Hiking shoes & clothes

Old Mar 17th, 2004, 07:23 AM
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Hiking shoes & clothes

What is considered "the right" shoes and clothing for easy to moderate hikes in the parks? Please know that we will also be driving for some length of time so it may not always be easy to change from one type of clothes to another. Need to be comfortable as well as practical. Thanks for your help.
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 07:44 AM
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Well, I'll give this a try!

The easy question is the clothes: wear comfortable clothes and layer. "Layer" means maybe a t-shirt, a light turtleneck for early mornings, a sweater/sweatshirt, and a jacket. Jeans or other comfortable pants would be fine.

Carry a small backpack and you can stuff the light jacket, sweatshirt, etc. in as you tend to take them off when the day heats up.

Sporting goods stores, like REI, have good clothes for recreational activities. For example, they have very lightweight, breathable materials. However, you don't need to shell out beaucoup bucks, unless you are going to do some serious walking/hiking.

The harder question is shoes: insubstantial shoes like flipflops, sandals, even tennis shoes, are not the best. Tennis shoes tend to be too thin. You also probably don't need heavy duty hiking boots either. Shoes are a more difficult subject as each person's feet is different.

On Fodors, you will find all kinds of recommendations for brand names for walking shoes. The suggestion is to go to a sporting goods store, like REI, and try on different types of walking shoes. REI recommends that you walk around the house with your new shoes on and see how comfortable you feel in them.

My own preference is Merrells slipons. They have carried me well over cobblestone streets in Europe and steep hiking trails here on the West Coast. I have several pairs of hiking boots which I no longer use. My Merrells work fine.

Hope you find something that'll fit your feet!
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 07:52 AM
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When our boys were in Boys Scouts, a teacher friend of ours came to talk to the boys about shoes. The teacher friend would go off on a week backpacking trip and he said that you don't need fancy hiking boots. A good pair of walking or running shoe like Nike or Reebot (as examples) were very good. Don't buy a new pair of shoes for hiking unless you break them in first!!!

easytraveler is right about wearing layers.

If you are going to a very hot area, I recommend a misty-mate. We do a lot of desert hiking and these can keep you cool and comfortable!

http://www.mistymate.com/misty-mate-pumps.html

Also, it's VERY important to carry water! Either in a back pack or we have fanny packs that hold two water bottles.

Utahtea
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 08:00 AM
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For shoes, I like something with some good tread and ankle support. They can be hiking boots, tennis shoes, or some type of cross between the two which you find a lot these days.

Clothes - definitely layers and breathable fabrics. I agree that you don't have to buy a bunch of special clothes. Just casual, fairly rugged clothing will be fine.

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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 08:14 AM
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Dilly,

You don't say which parks you will be hiking in or when. There can be a world of difference between Glacier Natl Park in June and Canyonlands in August. The general advice above is good - layers, plenty of water, shoes/boots that are broken in and appropriate for the area. Depending on where - rain gear/quick drying clothing might be good too.
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 08:32 AM
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I find that if I'm hiking in a fairly rocky or graveled area, tennis or running shoes don't have a thick enough sole. You start to feel those rocks after awhile. Running shoes can also have worn tread which won't give you a lot of traction on scree. Our family usually wears shorts, t-shirts, fleece vests, and nylon anoraks that roll up into themselves. We have worn all three layers and removed two of them and put them back on during one short hike.
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 08:34 AM
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Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. We will be doing Bryce, Zion and hopefully Capitol Reef. I do have a pair of shoes similar to the Merrells and will get my hubby some also. They are very comfortable and now I know they will do the trick as I planned on wearing them most of the time anyway. Thanks so much again for the help, I always get so much help on my plans on this board.
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 08:47 AM
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For 9 years I hiked with the Sierra Club on day hikes so I know what I talk of. Get thin white liner socks in either silk or polypropylene fabric that go on your feet first followed by thicker nylon or wool socks. If you really enjoy hiking, or plan on hiking on a regular basis in the future, I'd invest in some good hiking boots. I bought in 1991 Vasque Sundowner hiking boots that are Goretex which means you can cross shallow streams without getting your boots wet and they provide excellent stability while climbing hills (I still use them now). I'd do an Internet search under Sierra Design or Campmor. They sell hiking books way cheaper than local outdoor stores in any area (except maybe an Army/Navy store). REI is good but pricey, IMO. I know that Sierra Design has express service if you need them soon.

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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 10:29 AM
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Another thing that comes in handy is a hiking stick. You can buy collapsable poles in any outdoors shop, but a good sapling will do in a pinch. Out in the southwest, natural sticks can be hard to come by. We forgot our hiking sticks for our trip out west, so we bought two used broomsticks in a thrift store in Sedona - total investment 50 cents!
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 10:32 AM
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When we were in Zion, park of our hike was in the water, so you might want to stash a pair or water sock type shoes just for that.
 
