November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Shoes for Long Distance Hiking
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/03/2006 12:28:23 MST Print View

I'm soliciting some feedback from the list's resident long distance hikers about trail shoes.

We are looking hard at shoes for our Arctic trek. Ideally, one pair needs to last 600 miles of off-trail conditions.

The shoes need to drain well, absorb little water, because there will be a lot of river crossings, wet brush, tundra.

Durability of the sole and upper is important. There are lots of rocks in the mountains: scree, talus, shale surfaces.

Sole tread is important. Steep grassy slopes, mud, brush bottoms.

So, I'm curious to know:

What shoes are our resident long distance hikers are using these days?

How many miles are you getting out of them?

What kind of miles you are hiking (on/off trail, type of terrain - rocky, brushy, etc.)?

Where on the shoe are they failing?

How do you know they've failed if the failure is not obvious?

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
shoes for long distance hiking on 03/03/2006 17:00:21 MST Print View

I would recommend sandals. Teva Cross-Tera specifically. The only times sandals don't work is for desert, due to prevalance of thorn bushes, and for wet snow and slush conditions. If you anticipate snow and wet slush, I would suggest supplementing the sandals with some neoprene booties or socks, either worn alone or worn with the sandals.

For merely cool weather, you can add some home-made cordura socks. This is what I will be using on my future trips to replace the neoprene socks I used in the past. pattern is here. Takes about 3 hours to cut and sew, working at my usual plodding pace, less for a skilled sewer. These cordura socks will also provide mosquito and tick protection. If you plan to wear them constantly for that purpose, then bring along some spares, at 5oz/pair.

Sandals with hook and look closures (such as Teva Cross-Teras) will collect crud in the grasslands, but this is mostly just an annoyance. The hook-and-loop will almost certainly not wear out in 30 days or 600 miles.

If used carefully, Teva Cross-Teras will easily last 600 miles of rugged hiking. Scree slopes and talus are not particularly hard on the soles of shoes, by the way. In particular, they probably abrade the soles LESS than ordinary concrete sidewalks in the city, because the abrasion is spread on different parts of the sole rather than concentrated. The big risk in the mountains is scraping the sides of shoes against certain types of very abrasive rock. With sandals, the sides means the straps. The straps on Teva Cross-Teras is very heavy nylon--far more durable than the nylon of most fabric boots. By contrast, the straps on Chacos is flimsy polypropolene--I sliced through those straps due to a single careless misstep and then had to throw the sandals away because I couldn't repair them on the road. I have walked in the Pyrenees, Corsica and other mountains in Europe extensively with sandals, on very rough scree slopes, and see no reason why durability would be a concern, assuming you use Teva Cross-Teras and not some other brand.

I strongly advise bringing along a 1oz tube of either Shoe-Goo or McNett SeamGrip in case the bottom sole and upper sole separate and need to be glued back together. This can happen to any shoe or boot, even a brand-new shoe or boot, due to manufacturing glitches. It takes a day for these glues to cure, but losing a day (which is unlikely in any case) is better than having the whole trip ruined because your footwear falls apart. I have only used Shoe-Goo myself for repairing shoes, but I have used SeamGrip for other purposes and feel quite confident about its holding strength.

Sandals give poor footing when they are wet and you are making steep descents, because the foot tends to slide towards the front of the sandals and the straps don't hold the foot very securely. But such steep descents with wet feet are the exception, and this one disadvantage of sandals is compensated for by a host of advantages. In particular, you don't need to worry about getting wet. Just plow right on through streams and bogs.

