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replacing boots & shelter space

re replacing boots

On the AT I saw a lot of people desperate to replace worn out boots.  I used Pivettas on my first thru hike which lasted the whole distance and Sundowners the second time, which were replaced by a well worn pair in Hanover.  I get about 1200 miles to a pair of Sundowners.  

Two points - the broken-in pair may not fit when you send for them - backpacking will increase your foot size at least one size and maybe one width.  So they shouldn't be too snug to start with.  But if you have a pair that is well broken in, that may not matter, they will have stretched already.  

Choices along the trail are limited - there aren't a lot of outdoor stores along the way and you may find yourself taking what you can get - regardless of price, fit or durability.  Even if you can get the manufacturers to replace them, it may take ten days or more - can you afford to hang around town that long?

Second point  - all of the boot manufacturers were erratic about replacing boots.  Jim had his Vasques replaced 3 times, no problem.  Other hikers were told that Sundowners were not an expedition boot - they are intended for weekend use, and so would not be replaced.  Limmer told one hiker that they would rather lose one customer than admit to a defect in their boots.  (Needless to say, they lost more than one customer when that story got out!)  A lot of it depended on the hiker attitude.  Those  hikers who demanded replacements as a right were often refused.  Those who were just looking to get some boots to hike in and were not expecting a freebie, were often pleasantly surprised.  A good attitude can pay off.

On another subject - but somewhat related - regarding the thruhikers who expect to get first use of the shelters as a "right"   -  it always seemed a bit ironic that the weekenders who often  were ill prepared and badly geared were expected to sleep outside while the thruhikers, who of all people ought to have the right gear and be prepared for camping, expected the inside spots.  I know it is a pain to have to set up camp in the rain - but better that those with the proper gear do it than those with the kmart tents and cotton clothes.  In the Smokies there were only two beds allotted for thru-hikers per shelter - how often did the thruhikers give up their beds to those who had made reservations weeks in advance?  

My $0.02 worth.

Ginny Spirit Walker Frost