Hi all,

This is probably more of a personal rant than anything else but has anybody else experienced the frustration of having their feet measured in an outdoor shop only to then be told you have for x number of years been wearing the wrong sized boots? Several times I've had the (dis)pleasure and every time it is my own stupid fault for allowing the shop assistants to do it. I sit patiently as they impart well rehearsed tips and questionable facts which I assume they must learn on their one day boot fitting course.

My own experiences of this have been awful so I'd be interested to hear others' experiences, both good and bad!? I've done plenty of hillwalking and worn boots of all types over terrain of all kinds in several countries as a civilian and as a soldier so I consider it reasonably likely that by now I know my own boot size. That said, I'm not arrogant enough to think I know it all and infact I'm glad of the expertise from outdoor shop staff who are undoubtedly more up to date on their knowledge than me. Unfortunately I had a bad experience where I remember being in the Betws y Coed Cotswold outdoor having the boot measurement treatment by a helpful but clearly misguided member of staff. I was surprised to spend half an hour being told that I have for the past 10 years been wearing boots too small for me and on the advice of the shop, trying on boots that felt far too large and which my experience told me would produce blisters aplenty. Like a fool I placed my faith in the hands of the cotswold outdoor staff and against my own judgement purchased a pair of boots in their recommended size. A fortnight later and they were returned to my closest Cotswold outdoor. I've had the same boot fitting treatment on a couple of occasions over the years since but have been wise enough to decline the advice and rather than seeing the offer as a mark of good service have always rolled my eyes and seen it as a bad reflection on the shop who rather than form expertise from years of outdoor experience, simply attend a short course where I imagine they are talked at by a well travelled but poorly experienced sales rep. They then return to their work to patronise customers giving them questionable advice about their purchase of probably the most important item of outdoor kit! Most recently I was in my local outdoor shop which shall rename nameless. Having owned two pairs of a particular make boots, and having spent several days researching my purchase, I approached a member of staff and requested to try on a particular boot, in a specific size. To my horror she insisted she would need to measure my feet first and apart from it feeling unnecessary I was shocked that the shop seemed to have adopted some sort of policy where they have to agree on a size of boot for you before you are allowed to purchase them! Of course my nonsense radar was alerted by this but I wanted the boots and they are one of the only UK stockists so I had no choice but to go along. She (as expected) told me I needed boots a size larger than I normally wear and that the particular make of boots I wanted would not fit my feet (despite the fact I own two pairs already, and have spent 6 months living in a pair of them daily). Nevertheless off she went to the stock room and returned with three pairs of boots - The ones I asked for in only the size she recommended, and then two random pairs I didn't ask for or even like. Of course I followed her request and tried them on before explaining the fit felt wrong for me. This process continued for no less than 40 minutes and around 10 pairs of boots with me trying on everything BUT the boot I asked for. AND in every size BUT the size I wanted. Enough was enough and I explained out of sympathy that this really wasn't what I was expecting and I would leave it.

I don't know what foot measuring course these staff members go on but it clearly teaches them to put more faith in their measuring device than in the customer's knowledge of their own feet. I am certain that for some this must be a great service which helps them, but I do worry for those who naively believe the shop assistants through lack of own knowledge and who then end up with the boots which aren't right for them.

In my most recent experience I escaped the shop and a day later ordered online from Italy. If they in-fact do not fit then I hereby promise to cook and eat said boots by way of an apology to outdoor shop staff everywhere. If they do fit me wonderfully (as I suspect they will), the I'll leave this post here as a warning to you all.