I’m a Bigfoot. As in, I have really big feet. Size 15 to be exact. Fifteen years ago, it used to be near impossible to find a pair of shoes large enough for my oversized flippers—even a size 14 was hard to come by in most retail stores, especially outdoor specialty shops. But these days most manufacturers create multiple styles up to size 15—and many retailers even stock them. What gives?
Turns out that as Americans have gotten fatter, their feet have gotten flatter. All that extra body weight causes all the ligaments and tendons in the feet to slowly stretch out over time, flattening out the feet and causing them to lengthen. Thirty years ago, the average male shoe size was 9.5. Today it’s 10.5. For women, it’s 7.5 and 8.5, respectively. (Here’s a great article from Slate Magazine that details the trend in women’s shoe size.)
For Sasquatches like me on the end of the foot-size bell curve, that also means there are more of us giant-footed folk out there—and thus more options for size 15 footwear as manufacturers adjust in response. That doesn’t mean that size 15 shoes are everywhere, just that more are available than used to be.
In my next post, I’ll detail some more specifics on my various quests to find specialty outdoor footwear, including plastic mountaineering boots, skate and randonee ski boots, and bike shoes. For now, I’ll just offer the following tip for my fellow Sasquatches:
1) If you’re looking for outdoor footwear in size 14 or above, focus on American companies. European shoe companies rarely produce models above a European size 49 (about a US 14).
2) Shoes from some companies almost always run big, notably Merrell. A size 14 Merrell actually fits me, whereas some size 15s from other companies (notably Keen) run too small to fit.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.