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more boots

Boots are of course a major topic here.  I'll offer some perhaps
unconventional observations:

I'm a caver more than a hiker.  Army-surplus "Vietnam" jungle boots are
popular among cavers because they withstand wet/muddy conditions well.
They're inexpensive, need no break-in, and I've found them comfortable and
durable for hiking.

They're not waterproof; in fact, they have vents in the arch area to let
water in and out.  They are made of synthetic materials, and will dry as
quickly as sneakers.

I hiked across Grand Canyon in August and they were comfortably cool and
adequately protective, both on smooth trail and on the lava at Lava Falls
(rim to river and back up, an almost-nonexistent trail which requires rope
in some places and has lots of neat barrel-cacti and other stickerbushes).

They performed flawlessly on a "death march" in Mexico with 50# pack over a
trail so steep, rough and slippery that we had to watch every step for fear
of ankle injury.  The high tops were especially appreciated on this ancient
Aztec cobblestone road which is still in use for foot and animal traffic.
Burros have kicked the dirt out from between the stones (leaving 2'-deep
crevices) and generously lubricated them with their droppings.

For cold weather and wet caving, I use a pair which are 2 sizes too large,
and wear neoprene wet-suit boots inside over thick socks.  That also
increses the ankle support, and feels great.

The soles contain thin plates of hardened steel to ward off sharp objects.
I haven't encountered caltrops or punji stakes in my travels, but who
knows what lurks in Daniel Boone National Pot Forest?!

Real U.S. Army jungle boots are hard to find; small/womens' sizes exist but
are rare.  The Korean-made imitations are slightly less durable but still
entirely serviceable.  I'm not sure what their failure mode is in
long-distance hiking; cave boots' toes wear out before anything else, from

No flames, please!  When I do the Trail I'll seriously consider something 


Frank     reid@indiana.edu     NSS 9086     W9MKV