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The problem with asking other people for recommendations is that hiking boots that are heaven on their feet could be living hell on yours. Properly fitting boots will be comfortable when you first put them on and comfortable after a day of use. But if the boots don't fit YOUR feet, it doesn't matter how well made they are, or how comfortable they are on MY feet.

 

Also, its helpful to know the kind of hiking/caching you do. Do you live a relatively dry region or a wet area? Do you stick to trails or go off trail? Is your usual terrain flat and well maintained or rocky and rugged? Are you doing short walks, or 10 mile hikes? Will you just be day hiking or will you doing multi day trips with a heavy backpack?

 

These are the questions that a reputable boot fitter will ask you and that is who you should be seeing for advice.

And by reputable boot fitter, I don't mean the high school kid working at Dicks, or the moonlighting teacher working at Sports Authority. Look for a specialty outdoors store.

 

That said, you'll want a boot from a reputable manufacturer. Those Walmart specials may look good at their price, but when the soles fall off and you're two miles from your car you'll wish you shelled out the extra money for a good boot.

 

Some good manufacturers are LL Bean, Asolo, Scarpa, Lowa, Vasque, Montrail, Salomon, Rachlie, Technica, Merrell, Danner, Alcio and Zamberlan. But remember, even if the next 15 posters highly recommend one brand, it may not be the brand for your feet.

Edited by briansnat
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The problem with asking other people for recommendations is that hiking boots that are heaven on their feet could be living hell on yours. Properly fitting boots will be comfortable when you first put them on and comfortable after a day of use. But if the boots don't fit YOUR feet, it doesn't matter how well made they are, or how comfortable they are on MY feet.

 

Also, its helpful to know the kind of hiking/caching you do. Do you live a relatively dry region or a wet area? Do you stick to trails or go off trail? Is your usual terrain flat and well maintained or rocky and rugged? Are you doing short walks, or 10 mile hikes? Will you just be day hiking or will you doing multi day trips with a heavy backpack?

 

These are the questions that a reputable boot fitter will ask you and that is who you should be seeing for advice.

And by reputable boot fitter, I don't mean the high school kid working at Dicks, or the moonlighting teacher working at Sports Authority. Look for a specialty outdoors store.

 

That said, you'll want a boot from a reputable manufacturer. Those Walmart specials may look good at their price, but when the soles fall off and you're two miles from your car you'll wish you shelled out the extra money for a good boot.

 

Some good manufacturers are LL Bean, Asolo, Scarpa, Lowa, Vasque, Montrail, Salomon, Rachlie, Technica, Merrell, Danner, Alcio and Zamberlan. But remember, even if the next 15 posters highly recommend one brand, it may not be the brand for your feet.

 

Right he is! This is VERY good advice. The only thing to add is that the tougher the boot, the longer it usually takes to break in. 40-60 miles is not an unusual break-in for a 3mm boot. Ask for advice for the proper shank, too. Some terrain is definitely 1/2 or 3/4 shank, while other areas are full shank no-brainers. Also consider how much ankle support you need. Try backpacker.com for some good advice on choosing the boot for you and your particular type of foot.

 

Two last things. 1st - Sportslick is absolutely one of the best products ever to help your feet while you break in a boot and eliminates chafing and blisters. 2nd - There is a BIG, BIG, BIG difference in winter and summer boots nowadays so check twice. :)

Edited by fox-and-the-hound
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Wow... so many questions that I never even thought about. OK, I was planning on going to like an REI or Camping World or something similar, trying on the boots for fitment, then ordering them online (almost always cheaper).

 

I live in SoCal, so it's (normally) pretty dry. I don't do huge hikes because I strap my infant on my chest and walk for a few miles. I currently use my Vans since that's the only pair of shoes I own (other than flip flops and soccer cleats). I only go (hike) caching on weekends when I have extended time.

