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View Full Version : Feet, Legs, & Boots



GrizzlyBear
2003-03-19, 11:10
Aside from a few mentions of blisters and tired dogs, it seems that little has been said, here on the forum, about what appears to me - the old man - to be the most important gear a hiker has to consider - that being the place the "rubber-meets-the-road"; the feet, therefore, boots and shoes.

Besides having two toes on each foot, that try to occupy the same space, at the same time, I also have a renegade knee, with an arthritic spur, that has at times introduced me to bouts of excruciating pain, over the past twenty-years, since the surgeon who did the arthroscopy said, "That should fix it right up". Uh-huh.

When my - about to retire - buddy suggested that we start hitting the "long trail", about six-months ago, my reaction was, "Get real! -"Hell, I sometimes have days when I can hardly walk across the kitchen, much less walk across the State." Then I realized that "quitting is dying", and took a different tack - "No guts, no glory!" But, I made a pact with myself right then-and-there. "I refuse to sleep on the ground, unless it is absolutely necessary!" - and - "I will do whatever is necessary to coddle and protect the old feet and knees!" The sleeping on the ground thing became a "no-brainer" when I discovered Tom Hennessy's marvelous sleeping machine. I've been sleeping in my Explorer Deluxe -Asym for close to three months, and even my back now feels like it's in it's twenties - but I digress.

I spent a good three months researching hiking boots! I tried on, and even "home-wore" several "great boots" (according to hiker and backpacker reviews), but I kept reading good things about Vasque Sundowners, so I went for a fitting, and brought a pair home to try for two weeks in the house. I had discovered that Redwing,(Vasque's Mama-company) was now making their "Sundowners" in China, but were still making the original Sundowner, under the tag "Sundowner MX2", in Italy. The store I have access to, didn't have any of the Italian- made boots, but they assured me that the China boot was "virtually" the "exact" boot as the MX2.(WRONG!) I doubted that, then, but bought them home, anyway, with the agreement that I could bring them back after two weeks, as long as I wore them only in the house.

I started off wearing them for about two-hours at a time, for two-or-three sessions a day. By the end of the second day, my left foot was very sore across the instep, and my bad right knee was killing me, so I took a couple of days off. Figuring I hadn't given them a fair chance, I wore them several hours over the weekend. They went back, as soon as the store opened on Monday morning, and I came home and ordered a pair of MX2's from Mountain Sports in Arlington, TX (BTW - These people have been absolutely fantastic to deal with. I've bought a lot of gear from them. Any order over $50.00 is free shipping and their prices aren't "boosted" to cover shipping cost). The MX2s came about 3 months ago. I put them on, out of the box; have worn them every day, since, and sometimes regret having to take them off to crawl into my Hennessy. They're the only boots/shoes I have ever owned, that I'm not in a hurry to get off, at the end of the day.

Now, here's the REAL bonus! For 22 years, I have been eating whatever the "latest-greatest" arthritis pills are - the most recent "big-gun" being Celebrex; every type of anti-inflammatory and/or analgesic, and prescription pain pill imaginable. I would regularly go for 4 and 5 nights at a time, with no sleep, coming up out of bed screaming, because even codiene wouldn't work. When the MX2s came, I was just on the tail-end of one of the worst bouts of prolonged pain I had ever had. After wearing the MX2s with Smartwool medium-weight socks all day - that night was the first night in over a week, that I had NO pain, and I haven't had more than a few light twinges (those, only after banging the spur against something)since! I haven't taken a Celebrex; a pain pill; even a vitamin "I" - except for the ocassional headache or muscle ache, in nearly three months. If I try to wear slippers, other shoes, or go barefoot, within an hour the knee starts to hurt, and the boots go right back on. Pain goes away within minutes!

I would suggest that physicians who are also hikers, "beat" the importance of "damn good footwear" into their uninitiated colleagues. I hesitated to spend $200.00 on a pair of boots, but have paid thousands-upon-thousands of dollars, over the years, on doctors, drugs, orthotics, surgery, not to mention the fact that I missed out on a lot of hiking and backpacking pleasure, because there were times I couldn't even walk to the end of my lane for the mail - and I could probably have avoided all that, if, somewhere along the line, a doctor had clued-me-in on "the miracle of shoes" instead of just writing me another ineffective prescription.

I'm not saying that good boots are the panacea for all that ails you, but - think about it - a 6'-2", 220 lb. hiker, like myself, carrying a 30 or forty lb. pack - walking 12 or fifteen (or more) miles a day -How many steps is that? - How often does each foot and leg take that 250+ lbs. of downward pressure? Multiply that by all those hiking days for forty or so years! Amazing that our feet and legs last even half that time! A fine hiking boot may cost $200.00 and up, but, I know that I'm buying at least two more pairs, to cover the event that China, or Maylasia, or Indonesia - wherever - end up making every shoe and boot in the World.

