The Worst Types Of Boots (Besides Uggs) That Podiatrists Hate

Even your most comfortable boots could be causing problems for your feet.
These may look comfortable, but if the toe box and footbed don't fit right, they can be just as much of a nightmare as heels.
Christopher Kimmel via Getty Images
These may look comfortable, but if the toe box and footbed don't fit right, they can be just as much of a nightmare as heels.

By now, we all know that, despite their warmth and comfort, Ugg-style boots are pretty bad for your feet, and podiatrists recommend wearing them in small doses if at all. But Uggs are far from the only style of boot that could be doing more harm than good to your foot.

“When selecting boots, prioritizing comfort is a common instinct, but this can lead to a significant oversight,” explained Dr. H. Craig Fox, a podiatrist who practices in Oswego, Illinois, and has over 30 years of experience.

Features that are detrimental to the health of your feet can be the heel height, the toe box width, the fabric and the footbed construction. We consulted three podiatrists to learn more about what to avoid and consider when selecting a pair of boots this winter.

Steer clear of toe boxes that are too wide or too narrow.

As we learned from our exploration into Uggs, shoes that are too roomy can cause issues because they force you to overuse the muscles and tendons in your feet. But Dr. Sondema Tarr, a board-certified podiatrist and foot surgeon practicing at Direct Podiatry Arizona in Tempe, Arizona, noted that a shoe that’s too narrow can be even worse.

“The worst kind of feature of boots for people’s feet would be a very narrow toe box that squeezes the toes together,” Tarr said. “Consistently wearing this style of shoe over time can increase your risk of developing bunions.”

In general, a tapered toe box, which is common in fashion boots, should be avoided when looking for boots that are good for foot health, added Dr. Rob Conenello, a podiatrist with 33 years of experience practicing in Orangeburg, New York.

Instead, look for “a toe box that fits the shape of your foot,” Tarr advised. This means “the toes have enough room to move while wearing the shoe, ensuring your foot functions as normally as possible.”

Keep your heel height to two inches or less.

According to podiatrists, you should wear your sky-high heeled boots very sparingly. “High heels, especially those exceeding a comfortable height, can strain the feet and contribute to issues like ball-of-foot pain,” Fox noted. Instead, he recommends people “opt for lower heel heights that provide stability and comfort. This is especially true if you already have callus on the ball of your foot.”

According to Conenello, a good rule of thumb when selecting boots is to avoid “anything over two inches” in heel height.

Do these pass the two-inch test?
aire images via Getty Images
Do these pass the two-inch test?

But stay away from boots that are too flat, too.

Still, a shoe that’s too flat can be equally detrimental. Conenello noted that the worst types of footbeds are “those that are flat and do not contour to the arch” of your foot.

According to Fox, choosing a proper footbed is a “crucial” step in boot selection: “The footbed of a boot plays a pivotal role in providing comfort and support.”

Among the worst culprits: “Insoles that lack contour and support can lead to discomfort and foot fatigue,” Fox said. “They fail to provide the necessary arch support, potentially causing issues with alignment and stability.”

Furthermore, “boots with non-removable insoles limit your ability to customize and optimize the footwear for your feet,” Fox added. “Moisture accumulation inside boots can lead to discomfort, blisters, and even fungal infections. Look for footbeds with moisture-wicking properties that help keep your feet dry and maintain a healthy environment inside the boot.”

If you do have a boot with a flat footbed that you like to wear, you can improve it by adding “an insole that raises both the medial arch and metatarsal heads,” Conenello suggested.

Avoid synthetic materials that make your feet sweat.

“Non-breathable, man-made materials” are a common culprit for issue boots, Conenello said.

Though it can be tempting to purchase synthetic material boots because they tend to have the lowest price tags, “cheap vinyl synthetic boots of often lead to sweating,” Fox said. “Not only does this make your foot colder in bad weather, but [it] often leads to athlete’s foot, not to mention [foot] odor.”

Still, “performance synthetic materials, exemplified by polypropylene, bring forth distinct advantages,” Fox said. They have a lightweight feel and are breathable, while still remaining relatively affordable.

Another comfortable, breathable material Fox likes is suede. The soft fabric can be especially beneficial for people who have “bony enlargements” in their feet, he said.

Avoid boots not suited for your intended activity.

“Wearing boots designed for a specific activity ensures proper support and protection. Using the wrong type of footwear for an activity may lead to discomfort, pain, or even injuries,” Fox said.

Great choices for casual, everyday wear include suede Chukka style boots, which are a well-suited for people who have to wear foot pads, and Chelsea boots, which are “a versatile choice for those with overpronation problems” and can accept orthotics well, Fox noted. Balmoral boots can be laced tightly to offer better ankle support.

