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Advice on hiking boots

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Advice on hiking boots

Postby potatopants88 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:47 pm

Hello, this is my first post here! We first visited Yosemite last year and we loved it so much we're going back this year, in June.

I'm no expert on hiking, and I was hoping for some advice on hiking boots. Last year, I used an old pair of leather hiking boots of no notable brand that were supportive but heavy. We did Upper Yosemite, the Mist Trail, and part of John Muir. We plan to do those again this year, and I'm wondering if the ankle support on higher boots is something you think is really important for these types of trails. I tried on a couple pair of lower cut shoes that I really liked (Oboz Contours and Patagonia Drifters). Will I miss the ankle support for day hikes like these? Would I be better off getting a higher boot (like the Oboz Yellowstone)?

Thank you for any insights you have!
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Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:49 pm

You need what works for you. I'm sorry, there is no answer that works for everyone.

I have been criticized and scolded because I always use trail runners unless I'm snowshoeing. Trail runners work for me better than boots. Boots are unnecessarily heavy and bruise my ankles, and the only time I have ever sprained (nearly) an ankle, it was in boots. More than 600 miles hiked in 2010, all in trail runners, never a foot injury.
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Postby potatopants88 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:16 pm

Okay, thanks, that's good to hear!
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Postby Wickett » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:39 pm

I had the big Asolo hiking boots, they gave me blisters(even after a year) and I was worn out. I switched to TNF low top hiking shoes and I love them! I liked them so much I bought another pair for everyday use.
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Postby LVRAY » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:35 pm

You will really need to try on as many boots as possible to see what works for you. Bring your hiking socks to the store to get the right fit. And remember your feet will swell when hiking.

I am also not a fan of big leather hiking boots at all!. I do all our spring-summer-fall hiking (on and off trail, peak bagging, etc.) using very lightweight trail runners. If we are on a well maintained trail, I use sandals. I am a firm believers that the need for high ankle support is greatly over stated by boot manufacturers. I also do not believe in Gortex. Light weight trail runners will dry out in very little time - and they breath. Most places you go, the staff will push the bigger, heavier boots (they make more money!) with all types of comments about pack weight, uneven terrain, yada, yada, yada. But do some research first and don't believe everything they tell you.

But it is all a matter of comfort, both on your feet and in your mind. If you feel uncertain hiking in low ankle trail runners, then go for something with more support. Eventually, as you get more comfortable, you may want to look at lighter footwear.
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Postby hotrod4x5 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:07 pm

Whatever you do, get them a few months before you go so that you can properly break them in and identify any problems. The last thing you want is to go hiking and get blisters.
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Postby oakroscoe » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:22 am

There is some excellent advice being given out here!

I agree with both LVRAY and hotrod. Boots are a deeply personal choice and you have to go with what works for you. The last couple of seasons I have gotten away from heavy boots and gone to lighter trail runners and I couldn't be happier, but each foot is different.

A brand I've had nothing but good luck with is Merrell, but again every foot is different. Like hotrod said, make sure to wear them in before you go.
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Postby bill-e-g » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:23 am

The beauty of the trail running/hiking shoes is that you take them
out of the box and you're good to go. No break in required.

For spring hiking in nearly 100% snow coverage... I'll stick with
the goretex and sealed shoes, beats the crap out of changing
socks frequently or having wet feet all day. If only hitting water
every so often, then no goretex, sure.

Boots only for Snowshoeing...

My 2 cents.
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Postby balzaccom » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:49 pm

oakroscoe wrote:There is some excellent advice being given out here!


BUt not that last post! Grin.

BTW--the one reason I wear a lightweight boot instead of trailrunners is that on very rough terrain, I like the extra protection that boot sole gives me. But we do a fair amount of off-trail travel...and I may have sensitive little tootsies. :^)
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Postby potatopants88 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:50 pm

Thanks for all the advice, particularly the heads up about folks at the stores, because my next step was to head to REI and talk to someone there. I'll keep in mind that they just might want to try and sell the more expensive boot.

I certainly appreciated being waterproof last year when we crossed a few falls, and I'm quite sure I avoided a lot of ankle scrapes along the way too. But so far the boots I've tried aren't really as comfortable as the lower shoes. Although I've certainly got at least a few more boots I'd like to try. The Oboz Yellowstones and some Merrells are on my "to try on" list.