Here are some more suggestions regarding sandals, from the clothing writeup at my website:

  • Avoid leather sandals, since these will rot in outdoor conditions (other than the desert).
  • Avoid sandals with quick-release fasteners, since these can break. The Cross-Teras use hook-and-loop, which is much more reliable, though it tends to pick up crud outdoors (especially in grasslands). Sturdy ladder-locks are probably the best fasteners, but only if the straps are of heavy nylon. If the straps are thin nylon or polypropolene, they can easily abrade outdoors.
  • Avoid sandals which don't have some sort of anti-microbial treatment in the topsole. If sandals nevertheless start to smell, soak them in a strong solution of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) for a few minutes, then rinse, then coat with baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to get rid of the bleach smell. A similar treatment will remove stink from the feet (but don't let the feet soak for very long!).
  • Avoid sandals (like Chacos) which try to support the arch or otherwise fix supposed imperfections in the design of the human foot.
  • Avoid sandals (such as Chacos and certain models of Tevas) which use other than sturdy nylon straps. Thin polypropolene straps can be easily cut by rubbing against sharp rocks in the mountains.
  • Avoid sandals whose straps are merely glued between the top and bottom soles, since these can pull out when subjected to strong forces, such as walking downhill when the sandals are wet. Some Teva models and lots of cheap model sandals are constructed this way. Chacos and Teva Cross-Teras (at least the older Cross-Teras, I'm not sure about the latest versions since I've not yet torn them apart to check) run the straps all the way from one side to the other, between the top and bottom soles, and thus the straps cannot pull out regardless of the force applied.
  • Avoid sandals with flimsy bottom soles which will wear down quickly under use.
  • Avoid sandals whose bottom soles lack traction for wet slippery surfaces. Most river sandals are specifically constructed to have excellent traction on wet slippery surfaces, like river rocks, so this isn't usually a problem with river sandals.
  • Avoid sandals with neoprene padding on the straps, since this lacks a anti-microbial treatment and hence tends to stink after a while. The Cross-Teras have such neoprene padding on the heel strap. I removed this and then resewed the velcro back on without the neoprene padding.
  • Avoid sandals which don't allow the toes (especially the small toe) to spread out properly.
  • Be wary of sandals which have enclosed toes or ridges along the sides which prevent rocks from being easily shaken out. I say be wary rather than avoid, since this may or may not be a problem, depending on other factors. Keen brand sandals have enclosed toes. I haven't yet used Keen sandals.
  • Avoid sandals with seams or connectors which sit directly on top of tendons, such as the tendons on top of the foot, as this can cause inflamation of the tendon.
  • Flip-flops are the simplest of all footwear, and almost never cause blisters or other problems to someone with strong feet. The big negative is that they can easily fall off and then be lost, such as while fording a river. They are also usually flimsy in construction, though Chaco makes some flip-flops with a durable sole. All in all, I can't recommend them for hiking. However, if your regular footwear ever falls apart on the road and you must buy replacements, carefully considering buying flip-flops at the same time and carrying these for a few days. This way, if the replacement shoes start causing problems in the middle of the wilderness, you can use a combination of barefoot and flip-flops to get back to civilization.

Now to answer some of your questions regrding Teva Cross-Teras:

(a) How many miles are you getting out of them? At least 1500. I don't know for sure since I replace my sandals whenever I can, just to be on the safe side, even if the sandals are still in good condition.

(b) What kind of miles you are hiking (on/off trail, type of terrain - rocky, brushy, etc.)? Typically I spent 6 months hiking each season, of which 4 months is lowlands (forest, low mountains, asphalt, city streets) and 2 months is high mountains (tundra, scree slopes, forests).

(c) Where on the shoe are they failing? Slowly but surely, the sole wears down at the front of the foot. Eventually, I imagine the sole would wear through to where the strap runs between the top and bottom soles and at that point the strap would be cut, thus ruining the shoes. I have never reached this point yet. Note that the bottom sole can and sometimes does separate from the topsole. I prepare for that by having ShoeGoo available.

(d) How do you know they've failed if the failure is not obvious? Failure of Tevas is soft-failure--slow and obvious. With Chacos, I experienced hard failure--a single misstep and I sliced through the straps, thus rendering the sandals worthless. I had to hike barefoot to the nearest town to get replacements.

Edited by frprovis on 03/03/2006 17:14:20 MST.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Shoes for Ryan on 03/03/2006 17:10:35 MST Print View

I'll be upfront and say that the only footwear I've worn in the arctic/sub arctic ( Brooks range, Cirque of the Unclimbables)were leather mtneering boots. These came off for each and every stream crossing because there was no way they would dry out anytime soon. I used Nike Aqua sox, instead.

