@gk Hi GK,
I love my Lowa trekking boots for carrying heavy loads. Most of my backpacking trips are to visit caves high in the wilderness. So I wear the boots into caves too. I totally trash my Lowas every three to four years. They last twice as long as other boots I've worn, but replacing them is sooo expensive. So about a year ago I asked the REI employee in boots what they recommended for backpacking up slick wet river rock. She suggested Oboz Bridger Mid BDry Hiking Boots. I got a pair for a particularly wet cave with a slippery approach and I love them. They are comfortable and light weight, but still provide decent ankle support. They have above average arch support. (Don't know if that is a good or a bad thing for you.) Best of all, they cost around 40% of a new pair of Lowas. So I'm going to standardize on them for a year or two. I think new boots every two years for the same or less price as Lowas every four years is a good deal.
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I'm leaving the lift lines and the shared lifts for those at lower risk (or greater risk tolerance) than me. I'm shopping for XC Skis and gear for both groomed trails and for back country skiing. Last February as the pandemic was closing in we got up to Yosemite for their last skiable weekend of the season. It was my first time cross country skiing since 1997. A few weeks later my daughter and I went cross country on and off track at Bear Valley CA. This reminded me how much cross country is like hiking in the summer, but without the crowds. It is also a much better aerobic workout than downhill. And of course, XC is an order of magnitude less expensive than downhill. So as I mentioned above, I'm shopping for my gear for this winter. Which brings me to another point. My local REI (Dublin CA) does not carry any XC Ski gear. They have a great selection of downhill gear, but the store employees confirmed that the store would not be carrying XC gear this year. Sure, they have snow shoes, but I've already got a pair of snow shoes. Yes, there is a limited selection of XC gear at rei.com, but REI really shines when you talk with the store employees and benefit from their deep knowledge of the sport and the gear. So how about it REI. Let's see some cross country ski gear in the stores and help skiers discover another winter sport that reduces our risk during the pandemic.
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