For the narrow footed...

10:48 p.m. on December 11, 2008 (EST)
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I've got a pretty narrow foot ("A" width), a really narrow heel, with a skinny, sinew-ey achilles tendon. Low volume, but with a high arch. My current boot is a narrow-width Lowa Banff with a "SOLE" insole, and 1/4" shims. I still get heel slip, even w/two socks, and I am more than tired of it.

What recommendations, shy of a full-custom boot, does everyone have? I been told that my current Lowa's are one of the narrowest boots around, but others have suggested certain LaSportiva's as well. I've also been looking into Meindl's Perfekts or SuperPerfekts.

Who makes the narrowest full-leather boot out there? Is there any boot that I won't have to resort to so much trickery to make fit? Thanks for the help!!

10:56 p.m. on December 11, 2008 (EST)
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What size are your feet, what do you weigh and do you carry a heavy pack or light one?

Can you afford custom boots and what socks are you now using?

What footbeds do you use?

With this info., I "might" be able to help you as I used to fit boots for a living and have dealt with some odd feet.

1:11 a.m. on December 12, 2008 (EST)
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My right is 10.5 us, by Brannock Device, and my left is 10.75, by Brannock also. I carry around a 16lb. dry, for the summer, up to a 35lb, dry, winter base pack, divided by a Go-Lite Infinity for the former configuration, and an Arcteryx Bora 95 in the latter. I use SOLE 3.2mm ultra's, usually with a thin poly or silk/poly blend liner sock, then a thick, synthetic or wool "treking" sock. I weigh in at 165lbs, and am 6'1".

My slippage is on the inner heals, about a 1/2" above my pad. On longer weekends, a blister has developed from time to time; I try my best with Nu-Skin, and the like. I just won't resort to duct tape. I should be able to find a pair of boots that fit correctly. I would be willing to pay $400 for a really well-fitting boot.

10:56 a.m. on December 13, 2008 (EST)
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Do you have any foot bio-mechanics issues that may be invovled?
I am wondering of pronation or supination of the foot may be the issue more than the boot itself.

I also have narrow feet and pronate. I sure can related to trying to locate a narrow boot (I have a B width ). I would have mentioned the Lowa boot as I have noted it comes in a narrow (though have not used it).

I have come to really appreciate a pair of of now 11 year old Redwings 7 inch leather vibrams that came in narrow widths at the time. It was made in Minnesota not China. I cannot find that model on the Redwing webg site.

For work I have custom made vibrams that I had made by Viberg Boots of Canada.
http://www.workboot.com/ I see they offer a hiking boot, which I have not used. I know they do custom work, perhaps they would for that style. (My Vibergs re an excellant quality 12" upper /vibram sole for forestry work. That pair ran at $325, 15 mos ago.)

Good luck!

12:35 p.m. on December 13, 2008 (EST)
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I am a student of Forestry right now, with dreams of the great wide west hoping to be realized after my graduation at the end of '09. Accordingly, I really only use full-leather boots, though I also know I haven't really reached into the uppermost echelon of bootmakers yet.

10:57 p.m. on December 13, 2008 (EST)
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This is a little off the original topic, but your last note touched on it.---If you are hoping to go West at some point to get involed with forestry, keep the Oregon Department of Forestry in mind. ODF is a state agency. People alway mix us up with the US Forest Service (federal lands)
Here's a link http://egov.oregon.gov/ODF/PUBS/docs/Backgrounder_Department_Overview.pdf
I have been with ODF for thirty years and it is a good agency.

7:51 p.m. on December 14, 2008 (EST)
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You might be able to get a Limmer Standard (may by Meindl to Limmer specs) at a reasonable price in a width that fits. See
http://www.limmerboot.com/Standard-picture.html#

You can contact them at
Limmer Boot, Inc.
P.O.B. 1148
Intervale, N.H., 03845, USA
www.limmerboot.com
Tel.(603)-694-2668
Fax.(603)-694-2950
E-mail:info@limmerboot.com

I think non-custom Limmers would be in your price range.

