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12/21/2011 1:29 PM
 

Got an email from a good customer asking for boot recommendations. I don't have time just right now to write the paras necessary to cover my perspective on the subject, but thought I'd throw the topic out for the collective wisdom we've got here. To be short and sweet:

  • FIT IS KING. Different brands use different lasts and it's almost irrelevant to make brand name recommendations to a person. Backpacker magazine reviews try to go into fit by talking about high medium and low volume feet. Don't know if that's successful or not. So the first caveat is always "assuming this brand fits your feet..."
  • Best to talk about types of boots and specific features.
  • The right boot is very environment dependent (that's the paragraphs worth of content I'd throw out there)
  • In general, there is a movement afoot (hah!) right now to go with lighter less supportive boots with the idea that you build your foot muscles up to account for less support and save pounds off of your feet in the process which will add miles to your comfortable daily distance. Although old fashioned about most gear, I will not say this movement is wrong.
  • Don't ignore the footbed. Most boots and shoes come with a footbed that is marginal at best. Having a good footbed that works for you may be as important as the actual boot choice. I use Sole Dean Karnazas insoles.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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12/23/2011 6:09 PM
 
boots 

The first pair of nice backpacking boots that I bought as an adult were a set of Lowa Banff all leather boots from REI. 

I more or less got lucky on the fit- tried them on to the best of my ability in the store, and knew that if they were terrible, I could return them. I decided I wanted non-gore tex, with the rationale being that a good waxing with some Obenauf's leather oil and heavy duty LP and they would be plenty water proof. 

I wore the crap out of those boots for several years, and still have them. They're really broken in now, and the leather is very soft which translates into a loss of support, which is why I have since changed boots. While they are pretty darn waterproof, I've come to the conclusion that even with heavy treatment, they eventually soak through and wet out, and remain that way until I get home from whatever trip I am on. Maybe I haven't treated them with the right stuff, and maybe the leather isn't of the right construction/thickness to stay waterproof- regardless, this was pretty annoying. 

About a year ago I was at an REI used gear sale and saw a pair of Salomon Quest 4D gore-tex boots for $20. I tried them on, they fit, and so for 20 bucks I decided to give them a try. Lucky for me, they rock, and I am still wearing them. I consider these on the heavier-duty side of a lightweight boot. They come up pretty high, have gore-tex construction, and are fairly light weight. For me, these have become the answer to MOST of the outdoor stuff that I do. Thanks to synthetic materials I can dry them out pretty well over a woodstove, and thanks to the gore-tex the only moisture I have dealt with has been because of foot perspiration. I don't find them to be much hotter or sweatier than my old Lowas.

They fit MY feet really well, and I have yet to get a blister wearing them. 

 

 

 
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12/24/2011 11:51 AM
 

All my boots for hiking, with the exception of a pair of legacy whites smokejumpers, are Asolo. A few years back I tried on every boot I could find and found that the Asolo EE last fits my boot the best. It fits well enough that I don't really worry about break in. At this point I have had both goretex and non-gortex versions. Gortex makes the boot hoter and keeps your feet dry, at least until it stops working. Then you are just stuck with a boot that is hotter.  In my experience the gortex is good for about two years at my wear rate, and the boots are good for 3.5-4 years. So for at least half of the light of the boot the gortex doesn't do me any good, and you never know when it is going to fail. On my current pair it failed during this years elk hunt. My boots got saturated inside and out to the point that it took them a couple of days hear at home to dry out. That sucked for keeping my foot warm. As a result my future solution is to just treat any goretex boots I have as a non-gortex leather treatment wise.

I am going back to snow seal over whites boot oil. I tried the other dressings and didn't find them to be as waterproof as the snow seal and in the case of at least one pair of boots made the leather so soft after a good dressing that the boots where basically done for heavy packing use. I know all of the issues with a wax on leather, but frankly I used it for years with no issue, and don't really see any issues as long as you are using oil then the snow seal over the top. I just did my boots this way and will be interested to see if this combination is as waterproof as I remember.  I think goretex is worth it, but if I found a pair I liked without, it would not be a deal killer for me.

