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To Boot, or Not To Boot

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To Boot, or Not To Boot

Postby Take-a-Hike » Mon Dec 26, 2005 3:30 pm

For Christmas my wife bought me a pair of Vasque boots complete w/Vibram soles and Gore-Tex...the whole thing. Problem is, for a few years now, since we took up day hiking, then branching into backpacking last year, I've worn Asics trail shoes, good ones, but trail shoes, none the less. And I'm very happy w/them. They're getting a bit worn now, but the soles have served me well on granite slabs, talus, you name it. I"ve had no complaints w/them. So the question is...do I really need boots or not?
I've been reading occasionally that some people are basing the type of shoe/boot they wear on the predominant trial they're going to be on for a particular trip. In other words, if one is going to be primarily on a maintained trail, then a lighter trail shoe would be sufficient, as compared to a trip of xcountry, mountain passes, etc., then a boot may be more in order. We carry wading shoes clipped on to our packs and I have no problems w/a quick change for crossing streams, and I have no need for "camp" shoes, as my trail ones are fine for that. I guess what I'm looking for is compelling information that would make me want to keep the boots...( I believe I'm going to have to make an REI trip to get a wider version anyway ), or trade them in on a good pair of trail shoes and use the extra cash for a bear cannister..(which I dread buying, by the way).
We are planning on doing a bit more off trail stuff..I want to take a tour around the Table Lands sometime soon and Mitre Basin (as part of a Cottonwood/Whitney trip) this summer. But, from what I've seen/been to so far, I really see no reason to go clopping around in big ol boots as compared to a good pair of trail shoes, unless someone can tell me otherwise.
TIA for any advice please.
Perry



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Postby Buck Forester » Mon Dec 26, 2005 3:59 pm

Welp, it's really more personal preference than anything. As for me and my house, I much prefer leather boots over tennies or trail shoes. To me they are more comfortable when broken in, and much more supportive. Even if I take a short day hike on a well maintained trail I still prefer them, but they really shine when you're carrying a full load off-trail or on rugged trails. Of course they have to be well broken in and comfortable, otherwise they'll be your enemy. Sometimes I just gaze at my boots and look at the scratches and gouges and worn edges and re-live the places they've taken me. Yes, I'm weird. But I make sure I gaze at my wife more, just so she doesn't get jealous.
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Postby hikerduane » Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:00 pm

From what I have read over at the Backpacker Mag forum, it is personal preference. With the lighter gear now, people can get away with less on there feet also. Steve Armstrong of Sierra High Route fame, only used some sort of tennis shoe and most of his hiking was off trail. See what your feet will take. I use heavy Vasque boots, but when I was younger and carried heavier loads I used cheapy jogging shoes from the dime store I worked at. Got about the same amount of blisters too it seemed.
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Postby krudler » Tue Dec 27, 2005 11:08 am

Personally I think youre better off with the boot, but that is a preference. I love my Vasque's and they have served me well - my feet feel better at the end of the day and they have saved me from more than a few rolled/sprained ankles (basketball hasnt been so kind....). I have a pair of Merrell Chameleon XCR x-trainer/trail runners, and while I like them alot I do notice more of a vulnerability to ankle twisting and overall less support when in them...of course, this is usually during some more adventurous bushwacking, climbing, scrambling and whatnot to out of the way fishing spots rather than straight-up trail walking...but still, on a real hike with a full pack I would definitely rather have the boots.
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Postby BSquared » Wed Dec 28, 2005 2:27 pm

On our JMT hike in 2004, we met up with a guy who had worked out all summer with his trail shoes but found they were too thin for the JMT. The descent from Muir Pass, in particular (it's very rocky) really ate into his feet, to the point that he was unable to finish the trail. His pack was quite light, so he didn't need the overall ruggedness of boots perhaps, but whatever trail shoes he was wearing just didn't seem to have the soles for many miles of rocky trail. So, one thing to think about seriously in this choice is how your shoes and feet react to rought, rocky terrain, even when that terrain is on the trail! I'll stick to my boots.
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Shoes vs boots

