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Still looking for that elusive perfect footwear for hiking.

I haven't done as much hiking this summer as I'd hoped.  With my heart condition, it's become unsafe for me to hike alone, up in the high mountains, and the number of weekends my partner has been available has been pretty small.

Still did enough hiking, between dozens of hikes in the foothills and several high altitude hikes, to come to some conclusions on footwear choices.  I've pretty much ruled out trail runners and low cut hikers.  Might be fine for you younger guys or parts of the country where the trails aren't so rocky (They're called the Rocky Mountains for a reason), but I just feel better in boots.

Weight is still a factor.  Need light boots.  I'm figuring out that there are more height choices than just low, mid and high.  A number of the light boots I'm looking at are in between low and mid.  Ankle height?  Is this enough?  Don't know.

A couple brands are on my radar that weren't before.  I've worn Asolo in the past, but had the impression they only made heavier backpacking boots.  Not so.  Adidas makes some boots that rank pretty high in most boot reviews, and the descriptions of how they fit mirrors my own opinion of what makes a good fitting boot.  I've had good luck with Salomon and LaSportiva and they are still top choices.  I have a couple pairs of Teva hiking boots, that I'm pretty happy with, but seems that they have gotten out of the hiking boot market.

I think I'm going to have the break down and actually buy boots in a store, where I can try them on.  I'd never recommend buying footwear on line, the fit is too critical, but that is what I've been doing for quite a while.  Need to follow my own advice.

I have the Salomon XA PRO 3D Mid GTX and I find them to be very light in weight.

Boulder Strider said:

 I've pretty much ruled out trail runners and low cut hikers.  Might be fine for you younger guys or parts of the country where the trails aren't so rocky (They're called the Rocky Mountains for a reason), but I just feel better in boots.

Certainly wear what you are comfortable with, I just want to point out that choosing trail runners shouldn't vary (much) based on age or location. I much prefer trail runners, and I'm only a few years younger than you. I wear them in the plenty-rocky high Sierra no problems.

If anything, I would find boots to be more of a problem as I get older, because they are heavier. Old adage: a pound on the foot is like five pounds on the back.

Equipment continues to evolve.  It slowlly gets better.  I think trying to find the perfect anything is a lot like a cat chasing its tail.  Modern equipment is so superior to the old stuff that it is all amazing to me. Diminshing returns are quickly found. You have to spend twice as much to get the last 5% improvement. 

I’m wearing trail runners in some very rocky and rugged terrain. I’ve had foot problems before so with good insoles, New Balance pressure relief insoles and trail runners that fit my feet like moccasins but with stiff soles for the rocks, the light weight makes me fly. Boots are too heavy and cause tendon problems near my knees and don’t fit as well nor give more ankle support though they would appear to. We are all different so search and find your perfect footwear system.

I concur that one pound on the feet are like 5 pounds on my back.

I'm in the camp that likes a good boot on my feet. I understand the theory that more weight on the feet is more tiring, but my experience is that an extra pound of foot weight is actually overall a benefit in terms of fatigue, since it helps lower my center of gravity significantly to balance out the pack load. (significant, for the same reasons that having weight way out at the end of the leg is extra-tiring).

I also get pretty mentally worn out when rocks, sticks, or other hazards are poking into my feet through a softer shoe all day.

For the last decade of hiking I wore a pair of uninsulated 6" Gore-Tex leather "hunting" boots from Cabellas, believe it or not. Some of the best boots I've ever owned, with a real welt, firm enough for a "real boot" feel, and relatively very light (under 3lbs for the pair). Sadly the leather quality was only so-so, and I have finally worn them out and Cabellas no longer makes this shoe or its equivalent.

I have high hopes for the Danner Mt. Light, which looks a super-simple old-school leather boot, with waterproofing, and lifetime-worthy construction. It's a little heavier than my Cabellas, at just under 4lbs for the pair, but much better construction, and it looks like most of the extra weight is in the thick rubber sole, which is just fine with me (even lower CoG, and it will wear down over time). Anyhow, I'm headed over to the Danner factory tomorrow to take a look at them, I'll report back my findings. 

