Alico New Guide Heel Problem

10:17 p.m. on April 10, 2011 (EDT)
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first post! Ive always gotten good advice from this site through google, so i figured id join lol

 

So, I just got some Alico New Guide norwegian welt boots and MAN are they heavy and heavy duty, but thats what I wanted, so Im pretty pumped. They fit pretty well and all except for one little thing - in the back where the heel goes, I guess in an effort to cup the heel in place, there is a strip of very course leather. whenever I go for long hikes, it rubs up and down on my heel until I get some behemoth blisters

 

I looked through some topics here and theres good advice, i tried moleskin, but ive had the most luck with duct tape, but theres an issue with that too, when i start to sweat, the skin on the heel eventually gets very soft to the point of blistering too. it all goes fine up until that point.

 

ive racked up about 20 miles on these puppies, and i dream of the day where i can run around carefree, but in the meantime, got any advice?

12:10 p.m. on April 11, 2011 (EDT)
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You say that your heel rubs up and down in the boot. That, of course, is the reason for the blistering. The reason for the heel movement is that your foot and the boot are different shapes and sizes, which is why you see the advice here on Trailspace so often of the necessity of having boots (and packs) properly fitted by an experienced and trained bootfitter. So, what to do now?

First step is to wear proper socks. This means an inner pair of light wicking socks, made of something like Coolmax, plus an outer pair of insulating, cushioning socks, preferably Merino wool. These will be fairly heavy to provide cushioning. FITS and Smartwool are good brands. Both the inner and outer socks should fit smoothly, with no bunching. You already may be doing this.

Second (or maybe first) is to use proper insoles in your boots. Many years ago, bootmakers stopped putting proper insoles in the boots, since people's feet are so different, and a number of good after-market insoles became available. I, along with many others here on Trailspace, use Superfeet. These have a heel cup that may in itself solve the problem. There are other brands, but the "green" Superfeet are designed for hiking boots. Insoles do wear out, so will need to be replaced from time to time (few hundred miles of hiking). Some people need to go to a podiatrist to get a custom orthotic.

Another thing is proper lacing of the boot. Many, if not most, people (and way too many store clerks) do not know how to lace boots. If done properly, the toe area will have lots of room, while the heel will be held firmly in place. You can ensure that the upper does not loosen by back-looping the laces on the hooks above the arch of the foot and up to the ankle (that means doing a half-hitch on each hook as you tighten the lace).

Proper breaking in of the boot also helps, once you have solved the proper fit question.

If all this does not solve the problem, you will need to find a trained, experienced bootfitter to do some minor alterations to the boot (stretch a few places, pad a few places, etc).

This doesn't help on the trail. Since I learned many years ago about the importance of proper boot fitting, I have never had any blister problems. But I have had to treat blister problems out on the trail. I do not find moleskin to be very satisfactory, though others swear by it. The thing is to catch the "hot spots" very early, as soon as the discomfort is noticed. Clean socks, smoothed, are very important. Dry feet are important (use good foot powder like ZeAsorb). Wet socks will slide around a rub raw spots, as will dirty socks or socks bunched up. I have found that Spenco and 2nd Skin work much better. Also to hold the tape (including moleskin) in place, clean and dry the area and use a little benzoin (you find this in the drug store in the foot care section, or even at REI or EMS) - this helps even with very sweaty feet.

And of course, a dozen others will now chime in with all sorts of advice.

1:55 p.m. on April 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Bill S. said:

And of course, a dozen others will now chime in with all sorts of advice.

Since I own a pair of Alicos that must make me an expert of sorts right?

Well, probably not at all.

I do own a pair of Alico Summits, I had to order a half size larger to get a boot wide enough for my foot. I have a narrow heel but my feet are wide at the ball of my foot. I first tried on a pair a friend of mine owned so I already knew they would fit the shape of my feet pretty closely.

After adding Superfeet Green footbeds I still had a lot of volume left inside the boot, even though the footbeds provided a great heel cup.

I ended up cutting some very dense 1/8" foam to place under the Superfeet. This took up enough volume inside the boot that proper lacing resulted in almost no heel movement. Volume may not be your problem, but it worked for me.

Aside from buying good footbeds and reducing the volume in my boot, I do exactly as Bill suggests regarding socks and lacing. It makes a huge difference! I change my socks often; you should not continue to wear damp, sweaty socks because that can lead to blisters. Carry extra pairs.

At the age of 46 I can now say with confidence that I can finally tie my shoes.

3:38 p.m. on April 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey thanks guys for the advice, its really helpful

 

Yeah I know, I kinda bought them with the intention of wanting norwegian welt boots, and they fit quite well from the get-go. i have sole ev ultra footbeds in them, and they feel pretty darn good. also, the heel doesnt move around terribly much, it feels pretty well fitted back there, its just that when there is a bit of moisture, it seems to yank the heel, which gives me blisters.

