it seems in the last few years my feet have grown and its much harder to find a pear of hiking boots. I have returned 2 boots in the last week to REI because of comfort. I ended up keeping the Keen Targhees. ( not my first choice for backpacking). They seem to be comfortable but a little loose feeling around the ankles. Im starting to get frustrated because all of a sudden I cant find a hiking boot that is comfortable like I used to be able to. any ideas
I can sympathize. My feet changed a lot over the years, I use to wear 10, now I wear 11.5 (!), and brands I use to love are now impossible for me. I now wear Keens, but Merrells and some Vasques will fit feet that work ok in Keens. Best to go to a store and get help, get your feet measured, try on a number of types. But that seems like what you are doing already. It's also possible that wearing a different thickness of sock could help, or perhaps getting some sort of after-market insoles. Good luck.
REI is getting pissed off at me for returning the shoes. I went with a trail runner. It feels like a tennis shoe with a little more support. Northface 109 gtx. They feel really good and the reviews say they are good for both trail running and light backpacking. we will see. I went through this in Nov for a backpacking trip at big bend. Bought some columbia brand shoes( i know cheaping hiking shoes) that were confortable walking around in but bad after 6 miles on the trail. My feet were in hell.
I've run the gamut from logging boots, to heavy Danner "backpacking boots" to light trail runners. I wore trail runners until I bruised my heel badly on a long trip in the Sierra that had lots of lost elevation with a pack that was too heavy, as my wife was sick and I took lots of her pack. I went back to light boots and have ended up with the Targhees, also. Since they don't have a second top eyelet, or really any way to lock your heels down with the laces, I found a Superfeet insole helped by: A. took up some room. B. they have a pronounced heel cup that locks your heel in place. C. the extra protection on the heel and arch support is a good thing. D. the Keen insoles are...well... junk. Fit is a very subjective thing. I put a lot of miles in lately. and figure my feet are pretty toughened up, especially after a few hundred miles of mico-spike use. Yesterday, I went to several stores and tried on 15 different pairs of trail runners trying to lighten up a little. Didn't pull the trigger. The Targhees are it for me.
I'd stay away from anything GTX unless you're always hiking in the rain/snow. And most of the time, even then.
Other than that, what others have already said and it seems like you're doing - try on different shoes and see what fits. If you have wide feet, New Balance makes most of their styles in 2E and 4E, which is nice. I'm a fan of their Leadville trail runners. Also a fan of La Sportiva trail runners.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
One more pair of Montrail Hardrock trail runners, and I'll have to go through this, too!
Tell the bozos at REI that hiking in the store (which I presume you do) is a lot different from hiking on the trail! You could take a pack to the store and hike around for an hour or two--but that's still not a perfect test!
I have ended up getting my shoes from intenet sellers like Zappos and Shoes.com, which pay free shipping both ways, and let you return until you are satisfied. Only caveat is that you have to try them indoors and keep them clean--which eliminates the trail test. And it helps to know what you're getting, also hard when shopping online.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
My Wife has problem finding boots that are wide enough now she just purchases men's boots but before that we purchased shoe stretchers and would spend a few days stretching them seemed to work well on shoes that would otherwise be unbearable for her to wear.
Leave nothing but footprints Take nothing but pictures Kill nothing but time