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ScouterRob

Need Recomendations on Hiking Boots

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Can anyone provide recommendations?

 

I am looking for a hiking boot for myself as a leader that I can use at Camporee hikes and also for week long events.

 

I keep wearing sneakers and found out that I need something less snagging and more support. I like something that I can use to stand up for a while(2-3 hours) and also traveling around the entire camporee grounds (3 miles either way). I am also going on week long hikes(in Brush 5-8 miles a day) with family and friends now and realize that the Walmart Ozark Brands are not good enough. I been looking at Timberland since there is an outlet close by but I am not good at choosing a boot for what I need.

 

 

Thanks.

 

 

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rdcrisco: that's a pretty wide open question because there are so many good to great brands of shoes and boots. Today many of the walking, trail type shoes are very capable of keeping your feet comfortable. Some hikers don't use wear boots to hike or backpack in; I don't wear hiking boots and am a serious backpacker. Except having to wear boots in the Army I haven't worn hiking boots since the 60's. I consider Philmont trails and hiking as super highway walking; beautiful and nice but the trails are so great that they aren't as challenging as lots of poor trails in this country. I think some folks buy more shoe/boot than they need; the description you talked about isn't heavy duty walking. I would go to a good shoe department in an outdoor store (REI or Hudson Trails or some such outdoor retailer in your area). I don't think the big box stores can help you fit shoes. Another key to comfortable feet is socks and overlooked by lots of folks. A good shoe person in an outdoor store will make sure you use the right kind of socks. Stay away from cotton; stick to the poly blends, wool blends. Again many good brands - stay away from cotton because they cause your feet to get/stay hot and sweaty. I wear wool socks (various weights) 12 months a year and I live in St. Louis; hot and sticky is the norm in the summer. Spend some time reading articles on the net, would tell you to read "Expert Advice" sections on rei.com. Good luck; your question is kind of liking asking what is the best car.

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Depends on age, your condition and many other things. I'm not a serious hiker but I've done some hiking. I like a boot that stabilizes my ankles so I don't twist it coming down a hill. Also learned the hard way that a vibram or other stiff sole is nice on rocky trails.

 

I have a pair of Merrell (sp?) low top shoes that I wear if I'm not carrying a heavy pack. With a heavy pack and considering the ailments that are attacking me, boots are a must to support the ankles. Boots are also nice because if you step in a creek, your feet stay dry.

 

 

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rdcrisco,

 

Sorry for the long reply, but you asked for it. Following is excerpted from the BSA Backpacking Merit Badge pamphlet:

 

Boots

 

As a backpacker, your feet are as important to you as a plane is to a pilot, or a ship to a sailor. They transport you from place to place, and as long as they are healthy and content, you will hardly notice them. But if they become irritated, they will make their discomfort known with a vengeance.

 

Keep your feet clean and dry, and trim your toenails straight across. Treat tender spots before they turn into blisters.

 

Proper foot care also includes choosing the right footwear. While well-made boots might cost quite a bit more than cheaply made ones, most backpackers prefer good hiking boots. The lightest pairs weigh just a few pounds, and are fine for walking well-maintained trails. Sturdier boots, at 3 to 5 pounds a pair, provide plenty of ankle support and protect your feet even in boulder fields and on cross-country rambles. Mountaineering boots are heavier still, very rigid, and appropriate only for specialized climbing.

 

A pound of weight on your feet is equal to about five pounds on your back, so its obvious that keeping your boots light will enhance your enjoyment of a long walk. On the other hand, you dont want to choose boots that are too light. Lightweight boots with fabric uppers may not hold up to the demands of backpacking, especially over time.

 

Look for boots made of top grain leather which breathes, allowing moisture from your feet to escape. Lacing hooks and eyelets should be durable and securely attached. Lug soles provide the most traction, though smoother soles are usually adequate, frequently lighter, and often cause less wear and tear on the trail. If you plan to hike in wet conditions, modern boots come with another desirable featurea breathable liner made of synthetic material.