I have really flat feet. About 7 years ago I got a pair of custom orthotic insoles made. They are a hard plastic insole molded to my foot with a very thin piece of foam on top.  They offer no cushion, and in effect are a structural solution to my feet. I have worn them for everything except xcsking until recently.  Their lack of compression and hard stop under my arch resulted in agony after about 10 minutes. For that use I went to a pair of superfeet green. I also was getting pretty footsore after a da of backpacking especially with a lot of downhill. Managable, but still not that great.  After three seasons it was time for a new pair of superfeet, but I decided to try something different. I got a set of custom sport orthotics made at a local place.  They are made out of a propriatery cork/rubber, and instead of just providing a structural support they are designed to make your foot work correctly. There is a lot of foot dynamics that go into that, but suffice to say I am really liking them. To date I have skied both xc and downhill, mountainbiked, hiked, worked out, and done site visits for work (long days on concrete), and haven't had anywhere near the pain or even discomfort that I did with either the orthotic insoles or superfeet greens.  So if you are having foot trouble the price of a set of good athletic insoles is well worth it in my opinion. I haven't worn my orthotic insoles, which cost twice as much, since I got my new ones.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/24/2012 8:07 AM
 

Evan or Scott,

 Have either of yo taken a look at Crispi boots ?I think they have a store in Bend.I've heard good things about them but have yet to see any in person

Tim

 
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2/27/2012 1:29 PM
 

I haven't, but if you want I can roll by and take a look.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/27/2012 6:46 PM
 

Good to see you here Tim. Heard good things about the Crispis, but didn't know there was a source locally. We'll see what we can dig up.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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2/28/2012 8:31 AM
 
Re: boots  Modified By Tim in Wa.  on 2/28/2012 8:41:25 AM

Let me know what you think,the few people I know of that have them seem impressed but I'm still on the fence.They seem to have a big veriety

All I can find is a P O box in Bend and a phone no.!1 541 389 9032 

Tim

 
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2/29/2012 2:58 AM
 

I had to hunker down in a snow cave Saturday night. I had stepped through the ice in a small stream earlier and had a wet left foot until late Sunday. Was wearing my Lowa Tridents, a pair of Darn Tough mountaineering socks, and a pair of SmartWool liners. Happy to say that all of my toes are still here.

 
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3/7/2012 8:45 AM
 

Decided to give these a try,we'll see how it goes .Cripi Lapponia through Santana Outdoors(cant paste a link here for some reason )So far they seem like real good people to deal with

Tim

 
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4/29/2012 10:06 AM
 

I know a lot of guys out west wear Hanwag, Lowa, Crispi, Kenetrek- real tough backpacking Euro quality and quite expensive. They seem like overkill here back east, as a step down in maybe quality and price- can anyone recommend hiking boots by Asolo, Scarpa or Danner?

I have always favored a cordura/nubuck boots rather than all cow hide, but I am tempted to try those climbing inspired boots by Asolo and Scarpa rather than the trail tanks by Danner.

any thoughts?

 

 
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4/30/2012 12:45 AM
 

Here's a response from someone who replied via email instead of on the forum:

Asolo Sasloong. Great boot  and moderately priced. Well made, light and will support a load. Crampon compatible and probably the most comfortable snow shoeing boot. They have a narrow profile ideal for "light climbing". Warm enough in the winter. Fairly waterproof. Breathes well. Takes abuse well. 

Footwear is very subjective and there is no ideal boot that fits all. My back sucks so footwear is very important. I am size 12 wide. D . No experience with Danners. The Scarpa boots I have are no longer made and the feedback I got on the new models is not great. 

Here's my (Evan's) opinion -

 

Each of the companies you mention makes a range of boots. My current boots are Asolo and much better quality than the Lowas I had before. Both at the beefy end of the range for each company. I would say figure out which company builds off of a last that fits your foot (fit is everything), and then which boot in that range suits the conditions you'll be traveling. An all leather boot will mold to your foot better than fabric / leather combos and end up more comfortable. If they fit your foot, I'd say it is very hard to go wrong with the Asolo TPS 535 V. Not too light, not too heavy, no goretex, all leather. They're good for a wide range of conditions.

 

Also, Sierra Trading Post is a killer place to find footwear, once you know which company makes boots that fit your feet.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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4/30/2012 8:45 AM
 

JSonn wrote

I know a lot of guys out west wear Hanwag, Lowa, Crispi, Kenetrek- real tough backpacking Euro quality and quite expensive. They seem like overkill here back east, as a step down in maybe quality and price- can anyone recommend hiking boots by Asolo, Scarpa or Danner?

I have always favored a cordura/nubuck boots rather than all cow hide, but I am tempted to try those climbing inspired boots by Asolo and Scarpa rather than the trail tanks by Danner.

any thoughts?

I was going to spring for a pair of Danners—the option to rebuild shouldn’t be dismissed—but lately they have developed a reputation for poor stitching. (Some say it is only an issue with those boots produced offshore.) 

Have you considered Merrell’s Sawtooth model? It at least is not insanely priced if things don’t work out with it to your liking.

