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We are firm believers that every hiker should get a custom boot fit at least once! Having an expert walk you through what to look out for, what features you need, and what a great fit feels like can be really valuable! Recently we visited Great Outdoors to test out their free in-store boot fitting service. We wanted to see if we noticed any difference between their expert boot fitters and ordering boots online or buying boots from a less reputable store.
Upon arrival at their store on Great George’s Street in Dublin, we were directed to the footwear section by one of the Great Outdoors staff members. After a brief browse of the vast footwear range on offer, we were approached by one of the footwear team, Ian. Ian then proceeded to talk us through the range of footwear available. They have everything from trail runners to mountaineering boots! As outdoor enthusiasts, we felt like a kid in a candy store!
Every Hiker Should Have a Bespoke Boot Fitting
Ian asked if I would like my feet measured. I took a seat on one of the footwear benches and was then walked through a series of steps that he would take in order to gather information about the shape, size, width, length, and weight distribution of our feet. This information would then inform the boots he would recommend.
The Brannock device
Ian used an analog device called a “Brannock device” to manually measure the length of our foot, the arch length, and the width. This gave us our starting point.
The SIDAS machine
At Great Outdoors they stock a range of insoles that are manufactured by a brand called SIDAS. In order to accurately measure our arch and deduce if it was necessary for us to purchase a pair of insoles, we were then measured up on the machine. It gave us a number of complicated data points, including our weight distribution when standing.
Following an in-depth measuring process, Ian began to ask a few questions that would narrow down their range depending on our intended uses for the footwear.
Armed with this information, Ian then went into the back room to get a few different styles for us to try on. He was very patient as we tried a number of boots on. We chatted about what we should feel, things to look out for, and my upcoming hikes. I walked laps the footwear section to try the boots. Ian then gave me advice on lacing the boots, sock choice, and footwear care!
We then decided on a pair of boots that fit like an absolute glove thanks to fitting advice from Ian. On the recommendation of Ian, we also got a pair of insoles to try, since I measured with quite a high arch and often experience some discomfort when hiking!
The staff at the till advised us to wear the boots around our house for a day or two. This is just to make sure we were 100% happy with the fit! By the weekend we were absolutely itching to get to the mountains. So we drove down to Carrauntoohil to put the boots through Ireland’s ultimate test! They held up brilliantly and we had very little discomfort the next day. We are putting this down to the insole and boot combination!
Carrauntoohil Everything You Need to Know
We are now absolutely convinced that a custom boot fit is essential for all hikers! The staff at Great Outdoors have a wealth of experience that they are willing to share with you to solve any fit issues you may have been in during your hikes. There are also a few different members of their footwear team that specialize in slightly different things. So be sure to give them as much information as you can. That way they can provide you with the best custom boot fit experience possible!
By Matthew McConnell
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