Hiking Boot Help

10:32 a.m. on February 3, 2011 (EST)
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4 forum posts

Hello,

I will be going hiking in Alaska for 3 weeks (probably 3, 1 week long hikes) in August.  It will be mainly backcountry style hiking, many types of rough terrain (including wet conditions) and the average temperatures should range from the low 50's to low 60's (but can get much colder in the evenings).  I will be carrying carrying a large pack (at least 40lbs) and will be hiking the majority of each day.

I have much trail hiking/camping experience and have never needed to purchase serious hiking boots.  However, I need to find some boots now that can withstand the terrain and wear that will be put on them for such a trip.  A few boots I have looked at are:

Scarpa Kailash GTX

Scarpa Mustang GTX

Kayland Zephyr

These have all recieved great reviews, seem durable, fairly light weight, waterproof but still breathable.  Do you think these boots are the type I should be looking at?  Something a little more heavy duty? (the Mustang's are supposed to be a heavier boot).  Any information/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks so much.

1:33 p.m. on February 3, 2011 (EST)
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223 forum posts

I wont bother you with the usual "Are you going in with a reliable guide service?" assuming you already know how serious Alaska can be.;-) That being said, for the weight your carrying ad the terrain your gonna fing, I would go for sturdier boots than the three you selected. I like the Lowa Banff or other heavy duty full leather boots be they with or without GTX, but they can be heavy. No matter what you do they will see you through.

1:45 p.m. on February 3, 2011 (EST)
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312 forum posts

Some Scarpa boots have very good, aggressive souls, that should last a while.

But if you are going to get a 3/4 season boot, then it doesn't matter what they look like (perhaps unless they are pink), or what they appear to be on paper, as it is your feet that should decide. There are many good fabric/gtx boots and many traditional quality leather boots. There are even more opinions on what to wear and when to wear it.

If it were me, I would try on about twenty pairs (it is a necessary evil), buy the ones that fit and make the most sense, break them in with suitable insoles and then leave it until a couple of weeks before the trip and start wearing them.

1:48 p.m. on February 3, 2011 (EST)
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One thing about hiking in Alaska is the often soggy tundra, your boots should be made of something that is totally waterproof or can be waterproofed. I spent three summers in Denail hiking (1978,79 and 06).

The tundra can be anything from smooth to bumpy, wet spongecake-like moss and lichen and semi-frozen tundra. In some areas there are lots of bogs and small ponds.

The mosquitos are the worst, take head netting and eat a garlic clove or mix garlic (fresh) into your food. I found it works better than any bug spray. It comes out in your sweat  and does'nt get washed off completely like big spray.

And if hiking anywhere with bears, either talk outloud a lot or wear little bells on your bootlaces to make a noise. The bears are'nt to bad but they don't react well to surprise, like coming around a tree or hill apon them.

10:03 p.m. on February 3, 2011 (EST)
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Gary;

I to am headed to AK this August, probably not as strenous as what i do at home, however, boots.. I had been using some Vasque boots... they all worn out now, maybe good for a county road.

I notice that you are a larger individual, same shoe size.. i liked the Vasque because my toes did not mash into the end of the boot on steep downhills, its not comfy losing toenails..

I have been looking at the Lowa Banff boots size 14 D..... i am also recovering from Achillies "partial" tear, and am slowly working back to the long hikes i was able to do two summers ago..

Since the trails are very rocky at times, the sturdyness of the sole is important so the bottoms of my feet don't get bruised... weight can also be an issue, are the Lowa's overkill?

Kind of all across the spectrum, bottom line.. big foot, long hikes, rocky trails, toe box.. not huge amounts of weight..cept me. i am 250 lbs..

Jeff

12:52 a.m. on February 5, 2011 (EST)
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I too liked Vasque Boots and like you wore my last pair into the ground a few years ago.

From what I have seen out inthe boot world, I like the Asolo TPS 520 GV Hiking Boots and their Gore-tex linings keep your feet dry. Alaska can be one of the wettest places to hike with its rainy summers. A boot that stays dry or at least keeps your feet dry is the best for me.

REI has them in a 14W. I weigh a bit under 235 and carry a light pack of about 15 lbs without food. Tho I tend to do more dayhikes now than the longer multiweek trips I did just 7 years ago, I think a sturdy boot that can handle extra weight between body and pack is the way to go.

After 20 years in the Grand Canyon, I too like extra room in the toe's as some of the trails there can be brutal on the down hills. I like a snug fit for my heals and usually wear two pairs of socks, one cotton inner and one Ragwool outer.

August tends to be cooler and sometimes wetter in Central Alaska as winter is beginning to roll back in.

I too in the next couple years am planning to get back to long multiweek hikes up and down river drainages like the Paria from Lee's Ferry to Tropic and the entire Escalante and its tributaries from the town to Lake Powell and along the Kaiparowits Plateau.

6:10 a.m. on February 5, 2011 (EST)
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I would place greater emphasis on support than dryness; everyone I went to Alaska with got wet feet, no matter what boot was used.  I agree with others, your choices appear too lightweight for this application, though I tend to haul a heavy kit and like sturdy boots.  Check out the Asolo Expert GV.

Regarding the mosquito comments: If you find them a detraction in the lower 48, they will drive you insane up north.  Some people decline a return invitation, regardless how much they liked the experience otherwise.  Camp up slope, away from creeks, rivers, and lakes, preferably where you catch a breeze.  It is impossible to escape the mosquitoes, but they aren’t as dense up the hill sides as they are along the river beds and lakes shores.   

