So you have a bunion.
Finding trail shoes that fit and are comfortable is a challenge in itself.
Choosing a hiking boot when you have a bunion or are prone to them is worse.
We know this because we have bunions too; even the founder of this site has a bunion!
So helping you find the right footwear is near and dear to our hearts; thus, we did the research and created this review.
Now then...get ready, because you're about to discover the best hiking boots and shoes for bunions.
Bunions and How to Choose the Right Footwear
Bunions and Bunionettes
A bunion is a lump at the joint of your big toe that occurs when bone or tissue at the bottom of the toe is moved out of place. This happens as a result of abnormal motion and pressure on the joint. Without the right shoes or boots, your bunion will cause you a lot of pain and discomfort walking to the next room, not to mention how it will feel on a five (or ten) mile hike.
Similar to a bunion is a bunionette, also called a tailor’s bunion. A bunionette will occur at the outside of the foot at the base of your little toe. Having a bunionette will cause you similar challenges to a bunion. With the wrong shoes, a hike with a bunionette can quickly turn unpleasant.
The key then, is finding the right footwear. But what makes footwear “right” when you have a bunion (or bunionette)?
Best Boot Features for Bunions
To get started, we will talk about a few features that are key when choosing a hiking boot that will keep you on the trails regardless of bunions.
Wide Toe Box
If you have bunions or bunionettes look for a boot with a wide toe box with depth. With such a boot, your toes won’t be squished and pressure won’t be put on your bunion. Many hiking boots are made with a wide toe box and there are also brands that offer a “wide” boot along with their “regular” width version. This is what you want to keep your eyes out for.
The toe box is the area of the shoe or boot where your toes are. A wide toe box will offer you comfort, especially when wearing them while active for a long period of time. This is because your toes will be able to move around and won’t feel cramped. The wide toe box will also help your balance, as they will have a larger platform that offers additional support.
Whether you have a bunion or a bunionette (or both), boots with a wide toe box are a must.
The Softer the Leather the Better
Boots made of softer leather are best for bunions as pressure on the bunion will cause friction and can lead to localized inflammation. Outside of a soft leather, you want to be sure the material is stretchable.
Good arch support will be important in your boots as it will decrease the pressure on your big toe, which will relieve pain. With good arch support, your weight will be more evenly distributed and not concentrated on your big toe and your bunion. A removable footbed can be helpful; if necessary you can replace it with orthotics that work best for you.
Tips for Hiking with Bunions
Before we launch into our picks for the best hiking boots for bunions, we have a few recommendations for increasing your comfort while on the trails.
Coverage is Key
Think about adding a little extra protection for your bunion or bunionette. Lambswool or moleskin, for example, can be used as additional cushioning for your bunion.
When it comes to protecting your foot, don’t forget to think about your socks. You will want to avoid cotton socks, which have a high “coefficient of friction”. What this means is that they are rough and are likely to irritate the skin over your bunion. They also lack cushioning. Wearing cotton socks with bunions is like asking for trouble.
Instead, find a sock that is made of materials (acrylic materials are popular) that lessen friction from your boots and that offer padding for the bunion. Some socks even encourage separation between the toes. These socks should also wick moisture from your foot.
A Few Other Tricks
First, check out out our guide on how to fix a bunion without surgery.
Next, consider taping your bunion. This won't resolve you bunion but it will relieve some of the stress on your foot and encourage normal motion patterns. Check out the video below to learn how to tape your bunion.
If you have been looking for a reason to invest in trekking poles here’s your chance. These poles will lessen the impact on your feet, particularly when going downhill. This is good news for keeping your feet pain free when hiking with a bunion.
While these tips will help keep you comfortable, they is no substitute for a pair of hiking boots that fit, bunion and all. So let’s get to it…read on for our top 6 best hiking boots for bunions where we will review three top options for women and three for men.
Timberland Women's White Ledge Hiking Boot
Let’s start with looking at the Timberland Women’s White Ledge Hiking Boot. These boots come in “wide” which means that we are off to a good start when looking for a boot that will be comfortable for bunions.
In addition to the wide toe box (a must), these hiking boots by Timberland hit the mark in other ways. Like the foot bed; it is removable so if you need to insert a custom orthotic you can do so with ease.
What else? These bunion-friendly boots include a dual-density EVA midsole which will deliver arch support and cushioning, evenly distributing your weight across your entire foot. The rubber lug outsole will keep you from slipping and sliding, no matter the terrain, keeping you upright and avoiding further irritation to your bunion.
- Available in a “wide” version; perfect for ensuring you have the room you need to be comfortable despite your bunion
- An adjustable lacing system will be helpful as you try to adjust the boots in different places. This will help to give you the room you need for your toes without sacrificing the support you need for the rest of your foot and ankle
- These boots tend to take some time to break in; make sure to plan some time for that before bringing them on any long hikes
KEEN Women's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot
Keen boots are known for having a wide toe box, so it is no surprise that the Keen Women’s Targee II Mid WP Hiking Boot made our list. In addition to the accommodating toe box, like the Timberland boots we just discussed, these boots offer a removable foot bed (dual density, foam) so you can add your own inserts for your comfort and support. These boots are a great option for day hiking and light backpacking.
How about that midsole? These boots by Keen offer a compression-molded EVA foam midsole; this is important in general for even weight distribution, but even more when keeping bunions in mind. This midsole will help keep all of your weight from being put on your big toe and aggravating your bunion.
