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first overnight hike

11:47 p.m. on February 6, 2013 (EST)
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hi guys my name is Blake and will be doing my first overnighter from springer mt to neels gap AT in April. I will be with a few veterans but was just looking for some advice on shoes/boots. I own a few pair of minimalist (five fingers and merrell barefoots) and would rather use one of these if possible. are boots necessary?. I'm 28 and in good shape. thanks guys!

11:29 a.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Your footwear is your choice, but the more weight you carry the more you need ankle support. Im not familiar with the at that far south. In the north you would want something heavier, better sole protection from rocks. Ask the boot question on whiteblaze, those guys are all about the at. You can get some first hand knowledge about that section. There is a couple of guys on here from a little north of there who post often, I think they pretty much wear boots. Maybe they will chime in.

11:58 a.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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In theory your footwear choice will be fine. It really depends on how adapted you are to hiking in them. If you have a relatively light load, say under 25#s or so you will be fine. If your pack is going to be much over that you may want to take some day hikes and see how it goes. Many people find that they need a little more ankle support as the weight increases. But others that hike barefoot or with minimalist footwear have adapted more.

In the end it all comes down to personal preference and how well you are accustomed to them. Get out there on some day hikes and see what works for you.

12:07 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Blake,

Why not give yourself every chance to be successful and have a positive experience?  Most people have to work up   to lightweight footwear with a pack.  I agree that the ankles are vulnerable, but so are the toes.  I went on canoe trip in the BWCA in MN and portaged with moosehide mocassins.  On the second day I broke my big toe when I kicked a tree root.  I always wore more substantial shoes after that with no problems.  Running shoes might be a good minimum to start with if your pack is light and you have no ankle problems.

12:09 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Otherwise you need some lightweight boots.  Do not confuse fads with practicality.  The mountains don't care how stylish you are.  Remember that.

1:44 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Thumbs up to that ppine. She sure as hell won't compliment you on Gucciflage.

If this is your first overnighter man, you do want to be comfortable. But, I would suggest a pair of boots. The last thing you want is to go out on the trail with veterans and roll an ankle or as pine said, stub a toe. The thing with the minimalist footware is just that, its minimalist. You got no arch or ankle support. And your toes are always vulnarable. Its all in what you like and how your foot feels in the shoe. Hell man, I hiked my first few years in a pair of Doc's. (No laughs at that guys, I was a product of the 90's) And depending on the mindset of your "veterans", make sure they don't smoke you on the trail. I've heard of guys bringing in newbies, and completely turning them off to backpacking altogether.  

You got time to shop around man. Don't buy online though... unless you hit a store and can find the same size and model that fits you best. My only other advice to you, is to get them and break them in before your trip. Nothing worse than a new pair of kicks throwing some nasty blisters on your feet. Anyway, have fun on the dirt man.

Be Cool

4:01 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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thanks for the good advice guys. I'm gonna do a few hikes in the barefoots with a pack to see how they do. I just found a pair of merrell continuum trail shoes that I forgot about that may do the trick as far as being comfortable yet giving me more support. thanks for the tips though and I look forward to future discussions. one love

6:30 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Welcome to Trailspace AUblake. That section of the AT is relatively mellow compared to sections north of there. Lots of duff underfoot and not a lot of sharp stones.  I agree with the feeling of the thread that barefoot-style shoes, while appropriate for backing with some experience, might be a little risky for your first overnight. Anything heavier than a pair of sneakers will minimize the risk.

That's a lovely section of trail, and a lovely time of year to do it in!

1:45 a.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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Hey AUblake; welcome!

(...I love being the contrarian...) I say do it, but just watch your step. If you've spent any amount of time (over two weeks) in the shoes, your feet should be pretty well off.

I hike barefoot regularly. I've done 10-mile days with about 25lbs and a couple thousand feet of elevation change in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. You can too. Now, one has to watch every single step carefully, but I really enjoy how much more fun being barefoot makes both on and off-trail hiking...mud puddles become fun again!

You asked "Are boots necessary?" I can certainly tell you: NO!

One you have feet tough enough to backpack ten miles barefoot, Vibram Fivefingers (like the KSO TrekSports I have) feel like armor plating!

