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[at-l] RE: Light weight footgear

Jim, here is my experience with lightweight footwear (both personal and

i hiked va in a "midweight" pair of technicas (leather and fabric, high
top).  worked very well.
when we got to maine, little debbie's and tweetie's boots finally fell
apart, so some nice folks at ll bean drove up to shaws with their "light
hikers" or "day hikers."  these are very lightweight hightops, made by
merrill.  little debbie and tweetie loved them - very comfortable, and
dried quickly.  they just walked through all the fords, squished for a few
minutes and were dry in a couple hours.  no problems with support because
they had already hiked to maine.

little debbie and i are completely sold on lightweight footwear, but it
does require, imho, light packs <40lbs.  on a thruhike, once you've
strengthened properly, heavier weights may be possible, but i wouldn't try
it for long.  we both have some vasque clarion low top hiking shoes (they
don't make em any more :( ), and i have some one-sport trail runners.  i
always scope sierra trading post's catalogs for lightweight footwear, you
can get some great shoes for under $50.

benefits for me:  1) much lighter on the feet (AND KNEES, BTW), can hike
faster if i need to, but overall just way more comfortable; 2) easier to
put on/take off - which means i'm more likely to take off shoes and socks
at every break - this alone does wonders for your feet; 3) usually dry
super fast compared to leather boots, and as we all know, no matter what
boot you have, if you hike all day in the rain, your feet will get wet! 4)
require little if any break-in time - key for a thruhike when trading up a
size or replacing worn out shoes.

notwithstanding the above, i would never have tried to start my thruhike
with lowtop, lightweight footwear.  only after the long distance hike did i
feel like my feet and ankles had the strength.  also, i had never
considered it before!  your point about training is well taken.  in 92,
Chad Leonard North started at springer with nikes or something and had to
take a week off in hot springs with tendonitis in his toes.  he upgraded
his boots while resting up and had no problems the rest of the way.

i'd still probably use leather boots to start an early thru-hike, because
of early snow.  (although many pct hikers i know hiked in lightweights
through sierra snow this year).  plus i figure changing to lightweight
boots in damascus after 450 miles would be a great treat to the feet!

for an opinionated discussion on lightweight footwear, read ray jardine's
"pct thruhikers handbook."

ke kaahawe

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Michael Henderson		mikeh@royalrobbins.com

There is more to life than increasing it's speed - Ghandi
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