Ed

10:04 a.m. on February 5, 2011 (EST)
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Yah.. I have heard Mosquito's are the state bird in AK.. lol..

I have printed a bunch of suggestions, just wished i lived closer to the mountain shops.. they are all about 3 hour drive one way. but such is life on the plains.. I like the suggestion to try about 20 on..

I read reviews both pro and con on Gortex... Frankly I am torn.. years ago, i had a pair of custom boots made by a guy name of Steve Komito.. glove leather lining, heavy outer.. used bee's wax according to his recomendations, the interior finally rotted out because of the wet foot. "sweat". The reviews about sweat foot on GTX have me looking at other kinds, but then remember my Komito boots..

I can deal with other equipment "discomfort" but my feet take me to where i have to go..

Thanks for the good advice.. "all"

Jeff

10:13 a.m. on February 5, 2011 (EST)
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4 forum posts

Hey Guys,

Thanks so much for your input.  I went to a couple stores last night and tried on quite a few boots, which included the Asolo TPS 520 and the Kayland Zephyr.  I ended up going with the Kayland Contact.  They seemed to be the most comfortable, sturdy and supportive boot.  The Asolo TPS 520 also felt very comfortable, however, they seemed to be a bit snug around the toes (but a next size up would have been too big) and the ankle support didn't seem as good as on the Contact.  Now I will go on quite a few day/weekend hikes to break them in for AK.

In the future, I will certainly use these forums as a source of information to help prepare for my trip.  Thanks, Gary, for the tip about the garlic as a defense for the mosquitoes.  I will continue to look around for tips (if any) on how to defend against them.  Any other information you have on Alaska would be greatly appreciated!

 

12:25 p.m. on February 5, 2011 (EST)
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To me garlic is the best defense as it works from the outside in. Maybe someone could make a garlic rub for those who don't want to consume it. It's easy to mix in any foods tho. When I bicycled from Prudoe Bay to Homer Spit I just got into the habit of eating one small clove every morning.

A good head net is also good as they do get pretty annoying buzzing around even if because of repellant and garlic they don't land.

For hiking on the tundra, hiking sticks are great as the land can be very uneven.

Carry bear spray too, but learn how to use it before hand. Tho I never had any problem with bears even in the areas where they were heaviest in northcentral Alaska, the main problem can be Moose, especially Cows with seen or unseen calves. They are very protective and have had them go out of their way from across a pond once where I was 20 yards away and separated by the pond. The mother moose made a immediate beeline for me thru the water. I didn't wait for her to get very far before I went the other way.

In remote area's Wolves are usually elusive, but sometimes curious where they don't encounter humans and will come towards you to investigate which can be very annoying especially when theres two or three of them at the same time. I had a pair, maybe the Alpha male and female in Denali's Savage River area once come into my camp and walk right up to just outside my tent while I was sleeping in the afternoon. I woke to see them standing within a few inches of my tent door. The Male sniffed at my boots which were sitting there and tugged one at the boot laces. I waved my hand as I was afraid he was going to take one boot they way he was acting. After I waved my hands and clapped them a couple times they ran off and I saw them a little later sitting near what I think was their den. I never saw any pups, but later a ranger told me they had beeen coming close to many others and eventually they closed the area to camping and hiking so the wolves could have their peace.

During my bike tour thru the Brooks Range something in the middle of the evening stole my rolled up spare tire. I looked within about a 1/2 mile around but never found it. Someone suggested porcupines liked to chew on rubber.

Evenings are very nice in the middle of the summer when the sun does'nt set and it stays light out 24 hours. Midnight will be as bright as Noon. Course it depends where you are as the sun does sit behind the hills and mounains depending on where they are to you. Up along the flats between Prudoe Bay and the northern edges of the Brooks Range there are areas where the horizon was flat and unbroken by anything and the sun just went around in a circle dipping lower in the middle of the evening and higher in the middle of the day. Generally it would be about as high at midday as 10 am down here in the "Lower 48's" summer and skim the horizon like a long sunset that never went below the edge of the earth. I liked it as I never or rarely had to use a flashlight.

In August is the Salmon run in much of Alaska and they will fill the rivers  with their pink bodies so full it looks like its all Salmon and no water in places.  Even when I crossed the Yukon River above Fairbanks I could see hundreds of them in the murky waters making their way to the spawning grounds. Most rivers and creeks close to the highway were always full of fishermen and bears alike. It was comical to watch the bears with all their fishing styles.

Alaska is still the "Last Frontier" and you will have experiences you will remember the rest of your life. I lived in Alaska from October 1977 to December 1979 living and working in Anchorage during the winters and taking the two summers of 78 and 79 off to hike. I went back in May 2006 and worked just south of Denali Park till the end of July then flew to Prudoe Bay where the pipeline and oil rig's are and bicycled to all the way to Homer Spit below Anchorage. Then met a guy from France in Seward and hitched a ride back to Catwell and across to Valdez. I then took a ferry back to Seward and then the Alaskan Railroad to Anchorage. I was going to stay for the winter then bicycle down thru Canada to the states and Utah, but during the fall when I began working someone stole my bike. In January 2007 I decided to fly back to southern Utah. In mid December the nights were 20 hours long and the sun rose about 10 am in Anchorage and sat about 2 pm. I decided the nights were to long and did'nt want to stay all winter.

If you want a cheap place to stay when you arrive, if you arrrive in Anchorage? Stay at:  

Jason's International Youth Hostel - Midtown

  • (907) 562-0263

3324 Eide St, Anchorage, AK 99503

I lived at this hostel from September to January.

 

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