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[pct-l] Shoes

Hi all,

I talked to a lot of hikers this year about shoes.  The NB 800 series is 
probably the most popular shoe out there, particularly among thru-hikers.  
Since I've never worn them, I asked everyone how they liked them.  Most 
loved them of course, but some did not.  Many of the dissatisfied had wide 
feet.  I noticed this after hearing several people say that they loved NBs 
because they can be ordered in narrow sizes.

It _may_ also be true that NBs don't have good arch support as some have 
said.  Wider feet tend to have higher arches, so that could explain why 
those with wider feet were more likely to have problems.  Superfeet insoles 
were recommended to solve this problem in a recent post.  That's good advice 
for people with narrow feet.  But I have wide feet and I learned in '97 that 
the heavy plastic Superfeet were too narrow for me.

My solution to my high arch problem was to lighten my pack and strengthen my 
arches by running.  I no longer need "extra" arch support.

For those like me who have medium-wide feet, the Montrail Vitesse may be a 
good choice.  It's basically a very light-weight low-top boot.  They are 
better than any shoe this side of Vibram-soled boots at keeping me from 
feeling the sharp rocks.  When I switched to them on the CDT this year 
almost all my foot pain and swelling ceased!  For those who think boots 
would be even better, the boots I've worn in past years didn't flex enough 
and that concentrated all the pounding on the one configuration of foot 
bones the boots allowed.  The key seems to be a shoe that flexes enough to 
spread the wear and tear on the foot bones, but is stiff enough to keep 
sharp rocks from doing too much damage.

Another tip for shoe fit is the socks.  If your shoe is a little too wide 
for your feet, thick or layered socks will help.  If it's a little too 
narrow, thin socks will work better.  Always use non-cotton wicking socks to 
keep your feet as dry as possible.

How can you tell if your foot is wide or narrow?  Shoes that are slightly 
too narrow will cause rubbing on the sides of your feet.  If you get a 
blister or callus on the side of your heel, try thinner socks or a wider 
brand of shoes.  If your shoes are too wide your foot will tend to slip 
forward and irritate the tips of your toes even if you get a bigger size.  
Thick socks will help, and tighter lacing will also help but may aggravate a 
high arch problem.  Try shoes that come in widths.

The bottom line has always been this.  Wear shoes that fit YOU.  Don't wear 
somebody else's favorite.  Keep trying different shoes, socks and inserts 
until you find what works for YOU.  There's no more important comfort 

Flyin' Brian
Calendar Triple Crown '01

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