What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

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BurnEm
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What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by BurnEm » May 09 2010 7:46 am

Hi all, i was wondering what kind of footwear everyone prefers for hiking? Any recommended brands of hiking boots? I ask because my boots aren'y doing the trick. I have a pair of Wolverine hiking boots, and they seem allright if i keep the hike under 5 or 6 miles. But if i go on say a 10 or 12 mile hike, my feet get thrashed. Usually end up with 2 - 6 blisters on each foot, and can barely walk at all for the next day. My last hike i tried buying a decent pair of gel insoles to put in them but that didn't seem to help at all. Not to mention the boots seem kind of low cut for my preferance so i end up twisting my ankles alot while hiking on rocks, and if i go off trail they end up filled with burrs and other plant materal that stab my ankles constantly. It gets quite obnoxious having to pull all the burrs and things off my socks or completely remove my boots to clean them out every 10 minutes or so. So i need some suggestions of a good pair of hiking boots, something that laces tight at the very top. And preferably comfortable too. Thanks...
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by kevinweitzel75 » May 09 2010 9:38 am

:welcome:

Where would someone start? HAZ members wear anything and everything on the trail. Hell, I'll bet that some of us are a : rambo : and go with nothing! I personaly wear a hiking boot that is about 1/2 a size too big but snugs up to the sides of my feet. Just a little long in the toe area because if you kick a rock or a log, you don't want to stub a toe. Some of us wear Teva sandles or even tennis shoes. The most important thing to remember is light. Make sure that your shoes/boots are light. The burrs in your socks are just part of hiking. Although, if there is a way to keep that from happening, then you have come to the right place. I'm sure that some HAZ member has an idea.
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BurnEm
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by BurnEm » May 09 2010 10:06 am

My girlfriend swears by sandles, but that just doesn't sound pleasant for hiking in the desert. Not so much for the scorpions, but kick a cholla while walking and that'll ruin anyone's day... Not to mention i need ankle support that shoes and sandles don't offer. My boots are actually steel toe, which has saved my toes in many occasions from falling rocks while climbing around rockhounding during hikes, though it doesn't make them overly light. I don't really think that has anything to do with the blisters though since they're all on the bottoms of my feet.
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by Davis2001r6 » May 09 2010 10:32 am

I swear by trailrunners/ light hiking shoes. I get blisters every time I wear boots. I've had good luck with New Balance trail runners, Vasque and now a pair of North Face.

Your feet will thank you for having something light and comfortable on it. When I try to wear boots my feet feel heavy and I end up kicking things or twisting ankles from wrong foot placement. This never happens when I have shoes on. Give it a try and your feet will thank you.

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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by azbackpackr » May 09 2010 10:33 am

Ok, two issues I see here, your boot fit, and the burrs in your socks. And a third thing, your actual socks. And also some blister products.

For finding decent hiking shoes and boots go to REI, Arizona Hiking Shack, Summit Hut. Go to actual hiking stores, not hunting stores, not Big 5 or Sports Authority or Walmart. Summit Hut is in Tucson but has an online store. REI is in Tempe but is huge online. Arizona Hiking Shack is in the north part of the Valley. If you go into the store you may find they have a salesman who can fit you, also.

Different people find different brands of shoes fit them better than other brands. Many do wear low cut shoes and never twist their ankles. This is because the twisting comes not just from a lack of support around the ankle, but also very important is the configuration of the soles. For lowcut hiking shoes you can't go wrong with Salomons, unless they are too narrow for you. Some wear Montrails, Merrells, Scarpa, Lowa, North Face, etc.

For actual boots, look at Vasque, Lowa, Merrell, Asolo, Garmont, etc.

For the weeds and burrs, wear gaiters. Get the lowcut ones that just cover your socks. Campmor has some that are $20 made by OR--you can find it on the internet. After you start wearing gaiters you will wonder why you never had them before. (I lost mine, need to order another pair!)

Socks are important, too, and you will pay a good 12 to 20 bucks for Thorlo hiking socks, Smart Wool hiking socks, or other good brands. DO NOT wear cotton socks when hiking. They need to be either synthetic hiking socks or a wool-synthetic blend, especially made for hiking.

