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Shoe Widths: FAQ

December 13th, 2012

Trying to understand running shoe width differences can be mystifying. To help you out, below we’ve answered the shoe width questions most frequently asked by customers.

How Much Wider is a ‘Wide’ Shoe?
The actual width of a shoe will vary a bit from brand to brand and shoe to shoe. For instance, one of our RW staffers can wear most New Balance shoes in a standard width, but finds even the wide width of most Saucony shoes to be a bit snug. When a shoe increases by a width (for instance, from D to 2E), it increases by about 10 millimeters.

How do I know if I might need a wider shoe?

If you’re getting blisters on the sides of your forefoot, if your foot hangs over the edge of your shoe’s platform, or if the shoe is cutting off circulation to your toes, then you might need a wide or extra wide shoe.

How do I figure out which width I need?

The most accurate shoe fit, including width fit, is measured using a tool called a Brannock Device (shown above). Most running retail stores will use this tool to determine the size and width shoe that will work best for you. If you don’t have access to a Brannock Device, then you can gauge which width you need by the fit of a standard width running shoe.

If the upper of a standard width running shoe is too snug, but the platform feels good, then you probably need a wide shoe. If your foot is spilling over the platform of a standard width running shoe, then you likely need an extra wide shoe. If the upper of the shoe feels too roomy, then you might try a narrow shoe.

What’s a “regular” width shoe?

For women, the standard width is “B,” and for men the standard width is “D.”

What part of the shoe is wide in a wide shoe?

In most wide shoes, the upper material around the forefoot is about 10 millimeters wider than the upper of a standard width shoe, while the shoe’s platform does not change. In an extra wide shoe, the upper of the shoe is wider than a standard width shoe, and the platform is also about 20 millimeters wider than a standard width shoe.

What part of the shoe is narrow in a narrow shoe?

In most narrow shoes, the upper material in the forefoot is about 10 millimeters narrower than a standard width shoe, while the platform does not change. In an extra narrow shoe, the forefoot area is narrower than a standard width shoe, and the platform is about 20 millimeters narrower than a standard width shoe.

Which widths are available in Men’s running shoes?

Narrow: B
Standard: D
Wide: 2E
Extra Wide: 4E

Which widths are available in Women’s running shoes?

Narrow: 2A
Standard: B
Wide: D
Extra Wide: 2E

If a woman needs a D width shoe, can she buy a Men’s D width shoe?

Yes. A woman’s wide shoe (width D) is the same width in the upper as a Men’s standard shoe (width D), though note that in most cases the Women’s shoe will be built on a B width platform, while the Men’s shoe is built on a D width. Also, the upper dimensions of the Women’s shoe may be slightly different than those of the Men’s shoe, if the manufacturer uses a gender-specific fit. If a woman is buying a Men’s shoe, she should size down 1.5 sizes from her typical shoe size to figure out her Men’s shoe size. For example, if she wears a size 9 in Women’s, she would wear a size 7.5 in Men’s.

How do I find shoes available in wide widths on your website?

First, click on the “Search Shoes” Product Finder on the right-hand side of our homepage. Then, select either the Beginning or Experienced shoe finder. In both of these finders, you can search for narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide shoes. Shoes available in widths also will display “Widths Available” beneath the thumbnail picture of the shoe on category page.

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