Boot and insole suggestions?

3:42 a.m. on March 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi everybody - I've been having trouble getting the right fit for my hiking/backpacking shoes.  To make a *long* story short, after striking out with both a pair of Keen boots and a pair of Patagonia hiking shoes, I recently bought a pair of Vasque Clarion hiking boots.

http://www.rei.com/product/629096/vasque-clarion-gore-tex-hiking-boots-mens

I took the insoles out and put in a pair of blue superfeet but just wearing them around town one day made my heels really sore because there was virtually no cushioning at all.  So, I took the superfeet out and put the original insoles back in and they've felt better.  However, my concern is that I'm going to need the extra arch support when backpacking.  

What I really need is an insole like the superfeet but with some cushioning to it.

Suggestions?

PS. I usually carry a pack that's around 30 lbs - maybe 40 lbs on the high side for a "normal" trip.  And typically on fairly moderate terrain.

3:46 a.m. on March 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Another question on a different but related topic: what do you guys like for camp shoes after you're done backpacking for the day and take your boots off (also for wearing in water)?  I've heard that crocs are good and I've been thinking about the Vibram 5 fingers too.  Any suggestions or recommendations are appreciated.  

One thing I liked about those Patagonia "drifter a/c" hiking shoes is that I'd wear them pretty much all the time, except I'd wear flipflops in the water.

9:04 a.m. on March 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Boots are tough to suggest to someone else. But I have the Berry super feet in my Keens and am quite happy. I cannot imagine that the stock insoles could have anything about them more than the Super Feet....perhaps a different color superfeet? Hope you got them at REI or another retailer who will take them back. After the dayis done, I look to something airy and comfortable. Though my fave is a par of Nike's that are soo comfy it is just really what make our feet feel good. Cold = my snuggie down booties!

9:33 a.m. on March 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi Langcow!

I wouldn't genralize and say that anyone "needs" a certain degree of arch support when hiking.  Some folks do, but many folks don't.  If you're one of the folks that do, and superfeet aren't doing the trick, perhaps a visit to a Podiatrist is in order to get a custom insole.

As far as camp shoes, I am a huge fan of dollar-store sandals.  They work around camp, they work in the showers of hostels and motels, and they work around town.  They weigh very little. 

9:35 a.m. on March 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Langcow,

I’ve also struggled to find footwear for backpacking that I’m completely satisfied with and like giftogab says, footwear is hard to recommend.

However, regarding inserts and arch support an important thing to understand is acclimation to the new support. I have an issue with the largest metatarsal bones in both feet and have recently begun wearing custom orthotics that were prescribed by a podiatrist and manufactured by a pedorthist. I’m told by these professionals the typical acclimation period is 4 to 6 weeks for people that have never worn arch support. They recommended starting with wearing the new devices only one hour per day in a non-active mode and gradually increasing the wear time and activity as you feel comfortable doing so.

Hope this helps….

Patrick

 

 

Edit: whoops, just saw Seths post, he makes a great point: perhaps you don't need arch support at all. My purchase of custom orthotics was precipitated by severe forefoot pain ( I run and backpack a lot) and I had no idea what the diagnosis or subsequent treatment would entail. Like you I had tried superfeet once “just because” and discarded them when they didn’t provide immediate relief. (I ran 13 miles in them without any acclimation period.)

2:56 p.m. on March 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Ahhhh, the pursuit for the perfect boot and happy feet. This can be a long and grueling process to say the least. It took me a long, long time to find a boot that suits my need and keeps my dogs happy on the trail after many miles day after day.

First and foremost get fitted professionally. Different manufacturers utilize different lasts(mold of the foot that the boot is built around) now being this is the case not every boot on the outfitters wall will fit me in a size 46(12 US) due to different variations in regards to internal volume, width, etc of the footwear.

Something to keep in mind is that while you are on trail your feet will swell due to being on them. I strongly suggest that you go to your outfitter towards the evening to try on footwear. This will give you the ability to compensate for your feet swelling while on trail.

Let's say you go the opposite route and hop out of bed in the am, and go to your local shop to try on boots.

You find a pair that fit you and drop your hard earned greenbacks on a pair. You hit the trail and you notice after a few miles they are tight. What gives?

This is your foot swelling and its causing a substantial reduction in interior volume which is really putting your foot in a bad predicament. Sooner than later here comes the hotspots followed by moleskin, duct tape, etc.

Plus to make matters worse the retailer won't take them back because you wore them outside.

For optimum fit definitely try any potential footwear purchases on after you have been on your feet for the day.

Another thought. If you are utilizing aftermarket insoles, or orthotics, make sure that you place them in the boot prior to trying the boot on. This will dramatically alter the fit of a boot that you thought fit in the shop but is wrecking your tootsies on trail.

