Monday, January 30, 2012

The Quest for Wide Shoes

Lowa Renegade Running Shoes
Merrell Siren Sport Shoes
I have wide feet, very wide feet, and sometimes I feel like my life is constant quest for shoes that fit well. And I almost never find them. Usually when I buy shoes, I try on tons of pairs, find one that fits better than all the rest, and mistake that for real comfort. Days or weeks later I realize I've bought shoes that are too long, even though they feel good in the width. Over time I've realized that this habit of wearing shoes that don't fit properly probably contributes to my hip and knee pain. Occasionally I've been able to find brands that have wide sizes, but they are much more rare in women's shoes than in men's. I find it a bit funny that one of the stores that consistently carries women's shoes in wide sizes is Payless Shoe Source.

Last year I saw an ad on a bus for a wide shoe store in Shoreline (just a few miles from our house). I was so excited that I looked up their website and shortly thereafter went to the store. They measured my feet and told me that I should wear a 7 or 7.5 (one foot is a little longer than the other). I had been buying 8.5's my entire adult life!! No wonder I have joint problems.

Recently I've been on a mission to replace all my most commonly worn shoes with ones that fit my feet in both length and width (the wide shoe store has a great selection of dressy shoes, but not so much in the hiking/light hiking/running categories). I've had several pairs of Merrell's that I loved, even though they were a little too long, so I searched for wide shoes on their website. At the time, they had exactly one style of women's shoes in wide (okay, technically two if you separate the gore-tex version from the regular version). After trying on these shoes in the regular width at Sports Authority, I went ahead and ordered them in a 7.5. They came this weekend and they are great. They fit perfectly and are comfortable. It is amazing to wear shoes that are the correct length.

My running shoes have also desperately needed to be replaced for months. I really wanted to try some minimalist running shoes, but apparently not a single style comes in wide sizes (okay, one does but the salespeople at the store I went to were convinced it would not be wide enough for me). So I got regular running shoes but they are wide and they fit my feet. I've used them three times in the last week and I love them. The difference between these and the last pair I had is amazing. I've decided that from now on, if I have to search high and low for shoes that fit, that's what I have to do. It is not worth buying something that fits okay, even if it's a good deal.

Merrell did actually have a minimalist running shoe in wide on their website but it is out of stock. Maybe next year I'll be able to try them. After the new wide hiking boots I also bought last week (in my defense, the boots I've been using for EIGHT years are too long AND I bought them for $40 at a used gear swap in Fairbanks - after all the miles I've put on them for both fun and work, I think I deserve to spend the money on a pair that actually fit my feet), I don't think I'll be buying any more shoes for at least a year, much to my husband's relief.

Anybody else have any experience with brands or stores that carry wide shoes??? I'd love to hear!

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