Friday, November 9, 2018

Post Hike Thoughts and Review: Part VII

Next up on the gear review is footwear. When I was starting out I hiked in whatever shoes I had. Since my mother didn't want me wrecking my good school shoes that meant I was in PF Flyers.

It was common knowledge, reinforced by the Scout Handbook, that hiking in canvas sneakers was a guarantee that you would get blisters. However, my shoe size changed with the seasons so my parents weren't buying me hiking boots. The sneakers were cloth, when they got wet, your feet were wet. Cotton shoes, cotton socks, it's a wonder I survived.

Probably the first time I went hiking in boots was after Uncle Sam had issued me a couple of pairs. Rubber soled, unlined leather uppers, vented. Cotton socks. When they got wet, your feet were wet. Still, of all the things I struggled with in boot camp, I did not have trouble with my feet on the hikes. We got the boots wet on purpose and wore them dry. They formed to our feet like an old saddle. I remember those first boots. When I finally had to retire them I found them hard to replace.

All of that is history. There are hiking boots, hiking shoes, trail runners, Gore-Tex lined waterproof boots, Thinsulate lined, Gore-Tex lined winter hiking boots, all in low, mid, and high topped varieties. The problem now is how much do you want to spend and what do you want to wear. Here's a sample of the selections available from REI. I don't even know where to begin. And I suppose that the footwear you'd want for a hike on smooth trails in June would be something different than what I needed in the rocks and mud in Vermont in late October.

Being a traditionalist, I like leather. Being an old guy, I like a lot of ankle support. I also don't like wet feet if I can avoid it. Wet feet and long hikes will lead to foot problems no matter how well your boots fit and how broken in they are. I don't hike enough to justify a selection of more than two pairs.

I have a set of trail shoes. Low top, leather uppers, good tread. They are broken in and I would use them for any sort of day hike with a light knapsack.

And I have a set of all leather, high topped, waterproof, hiking boots. Old style in appearance, they are modern in design, easy to break in, they only downside is the weight. A price I am willing to pay for the comfort of dry feet in (almost!) all conditions. They were finally overwhelmed on my recent hike, leading to hiking with cold, wet feet, and the additional joy of putting damp socks and wet boots on in the morning.

The main alternative is a pair of synthetic lightweight hikers. Then you just hike them wet or dry. They rinse off, dry quickly, and you just ignore the mud and the puddles. That seemed to be what all the cool kids were doing. I have not scratched the surface of this topic. A Google search for best hiking boots, best hiking shoes, and best trail runners leads to a rabbit hole you could spend days in. It's enough to make you give up like a young hiker I met a couple of years ago.

She was hiking in pink Converse Hi-Tops. Several hundred miles into a long section hike the trail name she had been given was Larry Bird.


Old NFO said...

Yep, way too many options, and way too little budget... sigh

Richard said...

A note about REI. They went out of their way to trash gun owners. Basically, they stopped stocking stuff like Camelback because they were manufactured by the same company that also made guns and ammo. I terminated my long term membership.

Joe Mama said...

If you don't like spending money this

is a good option provided your feet are like mine.

LSP said...

Hmmm. Now I want a pair of Converse...

jon spencer said...

For hiking I wear Danner Mountain Light II's, but the only thing light about them is the name.
Really good boots though.

I do know of a couple that hiked 50+ miles in three or 4 days wearing Croc's and they said that their feet were fine. (not a easy trail either)

ASM826 said...


I hike in Danners. Just about like the ones you mention, but high tops, 10 inch uppers with the gore-tex waterproofing.