Boot Width Guide: D vs EE Width Explained and More

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

What the heck does EE mean? I thought there was only one kind of boot size. 

I remember having that exact thought. Well, if this is your first time shopping for boots and you already know what size you are, but you’re wondering what width of boot you should get, I’ve got you covered. 

So what’s the difference between a D and EE boot? 

These letters represent boot width. Unlike with normal shoes, boots are typically available in a variety of widths to suit different foot sizes. I’m going to break down the meaning of these letters and help you figure which boot size is right for you.

What are the Different Boot Widths?

How Should Cowboy Boots Fit Diagram

Boots are available in a variety of sizes and widths. Width is typically denoted using the following system of letter combinations: AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, E, EE, and EEE, with AAA being the narrowest and EEE being the widest. 

D is the standard and most common size for men’s boots. B is considered “narrow” for men. EE is considered wide and EEE is extra wide. The other letters represent in-between sizes with AAA being the narrowest.

closeup Alden Indy 405 calf leather boots on steps

It is also worth noting that the letters used above aren’t always listed next to the shoe size. Instead, there are several alternative letters you might see next to boot lengths. Standard boots, for example, are sometimes listed as M instead of D, and wide boots can be represented by WE or W in addition to the more common EE.

You’ll find this general type of sizing standard on major worldwide brands. But more heritage brands like Red Wing stick to the classic sizing standard, which is more precise and helpful. 

For most boots, you’ll want to try a half size smaller than your typical sneaker or dress shoe size. 

So if you’re a size 9, try a size 8.5 in your boots. 

I’m not sure which brand you’re looking at, but I have some excellent sizing guides available for Red Wing, Wolverine, Timberland, Dr. Martens, Thursday Boots, Beckett Simonon, Allen Edmonds, Ariat, Tecovas, and a general guide to how boots should fit

Wolverine boots use the word “wide” instead of EE to denote wide sizes for their work boots. Several customer reviews mention that they made a size selection based on the manufacturer sizing chart and the boots broke in fine.

Wide Width Boots: E vs EE vs EEE

model wearing Thorogood for sizing

Since 90% of people will fit into normal width boots, there is often more confusion about less common wide sizes. 

Men’s wide is typically E or EE, with EEE being extra wide and much less common. 

If you’re wondering if you have a wide foot or not, I have two questions for you:

  1. Do most of your boots pinch your forefoot or the ball of your foot? 
  2. Do you have more than an inch of room at the front of your boots?

If so, you may be an E, EE, or even EEE width and you never even knew it. 

You can measure the width of your foot at its widest point and compare it to my boot width chart to determine whether or not you should go for a wide boot.

Mens Boot Width and Size Chart 1

D vs EE Width: How Do I Know Which Boot I Should Get?

This depends on your boot size. If D boots feel narrow, you should try EE boots, which are wide. You can also measure your feet to make a decision about boot width without having to try on the boots yourself.

How to Measure Boot Size

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There’s a “best way” to find your boot size and there’s an easy way to do it. I’ll start with the “best” way, though it’s going to take a trip to your local shoe store. 

Remember going to get new sneakers from the shoe store with your mom when you were a kid and the associates in the store would make you stand on that weird metal device and they’d slide little rulers around? 

That’s called a Brannock device, and knowing your Brannock sizing can be incredibly helpful. 

There are some videos online if you want to buy a Brannock device for yourself and learn how to measure your feet precisely, but I don’t think that’s a great idea. 

Genuine Brannock Device
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Instead, you can just go to a shoe store and ask them to measure your feet. 

If you feel bad because you know you’re not going to buy any pairs of shoes from them, you can bring them a pack of gummy bears or something like that. Everyone likes gummy bears. 

DIY Boot Size Measurement

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You can use a ruler for a DIY measurement. Like with shoes, measure the length of your foot by lining up your heel with the end of the ruler. Measure the length of your foot from your heel to your big toe. 

You can use the size chart below to match the length of your foot in inches to the corresponding boot size.

Although sizing is theoretically standardized, the reality is that different manufacturers have slightly different sizing. A size 9 Carhartt boot will be smaller than a Timberland boot, so knowing your measurements (and even writing them down and saving them somewhere) can be incredibly important in getting the correct size from brand to brand. 