Many of the early hiking boots (70's) were made in all widths. Even Danner - a US maker - made their boots in Men's B width (I have a pair and love the fit). Eventually, US companies found that the demand for narrow width was not great enough to keep the lasts in use, so Danner, Vasque, and others reduced the number of widths made. European feet are, statistically, narrower than American feet, so some Italian makers still carry narrow boots. You might also look into women's boots if you can find them in the 11.5 or 12.0 that you need.

You might also try http://andrewshoes.com/ as they make some excellent boots in Italy which might come in a better width for you (us).

Best regards,
Reed

8:04 p.m. on December 14, 2008 (EST)
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Actually, I've been trading E-mails with Pete Limmer for a few months now, as I'm very impressed with his product. I'm debating whether or not I should get on the list for a custom pair--the 2+ years wait is surely worth it, but I'm not sure if I could afford the trip out there if, in 2 years time, I'm somewhere in Wyoming or Montana or the like. I had no idea Meindl made their Standards!! How do you think the Standards would compare to the Perfekts or SuperPerfekts?

That other website you linked too seems to make some great boots as well; have you had any first-hand experience with their products, Reed?

And TreeGuy, I'll definately check out the options the Oregon Department of Forestry has to offer. Thanks for the heads-up.

8:35 p.m. on December 14, 2008 (EST)
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pillowthread,

Andrew makes boots for a number of US dealers. I am familiar with a good boot they made at one time for EMS.

I would place the Standards two steps above the Perfekts. As noted on the Limmer website:
The single seam: The Limmer single piece pattern strategically locates the single seam at the concave curve of the arch. The location of this seam assures the shortest length for the least number of stitches that can either tear out or leak.

* Protecting the single seam: Locating the seam on a concave surface, as opposed to the convex surface at the back of the foot, affords it greater protection from wear.

* Downside of a back seam: The use of a back seam, coupled with a backstrap, produces a rigid, potentially uncomfortable fit that creates discomfort for the wearer in the area of the Achilles tendon especially when descending.

* Back seams are not ergonomic: Back seams have a tendency to produce a ridge in their construction which translates to blisters on the wearer's heel. Back seams are a perfect example of a design that is not ergonomic.

* Molded construction: Eliminating the back seam allows for a molded construction throughout the boot's heel pocket. This combined with ergonomically designed ankle heel padding provides for maximum comfort under the most strenuous usage.
*******************
For someone with narrow heels, the elimination of the back seam is a real plus, IMO. I am used to the backseam on my Pivettas, Danners, and Vasque, but I do feel it is a liability to my heel. OTOH, if you do a lot of scrambling through deep scree or blowdown firs, the backseam is better protected than the sideseam. (Life is full of compromise.)

9:32 p.m. on December 14, 2008 (EST)
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Well, seeing as how I've only dealt with those boots which use a back seam, and without much success, I think it might be the time to step into a pair of Limmers. Do you know, offhand, how many widths they offer the Standard in?

9:39 a.m. on December 16, 2008 (EST)
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With the boots you now have, a custom orthotic should alleviate your discomfort. I would try this first and also find a shoe repair palce that sells those little tabs that ladies put into their highheeled "pumps" to prevent slippage. These DO work and lots of guys have used them at my suggestion with considerable success.

I would also change to only merino wool socks, heavy enough to fill the now empty space in your boots. Before hiking, wash your feet in the afflicted area thoroughly with Isopropanol and then put plastic strapping and/or bandages over the regular blister areas...this works very well and I do it often.

I have seen Limmer custom boots brought here to BC by Americans and they are a nice boot, but, not suitable for forestry work. You want Hoffman's or White's for that and I worked for the BCFS, Alberta Forest Service and private firms, so, this is not idle speculation. Go with custom boots as soon as you can, as any production one will still have fitting issues and why waste money on them?

11:36 a.m. on December 16, 2008 (EST)
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pillow,

Treeguy mentioned Viberg. They seem to have really expanded their range of boots in recent years. I noticed that some of the 10" logger boots are available in AA.

Kutenay makes a good point. If you are going to be scrambling over blowdowns with their sharp, jagged, broken limbs and slippery bark, a pair of calked (corked in the Maritimes), high-sided boots might be a better bet than the often slippery Vibram soled hiking boots.

