Thursday, February 19, 2015


There's some discussion from a long-time backpacker on the merits of boots, what kind of wear and when to wear them.  This is in contrast to other sites and advice I've read, which focus on the non-boot option significantly.  Such as:

In any case, I think they both make some bad, or at least non-universal assumptions.  Lanza assumes that it's worth it to folks to go out and buy multiple pairs of expensive footwear.  However, most people don't have the luxury of backpacking as frequently as he does.  Most people also don't have the luxury of being given all kinds of really pricey bits of gear from manufacturers because he reviews them.  I only want one pair of footwear, and I don't want a super expensive pair.  I don't want to worry too much about conditions I'm not likely to see since my backpacking season is limited.  I don't want to spend too much money, but I don't mind replacing them every few years if necessary.

Frankly, for day hiking, I can't imagine ever not wearing trail-runner type shoes.  Since I wear those as my day to day casual and workout shoes anyway, I have three pair of them currently (although I admit that at least one pair is starting to get a bit worn down and I probably shouldn't take them anywhere serious "in the field" anymore.)

Collins, on the other hand, seems to be really focused on the concept of thru-hiking long hikes.  The majority of his advice is geared towards that specific paradigm. And sure, he talks about hiking on scree fields and whatnot, and I'm sure that he has in fact done so, but when you're walking long distances on relatively well-maintained trails, then your choice in footwear is going to necessarily be geared towards things that occasional backpackers won't.

That said, my choice is really a lot more like his than it is like Lanza's.  Is it possible that if I take my shoes out on long trips in bad conditions that they'll get trashed?  Sure, absolutely.  If that happens, I'll replace them.  But--I have no reason to think that that will happen, given the trips that I have on my docket.

Certainly, what I'm wearing now should stand me in good stead when I go back to the Wasatch and Uintas this summer.  It should work well for day hiking (although I may not want to bother with my mid-hikers for day hiking.  Depends on how long and how far I'll be going.)  They'll be great for a traverse of the Lake Superior National Shoreline or Isle Royale National Park, or exploring Hocking Hills State Park, Cuyahoga National Park, the Smokies or Roans Highlands, the Guadalupe Mountains or in and around the Chisos Mountains, Coyote Gulch or various trails in and around Moab, or the Teton Crest Trail, etc.--in other words, any trail that I have any hope of doing any time in the next five to ten years.  I don't know that my boots will last 5-10 years of hiking trips, but if not, I can replace them with something very similar.

Right now, based in part on the fact that I like the brand and in part based on the fact that I like the look of these, these are near the front of my list for boots to replace them with.  Someday.  Danner Extroverts mid-hikers.  Lightweight but tough, synthetic and without a GORE-TEX lining.

After my experience with my current GORE-TEX boots, I may change my mind, though.

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