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[at-l] breaking in boots

The best way to break in boots is to wear them.  I find it takes about 100
miles with all-leather boots (more if they are the heavy duty expedition
type-- but I won't wear those any more even though they are the only ones
that last.)  I've worn Sundowners for the past 6 years (3 pairs and about
4000 miles).  They are the only midweights that fit me.  (WIDE feet).  If
you are training for a thru hike, just wear your boots on daily walks and
try to do as many climbs as you can. I had a pair of boots that never gave
me a blister for the first 90 miles - then I climbed a really steep hill,
and had blisters for the next month.

One problem with breaking in 3 pairs of boots - if you are new to
backpacking especially -- your feet will grow - both wider and longer(the
weight of the pack plus the hiking.) Unless your spares are really broken
in, they may not fit when you try them on.  They will certainly fit
differently.  The number of boots you will need also depends on what kind of
boots you buy:  my Vasques lasted me about 1000- 1500 miles each.  The
Pivettas I had lasted the whole trail in 1988 (but because of all the rain
in New England, were completely rotted out on the inside).  The heavy ones
are built for long distances and heavy loads and may last.   I know people
who swear by their Limmers - I won't walk with 5 lbs on each foot - and
that's when they are dry!  The midweights are designed for weekend trips,
and won't last much more than 1000 miles, if that.  The lightweights are
much easier to hike in and dry much faster but need to be replaced every 500
miles or so.  Jim had to replace his midweight boots 3 times on the trail
and discovered that Murphy's Law meant that he always ended up doing 20 mile
days on brand new unbroken boots.  But blisters are only an annoyance
(unless you let them get infected.)  And even good broken in boots can give
you blisters after 3 days of rain. 

Ginny "Spirit Walker" Owen AT 88 & 92, CDT '99
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