One last thing - You young, indestructable, men-made-of-iron, PAY ATTENTION! I was once one of you! I wore whatever boot or shoe happened to be a good price, and when I was twenty-five, I could carry 5, forty lb. boxes of ceramic tile at a time, up two flights of stairs, and run back to the truck for more. When I was in the Corps, I could run all day, with a 9-3/4 pound rifle at port-arms, and still run over the younger boys in the mess-line - and that was in boots that had been sized by some wise-assed corporal at Parris Island, standing on a platform twelve feet away - who couldn't even see your feet.

When you hear an old fart say, "the feet and legs are the first to go - BELIEVE IT! Buy good boots THAT FIT- no matter if you have to steal from your mother to pay for them. Sorry for being so verbose, but these boots have definitely made a foot and leg evangelist out of me!

cldphoto
2003-03-19, 13:04
There are some things you just never skimp on. I learned that when I thought that a pair of desert Altamas would make nice light boots. Ouch.

I just bought a pair of Vasque Ibex GTX boots on clearance from REI's online outlet last week. I must say that these are the most comfortable hiking boots I've ever had. If anyone's in the market for new boots, they have Vasque Ibex GTX for $114.93 (down from $170) and Vasque Sundowner MX2 for $139.93 (down from $225). I was wary about getting boots without having the chance to try them on first, but their size 13 boot fits my size 13 foot, so I'm happy.

chief
2003-03-19, 13:15
just want to say, AMEN GRIZ, and add:

i have a pair of italian sundowners and they are great, i've never worn a more comfortable boot. i wore out a pair during my 2000 hike (1,400 miles or so).

you'll never catch me hiking in cheap boots or any of the ultra-lighter's choices! my feet, legs and back deserve better.

Bill Phillips
2003-04-18, 19:44
AHMEN GrizzlyBear!

Quality boots. Adequately sturdy boots. Boots that Fit.

May I add; What fits one person's feet may not fit your's. I've tried Vasque (yes the Italian ones too), Danners, Lowe, and many other great boots but none have properly fit my feet.

I don't have any joint problems and my feet are healthy. But my feet are wideeeeee across the front. That's wide with 6Es. I hate hearing a salesman say "these run a little wide". I also have high arches and little piggy's that are distorted from years of trying to find space under their neighbors.

My saga of boot misery has come to an end. Birkenstock is makeing boots. They have realy filled a gaping hole in the market for people with wide feet. I bought their normal width. They also have a narrower profile available.

These boot are exceptional on top of the width issue. After several rugged 15 mile training hikes with pack, my feet (and the rest of me) have come back in fine shape with no hurry to remove boots when I get home. There was no break in. They are expensive but very well made. I've been wearing them constantly around town too, with no signs of wear. The comfort of these boots cannot be described on a family site. Save Weight! You won't need to carry camp shoes with these boots.

Did I mention they are SooOOOOoooo comfortable!

GrizzlyBear
2003-04-18, 20:14
Originally posted by Bill Phillips
AHMEN GrizzlyBear!

Quality boots. Adequately sturdy boots. Boots that Fit.

May I add; What fits one person's feet may not fit your's. I've tried Vasque (yes the Italian ones too), Danners, Lowe, and many other great boots but none have properly fit my feet.

I don't have any joint problems and my feet are healthy. But my feet are wideeeeee across the front. That's wide with 6Es. I hate hearing a salesman say "these run a little wide". I also have high arches and little piggy's that are distorted from years of trying to find space under their neighbors.

My saga of boot misery has come to an end. Birkenstock is makeing boots. They have realy filled a gaping hole in the market for people with wide feet. I bought their normal width. They also have a narrower profile available.

These boot are exceptional on top of the width issue. After several rugged 15 mile training hikes with pack, my feet (and the rest of me) have come back in fine shape with no hurry to remove boots when I get home. There was no break in. They are expensive but very well made. I've been wearing them constantly around town too, with no signs of wear. The comfort of these boots cannot be described on a family site. Save Weight! You won't need to carry camp shoes with these boots.

Did I mention they are SooOOOOoooo comfortable!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bill,

Can you suggest a source for good information on them?

Bill Phillips
2003-04-18, 21:02
Griz'

A quick web search will find you numerous online dealers. But Birkenstock footware has some special features, primarily their special footbed. I can't readily locate any online source for this info.

So anyone really interested could use the company website's retail store locator http://birkenstock.com/locate/

I'm sure a good retailer will have in depth material.

I did find a review of one of their shoes, that talks a little about the footbed, here.

http://www.gearreview.com/birkontario.asp

Of course the boots have extra features. Hope this helps.