 
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4/30/2012 10:05 AM
 

I had a pair of danners but I sold them, they were heavy and the all leather squeaked. But they were more working boots then hikers. Have yet to try Asolo or Scarpa so I might try there and see how they fit. I have had poor luck with Solomon's and Merrell's in the past.

 
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4/30/2012 7:13 PM
 

If you are speaking from experience using the Asolo TPS 535 V, is there a long break in period for them? I am not sure how breathable they may be either since they are an all leather upper?

evanhill wrote
 

Here's a response from someone who replied via email instead of on the forum:

Asolo Sasloong. Great boot  and moderately priced. Well made, light and will support a load. Crampon compatible and probably the most comfortable snow shoeing boot. They have a narrow profile ideal for "light climbing". Warm enough in the winter. Fairly waterproof. Breathes well. Takes abuse well. 

Footwear is very subjective and there is no ideal boot that fits all. My back sucks so footwear is very important. I am size 12 wide. D . No experience with Danners. The Scarpa boots I have are no longer made and the feedback I got on the new models is not great. 

Here's my (Evan's) opinion -

 

Each of the companies you mention makes a range of boots. My current boots are Asolo and much better quality than the Lowas I had before. Both at the beefy end of the range for each company. I would say figure out which company builds off of a last that fits your foot (fit is everything), and then which boot in that range suits the conditions you'll be traveling. An all leather boot will mold to your foot better than fabric / leather combos and end up more comfortable. If they fit your foot, I'd say it is very hard to go wrong with the Asolo TPS 535 V. Not too light, not too heavy, no goretex, all leather. They're good for a wide range of conditions.

 

Also, Sierra Trading Post is a killer place to find footwear, once you know which company makes boots that fit your feet.

 
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5/1/2012 11:29 PM
 

The longer the break in period, the longer they'll last. I'd say they'll be pretty well settled in after 15 miles or so, and just get better with age until they are too broken down to provide adequate support.

All leather is relatively breathable. Not as breathable as mesh or fabric only, but way more breathable than fabric with a waterproof breathable liner (like goretex).


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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5/2/2012 10:49 AM
 

Good to know, thats what I've read so far when you break-in full leathers they can't be beat as far as comfort and longevity. Thanks for the info.

 
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5/19/2012 1:39 PM
 

I've used different boots for different things over the years. I had a pair of custom fit Wesco fire boots for forestry. They need to be rebuilt, but are as comfortable as ever.

I've gone through six sets of duty boots for police and security jobs. The first pair I bought were Cove Matterhorn. I wore the soles off of them. They survived a lot. I replaced them with a lighter, less insulated set that lasted six months and fell apart. I went back to the heavier Cove boots and ended up having to send them back within a month because they just fell apart. The replacement set they sent lasted about nine months. So I switched to Danner this time. They are approaching a year old and the stitching has failed in several places and the sole is literally ripping off one of the boots. I probably won't use Danner again. Not sure what is next for work, but I will probably try to find a company I havn't used yet. My only issue is that I wear size 14 EEEE, which is not a normal size and only certain manufacturers lasts actually fit like a 4E.

The first pair of good hiking boots I had were the best I've had. I used them for a few Outward Bound trips when I was younger and they held up well. I believe they were Technica. They were all leather and lasted probably 5 or 6 years (although the insulation/lining was well shot by then). I had a pair of New Balance boots for a few years. They actually fit good after a moderate break-in period. Either the quality wasn't there or I was just tougher on them and they only lasted about 2 years. I haven't replaced them yet.

On any of the boots I buy, I tend to stay with full leather. They seem to wear a bit longer on my feet. And at my size, they tend to give a good bit better support...

 
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6/11/2012 4:00 PM
 

This is my first post and I am not particularily computer savvy, so I am not sure if this will work.

Like a great many of you, hunting and back country living are what I enjoy the most, albeit less time than I would wish.  Coupled with my now 22+ years in the Army, boots are pretty darned important to myself.  Over the years there are two pairs I always have relied upon:  Scarpa Attacks (out of production unfortunately) and Hanwag Yukons.  Never have liked GTX boots as when wet take forever to dry out.  I have recently bought a pair of OTB (Over the Beach) Thor TCs.  These are now my go to boots in warm weather, with the Hanwags for very rugged terrain and in the cold.

Super important - allow room to have your feet swell / expand when warm.

Insoles are very personal also - I am now a real believer of Sole insoles, I have six pairs (combat boots, desert boots, Hanwags and OTBs + back ups).

For what its worth.

 
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10/3/2017 2:16 AM
 

Very informative thread.

 
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10/3/2017 2:16 AM
 
Very informative thread.
 
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