Old Mar 17th, 2004, 10:35 AM
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dillysnana,

Make sure your DH wears the for several days before you go hiking to break them in. You don't want blisters on the first hike!

Also, as suggested, we take an old pair of shoes to hike in the Virgin River in Zion. You can not hike with out shoes in the river...the rock are just to slippery!

Utahtea
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 11:21 AM
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Ankle support is important. Good traction is important (remember: there's traction for slippery areas, and then there's traction for loose, sandy areas.)
Comfort is most important. Most expensive, mountaineering boots need to be broken in. Boots (or mid-top shoes) designed for "day hiking" don't need as much, if any, break in period. (Of course, if you're used to wearing flip flops, then all of a sudden slap on a pound of hiking shoes, your feet will loudly complain.)
I wouldn't wear "sneakers" except on fairly level, well-maintained, short trails. I've seen too many twisted ankles, and they really don't offer good traction.
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 01:26 PM
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dillysnana,

As suggested, layers are best, and I'll tell you a few of my favorites that I did wear in the Utah parks as well as almost all the time on hikes.

I always take a silk turtleneck. Takes up little room and is a good first layer. That's followed by a long sleeve cotton/poly type shirt. Roll sleeves up or down; bottom up or unfasten as far as you dare! And finally, I couldn't hike without zip off leg pants. It's often cold to start or on top of a mountain, but warm while hiking. A Gortex jacket is also a good investment.

Have a great time!
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Old Mar 17th, 2004, 01:35 PM
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If I am doing serious layering, I wear a cotton tank top underneath everything, which allows me to really peel down if I get too hot.
 
Old Mar 17th, 2004, 01:48 PM
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A lot of what you want for equipment depends on where you are and what you are going to do when you go hiking.

I suggest a pair of lightweight hiking boots for most conditions. If you get fabric boots for their light weight, spray them with some kind of protective substance such as Scotch Guard. It makes them easier to clean and, if you repeat the treatment several times, you can get some degree of water resistance.

I try to avoid "jogging shoes" because they do not breathe. Never had a pair that did. Also, I think protection for the toes, ankle and achilles is vital. On many trails, you need to safeguard against twisting and against rocks.
(Nothing more painful than the dreaded black toe disease when you slip and bang a toe into a big rock.)

The mistakes most people make is not wearing heavy enough socks when they try on boots. Often the buyer ends up with boots that fit too snugly in the toe after a little walking.

Another common error is buying way too much boot. I don't know why, but if you go to an outdoors shop, you may end up in a pair of very heavy boots.
You do not need a ton-heavy clodhopper for most hiking trails. You need a light weight boot with soles that grips, toes that protects, an ankle-heel collar that protects, and a comfortable fit, particularly in the toe box.

I also find that few people who sell boots have any idea how to fit them.
They want to do a dress shoe fit, and don't take into account the change in the size of most people's feet on the trail.

My long time walking companions are lightweight fabric boots with hard toes, lug soles, and good ankle padding in the form of a foam collar around the ankles and achilles tendons.

I dislike jeans. Too heavy, and they are neither cool nor warm. Shorts are ok, but at times you need leg protection in heavy brush and bugs love bare legs to chew on. (Off or Cutter to the rescue, perhaps.)

I hike mostly in light trousers made of a wool blend or a polyester = cotton blend. I have one pair of quick drying nylon hiking pants that are not good in warm weather or damp weather because nylon does not breathe, I don't care how fancy or high tech it is purported to be.

I hate to be a nay sayer, but REI equipment is not my choice. I have used REI gear in the past. For example, I have an expensive REI "High Tech" hiking shirt and, despite its $80-90 cost, it does not breathe. I end up in an old short sleeved shirt with a Polarfleece pullover in my pack in case it turns cool -- like in a rain.

If you get serious about it, you will at some point add a Goretex jacket and pants to your pack. I would not leave the car without one in most cases.

I do find that polypropalene inner socks and wool outer socks are good for hiking boots. The inner socks wick away the moisture from the feet, and the wool outer socks give some cushion.

You can make do with most anything for short walks. I don't think most national parks trails require much more than ordinary equipment, except for the shoes. There you need comfort and some foot protection unless all you do is walk on paved trails. (Of course if you are headed to the top of the Grand Teton, or Mount Ranier, we have a whole nother discussion on our hands.)

Just don't head out in open toed sandals expecting to come back unscathed unless you have very tough toes.
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