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Petey091

Closed Toe Shoes

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I've been wearing sandals most of the time (weather permitting) for 28 years. Yes, I was one of the first to get Tevas when you could only get them in small, medium, and large. Sport sandals have come a long way since then. I wear them hiking, canoeing, rafting, and have even worn them rock climbing. 

 

I even worked at a picture frame shop and wore sandals every day. I still have all my fingers and toes even though there was broken glass and razor blades.

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I learned how to deal with closed toe shoes and blisters.  If done correctly one can maximize safety and don't need sandals.

 

9 days in Philmont, no blisters.  One boy who mirrored what I was doing did not get blisters either.  Everyone else did, some were pulling off bloody socks at the end of the day.

 

Trading cuts for blisters doesn't need to be an either/or choice.

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I learned how to deal with closed toe shoes and blisters.  If done correctly one can maximize safety and don't need sandals.

 

9 days in Philmont, no blisters.  One boy who mirrored what I was doing did not get blisters either.  Everyone else did, some were pulling off bloody socks at the end of the day.

 

Trading cuts for blisters doesn't need to be an either/or choice.

Ironically, I was at Philmont over the weekend picking up my son from NAYLE. I was wearing boots because my wife wanted to go on a hike. I stepped on a rock in the PTC parking lot and rolled my ankle. I now have a lemon size knot on the side of my ankle. 

 

I don't blame the boots. I blame myself for not watching where I was going. ;)

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Ironically, I was at Philmont over the weekend picking up my son from NAYLE. I was wearing boots because my wife wanted to go on a hike. I stepped on a rock in the PTC parking lot and rolled my ankle. I now have a lemon size knot on the side of my ankle. 

 

I don't blame the boots. I blame myself for not watching where I was going. ;)

 

That's the importance of a somewhat supportive ankle bracing.  Rolling an ankle on the trail could bring the trek to a quick conclusion.  I wore synthetic hiking boots that came up and gave ankle support but were not the heavy leather.    As the week wore on, I relied more and more on taping my ankle for support.  I was 4-F from the military for flat feet and needed extra attention on the hike with the extra weight of the pack. 

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I am pretty late to this thread but it has been on my mind. I am happy to see there is no hard and fast rule against sport sandals. I have hiked thousands of miles in Chacos and similar without difficulty. My experiences seemed at odds with the conventional wisdom. I am happy to let the fellows and their families sort out what is best for themselves.

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My mom had 16 stitches in the arch of her foot having stepped on a tent stake while camping.  I got 10 stitches in the bottom of my foot walking barefoot on a beach having made contact with a piece of quartz.  My buddy got 5 stitches swimming in a river after someone left behind a glass beer bottle.

 

I often wonder who much grief we could avoid by not taking chances.  I always wear heavy boots while in camp and I haven't had a foot injury since I was 10 years old.  Sometimes in life we get dealt a poor hand, but after the first time, learning to play the hand better is always a better choice in the next time it comes along.

Edited by Stosh
  • Upvote 2

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Our troop does have a rule against open-toed footwear on camping trips.  Obviously there are exceptions.  They used to camp at Sandy Hook, and spend a couple of hours on the beach.  We did not have to wear boots on the beach.  But most of the campsites the troop goes to are so rocky, it's just a matter of common sense.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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While I agree that there is no national rule saying that you can't wear open-toed footwear at camp (at least I couldn't find any documentation that says it's prohibited), I wanted to relate this story that happened a few years ago:

 

I was on staff at our council's Cub Day Camp in charge of one of the stations. One of the days had the inspector show up to do his inspection of the camp for accreditation. We had told families (and it was on the paperwork that families got prior to camp starting) that sandals, and other types of open-toed shoes would not be permitted.

 

While our camp did very well on the inspection, and we got the accreditation and flag to fly on the flagpole, we did get dinged on the report because he observed Scouts and parents who were wearing sandals and flip-flops, despite us telling them not to (and there wasn't any reason for them to be wearing those types of shoes--we did not have a pool or shower facilities).  We did catch some people and sent them home during the week, but we obviously didn't catch everyone.

 

Anyway, on the report it was noted about these people and the inspector wrote "National Camp Rule" next to the note.  He didn't mark off any points (maybe because a national camp rule on this doesn't exist?) but that was noted as such on the report.

 

That, at least for a few years, burned "No Open-Toed Shoes In Camp--That's a National Camp Rule!" into many people's minds.

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I have encountered more than a few that will speak with an air of absolute authority about rules that turn out to be something more like "guidelines".

 

I'm coming up on a little over thirty years as an almost exclusively sandaled hiker. That has included some serious walking; deserts, mountains, long portages and includes The Appalachian Trail which was over 2000 miles long. a lot of walking... I don't want to seem like I'm bragging but I am seriously credentialed.  Maybe I better touch wood, but my foot, ankle, and leg injuries have been wearing boots. I started my switch to sandals in the bottom of the Grand Canyon when I realized that my fantastic Italian made hikers were doing me in.  Luckily I had a pair of Alp sandals tied to my pack.  My footwear had been depriving me of the feedback from the ground that I really needed. 

