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PJCole

Northern Tier Ely Shoes Question

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We are looking for shoe recommendations for Northern Tier Ely trip.  The Northern Tier equipment checklist says a pair of boots with full ankle support is required and if you don't have them, you will be required to buy them at their store.  Is this true?  Past troop leaders have told us that boots are uncomfortable in the canoe because you are kneeling in the canoe and the boot will dig into the back of your ankle.  They are recommending good water shoes.  When they went 3 years ago, the boot rule was not enforced.

 

If you have done this trip in the last couple years, what type of shoe did your troop wear?  Was the boot rule enforced?

 

Thank you!

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First of all, welcome to the forum!

 

Whenever I have been at the BWCA we did not go through any outfitters nor did we use Northern Tier resources.  It was far cheaper to just do our own thing, so I cannot speak to the rule issue.

 

But I will have to admit the boot thing makes sense.  I know of at least 2 boys who lost water shoes on portages when they went knee deep in mud and had them sucked off.  It was fortunate they had other athletic shoes or borrowed from buddies as a backup.  We were lucky.  I also speak from experience the extra 85# of canoe weight or 100#+ of double duffles puts a ton of extra strain on ankles and knees and the portages are not paved and a twisted ankle can happen at any point.  Once that happens, the trip is over.

 

My brother has had experience with others breaking bones.  They were two days into the week-long trip and it took two days to get the person out and to the hospital.  It was a leg so they had to carry him as well.  

 

To avoid hassles and be prepared, I would put up with a little discomfort of the boots if one is going to do a lot of portaging.  Personally I always wear the military jungle boots when canoeing,   Kayaking a lighter weight watercraft and not needing to portage very much, I have used water shoes for that.  That's just local stuff where a second pair of footwear is easily accessible.. 

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1) WELCOME TO DA FORUMS!

 

2) I need to second Stosh. I didn't do BWCA, I did LaDomaine, Quebec, Canada. From the pics I've seen of BWCA,  LaDomaine was just as wild back in the daywhen I did it. We were told prior to the trip that USGI jungle boots would be needed as we would be doing portages.  I AM SO GLAD I BOUGHT MY ALTAMA JUNGLE BOOTS! (emphasis, ok maybe a little shouting with joy ;) )  They provided enough support, and wouldn't come off.

 

I've done 3 week-long fifty-milers and multiple weekend and day trips wearing jungle boots. I've had no problems. In fact this past weekend doing canoe training with the troop, we had one Scout with tennis shoes on that came off in the mud. I had no fears.

 

3) WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT BUY THE CHEAP ROTHCO IMITATION JUNGLE BOOTS!!!!!!!!!! (DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER!)  I was footing the bill myself for the trip, and was pinching pennies. I SCREWED UP AND GOT THE ROTHCO IMITATION JUNGLE BOOTS! Within a  week of buying them, I was doing a canoe training for the trip, and the sole of one of the boots ripped partially off the boot due to mud. Thankfully the place let me exchange them for the ALTAMA JUNGLE BOOTS.

 

4)  I do not remember how long the first pair or  second pair of ALTAMA JUNGLE BOOTS lasted. Old age is getting to me . :) At one point I had both pairs at the same time. But my current, only pair I've had for about 7 or 8 years now. If I didn't have 3 Scouts to support, I'd get a second pair today ;)

 

5)  I have the condura cloth and not the cotton duck cloth boots. There is apparently two types of the boot: a Military Spec (condura) and Commercial Spec ( cotton).  I'd stick with mil spec.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Altama-Footwear-6853-Leather-Cordura/dp/B00471622S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432297550&sr=8-1&keywords=altama+jungle+boots

 

http://www.amazon.com/Altama-4155-Black-Jungle-U-S/dp/B005343NTI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1432297550&sr=8-2&keywords=altama+jungle+boots

Edited by Eagle94-A1

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I have not been to Ely, but have canoe Northern Ontario (Wawa area) for the last 30 years. I wear old tennis shoes with wool socks in the canoe, and on portages up to 200 meters.  Over 200 meters or so, we change into dry socks, and put on our backpacking boots.  We are in and out of the water a lot, and do a lot of lining of the canoes through rapids.

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I used jungle boots with wool socks.  Some days there's too many portages to take time changing shoes.  The boot/sock combo kept me comfortable and gave me support.  Once at the campsite for the night, the first thing I did was change into my camp shoes - a light weight, packable shoe.

 

Since my foot has stopped growing (long ago) I bought Wellco Jungle boot Gen II.  ~$100 if I remember.

 

For my son, we got the jungle boots from Academy.  They lasted, were comfortable and ~$30.

