View Full Version : Footwear

2006-11-16, 16:27
Have a question for the experienced people here.

One of the things I have been struggling with for a long time now is footwear.

Think long term, out for a minimum of 3 months. No resupply. No contact.

I have tried a few things. Have switched between lightweight to durable, waterproof to quick drying, from low, below the ankle, to high, to support the ankle.

Have tended recently to low, below the ankle. Not too sure I like the decision. No ankle support and shoe fills with water rapidly even in light rain. Also, foot and ankle exposed to injury. Being jabbed on the ankle with a stick (blunt or sharp) can cause you to have to stop for hours or days.

Conditions: all over the place. Must contend with rolling hills with brush to tropical (not swampy) to dense forest. Desert and mountains above tree line not a consideration. Rock climbing limited to scrambling over scree for short distances.

When starting and where not controllable and not known until in the field. Duration unknown until finished, but minimum 3 months, maximum is usually 6 months.

People: not hostile - infrequent contact.

Hiking under load. Base weight varies from 50 to 65 lbs, usually 65 - no consumables, so base weight equals carry weight, not counting what I carry on my belt - usually just a knife and multi-tool. Why carry consumables - impractical and not possible for a 3+ month period. Yes, I know. Carrying 65 lbs is not the most enjoyable way to watch the scenary go by. But what you carry determines your life and your life style. UL and SUL from what I have been able to determine depends on resupply within a week at most. I have benefitted considerably from the SUL and UL movements and so encourage them to continue their endeavers. We all benefit.

Average daily distance - hard to say - anywhere from 5 to 20 miles. Usually less than max. Have been know to push further, but rarely. No need to. Call it 10 miles from camp to camp. Covering large distances rapidly or daily is not a consideration or goal. Savoring what you pass is more important.

Average stay in one camp: varies from 1 night to 1 week. Rarely longer than 1 week. Usually 2 days.

Season: have to be prepared for all 4 seasons. Even if leaving in July, from North America, could be out past snowfall or just the reverse, or could be going into snowfall (unknown until arrival). Could be dry or raining (light to heavy) at any time during deployment.

Okay. What footwear do you like? What footwear do you gravitate towards most often? Under what field conditions do you use it and why?

I have played with the idea of some of the military or military style boots, but have never felt compelled to actually try any. Have been thinking of maybe trying the Blackhawk tactical boots, but the adverts play them as designed for urban settings and don't really know how they would work in non-urban settings.

Are the military and military style boots any better than the civilian stuff available?

You can pay loads of money for either and still get bad gear.

Your thoughts please.

Ohhh and please do not ask about the mission. Not exactly classified, but not military either. The sponsers are very skittish about publicity, almost paranoid. But hey, each to their own:biggrin: . And I did not have to kill anybody to get this job. It came about accidently and I would not have asked for it before hand. MOST definitely NOT. Now I wouldn't give it up. At least it keeps me pushing over the next hill.

2006-11-16, 16:57
There is no one boot that will do what you want for four seasons, just like there isn't a rifle that is suitable for both mountain sheep and cape buffalo, physics precludes it. If snow is on the ground the hands-down winner is a white vapor-barrier (mickey mouse) boot, perfect for snowshoeing, not perfect for XC skiing but suitable with the old Balata binding in gentle terrain. In more temperate climes one of the many pairs of Danners would fit the bill. Goretex boots are great, until they get wet on the inside, and then they take forever to dry out. I've used the Acadias for years, as have many other people, and been well pleased, they don't offer a great deal of ankle support like a mountain boot, but they are much better than low shoes. Sneakers are unsuitable for more than 30# in rough terrain, you'll get plantar facsiaitis eventually. I would look hard at a pair of custom or semi custom boots like the Limmers. A boot with a norwegian welt will outlast anything else. If you seal the welt and snowseal the leather they stay fairly dry in the wet stuff. I've seen some of the Italian boots advertised at about 4# which is way down from years back.

2006-11-16, 20:34
TAK - thanks for the pointer to the Limmers. The light weight hiking boots look very attractive at 3.5 lbs. The standard is designed for rough mountaineering and I think would far too much boot for what I want.

Hmm, now to either drive to WV for the nearest dealer or convince myself that ordering online would be okay.

2006-11-16, 21:55
i was in for 11 years.

best boots i ever owned were a pair of HiTecs... i forget what model they are now, but it's a 'tactical boot' on their website. nylon and leather uppers, not a vibram sole but similar. i gave up trying to keep feet dry, and now go for 'quick drying'. anyway, these HiTecs fit like sneakers, but lasted for years.

like TAK said, no one boot will do it all... you might try to settle on a couple, one suitable for july through december, another one october through march, another december through june, and a final set march through september. that way they each cover roughly 2 seasons.

another good custom bootmaker is danner. they used to send you a kit... you stood on it, someone traced your feet, and they made it to fit. never owned a pair, but they made fantastic tanker boots, and i never heard a bad thing about them.

issue military boots are pretty much shit, or used to be. the newer desert boot might be an exception, but you'd have to ask a more recent veteran.

also, depending on how straight a line you have to go in, you might consider caching a set of boots somewhere and then going back to get them, among other things... another 3-4lbs on a 60lb ruck isn't going to make much difference to someone like you (if you can carry that comfortably, you're way stronger than i am.)

2006-11-17, 01:03
Your getting good advice on boots and shoes.
My advice for a long hike is bring more than one pair and trade off. Also bring several pairs of socks and a good med kit with moleskin included.

If you feel a hot spot or irratation on your feet stop immediately and take care of it. If you don't head these things off before they develop into blisters your going to have to end your trip early.

The best pair of shoes in the world can be defeated by a fold in a loose sock.

2006-11-17, 07:54
I must ad a caveat about the vapor-barrier boots, it'll just about have to be below zero at night and below freezing around the clock before it is cold enough to wear them. They don't breathe of course, so your feet stay damp, but they stay warm. We used to wear them without socks above minus 20(F) when we were moving and don dry socks after stopping and wiping the inside of the boots out with a cravat.
I second Dropkick's emphasis on socks, Smart Wools are the best I've found. Boots and socks have to be thought of as a system. You first figure out how much sock you need and put the proper boot around it with adequate space, if you don't get it right your feet, and the rest of you, will suffer.

2006-11-20, 20:35
(if you can carry that comfortably, you're way stronger than i am.)

Seeker - I seriously doubt that I am stronger than you are.

Through trial and error, I finally learned how to adjust and properly utilize a lumbar (hip?) belt and adjust and properly use a chest strap (some call it a sternum strap - I added 1/4" x 4" x 12" leather under the 1" strap to reduce the pressure to the point that I don't feel it) for my configuration.

Once I achieved that, I now carry almost the full load on my hips and chest. With a 65 lb pack, I'm only carrying about 3 to 4 lbs on my shoulders. Most of the time I don't even really feel anything on my shoulders and with my belly breathing and by expanding the chest muscles, I can lift even that small amount off my shoulders to relieve the monotony at times. At first, I used to get a sore neck with only about 40 lbs in the pack. With the two belts, the only place I used to feel the load was in the thighs, especially the inner thighs. The whole upper body carries the load, not the shoulders. For the past 15+ years, I have been doing a stair step excercise to strengthen the thighs - 40 stories in 20 minutes daily. Great for the balance, the heart and lungs also.

I would dearly love to try the Kifaru EMR some day, but at over $600.00 for the pack, it really breaks the budget. Anybody here have any experience with the Kifaru EMR? My current pack cost less than $55.00 complete, brand new, so it is kinda hard to part with $600.00 for a pack.