Monday, 02 August 2021 09:15

Putting Cotswold Outdoor shoe fitting to the test.

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You know what size shoes you take so why use a shoe fitting service?

That’s not a rhetorical question. It seems common sense that using a fitting service when buying expensive outdoor footwear will offer you better results and higher comfort.

However it’s surprising how many people rely on online shopping or maybe never got to grips with how their feet work, and crucially, how their feet fit into technical sports shoes.

A common mistake seems to be choosing the wrong brand but getting those shoes anyway, because an individual liked that style of shoe.  Aesthetics aside, a poorly fitting shoe or boot on a long trip can often mean going home, or a day of painful blisters and misery.  Foot pain might not be as bad as toothache, but it’s certainly impossible to ignore.  Add to that the more serious implications of persistently using the wrong fitting shoes and possible permanent damage.  For these reasons it’s worth getting measured properly.

The other main issue for me is outdoor footwear is not cheap!  If you are tied to a budget then losing hard earned money is painful too. I do a lot of browsing on selling sites for second hand outdoor gear.  It always surprises me when someone is selling a brand new pair of shoes at half the retail price, because they “had to admit; they just don’t fit!”

A day out getting new shoes!

Cotswold Outdoor kindly gave MyOutdoors the opportunity to use their in-store fitting service.

Cotswold Chester

As part of a Cotswold Outdoor media campaign, I was lucky enough to choose a pair of socks and shoes for free. I travelled to their Chester store and met James, an expert shoe fitter and adviser

Cotswold James

I chatted to James on arrival, and rather naively I looked around the store for a laser guided ‘all singing-all dancing’machine that would scan my feet.  Then he produced a metal measuring plate and I sat down.  There are new technologies out there, but it turns out that the old school way is often the best.

Cotswold measure

My ideal trip outdoors is a fast and light journey which involves rocky mountainous paths, steep approaches and scrambles. Following James taking my accurate measurements, off we went in search of a decent option for my needs.

Using much patience and expertise, James advised about suitable shoes.  I felt relaxed to explore many different brands and footbeds to meet up to my wide ‘Hobbit feet’, as I call them.

I eventually chose a pair of Scarpa Vortex XCR; a low cut Goretex hiking/approach shoe.

Cotswold shoe choice

The biggest surprise was that I have ignored Scarpa as a brand, full stop.  Friends always advised their shoes are narrow fitting and I’d naively made my mind up. The Vortex shoes have a wider and forgiving fit than their classic approach shoes.

Fast forward a few weeks and I’ve truly bedded into them after long walks and I love them.

As part of the consultation I was recommended a Bridgedale medium weight sock.  I can’t stress the importance of using a top brand sock.  I have many pairs of heavily used Bridgedale socks and they’re consistently the best for my feet.

For the first time I got a proper measurement of my feet, corrected a few of my own misconceptions about how they fit, then I walked away with what turned out to be the best pair of shoes I’ve worn in a few years. 

Secondly, it was great to be in a shop with a human!  Like many, I’ve slipped into buying everything online during the pandemic, so getting hands on advice was most welcome.

This in-store service is bookable online and Cotswold offer an hour with each client, use their website to browse your nearest store:-