Another thing is to carry a first aid kit with Dr. Scholl's Moleskin in your pack, available at the grocery store or pharmacy store. Moleskin and other blister prevention products. (Band Aid makes a good blister prevention product called blister ampoules). You want to put something on the spot as soon as you have a "hot spot" there. Don't wait until it is a blister! I find that Moleskin doesn't stay on very well, though. I have a pair of cross country ski boots that give me blisters. I use the ampoules and then big pieces of duct tape over it. I put it all on BEFORE I even leave the house.

However, if you have decent boots and socks you may never have another blister.

Hope this is helpful, and :welcome:
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by rdavisiii » May 09 2010 10:38 am

I wear two different types of shoes. I wear trail runners alot when I am in familiar area that is not too rugged. When I am not I wear a light weight hiking boot. Both are New Balance because you can get it sized nicely by length and width. I wear them a half to a whole size to big(depending on the model/last used), this helps keep your toes from getting smashed up real bad going down hill or just stubbing it. I also wear them wide, 4E wide. Your feet will swell on longer hikes and it is nice to have that space and I have a very problematic right foot that likes the space. If I wear a snug fit boot on the sides I suffer ALOT. Be careful because too wide and you run the chance of blisters. If you go out enough your feet will harden to the blisters and you will suffer from them less. You may also want to try wearing a thin polypro sock under your normal hiking sock, these helps with the direct friction between the boot/sock and foot.
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by azbackpackr » May 09 2010 10:42 am

Here is where different strokes for different folks' feet--I find the thin liner socks give me more blisters because they are slippery so my foot moves around too much inside the boot. Which it does anyway because even New Balance doesn't make boots narrow enough for my foot. (I do wear NB boots, though.) I add extra insoles and wear two pairs of sox, but the inner pair are not slippery poly pro, they are thin hiking socks.
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by BurnEm » May 09 2010 11:00 am

Thanks for the input. I still think i need boots with the ankle support over shoes though. I've always had weak ankles, and everytime i wear shoes and not boots and i'm on my feet all day (just doing your average stuff, not hiking) my ankles end up very, very sore. That's another reason my feet don't feel heavy with boots, is because i've always worn boots a majority of the time, so i'm used to it. I think i had looked at a pair of Merrel boots at REI one time but they were quite pricey, but i guess you get what you pay for, maybe i'll have to try to find some of those again, or check out some New Balance. I do think i need wider boots though, my feet like to have room in there. When i had bought my boots i asked if they had a wide version cause they felt a little snug and the lady told me to just lace them looser at the bottom. Maybe even a larger size too, because going down hill and having my foot slide forward in the boot seems to be what causes my blisters, as most of them are on the bottoms of my toes. Never thought about socks though, i've always just worn regular cotton socks, I think i'll be looking into something better now though. Not sure if i could wear two pairs though, my feet get quite warm as it is, especially hiking on the hot desert floor and rock.
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by azbackpackr » May 09 2010 12:38 pm

Yeah, you don't want your feet sliding forward. Most decent boots are going to be well over $100. In my opinion, New Balance are NOT good quality, but I wear them because I can get them in narrow sizes. They do not hold up very long, though. There is another thread on here where people are saying their trail shoes last only 300 miles. Good boots do last a lot more miles than that, though! I would go with Vasque, Merrell or Lowa, $140 and up to over $200. That is the quality level that I think you would want, from what you said.

I have heard that people with weak ankles do wear low cut hikers, though. It is all in the soles, how the soles are designed, which supports the foot. From what I understand, the ankle collars are only psychological support, but the design of the soles is what keeps you from rolling the ankle.

