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1st pair of hiking footwear

Hello, 

I am looking to purchase my first pair of boots for a backpacking hiking trip that we will be doing in October. I do not have access to an REI outlet store so I must purchase online. Can anybody please provide me with some great suggestions for awesome boots, GORE-TEX, 10W,. I need to place an order soon so I may be able to break them in before the hike. 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Safe travels

 

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Re: 1st pair of hiking footwear

Much as I hate ot make this recommendation, I must do so. Find a good local store where you can try on the boots, walk around a bit in them, and preferably stand on a slope, facing upslope then downslope (or vice versa), and sideslope. Different people have different shapes for their feet, and different companies use different shaped lasts for their footware. What works for your buddy may not work for you. Other than custom made boots, I know of no other way to get a good fit.

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Re: 1st pair of hiking footwear

REI is a good choice for first boots/shoes as you can return them within 1 year.  Major imortance!!

Please don't discount the use of a smaller than boot solution.  Trail runners seem to have taken over as the favorite backpacking footwear.  After over 35yrs of boots, I switched to trailrunners and the only thing that's changed is the massive comfort level of a very 'cushion-y', extrememly lighter weight comfort not found with a boot. Now approaching 5yrs in trail runners.  I do use my boots in the winter however for the extra grip, especially if there's going to be snow.  But...and there's always a but....trailrunners are fine walking of packed summer snow.

If you watch through hikers on the AT, PCT, or CDT, you will only see trail runners!  Something to think about.

ps - don't rely on gore tex to keep feet dry!  Bring an extra pair of dry socks for around camp (cover feet in a plastic bag if you wear the wet boots around camp), then put back on the wet pair the next day to try to dry while walking.

 

REI member since 1979

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Re: 1st pair of hiking footwear

I would add the caveat that tall people should consider staying in traditional boots. I'm 6'3 wide-shouldered. I finished the AT and still wieghed about 200 lbs skinny as a rail. With a full pack I had 230 lbs on my feet and that was at my lightest. That is just a lot of weight coming down if I roll an ankle which happened like 20 times a day. I am jealous of the folks in trail runners but I just don't trust them with my frame.

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Re: 1st pair of hiking footwear

I'd recommend something like Lowa Renegade. They're light, waterproof and require no break-in. They also come in regular, wide and narrow widths to accommodate most foot sizes.

Boot fit is vitally important, especially so if you've never walked in backpacking boots before. It's worth the effort to go a considerable distance to an outdoors store that offers an extensive selection of boot models and sizes, as well as expert staff that can help you find the boot that's best for you.

IMO your boots are the most critical purchase you'll make. Don't skimp on the cost or try to buy online unless you have no other alternative. Otherwise you'll risk regretting your decision with every step you take.

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Re: 1st pair of hiking footwear

Hi there

Ive been using Keen Targheen boots and i like them a lot. It was the first brand i brought(i have them for 2 years now). Although i have a size 7 1/2 and i was using too thick of shocks and lost my toe nails at 2 ocasions. Guy at REI suggested i get size 8 so i will upgrade next year and im looking at Keen Targheen III mid boots

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Re: 1st pair of hiking footwear

@YogiAT08 I agree!  I never used boots until I started doing serious backpacking.  With my small frame and a heavy weighted pack in order to carry enough food to last, boots provide much better stability.  Plus I like dry, warm feet!  Still love trail runners for day trips or maybe low boots depending on weather when the load is lighter. @Freewalkin you definitely have to try the boots on before purchase and I if you can try them on a set of stairs, etc. even better.  I find that there's no need to break boots in these days if they fit well.  