7:59 a.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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I like the way you roll pillowthread. I'm pretty comfortable with the barefoots. I have put many miles on them and frankly my feet feel funny when I put any other type of shoe on. I'm still going to do a few day hikes with pack to make sure so I'll keep you guys posted as it gets closer to my trip. thanks

8:05 a.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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I would start in those merrills, but take your lighter choice. I dont think you will regret the little bit of extra weight. The smallest foot injury can really put a damper on your trip. This is frim a guy that grew uo barefoot on a beach in nc. I thought shoes were rainbow brand flip flops until I was in high school. My feet are like leather, I walk outside in the snow regularly. Yea im a little crazy too, but better safe than sorry. Lots of people carry a camp or water shoe in their pack. That seems like the logical choice to me, those vibrams are really light.

11:28 a.m. on February 10, 2013 (EST)
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Hotdog's right. Have a pair of heavier shoes with you, and try the minimalists out as you go. If you find out the Vibrams aren't solid enough, you'll still be able to keep going. 

I've seen some people try to tackle terrain like the Berg Lake race (42 km. 850 metres elevation) in Vibrams, only to fail when they ran into scree slopes covered in sharp shards or on rocky ascents. I've had the same experience in trail shoes, where you suddenly realize that every little rock is poking into your foot through the shoe's thin sole. 

That being said, my hikes are in the mountains, often in quite rugged terrain, and it sounds like the serction of the AT you're planning on doing is less harsh.  

For me, the ankle support in a boot is critical. I once rolled my ankle very badly, with a 750 m descent and a few kilometres to go, but because of the ankle support it didn't break. I pulled a quad muscle instead, but I was able to walk out instead of being carried. 

8:46 p.m. on February 11, 2013 (EST)
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I've been wearing the barefoots at work all week with a 40lb backpack blower on (obviously I work landscaping) with no problems. normally I wear normal work boots but my feet have felt better this week than ever. I am definatly going to start the trip off in the barefoots and see how they do. I will have my sturdy merrells with me just in case but after some research of the section of trail I'm taking I think it will be worth taking a shot. its a 30 mile trip so comfort is a issue with it being my first overnighter. that being said, I am prepared to use extreme caution and have my continuums ready if need be. I'm starting to get excited as my trip nears and hope its a enjoyable experience. thanks for all the advice/tips and I'm sure will have more questions regarding gear in the near future.

10:07 p.m. on February 11, 2013 (EST)
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just curious - what's the point of the minimalist footwear movement? Is there anything actually to it other than it just being a fad?

I mean, professional level athletes wear shoes and foot wear, and they are the best performing athletes in the world. Trainers and coaches don't tell them to go barefoot, so what's the real benefit?

It just seems like a new market for companies to sell more products.

I'd say go with heavier boots. More protection, more support, better for your body and joints. 

10:21 p.m. on February 11, 2013 (EST)
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I'm not sure about everyone else but to me I just like the way the minimalist feel. they are extremely comfortable for everyday wear. now as far as actually backpacking that is what I'm trying to find out if it will work for me. I guess its just a personal preference for me but I like the feeling of the lightweight shoes. I'm sure they are not for everyone but I have grown accustomed to them and enjoy the "free" feeling.

11:09 p.m. on February 11, 2013 (EST)
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@ iClimb: In the same way one dons gloves when the hands are cold or getting knocked around, so with the feet. One does not wear gloves when not needed, just as I do not wear shoes when not needed.

2:52 a.m. on February 12, 2013 (EST)
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The only thing diff about hands and feet, you put your weight on your feet. So a foot injury will affect every step you take, a similar hand injury is less problematic. I love going barefoot, I grew up on a beach, but im not comfortable in the backcountry without shoes. Plus nh is the granite state, not a place for minimalist footwear. I do wear trail runners some, but my feet seem to like a light boot better. I think this is part of the minimalist approach, lighter, faster trips and more miles covered. Just not for me here in nh.

4:53 p.m. on February 12, 2013 (EST)
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I'll bet you'll be switching out those barefoots for boots before its over. you need to protect your feet, and barefoots offer no protection at all. good luck.