Now on to lightweight shoes. I have been using since Fall, Montrail CTC's. These have perhaps 150 mi. on them and have held up well and the somewhat sticky soles are wearing better than expected. I use them, primarily for long off-trail jaunts in the Sierra and Trinitys, where the rubber sole compond and rands seem made to tackle Granite. The logest trip was a 65 mile portion of Steve Roper's Sierra High Route-- all off trail and on some fairly difficult terrain--- scree, talus, high angle slabs, snowfields. A great Approach shoe. I've even have used them for climbimg moves up to about 5.4-5.5.

The uppers are synthetic leather and mesh. The mesh is more durable (so far) than it looks and breathes well. On talus and scree, my Montbell Stretch Gaitors do a good job of protecting this perhaps least durable portion of the shoe. The materials are quite hydrophobic and seem to dry pretty quick. There are no drain holes-- a drawback for the conditions you are undertaking. I think a good hack would be to drill some holes in the non- fabric portions of the shoe.

The 2 areas I see wearing out 1st will be the sole ( because of the softer, stickier rubber compound used) and the heel liner--- a problem w/ most of my shoes because of my narrow bony heels which would wear through steel in time. I use these shoes w/ Superfeets ( green performance) which gives me some more torsional rigidity.

Even so, I think the shoes will have a few hundred more miles in them. The only trail runners I have used that seemed well nigh indestructable were the original Lowa Tempest Lows--well not really a trail runner.

Edited by kdesign on 03/03/2006 17:12:22 MST.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/03/2006 18:44:04 MST Print View

Shoes I like these days: Inov-8 flyroc 310, Salomon XA, Montrail Hardrock, Montrail Masai.

Typically I start looking very hard at shoes after about 300 miles. I've had failures in the field at anywhere between 350 and sometimes over 500 miles. Some brands and models seem to fail very early for me (Merrel, Nike), while other brands seem to last quite a bit longer (New Balance, Montrail, Hi-Tec). I haven't got very many miles on the Inov-8s yet to tell anyone how they wear, and the Salomons, while comfortable, have a sole that is slippery for me on wet surfaces so I don't really trust them for a long hike.

Typically my trips have 15-25 mile days, usually 4-10 day trips with resupply. Mostly on trails, with probably ten percent of the total distance cross-country. Some trips are almost exclusively on-trail. Quite a variety of terrain so I can't really generalize.

I've noticed that shoes are far more likely to fail in wet conditions. My personal theory is that if you are in soaking wet conditions for a solid week (think the Appalachian Trail in March and April, or the west slopes of the North Cascades in June or early July) your shoes will start to rot. This might be a great argument for sandals, but I've seen sandals rot too.

Other failure modes: usually the uppers develop quite a few holes. I'm okay with that. I've had soles crack all the way through where my feet flex them. The worst failure mode has been for New Balance shoes -- the plastic heel counter usually breaks, leaving two jagged pieces of plastic to entertain your heel. Otherwise I love the New Balance shoes but that failure mode seems fairly common.

Sometimes shoes just seem to stop working. I've had shoes with no visible damage that all of a sudden seemed to generate ankle rools and it seemed like you could feel every pebble underfoot. I've had a theory that this is sometimes due to wearing the same shoes for several weeks, but even if I take a week or two off those shoes, they still hurt when I put them back on.

Hope all that helps.

Edited by david_bonn on 03/03/2006 18:57:09 MST.

Bernard Shaw
( - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/04/2006 17:31:28 MST Print View

Dear Ryan,

After several thoussand miles of backpacking on and off trail all over the Sierras I have found the best shoe to be the Garmont Nagevi. The combination of mossasin fit, strong foot bed and stability, well made tongue, and padding around the ankle make it hold up very well. The soles, although quite thin, have surprising longevity and fair stickiness. They dry quite quickly imo too. Give them a consideration.


(Jutt77) - F
Re: Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/07/2006 17:30:41 MST Print View


I agree with Evan wrote, I too really like the Nagevis. I've logged about 500 miles total on mine (all Colorado 3 season environment on and off trail) without any failures. There is no WP membrane so they dry out fairly quickly and are pretty light as well (right under 2lbs/pair size 11.5) and extremely comfortable, even with a 20lb pack.