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Re: 1st pair of hiking footwear

I personally prefer a boot over trail runners for true backpacking. I'm 50+ y.o. and my ankles are worth (and need) the extra investment of weight and cost.  I've always told folks that boots need to be purchased in a real store where you can try them on and test as mentioned previously (stand on an incline, kick your toes forward and backward - you shouldn't feel any pinching or tightness). But if you truly, really can't make it to a store, there are many online options available that help - free shipping & returns, etc.  For my current boots (Zamberlan Vioz GTX) I broke my own advice and ordered on-line. If your credit card limit can afford the hit, order the size you think you'll need, then also the next half-size up. Try them both on at home with the socks you plan to wear (VERY important!) and just return the size you don't like. Having 2 to compare always makes a difference. I worked in an outdoor retailer all through college and we always looked for a thumb's width of room between the end of the boot and the end of your big toe. This gives room for your toes during descents. My Zamberlans are European sizing, so I traced my largest foot on a piece of paper and measured from end-of-heel to tip-of-big-toe for the right metric sizing. I also cross-checked that measurement with the retailer's on-line sizing chart and was able to get a great fit with my order. With a wide foot or even a high arch, try to find a boot with as many lacing points as possible so you can fine-tune the fit with the laces, even in a boot with a Wide size. I also advise to buy the best boot you can afford - 100% of your body + pack weight travels 100% of the miles on your 2 feet & boots. And don't forget to invest in good socks - cheap, ill-fitting socks can negate all your investment in a great pair of boots. I love my SmartWools and Point6 paired with CoolMax liners for heavy backpacking.

One of my sons wears Asolo TPS 520 and my other son likes his Lowa Renegades - both are GoreTex.

The Lowa's have several nylon or leather panels, which means extra stiching. Although the panels lighten the boot weight, all that extra stiching can sometimes become a point of failure. Best to read the online reviews and see if this is a concern.  I personally prefer all leather, but I also recognize that I'm carrying extra weight.  BTW, the Zamberlans are the most comfortable boot I've ever worn.

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Re: 1st pair of hiking footwear


@ARHiker wrote:

... I also advise to buy the best boot you can afford - 100% of your body + pack weight travels 100% of the miles on your 2 feet & boots....

One of my sons wears Asolo TPS 520 and my other son likes his Lowa Renegades - both are GoreTex.

The Lowa's have several nylon or leather panels, which means extra stiching. Although the panels lighten the boot weight, all that extra stiching can sometimes become a point of failure. Best to read the online reviews and see if this is a concern.  I personally prefer all leather, but I also recognize that I'm carrying extra weight.  BTW, the Zamberlans are the most comfortable boot I've ever worn.


I take the opposite position. I view Lowas and similar to be "expendable." In my case they last for perhaps 2,000-3,000 km (~1,500 miles) over the course of 2 or 3 years. This is in contrast to full grain leather boots like Zamberlain or Asolo which should last a lot longer and can usually be resoled.

The tradeoff is weight. It's said that one pound off your feet equals five pounds off your back. That's been my experience. After switching from heavy Meindl full grain boots to Renegades my aging back won't let me go back, certainly not for shorter, less strenuous hiking/backpacking trips.

One more thing. I've been buying GoreTex lined boots since they first came out in the 1980s. My experience then hasn't changed today. While they're waterproof initially, the membrane fails after a year or two. I don't know it's due to foot flex or perspiration or something else. But whatever, don't expect the GoreTex to last as long as your boots. That's one more reason not to spend a lot of money on heavy full-grain leather boots. It's just better to replace GoreTex boots regularly with new ones.

My 2¢ worth.

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Re: 1st pair of hiking footwear

Hi! 

I also suggest going into a store (any store) to try on some boots because the arch support will make all the difference. In general a gore-tex boot or shoe will be snugger just because of the way the shoe is sown so in terms of a wide (which I'm assuming is what the w stands for after the size you put) you might want to look at someone who generally has a slightly wider toebox to begin with. Oboz makes a great shoe overall in terms to those wide sizes, the comfort of the insole and the durability. Keen has a slightly wider toebox than others but it doesn't seem to be as all in compassing in terms of insole comfort. 

The other thing you can do is find the boot you like in fit and get a separate insole to fit your arch.

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