If you’re trekking on more rugged terrain, make sure your footwear is up for the challenge. “Wear purpose-built hiking boots for the outdoors,” Fox said. “Purpose-built hiking boots offer robust ankle support, durable materials, and enhanced traction. Their design prioritizes stability and protection, making them essential for outdoor adventures. Find a boot that has a waterproof membrane built into the boot. For this purpose, high-quality synthetic material is preferred. A merino wool sock is the perfect pairing with waterproof boots.”

Want a pair of comfortable boots? Reviewers say they can wear these all day.

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Steve Madden ankle boots
Promising review: "Can I just say Steve Madden nailed this one!!! I ordered two more pairs. These are so comfortable and stylish!!! I wear them all day and still comfortable! Perfect." — Cynthia
Ugg ankle boots
Promising review: "Love, love, love these. So worth the price! So comfortable. I wore them all day and my feet were so warm and happy. They are adorable but look a bit like slippers. I loved them so much I ordered another pair today. I highly recommend them but only if you like your feet to be warm and cozy!" — Amy Del Santo
An ankle boot with a heel
Promising review: "Perfect fall boot. I agree with other reviews that you'll want to size up a half-size for more toe room. I wore them for 12 hours and walked 5+ miles with no problem on the first day. The shaft is narrow, so it pairs well with straight or wide-leg jeans." — KANDER3
Lucky Brand ankle boots
Promising review: "These are the most comfortable booties I have ever worn. The footbed is divine. I would seriously like to thank the genius that designed them. I can walk all day in them in the city, and my feet feel great. I have both black and toffee leather — very soft leather, which I like. I did take another reviewer's advice and treated them with beeswax sealer before wearing. So, they are holding up pretty well considering how much daily wear and abuse they've had." — M.Jerge
Some over-the-knee boots
Promising review: "I was questionable at first as to if I would like these or if they would be good quality, but boy was I proven wrong about questioning. They are now my favorite boots. I wear them all the time for work, to events, to going out, etc. They work for everything, and I can walk in them for hours, and I hate wearing heels for extended periods. They are cute, go with everything, can be worn anywhere, and are easy to clean if they ever get messy. The perfect boot, and I’ve worn them for a couple of years now still walking as good as the day I received them." — Jacklyn
Dolce Vita
A kitten heel boot
Promising review: "I own these in two different colors, and I am obsessed. I am a hairdresser and stand all day at work, and I can wear them for hours!" — Lynn N.
Doc Marten lace-up boots
Promising review: "I love these boots. I did have to go up in size because there weren't half sizes. I love them. They're so comfortable. I can wear them all day. I stand doing hair all day and have no fatigue at all. Can’t say enough channeling my inner '90s high schooler. Tons of compliments. Very happy with the purchase. They are so soft and the second wear they are broken in!" — Amazon customer
Glove boots
Promising review: "This boot fits like a glove and hugs your feet giving your ankles support throughout the day. I wore these boots on day one and two for 12 hours each day. I work retail so I'm on my feet ALL day on tile flooring which can be extremely painful at times but these boots are awesome!! I will be ordering another pair." — TazN
A pair of chunky ankle boots
Promising review: “These booties are perfect to wear with just about anything! They are very comfortable even if you're on your feet all day. As a teacher, it is important to have comfy shoes, but I want them to be stylish as well. These shoes definitely do both! They fit true to size.” — Janet
A pair of cowboy boots
Matisse Footwear is a Los Angeles-based small business creating affordable and fashionable footwear.

Promising review: "I ordered these boots and wore them for the first time for 12 hours straight in Nashville, Tennessee. I walked all day in them and danced all night in them. They were extremely comfortable!! My feet did not hurt in them at all. I even wore them the next day for another nine hours, and my feet felt great! These boots are true to size. Great purchase!!" — Alyson
A pair of Franco Sarto mid-calf boots
Promising review: "These boots are so cute and so comfortable. I bought these for my 75-year-old mother who thinks she is 25. The block heel is perfect and allows her to balance herself well. These boots are so fashionable that she wears them with skirts, dresses, and jeans. Perfect for all-day wear. She has not complained one time about her knees or feet hurting. She is really enjoying these boots!" — V. Fore
A pair of chunky mid-calf boots
Promising review: “I love everything about this boot, especially the price! These are so comfortable. I have worn them all day long. Goes with anything! Comfort and style for the win!” — DeAnna
Square-toe ankle boots
Promising review: "I just purchased the ankle boots, and I wore them for a day at work. I am on my feet all the time. I felt like I was bare-footed in these! Unbelievably comfortable. I will soon purchase another pair in a different color. I'm so happy to have found these!" — Anne J.
Cougar Shoes
Faux-fur trim waterproof boots
Promising review: "After trying on tens of other brands of boots, I can tell you that these ones are PERFECT! They are SUPER comfortable! I walked an average of 13k steps per day for 20 days on them for my Europe winter trip and my feet and back never hurt! They are warm enough for a 25-degree weather with the right socks. I haven't had the chance to try them in rain yet, but they are supposed to be water-resistant. They are true to size, and there's even enough room to wear thick or double socks without feeling too tight. And the best part, they are beautiful and fashionable." — Nordstrom customer
A Sorel wedge bootie
I've owned two pairs of Sorel wedge boots for 4+ years now and swear by them completely. Not only are they the most comfortable wedges I've ever owned, but they are great for the winter because they're warm and they have traction. I've worn them in rain, sleet and snow and never had a problem. I took them with me on a trip to Paris back in January 2020 and walked 20,000+ steps, and my feet were comfortable the whole time. I highly recommend these and think they are totally worth the price.