 

As with packs, shop around before purchasing boots. Ask experienced hikers and competent clerks to suggest their favorite brands, and then find a pair that fits just right. When you try on boots, wear the same socks you intend to use on the trail. Your toes should have plenty of wiggle room so they wont jam against the front of the boots on downhill hikes, yet the boots should hold your heels so they slip only a little. Carry a lightweight pair of running shoes or sneakers for wearing around the campsite to give your feet and legs a rest, and the land a rest, too.

 

Breaking in Boots

 

Like new baseball gloves, new boots usually are stiff. They must be broken in before you wear them on an extended trek or you are in for a crop of blisters. Although it takes a little time, the process is simple.

 

First, treat your boots with the dressing recommended by the manufacturer. (Different kinds of boots require different dressings.) Rub the dressing thoroughly into the leather with a rag or your hand. This will protect the boots and help them repel water. You may want to guard the boot seams against moisture and abrasion by applying a commercial seam sealer.

 

Some high-quality boots are already treated by the manufacturer. They do not need additional dressing. Follow the recommendations that come with your boots.

 

Wear the boots around the house and on short hikes until they have loosened up. Gradually extend the length of the walks on which you wear them, and soon they will feel like a natural part of your feet.

 

Since boot leather usually comes from steer hide, it has much in common with your own skin and deserves special care. Clean your boots after every outinguse a stiff brush if they are muddyand apply more dressing. Never expose leather to more heat than you can tolerate on the back of your hand. Drying boots by a campfire is a good way to ruin them.

 

Socks

 

Experienced hikers often wear two pairs of socks: either two pairs of medium-weight wool socks, or a pair of thin synthetic ones under a pair of heavier wool socks. Both wool and synthetics such as polypropylene draw moisture away from your feet and help prevent blisters.

 

You may find that a different combination or weight of socks is more comfortable. In any case, carry several sets in your pack, and change your socks occasionally during a long days walk. Fresh socks are absolute ecstasy for hot, tired feet. You can hang sweaty socks on the outside of your pack and let them dry in the sun as you hike.

 

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Thanks for the reply on the information. I am keeping in mind of the socks,but I been using light hiking boots alot and I also been breaking them in. But I still been having problems with my ankles and I feel that I am not buying a good pair of boots.

 

I been outdoor places around here, but the sales person cares more selling a shoe than providing what I need.

 

I am also looking for a boot that is good for the brush, so low cuts are not what I am looking for. My idea of a boot is more of a general all purpose boot that is more built for hiking.

 

Can anyone recommend brands or a place that has good reviews of brands on boots.

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You can spend a lot of money on a good hiking boot, or you can spend a lot of money on a bad hiking boot. When looking at hiking boots, don't assume that because it has a high price, or that it comes from an outdoors store, that it is a good boot. Don't assume that because of the brand, the boot will be good for you. Some people swear by Merrells or Vasques (considered to be top of the line boots by many people - with prices to match (over $150), while for others, these boots just don't cut the mustard. Others swear by Hi-Tec or Timberland, mid-range boots in the $30-$70 dollar range. I personally prefer Hi-Tecs, and have since college, and have worn them on hikes and backpacking trips others wouldn't attempt without wearing $200 Merrells. RIght now I'm wearing lightweight low cut (looks more like a shoe than a classic boot) hiking boot from Alpine Designs, bought at Target for $29.95 - and have not had a problem with them, even on rocky trails in the Chiricahua's in Arizona, and have had them for almost 2 years.

 

You say you have a Timberland outlet? Go check out their boots. Given your estimated useage, you should look at either the low-cut hiking boots, or if you want a more traditional boot look, the ankle height (boot tops goes over ankle)boots. You should be able to get away with a light-weight boot in either of these styles, but if you feel you need a bit more support, a mid-weight boot (sometimes called cross hikers) might be the way to go. Though there are lightweight boots in the classic boot style which may be more than enough. I think you can probably stay away from off-trail (heavy) and mountaineering boots (which are also most expensive).