My only caveats: The footbed (not the insole)seems to have compressed so there isn't much cushioning now (happened around 450 miles; I weigh 175lbs). They do absorb water quite easily, although I have not treated them with a DWR.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/07/2006 17:51:52 MST Print View

Ryan, look for one of Karsten Heuer’s books on her trips though the arctic. The descriptions might give you some pointers on good shoe attributes to look for.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/07/2006 18:25:10 MST Print View

the shoes I am curentlly using for road running, trail running and backpacking are salomon XA pro 3Ds.
they are very breathable and have kept my feet dry even after a day of running or walking. They are also some of the most comfortable shoes I have used. they have a great fit.

I have done more running than hiking with them so I dont know that much about durability. but I do know that the mesh used in them is much tougher then that used in my vasqe velocities and montrail hard rocks.

The lace system is very convenient, but I have found for some purposes un necessary. for running I dont even tighten the shoe at all. if you get a shoe that fits, it will stay on your foot all day wether it is tightened or not

Edited by ryanf on 03/07/2006 18:26:08 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
arctic footwear on 03/07/2006 19:42:39 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for your replies. My comments.

1. Sandals do not offer the lateral support needed for steep traverses and do not offer the protection required for skiing down a scree slope. And when it's cold and windy, you're feet get really cold, especially when they are wet. Lack of full foot support, including a heel cup to maintain the heel pad, and arch support (combined with lateral stability) pretty much negates their use for the 45+ mile days through mountains we are expecting to do at the end of this trek.

2. Garmont Nagevis. I went and looked at these and wore a pair for a 25 mile hike. They are heavy, and when wet, absorb quite a lot of water. You can really feel the weight on your feet. Cushioning is thin, which is not a big deal to me usually, but probably rather important after several hundred miles, when we enter the rugged terrain of the mountains. What I did not like the most about these shoes was the water absorption, poor drainage, and very slow dry time. Other than that, they look like a great piece of footwear for lightweight hiking that would easily last the distance.

3. Karsten Heuer generally wore boots.

4. Of everything I've reviewed since starting this thread, the Salomon XA's, Timberland Delirion Pros, and the new-as-yet-unreleased Inov-8's look promising, in addition to my old standby's, the Montrail Vitesse/Hardrocks. The Montrail Highlines have less cushioning than the Hardrocks but dry much quicker and drain faster.

I will probably use pretty thin socks on this trek. Certianly nothing thicker than Smartwool Adrenaline. I'm also testing Injinji's (neat concept but skeptical of their durability), and Darn Tough Socks (the claims are being upheld so far). My Arctic socks will be some combination of these three models.

I'm also working with a local physical therapist/podiatrist to develop a new type of insole that will (1) last the distance, (2) not compress over 600 miles, especially the heel cup and arch support, and (3) won't absorb water. We have this about dialed in. I'm probably going to be using a carbon fiber orthotic embedded in an epoxied cork footbed with some very high density closed cell EVA for the cover. No "fabrics" involved, the entire thing is glued and sealed. This was motivated by never finding an insole that would last for more than 500 miles. I'll still probably take two sets of insoles and swap them out. They are light, around 3 oz/pr.

But shoes, yes, shoes, still dialing those in. I really don't want to bring two pair.

(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/07/2006 20:04:18 MST Print View

Forgive me if I misread.... but were talking about shoes for 600 miles, off trail, through the arctic.

This is probably not the place for trail runners.

Considering distance covered, terrain, remoteness, and consequences of failure (we are not talking about a "day to the next town" here) I think genuine hiking boots are probably in order.

I have worn Danner Acadias all over the world, and have put at LEAST 1000 miles on a single pair of boots. Thus far, the only failure was that a single line of stitching on a double stitched seam wore through. Shoe goop fixed that. I could use new soles, but the ones I have are still functional.

You might not need something quite heavy duty and as high leg as the Acadias, but danner boots still get a big fat nod for quality.