Also wear what ever sock set-up that you wear on trail. Whether you just wear a pair of woolies, or you combine them with a liner it is very important that you do this for proper fit volume wise.

When trying on boots walk around the shop for awhile. I always recommend that if they have an area the simulates terrain use it. Make sure you also check for toe bang. This can also be a real bummer on the trail. Losing toe nails is not fun. BTDT.

I am going to demur from suggesting any specific model to you just because our feet are quite personal and what works for me may not work for you.

I will speak in reference to manufacturers though. I have had good reults with Scarpa. Then again I also wear 4lb+ boots because of the loads that I carry and the terrain that I frequent(rocks.)

You may not need such a heavy boot for your pursuits. I know many that are in the trail runner camp so without knowing the exact(moderate can vary from region to region)terrain you frequent, seasons, etc I cannot specifically recommend what type of footwear will suit your needs. There are just so many variables to consider when making this type of purchase. Make sure you give your fitter a heads up on what type of trips/terrain you encounter the most.

Your feet will thank you.

In regards to insoles, well I have used Superfeet, Sole, and am currently using Montrails. There are many manufacturers out there. If you are looking for an insole that offers maximum cushioning I would once again mention this to your outfitter prior to trying on any boots for the reasons I mentioned above.

An experienced fitter will know where to point you. This once again seems to me to be the safest approach on my end because as I have previously mentioned what works for me may not necessarily work for you.

Camp shoe wise I wear Teva Omniums. I wear down booties in the winter. I had a pair of Keen McKennzies but the fit just wasn't there. They were just too sloppy on my feet and I gave them away. I did like the mesh inserts on them. The mesh seemed to keep sticks and other crud out of them while allowing the air to flow through them comfortably.

Seth's suggestion is a good inexpensive option and I know quite a few that love Crocs.

I hope this helps ya out and doesn't make things more confusing for ya.

Happy hiking.

9:53 p.m. on March 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Patman said

Edit: whoops, just saw Seths post, he makes a great point: perhaps you don't need arch support at all. My purchase of custom orthotics was precipitated by severe forefoot pain ( I run and backpack a lot) and I had no idea what the diagnosis or subsequent treatment would entail. Like you I had tried superfeet once “just because” and discarded them when they didn’t provide immediate relief. (I ran 13 miles in them without any acclimation period.)

 I have trouble with too much arch so did not buy the blues and went for the berry instead. Not a lot of arch! Perfect for my foot.

12:05 p.m. on March 17, 2012 (EDT)
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+1 for Rick-Pittsburgh.  Great Advice.

2:35 a.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for the information guys.  So far I'm feeling pretty good about these Vasques with their original insoles.  The superfeet just don't have much (if any) cushion in them and the Vasques seem to have pretty good arch support, much better than the Keens and Patagonias, so I don't think I need the special insoles.  Hopefully my impression doesn't change when I wear them backpacking.   :)  

8:11 a.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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i agree about having to get used to changes in footwear.  when i started using custom orthotics years ago, it took at least a few months to get used to them (they are hard plastic with a thin layer of leather on the top - no padding at all).  there are different kinds of custom orthotics - some are softer and have more padding than the sporthotics i'm used to.  the same for fivefingers, it really takes a few months to get your legs and feet accustomed to them.  

i like the fivefingers for after-hiking because they give my feet a break and don't weigh much or occupy much space.  on the downside, fivefingers don't keep your feet dry, so you're prone to having damp feet if you step in puddles.  i sometimes use chaco z1 sandals after hiking in the shoulder seasons because i can wear them with or without wool socks.  

you could take a look at insoles from running shoe companies that do a good job with overpronators, so they might offer a little arch support.  

9:23 a.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Leadbelly2550,

Not to steal the thread but do you use your custom orthotics in all shoes at all times (of course you wouldn’t in the five-fingers)? Especially interested in around the office….I have a dress code at work and haven’t found any office appropriate shoes that work with the orthotics. At this point I’m only wearing the orthotics when I run and hike.

I’ve noticed that you advocate changing up the footwear for best results and I’m finding that to be best practice as well. Especially when running…

Thanks,

Patrick

6:29 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Patman: i wear custom orthotics (podiatrist cast my feet in plaster and had hard plastic 'langer sporthotics' made) all the time, except for with chacos, crocs, and the fivefingers.  i won't buy a pair of work shoes unless the orthotics work with them - they are half-length, meaning they run from the heel to about mid-arch. 

i'm a lawyer at a fairly large law firm, so i'm in a suit and tie about half the time, dress shoes, the whole nine yards.  there are a number of brands of dress shoes that can comfortably accommodate this kind of orthotic. 

August 1, 2014
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