Now I got to order me some new gaiters!
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by nonot » May 09 2010 1:12 pm

Trailrunners or tennis shoes. Consider adding to them a sturdy insole. The key is to let your feet breathe and not have them slide around in your shoes. Most advice stresses huge thick socks and an underlayer sock, which doesn't work in the desert. I'd recommend for the desert you go with a thin synthetic sock and shoes with light/mesh uppers.
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by PaleoRob » May 09 2010 7:21 pm

I swear by my old Vasque (well over 300 miles on them) and current Merrill boots. I have Chaco low-top hiking shoes, and they are super comfy and great for hiking - but if you are doing steep cross-slope work you want something with ankle support. I don't care what all these "ankle support is in your head" people say - when you are walking mile after mile off trail, parallel to a 30-40 degree slope for hours on end, you will want at least some ankle support. I did both low top and boot in the same environment in Lisbon Valley this last week. My ankles are strong, but I noticed a big difference in stability and control with the boots over the low tops. While I love my Chaco shoes, and will continue wearing them on trails, I think I need to stick to ankle-supporting boots for cross-slope work.
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by ssk44 » May 09 2010 8:40 pm

Most all of my hiking is rugged and off-trail. I need a solid boot with a durable upper. The perfect fitting boot is a very subjective statement. What is great for one person can be terrible for someone else. I have learned over the years to avoid rigid stiff boots. Whatever ankle support you gain will be overshadowed by terrible blisters from your foot not being able to move freely over uneven terrain. This is probably why so many people love trail-runners. I love USA made Danner boots built on there 650 last. The 650 last is excellent for narrow feet and slender heels. My favorite boot to date is the 6 inch Gore-Tex Danner Light II. The upper is a combination of full-grain nubuck and 1000-denier nylon. The sole is a shallow Vibram Kletterlift with a rolled heel. The Danner Light II is a great boot that can handle anything you throw at it. If it happens to fit your foot, you will likely love the boot. :D

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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by Al_HikesAZ » May 09 2010 9:21 pm

"If you want to forget all your worries in this world - wear bad boots" Author Unknown
I agree with PageRob & SSK44. I have weak ankles and hike in rough places so I wear a midheight boot. I do exercises to strengthen my ankles but I still can't get by with trailrunners. Another problem is I find a boot I like and then they stop making it. I like Lowa and Vasque. Looks like Vasque no longer makes the non-GoreTex Breeze (and I didn't get a lot of miles out of a pair) so I've gone back to the Lowa Desert Zephyr mid.

As your distances increase, the problems increase. I loved a La Sportiva boot I had, but it did not allow my toebox to expand/flex enough and at about 10 miles into a hike it became excruciating.

I use BodyGlide on my feet and body. I wear a Bridgedale Liner and a light Bridgedale smart wool sock. I lace my midheights differently for different trail conditions and uphill/downhill. Going down into the Grand Canyon, this can mean the difference between black toenails or happy feet. In hot weather, I'll put anti-perspirant on my feet.
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by tibber » May 09 2010 10:36 pm

@Al_HikesAZ
I lace my midheights differently for different trail conditions and uphill/downhill. Going down into the Grand Canyon, this can mean the difference between black toenails or happy feet.

Could you elaborate on how you lace differently?
In hot weather, I'll put anti-perspirant on my feet.
what kind?
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by MtnBart01 » May 10 2010 7:02 am

Probably not an alternative for your situation, but I've been hiking, working out, and trail running in nothing, but Five Fingers since October of last year. I have taken them to ssk44's Sierra Ancha Treasure, crossed streams, and traversed 40 degree slopes of snow in them. I definitely think that fit and type of shoe is subjective. I hiked in supportive boots and rarely in trail runners or low tops previous to wearing the five finger treks I use now. I have never been able to find a boot or shoe that was comfortable for an entire hike. I don't wear socks in these, have never gotten a blister, and I don't have foot pain. In the last eight months I have changed my opinion of the necessity of ankle support. Because the sole is flexible, my ankles don't pivot around a stiff sole when I step on an uneven surface. I think all of the points people have made are valid and getting all the information you can before making a purchase is important especially since your going to probably be stuck with them for the next 300-1000 miles. I would check out all of the stores mentioned and try on as many different pairs as possible. When you find that perfect pair and know they are the ones after hiking in them buy a back up, 'cause by the time you wear them out if they are not re-soleable they will probably not make it any longer. Good Luck. :)
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by azbackpackr » May 10 2010 8:47 am

I agree with the above--and would go on to mention that people have hiked the AT barefoot. It is all very subjective, in a physiological sense. And probably partly psychological as well.