Maybe now you’re thinking, “why can’t they all just make them the same?” The reason has to do with the manufacturing process. During the final assembly stages of the boot, a foot-shaped mold called a last is used to shape the material as it’s put together. 

Since there is no perfect foot shape, there is no standard way to shape these lasts, even if working with a specific boot size in mind.

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Now that you have some measurements of your feet, refer to the chart below to determine the appropriate boot width for you.

An alternative measurement can be taken with a tape measure. To do this method, wrap a tape measure around the widest part of your bare foot. With the tape measure still wrapped around your foot, stand on it like you would normally. This measurement in millimeters can then be used to determine your foot width.

Boot Width Chart

Mens Boot Width and Size Chart 1
It’s easiest to judge your boot width on how brands you know fit you, but this width guide can help give you a benchmark

The measurements above should give you a general idea of the difference in size (measured in inches) between the three most popular boot widths (B, D, and E). 

I really recommend getting your size measured out on a Brannock device, as a lot of slight mis-measurements can happen if you’re using a tape measure or ruler yourself. 

But if you’re curious for a ballpark number, the boot width chart above should be helpful for you. 

Shoe to Boot Size Conversion

If you’ve never ordered boots before, consider half a size down from your normal shoe size. If you’re normally a size 10, try a 9.5 boot. Just like with shoes, you’ll have a period when the boots need to be broken in

If they’re a bit tight when you first try them on, walk in them for a couple of weeks, and the boot should adapt to the size of your foot, becoming much more comfortable.

Since boots generally go higher on your leg than typical shoes (thus there is more material rubbing against you), correct sizing is critical. You know your foot’s measurements, but nothing beats trying on the boots you’re looking to buy, especially if they’re handmade or have other qualities that might make their sizing irregular.

HELM zind profile view

You should try your boots on in the afternoon. Although you don’t perceive it, your feet get slightly wider and flatter throughout the day as you walk around. It’s important to ensure that the boot will be able to accommodate this change without causing you discomfort.

Make sure that the socks you’re wearing when you try the boots on are similar to the kind of socks you intend to wear with the boots in the future. Sock thickness is going to affect how your foot sits inside the boot much more than it would in most shoes.

You may have a pair of dress shoes that require thinner socks to fit into than your sneakers, for example. If you were to put the dress shoes on with thick, casual socks, you may feel that the shoe is a lot tighter than normal or doesn’t fit at all. This same principle is important with boots as you’re likely to wear thicker socks with them and need to take this into account.

Finally, even if you’re familiar with the sizing of one kind of boot, your usual sizes may not always transfer to another kind of boot. For example, if you typically buy steel toed boots for construction, you might find that the boot width you’re accustomed to doesn’t feel right when trying on custom leather cowboy boots. Many factors cause this phenomenon.

Much how different manufacturers make different sized boots, the different techniques used in the production of different boot types will lead to a completely different feel inside. Whenever you switch boot brands or types, keep this in mind.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for boots, finding those that fit just right doesn’t have to be complicated. 

With the right knowledge and a little bit of patience, you’ll be able to find boots that are the perfect fit, both in length and width, even after breaking them in. 

By correctly measuring your feet and using our boot width chart, you’ll be more confident when ordering boots online knowing that the boot width is right the first time. Boots come in various widths and sizes, but not all boots use the same letters in marketing width, so read the sizing guide for the specific pair you’re looking to buy.


FAQs

How is boot width measured?

To measure the correct boot width, measure the width of your foot at the widest point in inches and then refer to our boot width chart to see the corresponding width.

How do I know if I need a wide boot?

If standard boots feel really tight on the sides, a wide boot may suit you better. To determine your optimal boot width, measure the width of your foot at its widest point and refer to our boot width chart to determine which boot width is best for you.

How do I know my boot size?

A rough estimate of your boot size is one half size down from your regular shoe size. To get a more precise number, measure the length of your foot from your heel to your big toe and refer to the boot size chart to determine your size.

Are boot sizes the same as regular shoes sizes?

Boot sizes are generally a half step down from shoe sizes. For example, if you’re normally a size 10 in shoes, you should consider size 9.5 boots.

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