Hi - newish hiker, please go easy, I'm sure some of my questions/comments will be stupid.
I'm considering hiking Kilimanjaro - have started getting some of the gear I'd need and wanted to find a better pair of hiking boots. I currently have some Ahnu's that are very comfortable but don't have much ankle support (even though they are high they are very soft/flimsy). You also feel every pebble you walk on and the sole has no stiffness; they're like hiking in bedroom slippers. So while I think they might work for the first days of the trek, the summit conditions (I think from everything I've read) require something that would be a little burlier and also warmer since my feet are always cold.
After reading a million reviews and trying on tons of boots in stores (with help from people working but I'm sorry to say mostly they didn't seem very knowledgable), buying & returning a few different pairs that felt good in the store but not once I got them home, I finally found a pair that felt great. The Zamberlan Vioz 996 GTX. Admittedly overkill for most of the hiking I would be doing in my life and possibly including Kilimanjaro but I thought if they feel better than any others and they get great reviews on comfort, durability, etc. then I'd try them.
The extra weight was noticeable but not a deal-breaker. I loved the feel of sturdiness and the rocker sole felt like it propelled me forward. No rubbing, no hotspots - my first hike was 7 miles (mostly flat - I live in a totally flat state) and I was blown away by how comfortable they were and that I didn't have any problems at all.
Two weeks later second hike was 9 miles. A little bit into it my shin on my left leg started feeling bruised right at the front at the top of the boot. So I loosened the laces and then throughout the hike I kept trying to re-tie them looser and then by the end just knotted it around the ankle so the top part was not laced up at all and really my shin was barely touching the tongue as I walked. And let me add the tongue is very soft leather and very padded. I thought it weird that I didn't feel anything at all on the first hike but on the second I did with probably the same tightness of lacing or if anything only a tiny difference and also felt nothing on the right shin.
Two days later third hike - 7 miles yesterday - I kept the left boot laced only up to the ankle and so I felt the left shin pain with every step but not bad enough to stop me. Then, a little into that walk it started on the right side. Same deal, same exact spot, tried re-tieing the laces differently, tried very loose only knotted at the ankle. Still each step now on both shins was a little bit of agony.
There is no visible bruise (even though in general I bruise easily) but there is a very tender area on both shins about 3 inches up from my ankles. When I got home yesterday I started googling "new boots, heavy boots, shin bruising" etc. I thought it probably was a case of just needing to toughen up my body as well as slightly break in the boots so I'd need to just live through that for however many miles. But also I wondered if there would be advice like oiling the tongues to soften them more or adhering some kind of pad on the area before putting them on again.
In my googling, shin splits came up a lot. That's something I only thought runners got but I wonder if that's possibly what it is from starting out with heavy, very stiff boots that are so different than what my feet are used to (running shoes or sandals mostly year round). And the different gait from my foot not bending at all within the boot when I walk. Either way, bruised or shin splints it seems like letting them rest a bit and then starting out maybe not going as far right away (not that that's far!) might help.
I've read a lot of posts that debate whether big boots are necessary or good for feet. I know a lot of people prefer low-top hikers or just trailrunners. I'm worried though that that with the conditions at the summit of Kili that won't be enough and I'd like to make these boots work for that - even if I didn't wear them the whole week but only the last day or two.
Does anyone have any words of wisdom? I imagine I'll just need to keep trying at a slower pace, more gradual build-up of miles and see how that goes if it's a shin muscle or tendon issue. If it's bruising (is that possible without a visible bruise?) I don't know if your shins eventually adapt to the (minimal) pressure if you keep trying to break them in. I really hate giving up on these boots - they're so comfortable other than this shin problem.
Thanks in advance for any guidance.