I also noted that the Danner 600 boot is very popular with folks looking for a leather boot but not generally fond of the leather boot style/feel/weight. I will compare that one as well when I'm there. 

I did wind up grabbing the Danner Mountain Light boots. They're 5", which is just high enough (I prefer 6"; Danner also has an equivalent 7" boot). They have a strange but strangely comfortable tongue. 1-year guarantee.

I tried on the Danner 600 as well, in the full-grain leather upper variety. This one is probably half the weight of the Danner Mt Lt, and much softer. More of a leather sneaker with solid soles than a light boot. Too soft for me, but if you like something higher and just firmer than a trial runner, they might be good.

No matter your preference on shoes vs boots, make sure you resole those expensive boots or replace your trail shoe before the traction wears out. I was out on the trail yesterday in a favorite pair of footwear that is approaching end of its life but I thought had decent tread left. Slipped on a slick rock face and here I am at the house with a badly sprained or fractured wrist...pending X ray tomorrow. Not sure if the tread was to blame entirely but I regret not taking the new pair sitting right beside them!

Randall I also tried a pair of the all-leather CABELAS-ROUGHNECK-LEDGER-PT-WORK-BOOT which are close to the boots I previously owned from Cabelas. They didn't fit exactly right for me this time, but they are very solidly made, and otherwise feel like a damn fine pair of hiking boots. Very light for real boot at 2.8lbs for the pair, and only $89. I highly recommend giving these a try.

I found they run a size small.

(And I've also lost the box they came in, so if for some reason I can't return mine, I have a pair in size 11 I'll sell even cheaper). 

This past summer I did most of my hiking in the Whites with Oboz Sawtooth low hikers because boots really aggravated my Achilles tendinitis. My ankles are strong but my knees are pretty bad so I choose my footing carefully, which puts less strain on my ankles. Plus I had a better feel for the trail underfoot, which made me more surefooted. By the ends of the hikes my feet were more sore than they’d been with boots because of that better feel for the trail, but my only other option was not to hike. It’s getting to be boots time again in NW Maine, though, with up to 2 feet of snow forecast by this coming Tuesday. I’ll be wearing my Lowa Camino GTX or Keen Koven Polars w/gaiters until it starts getting cold, then switching to my Sorel Conquests.  My Achilles tendinitis is almost completely cleared up now, wearing my steel toes all day at work only causes a twinge every now & then. Nightly icing and naproxen should put an end to that. At least the plantar fasciitis in my other foot is gone!

P.S. Loving the Danner Mt. Lights. The weight for the pair is something I feel only when picking up the boots in my hand. On my feet, they literally feel like clouds that energize my feet as I walk. My own experiences continue to buck the theory that pounds on your feet are always worse. 

This also has me wondering: with lighter non-leather shoes -- waterproof or not -- if you walk through a stream or get caught in the rain the shoes will be soaking wet. Even if you're feet are dry, the shoes are now carrying around all that water, whereas leather boots mostly shed the water. In wet conditions like that, I wonder if those "lightweight" hikers are still lighter than my leather boots until they dry. (On a rainy day, that could be a long time, or never.) Those Danner 600 leather boots come in at 2lbs for the pair. Do your sopping wet trailrunners weigh less?

I don't use trail runners but do often use breathable ankle high it the mule of this horse vs donkey decision. Once they get wet they do weigh a little more but 15 minutes of walking dry them out enough to where there is noticeable weight difference. I would think Trail runners would drop the water even faster. Both my boys ran cross country and their light weight running shoes barely stayed wet at all over the muddiest courses. 

Makes sense to me that they dry fast Phil ... if it's not raining. If it is raining, or the puddles and creek crossings are frequent enough, then the shoes won't dry. I read about through hikers all the time asking what to do about wet shoes upon arriving at camp for the night, so I know it does happen.

My question still stands: Anyone willing to weigh your lightweight shoes dry and soaked, and report the difference?

That's a good point...ive spent several multi-day trips in regular rain or on waterlogged trails where there is no drying time. Main thing I have noticed is they don't absorb a lot of water, depending on brand and construction so while they are certainly heavier than dry they don't seem to approach the weight of my FGLs. I am a wearer of both so not in one camp or the other. I would imagine the lighter the shoe the less material to absorb water therefore less weight gain but again I don't use the super light ones.