Best regards,
Reed

12:56 p.m. on December 16, 2008 (EST)
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Well, I've got to eliminate the Hoffman's, because they only make loggers in D and E widths. The White's boots are VERY nice, and given that their Smoke Jumper's are a semi-custom fit boot, I can't imagine anything less than a really, really, good boot there...already I buy into the "absolutely no comparison" thing.

The Viberg's are also a really great looking boots, and their Smoke Jumper's are available in narrow widths, too. They don't seem like a peer to the White's, but a noteworthy alternative nonetheless.

As far as orthotics go, I've got an upcoming apointment with a VA Podiatrist to see if Uncle Sam agrees with me that I need them. If he does, I'd be a happy boy indeed.

I've read about an anti-friction tape one can stick inside the boot to help prevent blisters. Any experience with this product out there? What about that ankle sleeve they have over at backpackinglight.com? It's supposed to widen things a bit, and provide extra fiction, but I wonder if they might bunch up and cause more problems than anything...

10:18 p.m. on December 16, 2008 (EST)
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pillow,

This ebay dealer ( http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZwhitesriver ) carries new White's boots at a very good price - if the auction goes your way. Of course, White's narrowest is a "B", but you might be able to work with that.

11:01 p.m. on December 16, 2008 (EST)
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Thanks for the link...I'll keep my eye out for the model/size/width I need. They've got a pretty good selection right now, so chances are something will come up in time.

3:43 a.m. on December 17, 2008 (EST)
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You do not use "corks" for general forestry work, not even here in BC in the big wood areas; they are for specialized uses and it is best to wait until you actually have a job before buying gear you may not need. Wearing "corks" can be dangerous and I dammed near killed myself once when I stepped on a piece of loose rock and slipped down a 20 ft. roadcut on northern Vancouver Island., I hate the dam things.

Vibergs will make you custom boots to fit, or did until recently, you have to call them to enquire. I have been in their factory store several times and they make good boots as did all of the old-time makers here in the "glory days" of the now "busted" BC forest industry.

This type of boot is suited for forestry, too heavy for most hiking and I even came to prefer Meindl Perfekts, the real kind, for most forestry work over "loggers" boots due to good support with lesser weight. I ran silviculture projects, forest fires, a tanker base and did a lot of jobs where you were on your feet for many hours per day for several months on end.

It might take you some time to accumulate the boots you need for all of your activities and I would go with custom Limmers for your hiking, maybe White's, Wescos and see if Hoffman's will do custom boots, for your work. I would tend to buy your "corks" last as unless you are "scaling" in a marine district, you very seldom need them and there are alternatives.

1:40 p.m. on December 17, 2008 (EST)
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Wow, thanks a bunch, Kutenay, for the comparison. Right now the White's lace-to-toe Smoke Jumper's are looking the most applicable to my upcomming needs. I have a fire management class comming up this semester, so I need a boot with a rating; the White's seem like a boot that would fill my need for this class, and provide me with years of service afterwards. They're not a "corked" boot, and as such, I feel I could probably use them for most of my more general forestry work once the time comes.

I had read somewhere that the taller, 10"+ boots out there, like the White's loggers and smoke jumpers, can actually provide too much support, causing a weakening of the calf muscles...any truth to this?

Either way, I'm still definately going to look more seriously into Limmer's offerings.

And Kutenay, where do you source your Perfekts from? How many days would you get out of a pair in your line of work? Is there a large difference in durability between White's Logger's vs. Perfekts vs. Limmer Standards?

5:43 p.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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Well, I just sent out my order for a pair of custom White's Smokejumpers. I was very impressed by the thorough measurement process imvolved, and am very excited to see the final product. I went with the 10" height, black leather model with no steel toe. Looking forward to the next 10 years with these boots...

12:55 a.m. on March 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Ladies and gentlemen, I have my Whites; let the break-in begin. Any more info on the Perfekts or SuperPerfekts? Can I get Limmer standards in narrow widths?

8:26 p.m. on May 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Back from the dead!! Whites are nearly broken in after around 30 miles on them; the little can of cream that comes with the boots is perfect for waxing/waterproofing. The Whites boots are, without question, the best fitting pair of boots I've ever worn, and I would not hesitate to recommend their product to any of the narrow-footed out there looking for that fit which so often remains elusive.

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