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Friday, July 1, 2011

A step in the right direction...

Before I get started on this week's post I just wanted to thank everyone for breaking two personal milestones.  Last month we broke 500 total views and we had over 100 views last month alone! Granted in the grand scheme of things that's not a whole lot, but it's a step in the write direction.

Speaking steps in the right direction... that brings me to this weeks topic.  Your feet.  Your feet are critical to having a successful adventure.  Having hiked countless miles on various continents and terrains the right footwear is paramount.  Regardless of what type of shoes or boots that you end up getting you'll definitely want to make sure of two things.  1) They're comfortable.  2) They're broke in.

The type of shoes that you get will depend on the type of activity that you will be doing.  If you're going kayaking you're not necessarily going to want to wear hiking boots.  Same goes for mountaineering.  You're not going to wear water shoes or sandals.  HINT:  Use a little common sense ;)

When I started backpacking it was on a budget, and the boots that were within my price range were military surplus jungle boots by Altama.  They have some pretty good traction, great ankle support, and very durable.  The downside is that comfort is pretty much out the window.  In the end it really all comes down to what works best for you.  Me personally I have a couple different pair of hiking footwear.  From Merrel hiking boots for packing out some heaving gear for the long distance.  I also still use my last pair of combat boots from the military made by Garmont.

If you just have your heart set on hiking in combat boots I would highly recommend the Garmont T8's.  When I first read about the T8 boot I was skeptical about the claims that there was no break in time required, but I had to put it to the test.  The last time that I went to Colorado to go backpacking I hadn't had the boots long enough to break them in, but according to their claims and the reviews this wouldn't have been a problem.  To my amazement after 15 miles, a 4,500 ft ascent, and with a 50lbs pack I had no blisters or hot spots.  These boots will set you back about $120 after S+H from Extreme Outfitters, but for a pair of boots that feel like regular shoes I for one think it's a pretty good deal.

Now moving on to more traditional hiking shoes.  Still being constrained to a budget I've had to choose carefully and do hours of research to hopefully come out with a good pair of boots or shoes.  So far the best that I've used would be by Merrell.  Again, staying around the $100 mark.  Great cushioning, mobility, and stability. 

A couple of years ago a new competitor came on the market making all sorts of extraordinary claims.  You may know these as Vibram Five Fingers.  Funny looking "shoes" with individual toes and looks like a foot with rubber tread.  I recently got a pair of these and I was pleasantly surprised.  I did a test hike around town with about a 20lbs pack and 3 miles of trail ahead of me.  Unfortunately because it is in town the "trail" was paved.  These shoes to me are horrible for pavement, but walking in the grass and on the dirt they're great.

So in closing always make sure that your shoes are going to be able to get you there and back and not kill your feet.

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