 

So, with that said... I'd still like to hear recommendations of what others like. It's always good to have more info than needed than not enough. Thanks for your input.

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In that case I could recommend a few things. Dry and warm weather makes a big difference. For your particular needs, you'll want decent ankle support and some ankle protection. So a higher ankle is probably a must. No matter what you buy, you should try to find a "full rand" which is like a heavy rubber armor on the toe that will make your shoe last much longer. If you're staying to shorter trails, say 6 or less miles on relatively moderate inclines you only need a half-shank which is pretty standard.

 

If you're willing to break in a good pair, then Danner and Alico have both come highly recommended to me. Personally I favor Merrell because regardless of your foot type, almost everyone agrees they fit like they were custom built for you right out of the box. I have actually taken a pair straight out of a box and hiked over 30 miles without a single blister over 3 days of mixed terrain and light climbing. I think one of their cross-training type hiker-shoes just won a bunch of awards for warm weather mixed terrain, but it does not have the same kind of ankle support as a good boot.

 

Last piece of advice I can give you is to invest in good socks. Not off the shelf cotton socks. Invest in a few pair of synthetic "wicking" socks and something like Smartwool brand's hikers. Put on the wicking sock first and the hiking sock over it. The wicking sock pulls moisture off your feet and out of your boots to evaporate and keep your feet "breathing". It will make a world of difference to have dry and cool feet in hot weather. Wet or damp feet + mileage = blisters, chafing, hotspots and pain.

 

REI.com and Sierratradingpost.com both run some pretty good specials year-round on hiking boots so check'm out like you said and see what you can get at a better price. :)

Edited by fox-and-the-hound
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I won't pretend to be a hardcore expert. I have quite a bit of time as a Scoutmaster so most of my hiking was appropriate for boys as young as 12 yrs.

 

I am currently wearing Columbia boots. They are neither the best nor the worst. But the price and quality were what I was looking for and they are available in major sporting goods stores.

 

I look for comfort. I expect my boots to fit right and feel comfortable the FIRST time I wear them and not create hotspots or blisters. Socks are important also not only for comfort / cushioning but to wick away moisture. I happen to like Smart Wool. Make sure you pick your socks first and then go get fitted for boots because the thickness of your socks will affect your boot size. Light weight is another factor I like. Modern boots are so much lighter than they were 20 years ago. Almost like running shoes. Ankle support is of no interest to me (except for ski boots, roller blades, and ice skates) I am very interested in ankle protection and look for good solid padding high enough to keep my ankle bones and rocks from getting together.

 

These are just MY opinions and what works for me. (your milage may vary, see fine print for details)

 

Hope that helps.

 

On another topic from your post: I have some opposition to going to a store and trying on their boots and then ordering from on line. If you get good service from someone you ought to do business with them so they will be there next time you need them. Ask them if they will match the Internet price and give them first shot at the sale. If you are the expert and don't need help THEN online is the way to go. Sorry for the lecture but a Scout is Truthful and Honest.

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two suggestions:

 

1. find a place where they still measure your feet, and in both directions too. width is WAY more important than most people realize when finding a comfortable shoe.

2. i don't know if they make anything other than work boots, but I own a pair of steel-toed Redwing boots that I bought for my last job (in a cabinet shop). I wear them for hiking because they are very comfortable in any terrain, well-insulated and waterproof. They are the most comfortable pair of footwear I have ever owned! that includes all my sneakers. I am talking about steel-toed work boots! More comfortable than my New Balance sneakers!

 

If Redwing makes hiking boots, I would recommend them.

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I can say that all of the previous advice is quite good. Foot health is so very important. Having worked as a professional ski and snowboard instructor for many seasons, as well as being an avid outdoorsman, I can't stress enough how important it is for your feet to be comfortable.

 

Let's start with socks. fox-and-the-hound was very correct in their recommendation. Socks aren't quite as conducive to your feet as are boots. Meaning if you have a wide foot (like mine) or narrow, or high arch, fallen arch etc... the type of sock you buy will not make a difference.