I have been unable to find anyone saying a bad thing about HanWag boots.... except that they might be a little expensive. Ive heard rave reviews from soldiers and backpack hunters and HanWag offers a full line of boots, from trail-walkers to mountaneering boots. Id take a hard look at the Alaska GTX for the trip your describing.

I have also heard extremely good things about Kayland Boots. They are excellent boots in general, but they offer eVent over GTX for your WPB layer. Their MTX is a heavy duty, mid weight boot, designed for mixed terrain. Probably a good bet as well.

200 miles from anybody but a caribou isnt a good place to realize your shoes arnt working like you hoped.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/07/2006 20:07:22 MST Print View

>> Forgive me if I misread.... but were talking about shoes for 600 miles, off trail, through the arctic...This is probably not the place for trail runners.

That would be the general consensus among the outdoor community. But it's not often that the general consensus thinks about walking 600 miles unsupported through the Arctic.

You should see what we're bringing (and not bringing) for the rest of our gear...

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/07/2006 20:19:31 MST Print View

Yes, and we would like to see! No teasing...

Seriously, I can't wait for the gear list. But I REALLY can't wait for the trip report! This sounds wild.


(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/07/2006 21:26:04 MST Print View

"That would be the general consensus among the outdoor community. But it's not often that the general consensus thinks about walking 600 miles unsupported through the Arctic."

Its not often that trail runners are designed for walking 600 miles through ANYTHING.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
sox to go w/ arctic trekking on 03/07/2006 22:00:10 MST Print View

Ryan, have you decided against using a waterproof sock to go w/ the decidedly non-waterproof footwear?
Sealskinz or even RBH VB sock liners? The latter seem to be comfortable for some in use above freezing temperatures, unlike other VB components. Any thoughts about this?

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Re: Re: Shoes for Long Distance Hiking on 03/07/2006 22:08:47 MST Print View

In 1979 I traveled 1000 miles through the NWT of Canada for 49 days. We traveled by canoe, but we had to portage on average once a day, if not around dry areas, then around ice. I wore norwegian welt "waffle stompers" by Raichle, as I recall. My feet suffered from what the doctor on the trip called, "trench foot." The name came from the experience of WWI soldiers who suffered nerve damage to their feet from constant exposure to water in the trenches. It cleared up, but it was most painful. On the flight home I couldn't walk to the plane without help. I suspect it was because my feet would get wet and then would be relatively still while I paddled; I lost circulation for periods of time.

Hiking 600 miles sounds daunting, but do-able if you get started the first day of their "Spring" and plan on wrapping it up in their "Fall." As you know, the landscape is pretty flat most places; trees are only a few inches off the ground. Some of the ground has frozen hummocks so narrowly spaced that it is difficult to get a foot between them; you certainly can't walk on top of them. It made carrying a canoe in a portage a challenge.

Eat facing the wind and bring just one bottle of DEET. Your body will build up resistance to the mosquito bites in a few weeks and you won't need that awful stuff after that. We wore those old heavy fish net underwear pieces, that Colin Fletcher likened to chain mail, under turtlenecks and long pants to keep the biting flies from biting through to the skin. We rolled our wool socks up over our pant legs to keep them off of our ankles and up the pant legs. I'd bring a pair of Event short gaiters if I were to do it again.

As a fisherman, you can catch fish quite easily to supplement your diet. We ran low on food before our bush plane arrived, so we ate Arctic Char. It may sound crazy, but it is so easy to catch fish I wouldn't take food for every meal of the trip. They'd strike anything the least bit shiny. I'm embarassed to admit that we built a fire from the green trees during our entire trip, as there were never enough dead trees/wood, and fuel for that many dinners was impractical. Granola in the morning with water and peanut butter and graham crackers for lunch for 49 days!

I wouldn't hesitate to use something considerably lighter for shoes, but I would bring extra insoles and plenty of socks! There aren't enough sharp rocks to tear up the soles and shoes in my view to warrant carrying a second pair.

I am certain you are doing your homework and know this already, but your trip brought back a flood of memories for me. I could rattle on for hours...