12:26 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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pillowthread, I would have to say that a foot injury is very different from a hand injury, unless you are walking on your hands. The anatomy of the foot is meant to handle a ridiculous amount of force and the weight of our bodies. The probelm, however, is that not everyone has the right shape, arch, or anatomy to properly support their body. This leads to joint problems and even back problems. This is why shoes were developed.

Yes, our ancestors chose not to wear shoes. They also lived much more dangerous, unhealthy, and shorter lives than we do. Some advancements were made for a reason, in my opinion.

I have spoken with several specialty running stores in the last 3 years, as my wife is a runner and I needed someone to talk to while she was shopping for shoes. Not one sales representative would endorse using these shoes for serious runners due to the lack of support and protective capabilities. At most they would say that "some people like them and believe they have advantages."

Anyway, I don't mind that people do it if they like it. It's their choice and freedom. However I do get pretty pissy when I see a fad that is a lot of good marketing and fancy new materials to get companies more money, but then there isn't much to prove that it's actually beneficial or good for us. I see this as a fad that some people might like, but the majority do just to jump on it.

1:54 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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shenora1116 said:

Thumbs up to that ppine. She sure as hell won't compliment you on Gucciflage.

 What!? I thought I could just float to the top in these babies!

http://www.gucci.com/us/styles/295321AC8802160#

-MG

2:32 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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iClimb: Wonderful interpretation! I'm not sure I'm ready to say "why" shoes were developed.

As I see it though, there are many places on our bodies which get vigorous workouts regularly and yet, don't get covered for some reason or another...You and I probably climb a whole bunch--I climb about 10 hours a week--and yet even though I might climb with my hands harder and longer in a given week than, say, a telemarker who walks on her or his feet, I do not wear gloves when I climb because it just doesn't "make sense." I'm talking instinctually here, like in my head I'd go "well, that sucks...I'm gonna take these off."

Now, maybe the telemarketer thinks "well, I'm really not using these, so I'm taking them off," and walks around the office barefoot. I don't know these things.

As you said, iClimb, our ancestors did not wear shoes. Even the first "athletic shoes" were minimal creations with thin soles and no heel rise (think old school Asics or New Balances), and then, less than half a century ago, the modern running shoe was born, and now we have things that look like spaceships that we put on our feet.

I'm not advocating a return to minimal footwear, I'm advocating a return to going barefoot as much as humanly possible, if only because it's the only thing that makes sense to me. As I see it the "fad" is wearing shoes to begin with. (Who has time to go "why should I wear these?" when everyone else is doing it, right? All these people can't be wrong, can they?...Can they?)

And I wouldn't go to shoe stores for objective opinions on whether or not to wear shoes. Indigenous, shoe-less societies all around the world know nothing of the knee, ankle, and hip injuries we "Westerners" experience after running three miles around a paved loop; they just simply don't get these types of injuries...now that's a "why?" I'd like to see answered...

2:59 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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I think part of the impetus for "barefoot" is that, for a lot of people, conventional running shoes don't really deliver on the promise of preventing runner's injuries. Beyond that there is a lot of discussion, and maybe some data (?), suggesting that conventional shoes may actually lead to more injury, by coddling the feet and by making people run in unnatural ways. Barefoot theory says you should let your feet function as they are evolved to do.

Whatever. I run in Trail Gloves in the summer, but have to go over to something warmer in the autumn and to studded shoes in the winter (only when there is no good xc skiing, i.e. most of January this year). Switching back to "regular" shoes I always feel like I'm running with big sponges tied to my feet. I haven't had stress injuries in either type of shoe, but I have banged up my toes a bit running rocky trails in Five Fingers, so I've given up on those.

As far as backpacking, to me it totally depends on the terrain -- here in Norway many of the "trails" (haha) are seriously rough, rocky, muddy, slippery, so I usually want the support and protection of boots, especially with a load. But I've done a lot of day hikes even on rough trails, and some overnighters on some well-groomed trails in NPs out west in Five Fingers and Trail Gloves and quite enjoyed the experience. As noted above, you want to be sure your feet are strong but it sounds like you're there already. I'd say see if you can get some beta on the terrain or trail conditions, and if you get a green light on that maybe try to take it easy on distance and speed the first time around.