 

With that said, a quality sock, a "wicking" sock will make a load of difference. When I used to spend 100+ days in my ski boots for 10+ hrs. per day I knew what feet problems were. One brand of sock I can highly recommend is Thorlo. They help with chaffing, wick moisture from your feet, and are knitted in a way to reduce blistering. As an instructor I owned 7 pairs so I had fresh ones for each day of the week.

 

Boots are another story. Weather you be, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, or standing on an assembly line for 12 hours a day you need something that will give you proper support. It is in my opinion that you go to a reputable outdoors shop and try on a variety of boots. briansnat is right that a particular brand is not the answer. Chances are you will not get off cheaply. Expect to pay $85-150. It will seem like a lot but the bottom line is you get what you pay for. If you do not use them a lot (say 10 times a year) you're still only paying $10 a year for them.

 

But, if you get an inexpensive pair for $35 and have to miss a days work because you have blisters on your blisters where's the savings? Just like in the business world "You have to dress for success".

 

So many of my colleagues cannot stand Winter. I live in Minnesota where people claim to be thick skinned and rugged. But, they continually complain every time a cloud blows over. When I see what they wear during the Winter months it doesn't suprise me as to why they do not like Winter. You won't need 'em in Cali but when it's -10 I love my Sorrels. Nothing better than telling Mother Nature to "bring it on".

 

To save you some ching I suggest finding the right brand/boot that works for you and note the size. Then hit E-Bay to buy 'em. This is what I did for my wifes Dansko clogs. She wears them when she's on call and couldn't be happier. In stores they were $110 but I got them new on e-bay for $65.

 

Good Luck,

funinthealps

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...a Scout is Truthful and Honest.

I was only in BS for like a couple of months or so. It was kind of boring (most likely not the BS clubs fault, just the scoutmaster). I did well, and after a few meetings got that gold shoulder thingy that only one person in a troop gets (don't remember what it was really for). Soon afterwards, I became disenchanted with the BS and bailed.

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two suggestions:

 

1. find a place where they still measure your feet, and in both directions too. width is WAY more important than most people realize when finding a comfortable shoe.

2. i don't know if they make anything other than work boots, but I own a pair of steel-toed Redwing boots that I bought for my last job (in a cabinet shop). I wear them for hiking because they are very comfortable in any terrain, well-insulated and waterproof. They are the most comfortable pair of footwear I have ever owned! that includes all my sneakers. I am talking about steel-toed work boots! More comfortable than my New Balance sneakers!

 

If Redwing makes hiking boots, I would recommend them.

 

I lived in Redwing boots for about 10 years, steel toes and all, most comfortable I ever wore. The great thing about Redwing is they size the length and width of your foot so you get a perfect fit. They carry boots for people with smaller than normal and larger than normal foot size. I have a small foot, finding anything that fits is a challenge.

 

They carry Vasque boots, had a pair for a few years, I may buy them when my current pair of hiking boots need to be replaced.

 

Redwing

Edited by magellan315
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I've got a few years of being "Al Bundy" behind me, WIDE feet, and have had foot surgery and managed a women's shoe store (That's a TOUGH job!). I've worn metatarsals and steel-toed boots and non-steel-toed boots for years. I've sold Red Wing, Merrill, Carolina, Thorogood, Acme, Dingo, HH and others and have tried on a lot of different boots and shoes. I have two pair of Merrill trail runners that are too narrow and I put them in stretchers for over a month. Merrill only makes medium widths, but I got them REAL cheap, so it wasn't a bargain since I can't wear them more than two hours.

