Need great, comfortable hiking boots

Old May 19th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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Need great, comfortable hiking boots

Hi-am heading to Switzerland in July to do some trekking. I need really comfortable boots as my feet tend to blister very easily. Can anyone recommend a brand they love? Also....when you walk downhill, should your toes touch the front of the boot? I seem to have a problem with that and find my toes get really sore.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 08:33 AM
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Go to a like REI or a store where the cust. service people know about such things. For serious hiking you should be fitted by an expert. These stores have little ramps so you can see how your foot feels going up and down on rugged terrain.
Consider a good insert like SuperFeet is a brand that works for me. The were a little pricey but worth it.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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It's hard to say, given that each foot is different, and in hiking it makes a big difference in comfort. My favorite hiking boots actually came from the Army/Navy store (police surplus, apparantly), can't remember the brand; among the normal ones, I've had some pretty good experiences with Merrell, but the REI or similar suggestion is a good one, they won't sell you crap because they don't carry it (it just won't be terribly cheap, but believe me, after a week on the trail, it's very worth it). And your toes shouldn't be crunched up when going downhill, though it's kind of a hard problem to correct (has to do with where on your foot the shoe is supported at different angles), just try different things until you get one that feels right. And make sure you get good socks, nice synthetic moisture-wicking liners and appropriate (to temperature, moisture, etc.) thick cushy outers are key. And break them in, as much as possible.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 08:44 AM
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Second that you should try them out at an outdoors store. Your toes should not touch the front when going downhill. A good store will have a ramp so you can test them.

My favorite boot has been the Vasque Sundowner in its various versions. They are comfortable right out of the box. (Wear them before you set off anyway.) I think the newest is called the Sundowner Summit GTX. They cost about $180.

You can help your blister problem by wearing two pairs of socks, a thin liner which wicks moisture, and a thicker wool sock. The new Smartwool socks made of Merino wool are very comfortable. I wear them when walking even in the tropics. Also -- carry a first aid kit and apply a bit of moleskin or other bandage the second you start to feel some discomfort.
Old May 19th, 2006, 08:45 AM
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Good advice from L84SKY, which I second. Brand is much less important than how the boots match your own feet. Also, be honest with yourself about "how much" boot you really need - boots made for rougher duty and/or for those carrying heavy packs are invariably stiffer and more difficult to break in, and therefore more prone to blistering. I suspect that much of the trekking in Switzerland really doesn't require heavy-duty boots, so look particularly at the lighter designs that generally use less leather and have more flexible midsoles. Be sure to test your candidate boots with exactly the same sock(s) you plan to wear. Most importantly, be sure to get them soon and break them in as much as possible before your trip. If boots fit properly, your toes should not touch the front of the boot much if at all on downhills. Sometimes that can be corrected by lacing a bit tighter across the instep - I have some hiking companions who use an "uphill" looser lacing and then tighten things up for the downhills.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 08:59 AM
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The boots must, of course, fit your feet properly and make sure you get appropriate socks.
Two brands we really like, if you can find them:
Meindl, which is German. They make great hiking footwear. You can get them in the U.S. but don't know if they're available at the usual suspects like REI

Also, these are even harder to find, but I absolutely swear by my Kandahar boots. They are handmade in Switzerland and will serve you incredibly well and last for years (if they fit your foot). (women) (men)

They are the most expensive "casual" shoes I've ever owned (my pair cost about 400 Sfr), but they are worth every penny. I bought mine in Basel, but they are available at a limited number of stores in the U.S.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Ditto the others. What works for me might not work for you.

I went to REI and spent at least 1-2 hours there trying everything they had. I needed new boots to climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The people at REI were so patient and helpful. What helped me the most was their suggestions on how many various ways there are to lace up hiking boots. I ended up heeding their advice because of the pain/friction I felt at the front of my ankle where the tongue of the boot was. Had I not known of the different ways to lace up, I would have been in a great deal of pain.

My favorites were Vasque and Asolo and I ended up with the Asolo. The funny thing was, I tested them out when I was hiking in Big Sky and they turned out to be so painful. So I brought them back to REI (they have a great return policy) and they said sometimes it's just a faulty shoe. They gave me the same style, same size and it all worked out.

I had to get GoreTex due to the conditions that I'd be climbing so I thought wearing them in warmer weather would be a bear, but I was surprised at how comfortable I was when I hiked in extremely hot and humid weather in Costa Rica.

So if you want to get a pair that will last a long time through all seasons, I'd suggest getting some with GoreTex if you weren't already planning to do so.

Take your time, test them out, and good luck!
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Old May 19th, 2006, 09:11 AM
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There are many lightweight but serious hiking boots on the market that incorporate "running shoe" technology (cushiony in the sole) and are very comfortable. These are lighter and less stiff than true mountaineering boots, which must be very stiff in order to accomodate crampons. Many of my friends in the Seattle Mountaineers like the Asolo brand for light hiking boots; I have some North Face boots I love--they've gone on three hiking trips to Switzerland so far.

If your toes hit the front on the downhill the boots are too short and/or not properly laced at the ankle. The lacing system should allow you to keep it comfortably loose over the forefoot but secure at the ankle.

Blisters have as much to do with the socks you wear as the boot itself. Proper wicking hiking socks are a must---Smartwool or synthetic, never cotton.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 12:17 PM
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Montrail boots work best for me. I tried other expensive boots, and had nothing but blisters. I've been all over the Sierra Nevadas, Alaska, California and Peru with my Montrails.
REI helped me find them. They are a great source.
Good Luck!
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Old May 19th, 2006, 12:54 PM
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I've worn Meindl boots for years (and thousands of kilometres), and I'm very pleased with them. They don't tolerate bending at the ball of the foot well (the waterproof seal around the sole sometimes yields), but then again, I don't know of any hiking boots that do. Presumably you're not supposed to flex hiking boots that way, but when you wear them every day, sooner or later it tends to happen.

Anyway, they are great boots, Gore-Tex lined, and one can walk for 30 km in them with no problem at all.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 01:36 PM
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Hi Jenski, I really love my Lowa's -- for me, they are the most comfortable hiking boots I have found to date. They are water-proof and gave me great support during all sorts of steep hikes (up & down) over a two week period in Alaska last year. I hope you find what you're looking for! Here's a link to Lowa...
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Old May 19th, 2006, 02:27 PM
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Perhaps it's happening because you have narrow feet - and need a special fit - or multi extra socks.

(This happens to me all the time - I'm a AA - in sneakers and things that don't have widths - although since I'm just walking not trekking it doesn't matter.)
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Old May 19th, 2006, 05:46 PM
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On mountainous terrain you don't want a flex sole. You need a stiff sole so you won't feel the bumps and rocks. You will also want some ankle support for the uneven terrain.

The only good brand is one that fits YOUR foot.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 07:46 PM
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Wow-lots of great advice, thank you! I think I might get my old ones out and try lacing them differently, never occurred to me that that might be the problem.
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