Whether you are a hiker, outdoorsperson, camper, construction worker, law enforcement officer or in the military, the ability to be comfortable when wearing boots is paramount to your profession or your hobby pursuits. However, one very real problem that can quickly take away from that comfort is the problem of heel slippage.
Heel slippage when wearing boots is more than just a mere annoyance, it’s a hindrance that can cause blisters and excruciating pain. So, just how do you go about curing this annoying and problematic occurrence?
Is there a solution?
Fortunately for you, there is. In this article we will systematically describe how to fix heel slippage in boots, ensuring you remain comfortable when spending long hours on your feet, and helping to return that certain bounce to your step.
Why You Should Fix Heel Slippage in Boots
Slippage in boots is something we have all experienced at one time or another, and we have all experienced the discomfort and annoyance that comes with it. Heel slipping when hiking the trail can slow you down significantly, largely because you have to exercise caution with every step.
And when you have to be cautious with every step, it tends to take the fun out of the hike. In addition to the discomfort it causes, heel-slipping boots are also unsafe to wear on treacherous trails.
Tripping and losing one’s balance are just some of the dangers associated with this condition.
When trekking rough and dangerous landscapes, the last thing you want is for your heels to be slipping in this kind of environment. Fortunately, there are several steps and strategies you can take to prevent this from happening.
However, before we get into some of these remedies, let us first define heel slippage and the major causes.
What Is Heel Slippage in Boots?
If you have ever taken a hike in ill-fitting boots you have probably already experienced heel slippage—a condition that can be very maddening and uncomfortable. When you experience heel slippage, it feels as if your heels are rising up in the back of your boots.
Instead of your feet moving as one with the boot, it feels as if your heels are moving independently from your boots, rising and falling with each step. This condition can rapidly lead to blisters on the back of your heels, caused by the constant friction and rubbing of the heel on the inside-back of the shoe.
How to Avoid (or Fix) Heel Slippage in Boots
Heel slippage can be very frustrating for hikers, but the good news is that, in most cases, you do not need to discard these boots. There are actually a few steps you can take to avoid and/or fix heel slippage in your favorite pair of hiking boots. Some of these strategies include:
Invest in Correctly-Sized Boots
Prevention is always better than the cure, so naturally, the most important step you can take to avoid heel slippage is to ensure you purchase the correct-sized boots in the first place. This is not always easy.
Although in a perfect world, a size 10 would be a size 10 no matter what type or brand of boots you buy, the truth is that all boots are not created equal. A size 10 made by one manufacturer may be slightly larger or smaller than a size 10 from another.
This means it is crucial that you first try on the boots, and walk around in them for a while before making your purchase. If the boot is too small, you will feel discomfort in the toe section, and if it is too large the chances of heel slippage are great.
Also, when trying on your new boots, make sure you wear the same type of socks as you normally would when hiking, and tie them in the same way to which you are accustomed.
Ensure Your Shoelaces Are Well-Secured
Although the proper sized boot is paramount to avoiding heel slippage, even the most perfect-fitting boot will slip if the shoelaces are not properly secured. After all, the main purpose of shoelaces is to give you full control over how tight or loose you want your boots to be.
Simply put, the fit and feel of your boots are both highly dependent on the type of shoelaces you have and how well you tie your shoelaces. For this reason, it is crucial to buy only high-quality laces that are designed for the type of boots you own.
Shoelaces add extra support to your boots. They also ensure that the boots support and cradle your heels while you are in motion.
There are actually a variety of techniques for tightening your shoelaces. And although it is important to stick to what works best for you, if you are experiencing heel slippage it might be time to make a change.
Most importantly, you must invest in durable and flexible shoelaces for the very best in performance. Secondly, you must experiment with any number of tightening strategies until you find the one that will help avoid the slippage in your heels.
To help get you started, below we have outlined two beneficial ways of tightening the shoelaces on your boots.
1. The Hiking Boot Method of Shoelace Tightening
This method of shoelace tightening starts from the base of your boots and works up, much like all other methods. You run the laces through each alternate eyelet until you get to the top.
Once you have pulled your laces through the top-most eyelet, cross them twice. Pass them once more through the top eyelet and tighten them.
Finish off by holding one of the laces and pulling the other. This will ensure the boots fit comfortably around the ankle.
2. The Rabbit Hole Method of Shoelace Tightening
The rabbit hole is similar to the hiking booth method. The difference is in the finishing on the top of the boot.
In this method, the laces go through all the holes as usual, however, at the top, both laces go into one top hole. Next, pick up the laces and pass them through the other top hole as well.
Finish by securely tightening the laces and securing them with a standard bow-like tie.
Consider Using Padding in the Inside of Your Boots
This technique is quite popular and often the most commonly used technique to fix heel slippage. This method is also very affordable, especially when compared to purchasing brand new hiking boots.
All it requires is a cheap padding material such as padded boot inserts or even some tissue paper or an old piece of cloth. This material can either be stuffed into the toe portion of the boot to decrease their length or in the heel portion.
This is a great technique when your boots are simply too large for your feet.
While padding your boots can offer a temporary fix, it is not a long term solution. Oftentimes, the padding will shift in the boots, and this can actually cause more problems than it alleviates.
Improper stuffing of your boots can also lead to blisters, callouses and other foot maladies, so be sure to only use this technique as a last resort and only for a short period of time.
Invest in Non-Slip Socks or Thicker Socks
Sometimes, the root cause of heel slippage can be socks that are too slick or too thin in nature. In cases such as these, one of the ways to prevent the problem is by investing in thicker socks or non-slip socks.
Like thicker socks, non-slip socks help to keep your heels in place while you walk. The good thing about these products is that they save you all the stress of trying to stuff your boots in order to make them stay in place while you take a hike.
There are many manufacturers that now make thick, comfortable hiking socks as well as those that promise to be non-slip, all for this very purpose. Many of these socks are made from synthetic materials that work to wick away moisture from the feet and keep them dry during a long and arduous hike, and many of them also include odor control.
Use Double-Sided Tape as a Short-Term Solution
Believe it or not, many people use double-sided tape to help prevent heel slippage in boots. Even celebrities have admitted to using this trick right before they walk the red carpet to avoid any accidental trips or falls.
Although it is not a long-term solution, using double-sided tape could help you get through one or two hikes until you can employ a more permanent solution.
One of the problems of using double-sided tape as a long term solution is this: sweat in your shoes can gradually break down the adhesive properties of the tape, causing the tape to fall off and bunch up in the heel of your boots. This can cause discomfort and even pain.
Still, if you only need a quick fix to get you through, it might be wise to carry some double-sided tape in your hiking backpack.
Use Hair Spray
Last but not least, a final way to fix heel slippage in boots is to use hair spray on the back of your heels and the back of your socks.
This method, which should also be a short-term solution only, will help your feet adhere better to your socks to prevent slipping, and prevent your socks from sliding up the heel of your boots.