 

The most important part (other than socks) in buying boots is to try them on - both of them at the same time, and walk around the store with them. If the store won't let you do that - leave and go to another store. Boot sizes and shoe sizes are not always the same. Sure, get your feet measured for an estimated fit, then try on boots one size up and one size down from measurement too. Or skip the measurement and just use your current show size as the base line, still trying on one size up to one size down. And do this for every brand - don't assume that because you fit a 10 in brand A that Brand B's 10 is the same - you may fit into a 9 1/2 or a 10 1/2 in Brand B. Try to bring the types of socks you'll wear when you try on your boots.

 

Also, don't over look the "big box stores". Target carries other brands than Alpine Design - I've seen Nike boots there. Don't overlook places like the Sports Authority, or Dick's Sporting Goods.

 

And to just further cement my image as a contrarian as I wade into the sock discussion, I wear cotton low-cut socks when hiking, except in winter when I will wear wool, and don't blister up - mostly because my boots fit me correctly - blisters form due to the friction between the heel and the boot - if the boot doesn't fit correctly and your heel rides up and down, you'll get blisters, no matter what kind of socks you wear - and many folks get blisters when they wear the two-sock system - especially the poly-pro inner and wool outer sock system - your boot may fit correctly but poly-pro is slippery, and so is wool - and you may find your heel riding up and down in your socks, which can cause blisters. A lot of people solve this by wearing moleskin - which is a protective pad put on the heel so it is the moleskin taking the friction, and not your skin. If you are resorting to wearing moleskin to prevent blisters, your boots don't fit.

 

That's my take.

 

Calico

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As you're gathering, there are many opinions on what makes a good hiking boot/shoe. Good fit is probably the only thing that we'll agree on.

 

Much depends on you. Your condition, your feet, your ankles, your knees.

 

Me, I like a fairly stiff sole that won't bend the wrong way when I step on a rock.

 

With the exception of REI, don't expect too much help at any of the chain stores.

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Every two years I buy a new pair of boots so I can slowly break them in as the old ones are wearing out. I use to wear them daily at work, so it was an easy cycle to get into. By the time the new ones are fully broken in, its usually time to retire the old ones. This last time, I was a little tight on cash so I stopped in at Walmart and picked up a simple pair of LaCross leather boots, they go mid shin height. Very light and give great ankle support, which I am always concerned with, much more comfortable than the high tech, heavy, and bulky Columbias that Ive never really been happy with. These rival the jump boots I just loved when in the Air Force for comfort and support. They quickly became my favorites and hope to find a new pair again this next spring.

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I still have my Vasque 'Whitneys' from the early '70s and while there are better modern designs, they felt like they were literally part of me back when a single trip was around a 100 - 150 miles in the Rockies or Cascades. I knew they would never let me down and probably still won't if I need them for a trip like that again.

Getting a good pair, with good fit, and designed for the use they'll get, can be a long-term love as has been mine. I can't begin to tell you how many hundreds, maybe thousands of miles I have on those old standbys.

I don't wear them often now because I have newer designs and I go on more shorter trips now in different climates. I like my Asolos and my Raichles as well. For day hikes, I mostly just wear good cross-trainers with hard soles so I don't feel the sharp rocks. My ankles are strong so I don't worry much about support but I can see how it would be an important consideration.

My advice: put the factors of fit and feel as well as the factor of type of use you expect to see above price as your criteria. Don't assume that one pair of boots can do it all. And then go out and have fun.

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The Montrail Torre is an excellent shoe. It doesn't fit every foot, but if it feels good int he store, it should work for you. The break-in period is almost nothing.

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We just bought a pair of Vasque Wasatch GTX for our Philmont Trek this summer for my son. I on the other hand wear a pair of Asolo Goretex lined boots. I don't remember the model #, but Uncle Sam issued them to me while I was in Afghanistan and they are great. I've been wear Vasque for years and also had good luck with Raichele, but it has been a few years since I replaced boots. For what your description of general camping and camporees makes it sound like...Go with the Wasatch. Medium weight, good support, quick to break in. A good boot overall.

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