I need some New Zealand-specific advice on "lightweight" hiking shoes.
Please please please forgive the length of this post, but if I'm going to get any useful advice there's some things you need to know...
1) I own a brand new pair of Asolo TPS520GV leather/Goretex boots.
2) I owned a pair of the same Asolo boots previously, and, just like this new pair, they pretty much fit perfectly right out of the box.
3) I find the Asolo's to be very comfortable.
4) However, the Asolo's are heavy clodhoppers, and the soles aren't the best grip for wet rock.
...and some more...
1) I have VERY DIFFICULT feet to fit; size 12 & narrow.
2) Apparently I have "exceptionally" flat feet, to quote my podiatrist.
3) I have worn orthotics for both feet for several years now; they eliminated a constant battle with sore & aching feet (everyday use), as well as recurrent 'horny growth' (for lack of the proper technical description) on the outer edge of my left foot, near where the pinky toe joins the foot.
4) I wear the orthotics every day, and when on the trail (I cut the footbeds of my Asolo's in half & toss the rear portions, replacing with my orthotics)
5) I have tried the lightweight hiking shoes concept before (pre-orthotics), but have had to abort several medium-length treks (Arizona Trail, Big Bend NP) due to severe pain in my heels and/or pain "across the tops" of my feet. The heels are the real problem, though -- they simply cannot take the everyday pounding except when protected by the Asolo's. The heel-pain begins about 4-5 days into the hike, and increases until it is an excruciating deal-breaker; end of hike.
6) I do not have this problem with the Asolo's & orthotics. Also, I did not have this problem previously (pre-orthotics) when I wore Vasques.
1) I haven't tried to go back to the lightweight hiking shoe concept (on the trail) since I started wearing the orthotics. So maybe...just maybe...
2) And my current everyday shoes are Asolo Tasman XCR's; they're comfy with the orthotics & I wear them literally every day. [Not with a pack though -- heh]
1) I've been wearing a combo of Wigwam polypro liners under Thorlo hiking socks since I started hiking >10 years ago; this combo works very well for me & I never have blister problems, whatever my main hiking footwear has been.
2) Will be wearing gaiters (size & style TBD, but leaning towards ID eVent shorties)
...the New Zealand part...
1) I would really like hikers experienced with New Zealand conditions to chime in here.
2) NZ hiking in a nutshell? Well, a slightly pessimistic outlook would be:
a) heavy all-day rain 2 days out of 3.
b) wading across knee-height streams or rivers several times a day.
c) significant time spent hiking IN rivers or streams, perhaps for an hour at a time or more
d) significant time spent sloshing through ankle-high (or higher) water (or mud) that's burying the actual trail...i.e. the trail is underwater.
...specifics of our hike (wife & myself)...
1) approx 90 days of hiking in a 120-day span from 11/09 thru mid-March 2010
2) this is summer in NZ, not winter
3) NO significant off-trail hiking is planned -- using established trails
4) NO "mountain climbing," technical climbing, and virtually (I hope) no time on snow or ice. This is a hiking trip...
5) Varied terrain, everything from beaches to clambering up a volcano to wading up a river to meandering along a well-groomed trail. Each hike is 2-6 days, and there will be 1-2 days between each hike.
6) Unfortunately, this isn't the GR5, or anything like it -- i.e. there is no option for resupply on these hikes. Caching is not a realistic option either.
7) Pack weights not finalized yet, but heavier than usual (or desired), due mainly to #6 directly above, as well as our Macpac Celeste "pitch-as-one" tent procured specifically for this trip. Let's figure 25-30 lbs typical, and 35 lbs max. It is what it is.
8) We won't be switching to alternate footwear when wading etc; it's NZ; there's no point; we'll just walk on in.
9) Actual itinerary can be found here, if it helps: http://www.tramper.co.nz/?view=topic&id=413#message2730
WHEW -- yep that's all for the prelude!
Oh yeah -- the actual question on the table? Well, I think there's a major flaw in my plan. Actually, I'm sure there's more than 1 (lol), but this pertains to footwear:
*** The Asolo boots won't drain. In fact, I'm hard-pressed to think of footwear that would drain less. Even with gaiters, it seems possible that I'll be walking around with "bucketfeet" due to all the rain & wading. ***
So, suddenly, finally assimilating all the NZ trip reports I've read, I'm wondering if this non-drainage will be a horrible inconvenience (at best), and might contribute to problematic blister (or constant immersion) problems (at worst). And I'm wondering if it MIGHT (just might) be possible to try the lightweight hiking shoes approach again, thinking the orthotics might solve the heel pain. Maybe the worst that can happen (and it wouldn't be good) is that I try it out & it doesn't work. That would mean 7-10 days laid up (no hiking, little or no walking) just to let the heels recover, and then continuing the journey with the non-draining bucketfoot Asolo's...
Thoughts? Specific recommendations on what lightweight hiking shoes I should consider using? FYI I have had miserable delaminating experience with Montrail & Merrill in the past, so I'm not inclined to try them again.
Thanks for any advice, and I hope I'm not banned for gratuitous post-length!