8:23 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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I like the minimalist shoes because they are comfortable, I don't need socks and they look cool. sue me.

9:16 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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This is a forum where people present opinions of all shapes and sizes - I have no intentions of taking legal action due to your taste in shoes...lol

BigRed - I've actually heard about a fair number of injuries due to barefoot/minimalist running as well, due to people not knowing how to properly run, place the foot, and allowing the foot to adjust to it's new role.

Pillowthread - my "interpretation" was a rushed attempt to describe my overall refusal to jump into fads, new trends, or healthy movements that seem to be all the rage lately. They bug me. I'm not entirely sure if there are any proven benefits to barefoot/minimalist running and hiking. I am always skeptical of these new things, and part of the reason they bug me is when people become hardcore and swear by these new methods without any real evidence to back up the claims.

It really is nothing personal, I'm not even sure why it irks me so much. I have the same reaction to fad diets, particularly the Paleo diet. We've all got our quirks, we've all got our pet peeves, this is just one that I'm ok with admitting to. 

No harm in liking it if it works for you, but I won't hold back from sharing my opinions on it either. I see more benefits for myself WITH shoes or boots, than without. I can do more with them than someone can do without them, so I don't know why I'd want to give that up just to say I'm trying to be more natural. It's not for me. But hey, if you learn how to strap crampons onto your bare feet and climb ice, snow, and rock slopes, please please teach me how.

9:38 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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Im not against going barefoot or the minimalist shoes. I just dont think going on his first overnight hike, he should go without shoes. If he doesnt know the terrain, shouldnt he take something more substantial for his feet. I was always barefoot when I lived on emerald isle of yhe nc coast, but now im in nh. My feet would be bloody and broken in less than a mile, because of the rocks, it is the granite state. Even if he trail runs in them, isnt the weight of a three day pack goona affect his feet. I think so, be safe take both. Does the au in your name stand for appalachin state university?

9:45 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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I've seen one person in the summer hiking barefoot in NH hotdogman. His feet were disgusting. I don't mean they were merely dirty, that wouldn't bother me. I mean they looked mangled and callused and gross like hobbit feet lol. My guess is he had been doing that for a long long time and his feet were relatively impervious to the sharp rocks common to 99.9% of trails in the Whites.

Like I said I'm not against it if it works for you. But I will remain skeptical until evidence is presented to give me reason to believe the benefits. It's just how I roll.

I see it as the grass is always greener complex. People invented shoes way long ago due to the comfort, convenience, and benefits of wearing them, because the norm was to not have shoes. Now that the norm is to wear shoes, people are breaking out to be rid of them. 

sigh...

9:53 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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I'm working on growing my toenails long enough to scale the vertical ice! Hoping to make millions off of the fad if I market is well enough ;)

On a more serious note, both sides of this debate make sense to me. Shoes were invented for underfoot protection and have evolved from there, probably to an excess. If you have a shoe last that is not properly fitted to your foot then you are putting an excess strain on every step. Providing your foot with arch support, in your shoes, can make it become too reliant on that support. What happens when that support isn't there? Injuries, because it has become to dependent on receiving the support from the shoe.

Am I ready to give up shoes? No, absolutely not. But I do own minimalist shoes to strengthen my feet and ankles. I have naturally weak ankles. I also wear boots almost everytime hiking.

My personal motto is to keep it varied. Strengthen my feet when I can, minimalist shoes, barefoot is a little too hardcore for me, and wear the boots when I need the extra protection.

9:53 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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no the AU is for Auburn University

9:59 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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Well I think shoes came to be because we arent walking on dirt anymore. There was no asphalt or concrete to walk on when everyone went barefoot, they were also naked a lot. Is that the next step, minimal clothing. Our feet have adapted to shoes over many generations, im not against anything, but im too heavy for most of them, at 210 I put a lot of pressure on the ground, add a 35 pound pack and thats quite an impact, over and over. Where what you like, hike your own hike, but ill keep my boots.