 

also, i should also add that my heels are unfortunately unusual. ive been ski racing for many years and have been lucky enough to acquire a tendon calcification on my heels. it rocks. so my heels protrude out slightly laterally on both sides now, so fitting is a pain in the arse. my lighter hiking boots (cabelas meindl perfekt hikers) I did not have this problem with, but my heel seems to slide in the back of those since the gore tex liner allows them to do so.

 

thanks for the advice guys, ive tried the hiking socks technique, but i think that i might go for the powder idea as well to keep them dry. i love these boots and i think i may just be stubborn enough to break them in haha

11:42 p.m. on April 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Sounds like they're just not broken in yet. I've a similarly constructed pair of boots with over a hundred miles on them now, and I think they still need another 200 before they're really "broken in," as in established creases in the upper.

I'd give your boots 200 miles to stop causing you problems before you go to a fitter. Sometimes, the inflexibility of a new boot's instep and upper will prevent the slight "give" necessary to keep your heel from lifting. 

7:52 a.m. on May 11, 2011 (EDT)
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So the boots seem to be breaking in well, but I've encountered another problem, and I didn't want to start a new thread, so I figured I'd just post it here. Btw, new sock combinations and lacing = win lol

The left foot doesnt seem to have this problem, but my dad put on the right and he said he could feel an indentation, so I figure its the shape of my right foot. On the outside of the foot (5th metatarsal region), it feels almost like theres an alternate arch there created by the insole (I guess due to the shape of my foot being lower on that side than the left). I dont think this will go down over time, since the boots are about 50-75 miles in already

I have blue sole ev inserts, would you guys recommend shaving down the lateral underside of them, or eventually have the boot worked on? Its quite uncomfortable, and im concerned because at the end of the day, it leaves my knee and ankle clicking. thanks in advance guys!

8:13 p.m. on May 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Is this indentation at the proximal end of your metatarsal bone? That is, is the indentation about half way down your foot or is it pretty close to your  little toe?

If the problem is at the proximal end, you idea of reshaping the footbed is reasonable.

If the pain is closer to your toe, the problem might be a slightly is aligned toe cap. Actually, a canted toe cap could even cause problems at the proximal joint if your toes are being pushed together.

Another possible cause could be that the boot was not correctly fitted to your arch length.

Leaving the boots unlaced, can you wiggle all of your toes? When laced, can you wiggle your toes? If not, you might want to get a thin insole as an experiment. If the increased volume helps, tweak you good insoles. If it doesn't, find a good cobbler and have him or her check the toe cap and the overall fit of the boot in relationship to your arch measurement.

Lastly, if the pain occurs not in association with were your boots -- like when you're in loafers, you might need to be checked for a Jones fracture, especially with your background the facts that these fractures often go unnoticed and also often heal incorrectly.

I'm hoping its just a case of tweaking the insole.

1:57 p.m. on May 23, 2011 (EDT)
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yeah, i can wiggle my toes both laced and unlaced. the boots have broken in alright, and are getting more comfortable over time, and i actually think that i have fixed the problem

derjoser, its like what you said, the pressure is coming from the proximal-lateral end of the metatarsal bone, starting at the metatarsal-tarsal joint, to about halfway up the bone (distal). so i took a dremel to the footbed, and voila, not so bad anymore haha. i just shaved off a little off the side of the footbed, i figured so it could drop a little when it settles.

there is still a little bit of pressure, nowhere near where it used to be though, and if it doesnt go down over time, ill bring back my handy dremel haha. seems to be an adequate fix for now

12:22 a.m. on May 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Dremels are good things, yes? I'm glad tweaking your insole worked! The thing to remember about boot sizing is that each half size between 1/4 to 1/3" in total volume. This oddity has to do with shoe sizing (for the UK and USA) still being based on the standard that the length of 3 barleycorns equals one shoe size. In real life, having volume being a factor means you can often tweak a small area without having to go up a half size and add extra thickness.

I mentioned the toe cap because, even on hand lasted boots, machines are used to last both the top cap and heel counter. And machines don't have eyes. I once suffered from constant heel blisters on one foot from a pair of Technicas. Turned out the heel counter was slightly canted.

Also, a Jones fracture is a very common stress fracture that far too often goes unnoticed -- and with your background, you'd be at risk for such a fracture. I figured the more info, the better.

If you still need more volume, before you remove more insole material, you might try Leather Honey. It softens leather and might be enough to allow the boot to conform to your foot. It's not full of nasty chemicals like shoe stretcher stuff, but is ungodly expensive. I'd be happy to send you some: I have more than I need -- I got some to rescue a pair of boots a friend got soaked and then dried right next to his camp fire. (Disclaimer, I have no relationship with this company, never sold the product, just am impressed with it.)

derjoser

2:37 p.m. on May 26, 2011 (EDT)
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haha yeah man, thanks for the info, if it persists, ill definitely go get it checked out. and with the lasting on the boots, ive heard exactly what you said for my boots in specific - that some are lasted wrong. im hoping that mine dont have that problem, since i think ditching the boots are the solution (apart from major reworking at a cobbler)

lmao! thanks for the offer of leather honey, thats absolutely hilarious. believe or not though, i think that ive got them right where i want them, theyre really starting to conform to my foot, and it feels awesome

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