I've worn Red Wing shoes in a size 9.5 H (5E) and Wolverines in a 11 M and they both felt good to me. I've also worn just about every size and width in between. Different shoes and boots fit everyone differently. I've even found two different pair of the same brand, size and style can fit differently. Most of the shoe and boot manufacturers have outsourced their boots. Wolverine owns Merrill and Hush Puppies and others. Red Wing owns Vasque, and the Workz line. Those shoes are now imported. Foreign lasts, (the forms that shoes and boots are made on) are different from American lasts.

Up until 5 years ago, I worked part-time in a store that sold work boots and clothes, (mainly for the employee discount). I would try on a pair of boots and wear them for a few hours on the carpeted floor in the store, then I knew how they would feel later. Most stores don't want you to hang around that long, so try on a couple of pairs, put both shoes on and walk around. Buy the one that fits best and wear them at home on the carpet for a few hours on a couple of different days. It's best to wear them after work when your feet are swollen. Are they wide enough, does the heel slip, does the arch feel right, are your toes cramped, are they rubbing anywhere? If the shoes aren't comfortable take them back. If the salesman says they will break in, find a different store. They will eventually give and break in, and sometimes you won't have pain or blisters, but if they're comfortable from the start, you won't have those problems. Trying to "break in" a uncomfortable shoe will also cause leg and back pain, so why bother?

After a couple of evenings of wearing them around the house, I know if they are going to work. If they pass my test, I treat them with the proper waterproofing for the type of leather and start to wear them out!

I'm not going to name a particular brand, because I own a number of different brands. I've had people tell me that Texas Steer (K-mart's brand) is the best boot ever made. To each his own!

Try on different styles, sizes and brands 'til you find the best fit, then give them the at-home test.

Take good care of your feet and they will take you where you want to go.

Edited by Woodbutcher68
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. . . To save you some ching I suggest finding the right brand/boot that works for you and note the size. Then hit E-Bay to buy 'em. This is what I did for my wifes Dansko clogs. She wears them when she's on call and couldn't be happier. In stores they were $110 but I got them new on e-bay for $65.

 

Good Luck,

funinthealps

Excellent advice in this entire post, but I just wanted to repeat this part. I have a bad foot and good boots are a necessity. I went to Adventure 16 and R.E.I. and tried on boots, found the brand that fit my feet, and then looked on eBay. I found the Lowa boots that fit my feet perfectly for one-third of the price they were selling for retail.

 

I recently picked up a pair of Asolo boots for half price at the R.E.I. used gear sale. Those boots are comfortable . . for the first six hours . . . :)

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From what you wrote I'd say you are probably looking for "light hikers" or "day hikers". These are light weight boots, generally made from fabric and leather, though you will find a few that are all leather (Lowa Renegades come to mind) . As Fox-and-the-hound said, go for high tops for the added ankle support and protection.

 

"Day" or "light" hikers won't offer the support that a mid duty, heavy duty or mountaineering boot will offer, but you probably don't need that extra support since you won't be carrying heavy loads or walking rugged terrain and you really don't want the extra weight of a heavy duty boot. You're usually better off choosing the lightest weight boot that will do the job.

 

Living in a fairly dry area, you could save a bit of money by not buying a boot with a Gore-Tex liner - but if you think you might be crossing some shallow streams and puddles, then Gore-Tex might be worth the extra bucks.

Edited by briansnat
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My doc turned me on to Merrells. I asked him what those hideous looking shoes were that he had on and he explained they were the most comfortable shoe he had even worn. I then noticed them on the rest of the staff at the office. He said if I didn't like them, he would buy them back for double what I paid for them. I still wear that first pair I got and bought a pair of their hiking boots a few months back.

 

The hikers I got were 130 retail but had been returned. They were priced at 65 but the color wasn't the most pleasing to me. When they asked if I would give them 25 bucks for them, would I take them? I made a bee line to the register and would have to say that even the 130 retail price would be worth paying for them.

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I wore Teva sandals out caching last weekend. Had no trouble until the bushwacking, as they tended to scoop up sticks! <_<

I'm thinking about getting these new summer sneakers put out by L.L. Bean, which are a cross between sneakers and aqua shoes. They look good for me since my feet get hot easily, and I love going in the water.

