Newbie Boot Question

11:47 a.m. on August 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Ok, so I've been a lurker on the site for a few years.   Prompted by Unc's call for beginners not to be afraid to ask questions, I gathered enough courage to finally officially join and post a question.  Was a boyscout about 15 years ago and am just starting to get back into the hiking/camping scene again after realizing that it's not all about the 9-5 job.  Wish I realized this earlier!

 

Anyway, I bought a pair of Montrail Feather Peak GTX boots a few weeks ago after testing quite a few other boots in the store.  I've taken it slow to try and break them in.  I've worn them around the house for a few hours, and done about 10 miles on the local HS Track.  Then another 10 miles around town (pavement walking).  I was told I could return them if I did not wear them in the woods.  Got a few strange looks walking around the track in them!  Just last weekend I took them out for a 4 mile hike in the woods.  So all in, I am at about 25-30 miles of use.  They have gotten less stiff but I still am having some minor issues:

- Most bothersome is where the tongue of the boot meets my ankle.  It feels like there is a bump there.  It doesn't rub/chafe, but it almost feels like my ankle is bruising.  The guy at the store did say I have pretty bony and small ankles

- Minor chafing on the back of my legs where the collar of the boot meets my lower calf.

I do wear appropriate wool hiking socks that go higher than where this chafing is.

So are these going to be problems, or is this just normal issues with new boots that will go away with more break in? 

Also, any comments on these boots in general?

 

Thanks for being so helpful and for a great forum community.

 

12:02 p.m. on August 2, 2012 (EDT)
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For the foot bump on top of your foot, if it's at a place where you can bypass the eyes, try changing the lacing to leave a gap at that point. Just run the laces past to the next set of holes without crossing them over.

A good leather boot should stretch out after a while to fit your foot quite comfortably; it should adjust to allow for any tight spots.

And one common mistake that people make (not saying you're doing this, but it happens) is simply lacing the boots too tightly. I'll keep mine looser for uphills and regular terrain, cinch them really tight for scrambles, and leave the bottom half loose but tighten at the ankles for downhills.

Just a few suggestions.

12:25 p.m. on August 2, 2012 (EDT)
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All in all it sounds like general boot break in issues, though this isn't guaranteed. The good news is they arn't causing blisters. I would also recommend skipping a section of the laces or trying a different lacing method all together if the problem persists. Both of the issues you mentioned are generally fixable via appropriate lacing techniques. That all being said I would wear the boots as much as possible for awhile to get them fully broken in, this can take several weeks of continuous wear with some boots. Now you mentioned the track, we're you running or walking the track. Hiking boots are generally not recommended for running which may be your cause of some of your problems. Trail runners or other running shoes, or even low cut hiking shoes are your best bet for running, running in a taller cut boot can create the exact problems you mention. Best of luck!

3:57 p.m. on August 3, 2012 (EDT)
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They may be able to help you at the store where you bought them if they have a boot forming tool.  It looks like a huge steel 'S' connected to the floor.  They can slip the boot over the end of the 'S' and work small  areas of the boot to make them stretch or better fit your foot. 

So long as you have enough room in the toe, the remainder of the issues might go away.  You can pad the areas of chaffing and bruising or try putting a heel lift in the boot or add an insert. Just a slight movement of the foot sometimes solves those pressure points above the ankle.

The chaffing from the collar of the boot means that part of the boot is not supple enough to more fit your lower legs. 

Take them back and ask about fixing the issues since you are stuck with bony feet.  A boot should fit no matter how ugly the sales person thinks your ankles are. 

In general a good boot or shoe should fit you comfortably from the git go.  The good ol' days of soaking the boot overnight then walking it dry are over. 

It is a quality boot you have and you should not have those problems.  Make those clerks earn their keep.

4:08 a.m. on August 4, 2012 (EDT)
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2,280 forum posts

Other possible solutions…

Bruise spot:

I had a pair of boots of similar design that had that ankle bruise issue; mine was caused by the rivet mounting of a lace eyelet on one side.  I found biasing the shoe tongue to one side or the other resolved that problem.  This may work for you too.

Chaffing:

  • As for the chaffing on the back of the boot; you can try several things to make this go way. 
  • Try wearing thicker socks.  This can provide additional fabric to absorb the rubbing present.  But if there is rubbing, it probably means your heel is lifting partially off the foot bed in the back stride as you weight shifts to the toe.  If you feel a small gap form under your heel, a thicker sock may also help fill out the heel counter box of the boot, and reduce this slippage.
  • Forego lacing the top eyelet.  The chaffing can result from the opening of the boot being too narrow for your lower calf.  Leaving the top eyelets unlaced will permit more play in the opening.  This fix may also reduce ankle support; you will have to decidde if this workaround is acceptable.
  • While this contradicts the previous tip, you may also try lacing the last two or three eyelets tighter.  This can eliminate the movement altogether.  The problem is this often results in the lower part of the boots being laced too tightly around the foot.  You’ll know if this is a problem because it will cause your feet to ache all over, from lack of blood circulation.  The way to avoid this is lacing the lower part of the boot to a comfortable fit, using a knot to complete that lacing, then complete the upper portion of the boot with a somewhat snugger, tighter, lace.
  • A thicker foot bed can also eliminate excess space in the heel area, and thusly eliminate the movement that is causing the chaffing along the boot’s cuff.
  • If a single solution doesn’t work, consider a combination of fixes.
  • Reshaping the boot should be considered a last resort, as that action cannot be reversed.

Ed

3:36 p.m. on August 5, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for all the replies!

I implemented a few of the suggestions and they certainly helped.  I loosened certain areas and tightened others and skipped the eyelet around the tongue area that was giving me problems.  This, combined with just more break-in time in the boot has helped a good amount. 

Went on a 6 mile hike yesterday with 38 pounds in the pack and my feet held up well.   Thanks again for the suggestions.  As people (and articles) have mentioned, the boots just keep getting more confortable the more I wear them.

 

- Brian

July 31, 2014
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