8:04 a.m. on February 15, 2013 (EST)
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lol jake gross

3:13 p.m. on February 15, 2013 (EST)
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From the "Head over Heels" footwear history website:

No one knows when the first shoes were worn for there are no records of such things so we can only make assumptions based on relics and primitive cave paintings.  For sure, the development of some sort of covering was one of the first things primitive man did considering all of that outdoor activity such as hunting which required traipsing over jagged rocks and burning sand.  Never mind the winter.  So the first shoes were developed quite early and they were most likely bag-like wrappings made of fur or skins.  Cave Paintings (c.8000 BCE) show these foot bags and some even show images of shoes that look like fur boots. 

The earliest European shoes discovered were that of the Ice Man found in the Alps which date all the way back to 3300 BCE and were made of rawhide bearskin and woven plant fibers.

Bottom line is footwear was developed to protect the feet from a wide range of environmental hazards - snow and ice, sharp rocks, sticks and thorns, and to provide means of gripping slippery surfaces (examples being sticky rubber rock climbing shoes and track spikes).

Apparently no one posting is aware of why Sr Bramani (son of Vitelli Bramani, inventor of Vibram lug soles for boots) had one of his employees, Robert Fliri, develop the original Five Fingers footwear from Fliri's design school project. Bramani is an avid yachtsman (as well as being the current owner of Vibram). The FiveFingers was developed for walking on the slippery decks of racing sailboats. That's why the soles are siped. And why they are popular for certain types of rock climbs. There are many variations on the original design now. I have had mine since about 2005, when they were first introduced. I find they work well on friction slabs, but are unusable for jam cracks.

4:09 p.m. on February 15, 2013 (EST)
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@ BigRed: "Sponges"...Perfect! I know exactly what you mean...no ground feel.

@ Jake: Well put.

OGBO: I like your bottom line. I, too, find my FiveFingers great for slabby stuff...they were perfect for the scrambling I did around the canyons of the Uncompahgre Plateau; I would not use them for the sport climbs--or the lemon squeezer--in Bangs Canyon...

{back on soapbox} I wonder if studies have found that, at any given time on record, there was a preponderance of these native peoples towards using such footwear more often when confronted with the rocks, sand, and winter? In other words, multiple villages under the same technological society living in close proximity to each other, but with one village being on flatish land closer to a nice river, and the other being on a high, chossy, mountain valley.

I fully recognize that we've been covering our feet for various reasons for quite a while--and am all for a couple pieces of leather protecting my ankle and foot from getting gashed--so then I guess I re-phrase my (kinda rhetorical) question as: Why should one suggest to the OP that he wear a stiff, supportive hiking hiking boot as a matter of common sense, especially when he mentions an acknowledgement of and familiarization with why he might want to wear minimalist footwear? Surely, if he is not of of the educated, than who is? Why suggest "support" as the status quo?

Are the ads for the FiveFingers really all that misleading?:


VFF-Common-Sense-Ad.jpg

8:13 p.m. on February 15, 2013 (EST)
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yes they are misleading, because the species has been wearing shoes and realizing their benefits, for much longer than 30 years. It's an advertising ploy, like any other product. You have tough people who have tough hobbies, and it feeds into their desire to be more fit, stronger, and tougher.

This is not to single out 5 fingers. Most ads are misleading and the psychology behind them and the groups they target are quite interesting (psychology happens to my area of expertise).

8:31 p.m. on February 15, 2013 (EST)
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if it makes any difference, I will be wearing my merrell barefoots and not my five fingers. the barefoots are built more like normal shoes just more light weight. I've completed some more runs with pack with them and so far so good.

9:21 a.m. on February 16, 2013 (EST)
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I, for one was suggesting something heavier, one because he asked, and two because its his first long hike. I still think taking something more substantial for his feet, as well as his lightweight shoes is the best option. He asked fir opinions, so he got them. Not having first hand knowledge of the terrain, ground cover isnt he better off being prepared for any surface. Just my opinion.

3:05 p.m. on February 16, 2013 (EST)
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better to go with a backup. take some boots along just in case.

3:24 p.m. on February 16, 2013 (EST)
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i went on a first trip last weekend.

28 miles in two days in jocassee gorge.  a good deal of climbing.  I carried 37 lbs. on my back .

I wore a pair of Nike running shoes...not even trail running shoes.  I wore appropriate socks, laced them tight and watched my steps carefully.