Postby Bearlover » Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:24 am

Wow "B" I noticed the same phenomenon. I always hike/work/play in running tennis shoes. In fact I totally swear by "lighter is better" yet... on very rocky trails I have noticed more "complaints" from my dogs than back in the boot days. The way I have compensated is by chucking out the crepe thin insoles that come with my tennies and inserting a pair of "super feet" insoles. As an aside.. Why can't shoemakers just make plain,cheap tennies anymore.. they always seem to junk them up these days with plastic crap and goofy colored stitching etc..?
I have been on a New Balance binge lately.. I like the three lateral grooves they mold into the sole between the toes and arch, Seems to improve flexibility and allow a more natural rocking action.I have taken to tearing off the silly "N".. I tell myself it improves breathability..ya thats it. You should see the shoe salepeoples face when I bust out my pocket knife and carve on a pair of $70 shoes! (Yes I do this right in the store.. call me a shoe exhibitionist) Speaking of breathability.. that is my main problem with leather boots. My feet sweat and blister in even the best quality broken in leather boots.. when I wear light fabric running shoes they do not. Never had any ankle problems at anytime in my life so this may be why I have had better luck with running shoes than some people.
Anyways I find even the best mens running shoe is flat as a crepe after a couple hundred training/trail miles anyways.. then they become work shoes!!! I torture the dam things at my job as a plumber! I think for some people with feet like mine boots just cause problems.. Definitely not everyones gig.
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Postby Rosabella » Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:24 pm

I cast my vote/preference for the leather boot. I had Vasque Sundowners for years and loved them. They finally fell apart on me, and had to replace them with a lighter fabric boot (I had to exit the trail near Bishop; I was in the middle of my hike and didn't have the luxury of time to break in new leather boots :( )

They were decent enough and comfortable, but in comparing them to my leather boots I didn't feel that I had as much ankle support. Also that because they were fabric, they weren't water-proof. I certainly take water-shoes with me for crossing streams, but with my leather boots, I never had to worry about those little creeks or muddy, wet areas.

I'll be making a trip to REI myself.... the R.E.I. store up in Seattle is GREAT!
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Boots vs Running shoes

Postby Bearlover » Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:20 am

Therein lies the rub! I don't need to doff my tennies when I come to a stream.. I just trounce through.. the beauty of light running shoes is they do not retain water and dry incredibly quick. Sometimes I remove the sock and sling them around a bit only to realpply and wear until dry. In fact the pumping action is about the only cleaning my poor wool socks get in ten days!
Try that with your heavy leather boots. Not trying to scoff just stating a cruel fact.. light wicking fabric kicks ass on heavy water logged leather every time and twice on Sundays. :evil:

Okay.. I just had to add a post script.. Last summer upon approaching a ford(not and LTD.. a river fool!) I came upon a group of folks looking for a dry crossing of a pitifully small stream(my opinion) Of course I just blasted through the dam thing and never looked back( not true! I caught a glimpse of their astonishment!! ) For Gods Sake your feet are.. afterall, waterproof!.. Well mine are anyway.. I know, I am a Bastard.
While I am lambasting leather boots let me remind you of one "beautiful" characteristic of leather.. how about that subfreezing .. frozen leather boot on a nice February morning? Personally I sleep with my dogs.. yea try that with a wet leather waffle stomper.. (I am totally insane of course.)Hey! try puitiing the tennies in a large ziplock freezer bag and stuff that into the "Sanctum Sanctorum" of your bag at night.. they wont dry but won't be frozen eighther.
Hey , seriously (I know, nobody believes I can be serious but..) As long as you wear HIGH quality wool and or wool blend (Smart Wool :D ) socks you can pretty much pull off the sneaker thing in any climate. (In my definitely "insane" opinion).
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Postby Rosabella » Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:03 am

Well, Bearlover, you have some points, but for me it's all in preference and what I'm willing to do to balance comfort with convenience. Really, I can certainly understand the benefit to "blasting thru the dam thing"... you're not going to loose any time fussing with switching to water-shoes. Personally, though, I've NEVER liked the feel of sloshing around in wet shoes. I have a tendency to get chilled, so the last thing I want to do is have my feet stay wet and cold by wading thru the inevitable early-morning stream crossing. Obviously, my feet get wet and cold in my water-shoes, but then it feel so-o-o-o good putting my warm dry boots back on.

It's just one of the many reasons I like to go solo. I'd probably drive you crazy - I wash my smart-wool socks every day :D Let's face it... there's not a lot of indugences on a backpacking trip, but puting on a clean pair of socks feels awfully good!!
Last edited by Rosabella on Sun Jan 08, 2006 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby yosemitechris » Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:08 pm

I loved my Salomon Exit Mids but still got some blisters from them. Marmots chewed them to pieces at Pear Lake 2 years ago but I wore them through last summer anyway but finally tossed them this Fall. I usually take along a pair of Tevas for river crossings and for camp shoes. I wish I could wear trail runners but feel I need the support of a boot.

Imagine my surprise while on the JMT in super-rocky LeConte Canyon meeting a gal wearing Chaco sandals. She said she had worn them for hundreds of miles with nary a blister! I should be so lucky. I'd be sure to stub my toe on the first rock!
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