Promising review: "So comfortable that I have these in two colors and will probably get more. I can walk around all day in these and even chase around my nieces and nephews!" — Jasper
Trendy pointed-toe knee-high boots with a block heel
Promising review: "OBSESSED. I've been wearing these on repeat all winter. Super comfortable — easy to walk in all day. Very impressed with these boots." — Amy Y.
A pair of Sorel Chelsea boots
I got these boots last fall and wore them around New York for four days straight. I walked so much and my feet were comfortable the whole time. I highly recommend!

Promising review: "Love all of my Sorel boots/shoes! They are very comfortable!! And super cute! I get a ton of compliments! And I’m a cosmetologist, so I’m on my feet all day!" — Stace
A glamorous Chelsea boot
Promising review: "Love these boots. They slip on and off easily. They are so comfortable. I do a lot of walking/standing and I am able to wear them all day. Can easily dress them up or down. Will definitely buy again and in white. NOTE: They do scratch easily but I'd still buy again." — Amazon customer
Free People
A pair of lug-sole lace-up boots
Promising review: "As soon as I opened the box, a leather smell emerged, and I pulled out these beautiful boots. Lightweight and so comfortable. True to size and the leather is beautiful. Can stand and walk all day. Compliments galore. I love my new boots. Thank you Free People for making me feel beautiful." — Bellabodeb
A sweater bootie
Promising review: "They are comfortable to wear to work all day. Easy to match to outfits! My daughter even takes them and wears them occasionally." — KARIBSNRN2010
Lace-up hiking boots
Promising review: "LOVE. I’m an 8, wider food typically. These are so comfortable to wear for hours. I just traveled in them through the airport and wore them basically all day. I also wore them in the snow for a bit. Comfortable and nice! Cozy but not bulky. Definitely recommend." — Azmama
Free People
Free People slouchy boots
Promising reviews: "Top rated for a reason!! I love these boots and had a pair for 3 years, and eventually added other colors due to how much I love them" — kellyannkiernan

"I vacillated about the color of this boot when purchasing. I finally decided on the 'natural cane.' I couldn’t be happier. They are not only extremely comfortable but absolutely adorable. I am a teacher, and I can stand in these all day. If you have the opportunity, BUY THEM!!!" — DayZee72
Sam Edelman ankle boots
Promising review: "I took these boots on a trip to NYC. I walked all day and they did not cause any blisters or extra tiredness. They are comfortable, easy to put on, especially in airport security. They are so trendy and the platform is not tiring at all. They don’t claim to be waterproof but it rained a lot and my feet never got wet. I would definitely recommend these. ??" — Sandra
A pair of faux-suede heeled Chelsea boots
Promising review: "I really like these shoes a lot — they're incredibly comfortable for being heeled boots and I can stand in them all day at work. While I've only gone through one winter with these so far (in Chicago), they still look great! I also sprayed them with water protectant and it didn't affect the suede material at all, so I would 10/10 recommend these." — Sarasri
Kenneth Cole boots
Promising review: "These are the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn! I have wide feet. I live in Florida and hardly wear more than flip-flops and sandals. I needed something for the colder weather and a trip to New England in February. I walked all over Boston all day long and my feet felt amazing even with the small heel. Best choice I’ve ever made!" — melis4806
A pair of waterproof Columbia boots
Promising review: "Ordered these last minute for a hiking trip in CO. Spent all day in these for the first time at Pikes Peak. They were comfortable, warm, and had good traction for climbing. I have wide feet and a bunion, but I was able to order true to size and be comfortable in them." — Adrian
Western-style ankle boots
Promising review: "I love these boots. I have them in another color. I have an unusually narrow foot. As with all boots, I wear a thick sock and use an insert. I can wear these all day long with no discomfort. Perfect heel height." — Dev
Buckle knee-high boots
Promising review: "I love these boots, I could wear them all day, every day. They are comfortable and go with just about any outfit." — KCRAINY03
Lace-up boots
Promising review: "Love these boots. Very comfortable, though I did order a half-size up. I can wear them all day without any problems. Price was fantastic and would recommend to anyone thinking of buying." — Tuppny
Chunky-heel booties
Promising review: "Amazing shoes! So beautiful and COMFORTABLE. Wore them all day at work, and they didn’t bother me at all. I’m on my feet most of the day at work, and there’s no way I could wear any other heel at work. Do size up though!" — Alana

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