I didn't have any problems at all.  BUT i will be investing in a beefier shoe sometime this spring as I'm sure that those shoes won't hold up to the same mileage as "real" hiking shoes that are designed for the abuse.

11:01 p.m. on February 16, 2013 (EST)
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Wow Mumblefords....

$640 for a pair of boots? Those things better warm and massage my feet at the same time/ pitch camp & gather firewood/ cook at least the first two nights on the trail/ and meet me in the sleeping bag for a happy ending. I could never bring myself to spend that much on a single piece of gear. Thats wild.

3:16 a.m. on February 17, 2013 (EST)
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@Jonathan: No problems are the best kind to have! Good to hear it turned out well for you.

2:18 p.m. on February 17, 2013 (EST)
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640$ for a pair of boots that look cheaply made.

6:35 p.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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Yes indeed Trailjester

1:20 a.m. on February 21, 2013 (EST)
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I haven't read all the posts yet but it's getting late and I'm a slow reader so here's my reply.

In 2010 I hiked the exact section of trail you're going to hike (are you doing the approach trail too? that's the best part ;) ) and I'm willing to hippy out with pillowthread here. On that trail I would opt for trail running shoes without question, and I would wish that I could go even lighter, but on such a short hike it might not be worth it, and it would depend on my total weight.

I hiked in a pair of heavy-ish boots, but it was hot, heavy, and ridiculous, and I started out with a pretty heavy weight, mostly my fault, not the supplies ;). As soon as I got to the outfitter/hostel at Neel's Gap I replaced them with a pair of Montrail Sabinos (IIRC) and never looked back.

Just watch out for road walks and small, sharp rocks--the Sabinos were *not* comfy on long stretches of gravel, but maybe nothing is.

The only thing that might make me wear boots would be temperature or excess (untrained?) total weight. My other lightweight footwear experience is running a 5k in Merrell Trail Sock shoes, which was OK but would have been better on trail than in a city park. You're lucky that it's just an overnight so you don't have to carry much.

Since I tore my meniscus I've come to believe (with the help of my physical therapist) that it's important to train balance and support whatever shoes or lack thereof. If you wanted to walk on your hands you'd probably train your arm muscles and upper body, not just put on a pair of stiff gloves and hope for the best. It probably takes some time to develop the foot and ankle muscles and cartilage, so even if you work in them, I'd suggest hiking in them, starting with little weight.

Anyway, have fun.

Peter


edit: the Tarahumara run in the equiv. of flip-flops, don't they?

11:57 p.m. on February 21, 2013 (EST)
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maybe shoes with gaters

12:40 a.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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as a update, I've been doing a lot of trips/runs with the barefoots and they are still feeling good. I'm still going to bring some sturdy trail shoes to be safe. thanks for all the input though. I'm set as far as gear but need some input on clothing options for north ga in late April. i have lightweight tops both short and long sleeved. a quarter zip Patagonia wool fleece, rain shell and under armour base layers but what do you guys suggest for the lower body? I have zip off cargo type pants, some lightweight compression pants and compression shorts. will these suffice?

8:30 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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bump

8:46 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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Im glad you had a good time, glad your shoes worked too. Ive tried them, I like em, but I cant hike in them. I always hurt my feet, maybe they just ache, but thats just me. I would buy a pair of polypro bottoms or merino wool. They are light and they will wick any moisture away to keep you warm, better safe than sorry. I thinner pair will compress down to almost a soda can size. Nice to sleep in if you need a few more degrees of warmth too.

9:28 p.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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Trailjester said:

I'll bet you'll be switching out those barefoots for boots before its over. you need to protect your feet, and barefoots offer no protection at all. good luck.

 Yeah by somewhere nearing New England hard boots will be in the picture i bet. Long before Maine.....

I see these 5 toe things in stores and just smile.

9:41 p.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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AUblake said:

bump

 Have you been back packing over night before? Don't tell me this is your first time to go packin and camp out and your up to doing the AT.....

People plan these trips for 2 years and go cache things in strategic areas over the last 6 months of prep. It is typical to wear out several pair of trail boots and a lot of gear.