I can't wait for someone to haul a scale on the trail and do some science on this but it's so much a personal decision that I doubt anyone is invested enough to do it:)

Ha, I can only hope.

Good point about light material. Though some light material is also very absorbent -- paper towels make their living that way -- maybe shoe material not so much.

On another note, I suppose if we really want to compare the total weight difference we have to include those wet socks too.

I have tried all manner of leather boot treatments and find none are 100% effective, and less so as the trip stretches into the days.  I sweat enough such that the only difference between rainy and dry days is the source of water soaking my socks.  I notice FGL boots will eventually absorb water, at least as much water as non leather footware.  It may take longer, but by day three my FGL ski touring or hiking boots are plenty sodden, and noticeably heavier.  


After doing some searching, I was attracted to the Asolo Falcon.  Have to say the cool looks were a factor, but it is well reviewed and about the weight I'm looking for.  It's cleats are supposed to shed mud better.  I liked the idea of not having to clean the mud out of the cleats after a muddy hike.  Unfortunately, at least part of the way they achieved this is by making the cleats shallower.  This means the tread won't last as long and could have less traction in some situations.

I managed to try on a size 13, which fit fantastic, except a tiny bit too short.  I felt that a size 13.5 would fit as well as any boot I've ever worn, but they didn't have anything larger.  These are not inexpensive boots, by my standards.  Summer is over, and I have lots of other boots, so I could afford to be patient.  I waited and waited for a deal.  I finally managed to order a size 14 for, I think, $98, at Sierra Trading Post, of course.  I think a 13.5 (hard to find) would have been better and they aren't the pretty blue I wanted, but the price was right.

Unfortunately I can't even try them on.  Just had open heart surgery a week ago.  Right now my feet are swollen up (working on that) and lacing up boots would be difficult for me anyway.

When I'm doing better, I'll try these out.  I'm hoping they are "the ones".  If not, there are still a few more boots I'm looking at.

with all those foot issues, you might think about finding an orthopedic doc who specializes in feet/ankles.  i have semi-chronic tendinitis in one ankle, posterior tibial tendon, and other issues - sporadic soft tissue pain in the ball of one foot, stress fracture in a foot bone in the past, achilles tendonitis in the past. have worn custom orthotics that I got through a podiatrist since '05. (the orthotics last 3-4 years but all end up getting squashed, deformed by a large person walking/hiking on them). changed jobs and took my most recent deformed orthotics to a doctor near my office.  the new doc:

-did a better job diagnosing the issue;

-with a physical therapist, diagnosed a few forefoot issues with how I compensate for flat feet;

-has an in-house scanner that runs a laser underneath a squishy gel pad - i had to stand on it, rock back and forth, and it mapped pressure points in 3d;

-uses that info to build custom orthotics in-house with a 3d printer. 

i just went through this process, picking up the new orthotics a week from today. the PT felt pretty strongly that the new ones are going to have an entirely different and better impact on my feet. also said the new ones will very likely be higher volume, so fitting them into my current shoes may be interesting. 

if that Asolo boot suits you, might consider the Oboz Bridger Mid or the Oboz Wind River III.  the bridger is about the same weight as the Asolo; the wind river is a taller, slightly heavier, and meaningfully stiffer boot, a little over 3 pounds per pair.  I reviewed both on this site; links below, you can draw your own conclusions. both are waterproof/breathable, fairly sturdy (the heavier boot is the better one for rougher trails, carrying more weight, etc.), very good traction and durability. appears they don't do half sizes above 12, but that both run up to 14.

i learned about this brand a couple of years ago, after years of vague dissatisfaction with a couple of other companies. 

Perfect footwear does not exist. 

It all depends on what kind of trails you are going to be on. 

ppine said:

Perfect footwear does not exist. 

It all depends on what kind of trails you are going to be on. 

You do realize you are shattering every boot porn freak's fantasy...


It is my mission in life, to tell the truth and lead by example  Most people won't notice, but a few will.

August 5, 2021
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