What do you do when you see a practically new pair of fleece lined kid's Sorel boots at Goodwill costing under 5 dollars? You buy them and you don't ask too many questions!
The fact they don't fit your child isn't important, even if the child has three sizes to go, the shoes look massive, and you don't know where to store them. You know why? Because that can easily and cheaply be fixed for way under the 70 dollar price tag of purchasing them new.
We don't allow The Barracuda to wear shoes which don't fit him, unless they are his Crocs. (I don't know a single child who can immediately fit their Crocs since each shoe is designed to fit 2 or three sizes.) Fit is even more important when they are shoes he is going to hike in or use to really be playing around outside. The problem is, kid's grow so fast that quality shoes are an expensive purchase. Often, we cannot justify the cost with how little use he will get out of them.
Enter the insoles. Using insoles can allow you to eek a few extra sizes out of quality kid shoes. For this example, the Barracuda is going from a squarely 11 sized foot to a 12.5/13 sized shoe without any issue. As he gets bigger, we just remove the insoles and the boots still work. We have not tried this on K-Mart shoes. It would probably work as long as the shoe has some form of liner or insole itself.
Go and get a pair of hiking insoles from the local outfitter or somewhere like REI, Dicks, or Sportsman's Warehouse. They don't have to be incredibly high-end, but at least a step above Dr. Scholls. These cost just under 14 dollars. Most of these are not produced for kids, so just get the smallest adult size they make.
Next, yank the inner lining out of the boot. If you are doing this to hiking boots, the shoe's insole will work as well. (Very shortly we will post how to get the most out of kid's hiking boots by using quilting foam.)
Place the liner down onto the insole and trace around the edges. Be sure you are lining up the heel of the insole with the heel of the liner. In most insoles it is the heel which is raised going into the arch. Once traced, cut off the toe portion of the insole and trim it to fit the lines. The raised portion should not be cut as it is what provides the structure allowing the kid's foot to stay in place. It is also what eats up a lot of space inside the shoe allowing it to fit.
Fold the insole in half and guide it back into the shoe. I use the word guide loosely. What I really mean is manhandle the crap out of it until it sits in there correctly. To test if it is really in there, squeeze the sides of the liner for feel as Jules is doing in the picture above. The insole shouldn't move around or be so tight fitting it pushes on the liner.
Next, manhandle the liner back into the shoe. The best way to do this is to place one hand inside the liner and the other stiffly hold the back of the heel. Once in, repeat on the other foot.
Then force your child to wear the boots and spring around gleefully with promises of snow hiking so you can take a picture for the blog.
You can always go with the "wear three pairs of thick socks" method that my parents so loved, but they never seemed comfortable. Inevitably my feet would be on fire, or something would get stuck between sock number 2 and sock number 3, or the toe seams on sock 1 and sock 3 were rubbing against my feet in awkward ways which would start to hurt. This method alleviates all those fabulous ways that kids can make a simple hike last an extra 3 and a half hours.