Mostly with a boot I'm worried about blisters. Am I wrong to think blisters are more likely to occur with boots than with shoes? I do think I feel stable enough on my feet to not necessitate a boot so I'm not positive I'd miss the stability.
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Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:29 pm

Blisters have nothing to do with boot/shoe, everything to do with fit. Boots that fit will not give you blisters. Many models of shoe/boot, even within the same brand, will be differently proportioned - I need a wide and long toe box with a narrow heel, so generally look for Montrails, but not all types of Montrail will work for me - some have a higher volume and flop around some, others will fit my foot as if made specially for me.

I normally avoid Goretex like the plague since my feet are sensitive to heat. I'd much rather have damp feet than hot, wet feet - and Goretex does not breathe as well as "breathable" seems to indicate. Once you step in the water over the edge of the shoe/boot, your feet are wet and they will stay wet for hours. With my non-gore trail runners they can be dry in 1-2 hours while I hike, and my socks only a little bit damp. But Wildwood TRs are mostly mesh on top. I can feel the wind through them when it's blowing hard.
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Postby john » Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:43 pm

I like bigger boots myself. I have been on a couple of long trips (70-80 miles) with both light and heavy boots, with very different results. The earlier one I went with some light Merrils and my feet were not only riddled with blisters, but the soles of my feet were unbelieably sore from walking on all those rocky trails. The later trip I took my heavy leather boots and not only did not get blisters, but hardly thought about my feet at all during the trip.

While my buddies were nursing their wounds and dressing blisters in the morning while breaking camp, I was tossing a fly around the lakes and streams.

Don't get me wrong, for short dayhikes light shoes are great. Some people can get away with them, but it's not for everyone and certainly not for me.
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Postby AlmostThere » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:58 pm

I just completed a 30 mile overnight on very steep terrain in trail runners. No blisters. Same shoes took me 60 miles in four days over four high passes on the JMT last August, walking on granite. No blisters.

It probably also helps that the first thing I do is tear the stock insole out and slide in a pair of Superfeet.

If I expect to do more than 15 miles in a day, I might use a dab of Hydropel, just to be on the safe side. But on the trips I've forgotten to throw in the Hydropel jar, I've been fine.

I think it depends on how much hiking you do overall, too. If you go out a lot, your feet become conditioned to the constant movement and friction. If you never go, slap on a pair of boots you rarely wear, and hike, you'll probably have problems.
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Postby LVRAY » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:54 pm

I would suggest that it was the fit of the boots themselves and not the fact that they were light weight trail runners. But it also may be a matter of getting use to them mentally. Boot makers, outdoor stores, and many books and magazine articles have been selling us the idea that we need full ankle, heavy weight, full leather boots for decades. The heavier your pack, or the rougher the terrain, the heavier your boot should be. Or so the argument went. We now know this was all quite wrong. But despite all the information to counter the heavy is needed argument, many still cling to their huge boots. Just as many people cling to their overweight packs & tents and carry dozens of items that they will never need. They provide mental comfort. Personally, I can't ever image wearing a leather boot or a high ankle for anything other than winter mountaineering - maybe. I prefer the lightest shoe possible. But as I said, it is also a matter of being mentally comfortable and enjoying yourself. If your boots add to that - great. But I also doubt your blisters had anything to do with the weight of your foot wear.



john wrote:I like bigger boots myself. I have been on a couple of long trips (70-80 miles) with both light and heavy boots, with very different results. The earlier one I went with some light Merrils and my feet were not only riddled with blisters, but the soles of my feet were unbelieably sore from walking on all those rocky trails. The later trip I took my heavy leather boots and not only did not get blisters, but hardly thought about my feet at all during the trip.

While my buddies were nursing their wounds and dressing blisters in the morning while breaking camp, I was tossing a fly around the lakes and streams.

Don't get me wrong, for short dayhikes light shoes are great. Some people can get away with them, but it's not for everyone and certainly not for me.
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Postby balzaccom » Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:33 pm

Everybody is different. I can wear just about any kinds of boots, and I don't have problems on the trail. The one thing I pay attention to is rigidity, because on very rough trails I tend to pound my feet and bruise the bottoms sometimes. But really, I can walk in anything.

My wife continually has trouble finding shoes that work for her. She is not a "tender maiden" and not prone to complaining, but shoes are a problem for her,. and she has tried everything,

The only true thing about shoes is that your mileage may vary!
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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