 

When I finished the AT I went to work as a hiking boot salesman. There is a lot of hype and a lot of fear being used to sell gear. Now my kid is old enough to dip his feet into Scouting, I want play a part in his experience but I'd rather not play along with the misinformation presented as absolutes. By all means practice your craft. Learn to walk in a world full of obstacles. Fill your mind instead of your pack.

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@clivusmultrum  Welcome to the forum!

 

I know a lot of hikers who have personally used different materials that aren't always the recommended choice.  I did not use an all-leather hiking boot as mandated by the SM.  I used the breathable manmade fiber boots that did not produce the blisters the others suffered.

 

When it comes to the boys and making recommendations, I, too, use personal experience and allow the boys to pick the footwear they wish for the trip.  I have extremely flat feet (4-F during the Vietnam War Era) and when I did my Philmont hike I may not have gotten the blisters, but the ankle support was a problem on the last few days.

 

Hap Pigsley is a safety consultant that I have mentioned on forum that I keep playing in the back of my mind.  He said that out of 330 risky activities, 300 times the average person will "get away with it".  29 times, however, will result in injury, and 1 of those times it will result in death.  He did emphasize that the routine of "getting away with it" experiences will give the person a false sense of security to continue the risky activity.  Just sayin'   It's just something I learned because I have been extremely lucky with "getting away with it" all these years.  :)

Edited by Stosh

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A friend, commander of a Armored Cavalry Regiment, went to Philmont in very light Nike boots that had no rand (rubber bumper around the edge between sole and upper) and allowed the little toe to hang over a bit.  Very fit guy - VERY..

 

On Day 5 he was having both the toenails on his little toes drilled  to release the blood under the nails of his pulverized toes.  

 

Rocky trails.  YMMV - literally.

 

Next time he went back with well-broken in leather boots.

 

I used Meindl leather/fabric boots that weighed 1.5 lbs more than his.  No problems.  But, then, I have never had a blister on a foot - just fingers.

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    My point in examining this thread has more to do with what is an actual rule. When thru-hikers discuss differences of opinion on gear, method, technique , the conversation usually ends with "well, you gotta walk your own walk".  As I am re-entering the BSA I am running into people, BALOO trainers and such, that will state something like it is a hard and fast rule and I find zero to support that written down anywhere. I want to make sure I can walk-my-own-walk without undue conflict. Why not get a pair of Oboz or Merrell's and get by with everybody else? The absolute most candid answer for me is that after 3 decades of using sandals for everything but mowing the yard and date night my feet have come to resemble and work more like a Ruramari or Maasai  or any of those people walking big miles in sandals they've made out of a discarded tire. Feet widen, toes spread apart the skin toughens; If you walk the way your species was originally designed, the binding of shoes will come to hurt. 

   Do I think you should do it my way? Nope, not necessarily. Ive got buddies I enjoy hiking with that wouldn't dream of setting out without a proper pair of mountaineering boots and they're do fine for the most part. Am I much swayed by what I learned getting certified as a boot fitter or the various safety experts? Na, not necessarily. Their vantage is limited in such a way that it excludes the most of the human experience. Porters on the Inca Trail or in Kenya were not surveyed. 

    When my guys are ready to move from sneakers to backpacking kit I will offer up the conventional thought and my own experiences with as little theater as possible. I do want to make sure Im square on the actual rules.

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An unshod Indian pony spends it's whole life without shoes.  They are used to it even in rough terrain.  Yet a horse that's lost it's shoe doesn't go very far without finally going lame.  It simply isn't used to being unshod.  A hiker that is used to wearing sandals, except to mow the lawn is not the same as some scout who spends 67% of his day wearing untied sneakers comes from a different world.  As I sit here typing, I am wearing loafers with no socks.  A bit reminiscent of the '60's era.  :)  We all have our own style.  But when it comes to doing an activity different than what one normally does, it might require a bit of going off the normal comfort zone to handle the situation.

 

This brings me to the point where I must ask, why aren't sandals worn while mowing the lawn?  Surely there's a safety factor being added to the not-normal situation of operating a power mower.

 

Scouts spend most of their days either in school walking on hard, but level, smooth surfaces.  Same for at home.  There's a comfort zone normalized for them under these circumstances.  But take that boy outdoors, onto some campsite or mountainous trail and what is considered normal is not there anymore.  Not only are the risks greater, the challenge of walking on surfaces that are not normally encountered makes the effort far more challenging.

 

All I hope, whether it's a rule or not, is that Scouters take into consideration the increased risk associated with encountering an environment that is not normally a part of the scout's experience.  Whether it be shoes/boots, sleeping bags, clothing, or even diet, certain adjustments need to be made to insure the boy has a successful adventure.

Edited by Stosh

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