:P

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My doc turned me on to Merrells. I asked him what those hideous looking shoes were that he had on and he explained they were the most comfortable shoe he had even worn. I then noticed them on the rest of the staff at the office. He said if I didn't like them, he would buy them back for double what I paid for them. I still wear that first pair I got and bought a pair of their hiking boots a few months back.

 

The hikers I got were 130 retail but had been returned. They were priced at 65 but the color wasn't the most pleasing to me. When they asked if I would give them 25 bucks for them, would I take them? I made a bee line to the register and would have to say that even the 130 retail price would be worth paying for them.

 

Well you're very lucky they fit you, because they wouldn't have been a bargain if they gave you blisters. Merrels are know to fit long, narrow feet. They don't fit my feet at all, so I wouldn't take a pair for free.

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Living in the PNW we have lots of weather related issues that some of you who live in dry areas don't have to contend with, so with that in mind YMMV, but we are LOVING our Muckboots purchased from our local co-op feed store. (and alos available online)

 

I hate to wear shoes, but these boots we bought are so comfy I find myself slipping them on whenever I have to go outside. I never have to worry about stepping in mud or puddles, or creeks, or shallow ponds, and sliding down hills is a thing of the past. Additionally, I don't have a problem trouncing through sasal and ferns, tho the blasted blackberries still snag me.

 

The longer days reminds me that summer is coming (even though it's grey outside today) and I'm excited because I know soon we'll be looking to make a purchase for some Muckboots summer shoes.

 

Good luck with whatever you choose and Happy Caching!

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My doc turned me on to Merrells. I asked him what those hideous looking shoes were that he had on and he explained they were the most comfortable shoe he had even worn. I then noticed them on the rest of the staff at the office. He said if I didn't like them, he would buy them back for double what I paid for them. I still wear that first pair I got and bought a pair of their hiking boots a few months back.

 

The hikers I got were 130 retail but had been returned. They were priced at 65 but the color wasn't the most pleasing to me. When they asked if I would give them 25 bucks for them, would I take them? I made a bee line to the register and would have to say that even the 130 retail price would be worth paying for them.

 

Well you're very lucky they fit you, because they wouldn't have been a bargain if they gave you blisters. Merrels are know to fit long, narrow feet. They don't fit my feet at all, so I wouldn't take a pair for free.

 

I'm surprised to hear you say they're "known" for long, narrow feet. Both Moun10Girl and myself have wide feet and both wear Merrells as well as Lowa. What kind did you try?

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I'm surprised to hear you say they're "known" for long, narrow feet. Both Moun10Girl and myself have wide feet and both wear Merrells as well as Lowa. What kind did you try?

 

Each brand generally makes all their boots using the same last, so every boot in their line will have similar fit characteristics. I've tried numerous Merrells over past few years with poor results.

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That said, you'll want a boot from a reputable manufacturer. Those Walmart specials may look good at their price, but when the soles fall off and you're two miles from your car you'll wish you shelled out the extra money for a good boot.

 

 

Good advice. However, it can also happen with a pair of Hi-Tech 50 Peaks. About 3 miles away from, and 1200' higher than the car (In the Fishkills)

 

For what it's worth, I currently have a pair of Vasque Wasatch and Vasque Something-or-Others.

 

To the OP - As Briansnat said, when you find a company that has a boot shape that you like, then you may want to sitck with it.

 

-dave

Edited by Phonedave
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I'm surprised to hear you say they're "known" for long, narrow feet. Both Moun10Girl and myself have wide feet and both wear Merrells as well as Lowa. What kind did you try?

 

Each brand generally makes all their boots using the same last, so every boot in their line will have similar fit characteristics. I've tried numerous Merrells over past few years with poor results.

 

That's unfortunate, what did you end up finding for your feet that worked well?

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