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First:  Bring a good pair of boots with ankle supports that you have broken in, and bring a pair of water shoes.  Use the boots for portaging and for camp wear, use the water shoes for canoeing.  Yes, it means you will need to take a few extra minutes changing into and out of the boots when portaging, but it's worth it (besides, you're not in a race and those few extra minutes could be the key to seeing some amazing things).  Besides the aforementioned mud, portages are also often strewn with rocks or abounding with tree roots - and you don't want to be wearing water shoes over that kind of terrain.  If one of those adult leaders insist you don't need boots, then call his bluff by asking if he's going to pull out his credit card if they do enforce the rules and make you buy a pair at their store.

 

Second:  Kneeling?  In a canoe?  Almost every canoe I have ever seen has seats in them - use them - they aren't just there for decoration - they are a lot more comfortable, and you can see what's ahead of you much better.  Not used to it?  Practice now.  Not only should you sit in the seat, it's also a good place to put a floating seat cushion.  If the outfitter is fitting you for a canoe paddle correctly, it should be the perfect size for you to use while seated - in fact, it should be too long for you to use comfortably while kneeling.  The only time you should need to kneel in a canoe is if you're traveling down a river and are using yourself as ballast to add stability to the canoe, or if you're in rough water on the lake.  Otherwise, you'll be mostly on lakes with equipment packs in your canoe that will provide plenty of ballast and stability.

 

Third:  HAVE FUN!!!!!

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CalicoPenn - the Northern Tier High Adventure Base assigns 3 people to each canoe.  There are 2 seats for the 2 people paddling, and the 3rd person kneels between the 2 seats.   

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CalicoPenn - the Northern Tier High Adventure Base assigns 3 people to each canoe.  There are 2 seats for the 2 people paddling, and the 3rd person kneels between the 2 seats.  

 

When we went we had 3 people and 4 duffles for each canoe.  The person in the middle leaned against 2 duffles and put his feet up on the other two and went to sleep for most of the day.

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keen-gorge-water-boots-for-men-in-forest

Here's an idea for a water boot--Keen Gorge Water Boots--however, this model is discontinued.  Less expensive than boots in the NT Trading Post.  These boots were acceptable by BSA NT standards.  SM's son wore these for BSA NT 2013 expedition out of Atikokan, ON and into Quetico.  SM said they were perfect.  Rugged soles with 3mm neoprene and adjustable straps.  

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I used jungle boots with wool socks.  Some days there's too many portages to take time changing shoes.  The boot/sock combo kept me comfortable and gave me support.  Once at the campsite for the night, the first thing I did was change into my camp shoes - a light weight, packable shoe.

 

Since my foot has stopped growing (long ago) I bought Wellco Jungle boot Gen II.  ~$100 if I remember.

 

For my son, we got the jungle boots from Academy.  They lasted, were comfortable and ~$30.

Jungle boots are what our crews used also. The Academy boots are cheap and held up ok 15 years ago. Take duct tape just in case. A couple scouts did fine with running shoes, but they wore wool socks. I was worried about their ankle support.

 

I have sinced used low top fishing hiking shoes and the are the best. But these aren't typical water shoes, the are high quality hiking shoes designed for water, mud, rocks and tough hiking. My shoes have been on two Boundry Water treks on the Canadian side, as well as other tough hikes around the world. I just recently used them to hike up a 2000 ft muddy trail in Hawaii with my wife.

 

I admit we have never used two different types of shoes for Northern Teir like CP suggest. Never even thought about it. But I can't see doing a trip without any shoe getting wet and muddy, so I don't see the advantage. Some portages are only 30 seconds long and can get backed up with several crews waiting to cross. When it's your turn, everyone behind your crew expects you get out and move out fast. Not a lot of time or space on those entry points to change shoes, but we have not tried it either.

 

The key to comfortable feet are the wool socks. I like to use thin Coolmax liners as well. No matter how wet they get, the feet feel dry. Take two pair, one to dry while wearing the other.

 

Have a great trip, Northern Teir is a lot of fun.

 

Barry

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 Some portages are only 30 seconds long and can get backed up with several crews waiting to cross. When it's your turn, everyone behind your crew expects you get out and move out fast. Not a lot of time or space on those entry points to change shoes, but we have not tried it either.

 

 

Barry

 

I am glad I live in Michigan, and can get into Ontario, north of Sault Ste. Marie is about 5 hours driving time. 

 

The last time we did an Ontario river canoeing trip, we took the Agawa Train, got off, and did not see anyone else for a week!  No problems with permits, or having to rush through a portage, or worrying someone is going to take the best campsite. 

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