I have a pair of Vasque Wasatch boots I bought online a couple of years ago. I probably should have sent them back since they are so very heavy and clunky, but they fit me well, they are narrow, which was a plus, and I thought I would just use them for snowshoeing. Anyway, they mostly sat in the closet until recently. (Snowshoes sit in the closet, too, since I prefer xc skis.)

I have been walking to work in them for about a month now, a couple miles a day, so now they are getting broken in. I am going to start doing Flat Top and other very short hikes to start with, see how they do. After all, people work out with weights, why not heavy boots for training hikes?
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by dysfunction » May 10 2010 8:50 am

I wear trail runners mostly. I have a pair of Asolo light hikers and an old pair of Scarpa Trionic Attaks (but I haven't used those since I moved to AZ.. too heavy, hot and stiff really). I like the boots enough, but don't really need the support.. and the shoes are simply more comfortable, unless it's snowy.
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by writelots » May 10 2010 9:19 am

Moved from heavy boots to lightweight, low-cut hiking shoes in the last few years. I know lots of folks say they need the ankle support of a boot, but as one of the clumsiest, weakest-ankled backpackers you're going to find, I'm telling you that the ankle support offered by heavy boots is only as good as the leg that is lifting that boot up. I found that the extra support may have saved me from an occasional twist, but that the additional weight of those heavy boots meant that I didn't do as good a job of picken' em' up and puttin' em' down as it were. I tripped and fell A LOT more than I do with the lighter, lower cut shoes. My feet don't get as hot, either, because these shoes are better ventilated, and that translates into less swelling.

Burn Em' - it sounds like you have the same problem with foot swelling that I do. I'm fine for <7 miles, but over that, and after several days, my feet get almost 2 sizes larger. I start out with a pair of hikers that's 1 - 1 1/2 sizes larger than my regular running shoe, and 2 pairs of socks (one a thin liner sock). Trust me, it's no hotter than one pair - in fact, sometimes the cool wicking layer helps with heat. Then, once my feet start to expand, I remove the liner sock and have a little extra room in the shoe. If you've got blisters on the bottoms of your toes, you may also want to try toe socks (by Injinji). They're a bit spendy, but I don't hike without them anymore. They've completely changed my life on the trail, and if I could do it all over, I might marry them ;)

The last pearl that I'll add here is that when you are getting started with frequent longer-distance hiking, your feet are going to take some hits. Think of it the same way you might think of building muscle or stamina. You just gotta get those buggers used to the abuse, and you gotta treat 'em good whenever you can!
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by BurnEm » May 10 2010 9:30 am

Yea i just discovered the toe socks while browsing online at REI last night. They look like they'd be hot and uncomfortable, but i bet they do help alot with blisters. Either way i'm definitely going to be investing in some sort of hiking sock now. Also after browsing around for boots online i think i decided that i really want to try Lowa Zephyr GTX Mid Hiking Boots, though i guess it all comes down to how they feel when i try them on. But there are several in the Lowa line that looked appealing to me, so i guess i'm due for a trip to REI. Thanks for all the suggestions.
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Re: What Do You Wear On Your Feet?

Post by Al_HikesAZ » May 10 2010 10:59 am

tibber wrote:@Al_HikesAZ
I lace my midheights differently for different trail conditions and uphill/downhill. Going down into the Grand Canyon, this can mean the difference between black toenails or happy feet.
Could you elaborate on how you lace differently?
Easier shown than said. For uphill you lace for flexibility in the ankle. For downhill you want to lock the heel back in the heelbox so that the foot doesn't slide forward. Either way you want to lace the toebox for comfort. There are different lacings but I use a fairly quick and simple one. I'll work on an explanation, but it might take a while because I am having computer problems. I would suspect there is something on youtube from some of the boot manufacturers.
tibber wrote:
In hot weather, I'll put anti-perspirant on my feet.
what kind?
Any kind. I use Degree. The same idea that it reduces underarm perspiration applies. I start spraying my feet a few days before a hot hike and stop spraying my pits. I want to sweat, just not on my feet - and I don't care what I smell like (TMI?). Your feet will still sweat just hopefully not as much.
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