- With a shaft that is 4.5” from the arch, these boots offer the protection and stability you need to help keep your foot in place and avoid more problems (i.e. pain) with your bunion or bunionette
- A rubber outsole with 4 mm lugs offers the traction that you need on the trails
- The ESS shank helps with torsional stability (meaning it will keep the sole from twisting at the midfoot)
- These boots by Keen will keep your feet (and you) stable and secure, even more important when trying to keep the pressure off that bunion
- The water-proofing could be better on the rare pair, however most people don't have any problems
Hanwag Alta Bunion Boot - Women's
While it is wonderful that shoes with a wide toe box will meet the needs of those with a bunion, there is nothing like a boot made specifically for the condition. Or is there? The next boot we will look at is the Hanwag Alta Bunion Boot.
We call these "bunion friendly", because they are made specifically for those with bunions, these boots provide the features that will keep you comfortable on the trails. Just what do they offer? To start, these boots offer the extra room you need and the inner side is made of a soft leather lining with no seams at the big toe joint. This will minimize rubbing on your bunion and the soft leather means less irritation.
Deep pull lacing will deliver a firm fit at the heel of the boot and clamping lace hooks at the top of the upper will help you get the fit you seek at your ankle. To avoid irritation of your bunion (and pain), it is important that your heel and ankle be stable in the boot so that your feet don’t slide around.
- An additional shock absorber in the heel as well as shock-absorbing inserts in the outsole at the ball of your foot will increase your comfort over the course of a long day on the trails
- The Vibram soles provide full-length cushioning and offer the traction you need so that you (and your feet) don’t find yourself sliding on spree
- Bunion friendly
- Considered a light hiking boot, these are less versatile than the Keens, which work well for light backpacking trips as well as hikes
KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Wide Hiking Shoe
Men also have bunions and we have some good news; Keen makes the Men’s Targhee II Mid Wide Hiking Shoe. Yes, you read that correctly; this shoe is offered in “wide”, making it a possibly more appealing option than the woman’s shoe.
Like the woman’s version, these hiking boots by Keen offer a dual density removable foot bed; if the arch support is not sufficient you can easily keep the pressure off your bunion with your own custom inserts.
Remember that the midsole is another important factor when choosing the best hiking boots for bunions, as it absorbs shock. Keen offers a dual density, compression molded EVA midsole, which will both protect and support your foot (keeping you from putting all of your weight on your bunion) during your hours on the trail. These boots are great for day hiking and light backpacking.
- Like the women’s boots, these hiking boots by Keen offer 4mm multi-directional lugs on the rubber outsole. This will help you get the grip that you need and keep you from slipping. While you want to avoid slipping and sliding in general, slipping and sliding with a bunion will cause further irritation
- Made of Nubuck leather, which is soft to the touch, the material should not further aggravate your bunion
- As Keen boots tend to run wide anyway, you have to wonder if the “wide” size is too wide. Note that while the toe box of Keen shoes tends to run wide, the rest of the boot is fairly standard. This means that the regular boot may work as well as the “wide” for those with a bunion that don't necessarily also have wide feet. Wide feet, and bunions? Go for the wide option
Lowa Men's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot
A good option for hiking and light backpacking, those with bunions may want to consider the Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot. Available in “wide” sizes, these hiking boots by Lowa have the space available in the toe box for comfort even with a bunion.
Also appropriate for light backpacking, these hiking boots offer a climate control footbed that has comfort perforations to enhance their breathability. If the footbed does not provide the support you need it can be removed and replaced.
These boots by Lowa include a full length nylon shank, which is the supportive structure between the insole and outsole. The full shank will provide more support than a ¾ length shank, which is important when considering keeping your feet stable, supported and comfortable.
- The shock absorbing, Vibram outsole will minimize the stress placed not just on your bunion, but your feet and legs as you enjoy long treks outdoors
- The Nubuck leather upper will go easy on your bunion, allowing you to avoid irritation
- The leather that makes the upper is rather thin; while this means less break-in time and less potential irritation for your bunion, it also means that these boots may be less durable than other options
- These boots tend to run small; ordering up a half size is recommended
Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Wide Hiking Shoe
When choosing a boot that will be comfortable with bunions, the Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Wide Hiking Shoe is worth a look. To start, you can purchase this boot in a “wide” size, which should offer you the room you need to keep comfortable during a long hike.
However, this is not the only feature of these boots that we like. As with the other boots reviewed, the removable footbed is key so that you can replace the insole if necessary to one that works best for you.
We also like the Techlite lightweight midsoles, which are full length and provide significant support. In addition to the comfort these midsoles deliver, the cushioning they offer make them excellent for shock absorption. These hiking boots by Columbia include a shank located under the arch, which will provide stability and support without eliminating flexibility.
- The padded tongue included in these boots does not seem like a big deal until you realize it gives you the ability to tie the boots as tightly as you like in order to secure your foot without feeling like the laces are digging into it
- The Omni grip rubber outsole provides the traction that you want on uncertain terrain and will keep you upright in slippery conditions
- These boots are very light; which make them a good choice for hiking, though they may not provide the support you need for backpacking
WINNERS: Our Picks for the Best Hiking Boots & Shoes For Bunions
And Our Top Choices are...
If you are looking for hiking boots for bunions, The KEEN Women's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot and the KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Wide Hiking Shoe are our top picks.
These decisions were not easy; a boot made specifically for those with bunions sounded ideal, however the Hanwag Alta Bunion Boot did not have what it takes for backpacking, an option that many would like to have.
On the mens's side, we were impressed by the Lowa Men's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot; what sold us on the boot by Keen is the durability they offer, something that might be an issue in the boots made by Lowa.
A bunion does not need to keep you off the trails. Take advantage of our research to find the right boots for you and keep on trekking.
KEEN Women's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot
KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Wide Hiking Shoe