It gets colder up high, and there can be distances cell phones won't work. Once you get into Vt for sure cell phones will be spotty and in NH they just won't work at all, and forget Maine, smoke signals is all that works in Maine. LOL

You are going to need lighter stuff in the day time, warmer stuff at night and one good rain suit, and a mess of good good socks in good hard boots. Other wise your trip and any planning will be over with in 2 maybe 3 weeks.

 

I must be wrong and you are going on a camp out and not doing the AT to Maine.

9:46 p.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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I like them in my canoe and I fish in them on some smaller brooks. I cant do them on the trails, def not a heavier multi day trip. I would say some where in pennsylvania the rocks would start to beat those shoes up, and your feet. Some people swear by them, wear them everywhere.

9:49 p.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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pillowthread said:

@Jonathan: No problems are the best kind to have! Good to hear it turned out well for you.

 In my best John Wayne..... :-)

Pilgrim you come on out heya' and I'll show you a rock pile that will first grind the spikes off yer boots, then that vibrum, and if you don't git new boots soon you will get shorter......

Ain't they got rocks in Georgia?

9:52 p.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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hotdogman said:

I like them in my canoe and I fish in them on some smaller brooks. I cant do them on the trails, def not a heavier multi day trip. I would say some where in pennsylvania the rocks would start to beat those shoes up, and your feet. Some people swear by them, wear them everywhere.

 I think to like them 5 toe jobs, you gotta like squishin' mud between yer toes... Trail mud can be a little higher/deeper than them 5 toe jobs are..

Wet feet in rubber shoes, toes or no toes could be a little bit of a problem, just jungle rot, that's all.

 

My wife says she can hear me laughing.... ;-)

5:48 a.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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iClimb said:

BigRed - I've actually heard about a fair number of injuries due to barefoot/minimalist running as well, due to people not knowing how to properly run, place the foot, and allowing the foot to adjust to it's new role.

 Well here you go:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/06/barefoot-running-can-cause-injuries-too/

6:04 a.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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Lodge Pole said:

You are going to need lighter stuff in the day time, warmer stuff at night and one good rain suit, and a mess of good good socks in good hard boots. Other wise your trip and any planning will be over with in 2 maybe 3 weeks.

 Probably true for most people. Even the Barefoot Sisters got shoes when they ran into snow, but they did something like 2/3 of the AT barefoot, southbound form Katahdin, before that. And a friend of ours back in VT was one of the two "Barefoot Girls" who did the Long Trail barefoot back in the 90s. They used Bag Balm on their feet. So it's at least possible to toughen them doggies up enough to go the distance.

6:36 a.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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Yea, I have no doubt it can be done. I grew up on the beach, never wore shoes and my feet were like old leather. But, I hike for fun, I dont think doin the at barefoot would be fun. Lodge pole, they mostly have red mud down there, of course there is rocks, but nothing like we have up here. I always carry a camp shoe on longer trips, why not five fingrrs style shoes. I climb mt mndk regularly, more and more I see people beside the trail rubbing or doctorin their feet from wearing those shoes. It seems like comin down the hill is a little bit harder than goin up for them. That mtn draws a lot of newbies, so I see them climbin in all manner of footwear and clothes. In the spring I see lots of college kids, with no gear, in shorts,bikinis and sometimes flip flops. Im a firm believer in hike your own hike, but you gotta be realistic.

9:59 a.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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Hotdogman, Not me, not me. My heels make a tear drop shape, the outside edge of my feel mark a curved line, then the ball of my foot makes mark and so do all 5 of my toes on each foot.

According to Dr. Scholls I got HIGH arches! Whuda' thunk :-O

Come April I used ta' drive down to a town in central Mass for a primitive event like American Mountain Man.

The town shall remain nameless to protect the innocent :-)

I got lost trying to find the right back road and ended up on the town green where everyone else that went to college was too. The guys wore yellow shorts and all the gals wore yellow bikinis. :-)

I got myself figured out on my time, but when i got to camp I was asked why i was so late. I told the most local guy where I went wrong and had been lost and he just gave me a big grin, and told me i had been lost down on Sexual Drive.

Hopefully this tail will help everyone understand how I got to be such a liar :-)

9:30 p.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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lodge pole, its a 3 day section hike from springer to neels gap. I'm not going to Maine.