K Ratliff
(kobbler) - F
If you are going to repair hiking shoes please use proper tools and cements on 03/07/2006 22:14:17 MST Print View

The best classic bonding agent is Barge cements it has been used in shoe repair trades for decades and is a true flexable contact cement that bonds and does not harm skin as severely as some of the other products. It is good also to have a good awl haft or handle with a hook style and sew lock stitch style. The cement should be applied separately let dry for 15 min to half hour depending on heat and humidity then hammer the two surfaces for tight bond then if its a shear area sew with waxed nylotex hand stitch thread pulling tight to keep the bond and seat the thread for durability. You can substitute dental floss if you can not locate nyoltex or are worried over weight in your pack.
I have professionally rebuilt shoes for 29 years with proper equipment and filled orthopedic prescriptions for an equal time

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
what's wrong with shoe-goo? on 03/07/2006 23:39:39 MST Print View

My impression is that Shoe-goo and Seam-Grip are both variants of polyurethane and work exceptionally well in bonding synthetics together, such as the top and bottom soles of running shoes, while Barge Cement was originally designed for bonding leather to rubber. But I would be surprised if their were big differences in the holding powers of these substances. All of these adhesives contain nasty solvents, so none of them are safe to work around for long periods of time without good ventilation.

The reason I recommended Shoe-Goo and Seam-grip is they come in 1oz sizes and I think the smallest size for Barge cement is more than that. Every ounce counts... Seam-Grip can also be used for repairing other things, like Goretex rain jackets, for example, though I suppose Barge Cement would also work for that.

Also, I strongly second Kevin's recommendation of SealSkinz for use with lightweight shoes or boots. Bring spares, because these things become worthless once they spring a leak (such as from your big toe wearing through the sock at the front, or from the seams giving out). Also, it is very hard to clean SealSkinz, since the laundry water won't pass through the membrane, and so they start to stink after a while. Though I guess this is a minor concern in this case.

Edited by frprovis on 03/15/2006 02:34:14 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Waterproof Socks on 03/07/2006 23:43:37 MST Print View

You guys have lost me on the rationale for bringing waterproof socks.

My experience has been positive with these in very cold conditions, but in temperate conditions, I've found them to be too warm and retain too much moisture, ie, the breathability is overwhelmed.

My philosophy is to let the shoes drain water, keep the socks thin, and make sure the shoes aren't made of absorbent materials. Then, you are focusing on drying your foot system fast when it does get wet rather than trying to fight the tendency for them to get wet in the first place.

joseph daluz
(jfdiberian) - F

Locale: Columbia River Gorge
personal opinion about footwear on 03/07/2006 23:50:13 MST Print View

I wore a pair of Keen Taos on the PCT last year. I rate them a 10/10 for comfort, 8/10 drying time, and they're really light.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
more on waterproof socks on 03/08/2006 00:28:31 MST Print View

Ryan: Well, you threw me with the comment about sandals being cold. My experience is that sandals without socks are comfortable down to about 40°F, assuming I am warmed up. In moist conditions (raining, tramping around in boggy ground) temperatures down to freezing are okay with bare feet, once I get warmed up. Dry freezing or subfreezing cold is another story, due to huge number of sweat glands in the feet which causes tremendous evaporative cooling. But dry cold is easy to handle. Just add some sort of windbreak, such as the 500D cordura socks which I am experimenting with now. These are quite comfortable down to 20°F in dry cold, but they don't do anything for slush.

In the past, I have used breathable neoprene socks (breathable because the neoprene has little holes bored in it) with sandals in slush conditions. These work okay once I get warmed up, but the first hour or so I feel numb. Back when I was using running shoes, I used SealSkinz in slush conditions.

Anyway, I known nothing about weather conditions in Alaska, other than it is pretty cold there. But if you are expecting snow or slush, then you need to be prepared with something. Since you're not using sandals, I'd vote for Sealskinz. And yes, they are too warm for mild conditions. Just take them off when you overheat and use thin nylon liner socks.

Joseph: what did you do when pebbles get into those Keen Taos sandal/shoes? Or was that even a problem?

Edited by frprovis on 03/08/2006 00:47:58 MST.