Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hal's Views on Shoes


While an army may travel on its stomach, the feet are the most important part of the body where this hiker is concerned. I have hiked for nearly two hundred straight days with no foot problems whatsoever. I am very selective with my shoes and socks--as with all my equipment--but still I've had some issues, at least with shoes.

Here are some things I've learned with shoes that may help you have a more pain free hiking experience.

1. Go as light as you can. Unless you are planning on carrying a heavy pack up a glacier or scree covered mountain slope, you should be wearing SHOES. Boots have their place but these days shoes make more sense for the majority of hikers. My personal preference are trail running shoes but since everyone has different feet, you might like something a bit more substantial. Try your shoes before buying. Only mail order if you're familiar with the fit and feel of a certain shoe.

2. Get a SOLID rubber sole. There is a trend going on in shoes today whereas the bottoms of the shoes have separate pieces of rubber glued onto the midsole. This makes the shoe lighter and more flexible but it is also a major weak point. I have had three pairs of shoes come apart due to this design flaw. Right now I have a pair of New Balance 993s that are coming apart. I have had the same problem with Merrell, Nike and Patagonia. Make sure before you drop $100 on a pair of shoes that it has a ONE PIECE SOLE.

This is what happens with with those multi piece soles. This pair of shoes is a New Balance 993 that sell for $139.95. They are going back.

3. Get a bigger size. In everyday shoes I normally wear a size 12. Most of my hiking shoes, however, are a 13. I have two reasons for this. One, my toes have taken a beating on downhills and it is nice not to have them hit the front of my shoes when hiking downhill. Two, feet tend to swell as the day goes on so if your shoes have a nice snug fit in the morning by afternoon your feet will be cramped and uncomfortable. Your experience may vary but that's what works for me.

4. Use the tie that binds. There are two things I do when tying my shoes that help in keeping them tied and comfortable. On the shoes that have two upper eyelets close together I use this method to make sure my heel stays in the heel cup. Then after I make my loop, I wrap the other lace TWICE around the loop before tying. This way the knot is less likely to come undone.

My hike today was somewhat boring so that's why I decided to write about shoes. I took a couple of pictures but I really didn't like them too much.

Here's one of them.

Not only was it boring but it was HOT. I don't like hiking midday during the summer and that's what I had to do due to my schedule. In fact, it was so warm I actually carried a golf umbrella to see if that would help. It did a little but I don't know if it's worth the effort of carrying it. Hopefully, I won't have too many days I have to hike midday until the summer's over. But in case I do, I have some other subjects I'd love to educate you on.
They will be:
Hal talks on Socks
Hal's facts of packs
Hal rails on trails

My wife had heard some of my rants and she said she's praying that I don't have anymore boring hikes this year. That's very sweet of her looking out for me that way. Tomorrow, I'm planning on heading up to Idyllwild so I should have some cool pictures from that. If you have any questions about gear or anything else, please leave them in comments.

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