12:22 p.m. on March 7, 2013 (EST)
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Oh com'on now anyone on the At ends up in Maine at some point.....

IDK, maybe down there over 3 days you can wear the 5 toes things and be ok... Me and Georgia were never a good match. I have done parts of the AT on most other states, but way long time ago I Ga sheriff busted a yankee and confiscated that yankee's corvette which really was a little silver Opel GT, 4 cylinder car..

Don't get to excited my crime was just having long hair. 

I was in Ga in 06, but i snuck in after dark in the fog..... Slept and left early in the morning still in the fog. Someplace in the north west corner called black mtn.

9:17 p.m. on March 25, 2013 (EDT)
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anyone familiar with the cohutta wilderness. we are thinking of doing a few trips at cohutta to prepare. fyi. the footwear is still doing great.

7:20 p.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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glad to see they're working out for you. watch out for them rocks! 

12:09 p.m. on March 29, 2013 (EDT)
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It is well documented that the old time people on the Frontier and Native Americans were really intrigued by one modern convenince- footwear.  That is especially true in winter or when hauling packs on rough trails.

Cody Lundin goes barefoot.  So do a few other free spirits. That doesn't mean it makes any sense for a logical person trying to improve their chances of being successful.

1:33 p.m. on March 29, 2013 (EDT)
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do what works.  i know plenty of people, me among them, who have carried a reasonably heavy (30-40 pound) backpack with minimalist shoes without a problem.  i think your strategy makes sense, continue to bring a pair of light trail shoes in case.  on many trails here in the mid-atlantic, minimalist shoes are a decent option. 

some of five toe shoes have better foot protection, nylon mesh between the sole and your foot to help absorb hits from pointy rocks.  (look at the Spyridon).  while they would not be my choice on the northern end of the AT, where the trails are very rocky and jagged at some points, they may be fine where you are.  at the same time, i agree that you may expose yourself to a greater risk of injury (stubbed toes, foot glancing off rocks, pointy rocks hitting the sole of your foot hard, rolling your ankle and spraining it) in minimalist shoes. 

2:05 p.m. on March 29, 2013 (EDT)
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In primitive winter camps i wear knee high mocs I made with elk soles 9/16th inch thick :-) Inside them are 2 pairs of hudson bay blanket socks.

In assorted other like events i wear mocs that are sometimes very thin, one pair made of a worn out legging.

I suppose i will need to take some pics of my mocs at some point. for some reason I save the old worn out mocs i made too. None of these are found in stores.

So yeah anything will work depending on where you are.

5:13 p.m. on March 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Blake, there is a current thread about the cohutta wilderness. Tipiwalter has some trip reports from there too.

8:39 p.m. on April 22, 2013 (EDT)
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getting ready to do the damn thing

11:14 p.m. on May 14, 2013 (EDT)
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sorry it took so long but the trip went great other than a severe rain storm on the first night. I actually completed 90% of the trip in the minimalist shoes. as the trip went on I started getting my trail legs and getting more comfortable with each step. I only had to switch to the sturdier shoes on a few steep rocky sections. overall, I think I did pretty good for my first trip. NOW IM HOOKED. thanks for all the useful tips and I'm sure I'll be asking for more advice as I start to acquire more gear for future trips. one love!

10:10 a.m. on May 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Doing the entire AT next time right?  :-)

12:14 p.m. on May 15, 2013 (EDT)
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pillowthread said:

..Indigenous, shoe-less societies all around the world know nothing of the knee, ankle, and hip injuries we "Westerners" experience after running three miles around a paved loop; they just simply don't get these types of injuries...now that's a "why?" I'd like to see answered...

I am not going to take a side on this foot ware debate but...

The answer to your why question is the vast majority of the third world runs only to escape danger or chase down dinner.  Thus they avoid running sports injuries by not subjecting their bodies to such rigors.  Also note that in areas that experience raised standards of living, better foot ware is one of the first things these people afford.

Ed

4:59 p.m. on May 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Congratulations, AUblake. 

8:07 p.m. on May 15, 2013 (EDT)
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in due time Lodge Pole

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