienced when hiking downhill. The repeated contact can cause irritation, inflammation and bruising. Black toenails are a sure sign of toe bang.

Here is a sizing table for casual shoes.

Note that this is a starting point. You will likely need a larger size than is indicated in the table for hiking boots and trail shoes.

The rule of thumb is that there should be a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the interior front of the shoe. For hiking, you can increase this up to a full inch of space as your feet will swell more over the course of a strenuous, multi-day hike more than a day at the office. In addition, you have to account for thicker socks or double pairs of socks. Your toe tips and the shoe should not be touching – ever.

Ultimate Kilimanjaro recommends getting sized for your hiking boots or shoes from a professional at outdoor specialty stores like REI. It also helps to try different lacing techniques during your training hikes to find a method that works for you. Lacing your boots in a different manner can make your shoes more comfortable and better fitting overall.

Also see Do I Have To Wear Hiking Boots on Kilimanjaro?