I get a reasonable number of questions about width when it comes to running shoes, particularly the width of the toebox. Personally, I like a toebox to be roomy, and despite my fairly average width foot, there are shoes that I’ve purchased that I have had to return since I could barely squeeze into them (e.g., the Nike Waffle Racer XC shoe).
The moment I put a shoe on, I can almost instantly tell whether or not it’s going to be a good fit, so I thought I’d try a little experiment. I brought home a pair of calipers from my research lab and measured the maximum width of the toebox in most of my running shoes (as well as a few other shoe types). Measurements were made just above where the sole meets the upper material, so these numbers include the width of the upper fabric on each side (thus, they are slight overestimates of internal width). I also measured the width of my forefoot between the 1st and 5th metatarsophalangeal joints (bases of big and pinky toes) when bearing weight barefoot (result = ~105.5 mm on each side). Here are my results:
|New Balance||Minimus Trail||10||101|
|New Balance||Minimus Road||10||100.5|
|Saucony||Grid Type A4||10||95.5|
After looking at the numbers, it’s gratifying to see that they match up very well with my subjective perceptions. Generally, anything over 100 mm feels roomy to me, from around 96 mm-100 mm is snug but comfortable, and anything under 96 mm is tending toward the narrow end. The results confirmed why I find both Bikenstocks and Crocs to be so comfortable!
There were a few surprises amongst these measurements. First, I expected the Nike Lunracer would be narrower since it tends to give me blisters on the inside of my forefoot. There are other factors that may play into how the forefoot feels, and it might be that a low forefoot height scrunches my foot down or the geometry of the Lunaracer last just doesn’t mesh well with my foot shape. The other surprise was the Brooks Mach 11. I knew the shoe was narrow (as are most XC flats), but I still find it comfortable enough to wear around as a casual shoe. May be that the upper material is stretchy and a bit more spacious than the Saucony Kilkenny, which is also 92 mm wide, but feels tighter.
Anyway, I thought these numbers might be interesting to you, so figured I‘d share.
Happy New Year to all!
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