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Footwear for the Southern AT in this Weather.
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Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Footwear for the Southern AT in this Weather. on 02/13/2010 14:52:53 MST Print View

If you wanted to be dressed for this current weather so you could stay on the trail (Southern end of the AT), what boots would you be wearing (snow, ice, mixed with rain and low temperatures 32 to 20 degrees or so)? Mileage in the 8 to 15 miles per day based on trail conditions and daylight.

I have been following several of AT trail journals of hikers going north and many have gotten off the trail for a day or more and a few went home till the weather gets better.

Two of my grand-daughters go to a school were they go outside for recess everyday (Chicago). Their school believes that their is "no bad weather, just bad clothes".

What would be your pick for boots in these conditions?


Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Footwear for the Southern AT in this Weather. on 02/13/2010 15:15:51 MST Print View

It would be something marketed as a "light hiker" or "day hiker." Fits matters most, but I would want goretex (or something similar) and vibram soles.

I've hiked on the southern AT year round with a few different boots that meet those criteria.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Footwear for the Southern AT in this Weather. on 02/13/2010 15:18:24 MST Print View

Once you get into the snow conditions, a jogger with a fairly stiff sole and perhaps a membrane works quite well - with good GTX gaiters. The jogger can be low to mid height - I used the NB1110 shoes with snow shoes very happily. Half size larger, with double wool socks.


Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Re: Footwear for the Southern AT in this Weather. on 02/13/2010 15:20:00 MST Print View

I use my standard trail runners in these conditions. I did a trip last weekend with 4-5 inches of snow and ice that caused 2 thru hikers to turn around near Tray Mountain (GA)and had no problems and hiked 13.5 miles through 10" (with thigh high drifts) last April when I got caught in a unexpected snow storm on the AT near Wesser (NC). I just change socks when I get to camp. I do carry more socks in the winter and change them out as necessary and try and take plastic bags to wear in my shoes at camp after I put on dry socks.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Footwear for the Southern AT in this Weather. on 02/13/2010 16:48:27 MST Print View

Ice BoyI was out on the AT with a crew today- LOTS of snow for VA this year- up to 40mph wind blasts on ridgesAT McAfees Knob. About 30degrees start and 35 finish - I wore reg non gore/eVent NB trail shoes with single low cut mid wt wool socks and low gaitors.

We sometimes post holed to our waists! No part of trail was less than 6"- After 5hrs my feet were wet but quite warm- I changed socks once.

So, less than a foot I would go with any trail shoe and gaitors- key is to keep everything above ankles dry so feet stay warm. I'd carry at least 3pr socks for an over night.

Edited by mountainlaureldesigns on 02/13/2010 16:50:56 MST.

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Trail Runners on 02/14/2010 00:14:00 MST Print View

I use trail runners, Montrail Streaks right now, 1/2 to full size bigger than my warm weather shoes, to accomodate my system. I carry a lighter sock (Smartwool Lt Hiker) and a heavier sock (Smartwool Ex. Trekker) and Rocky Gore-Tex socks. The GT socks obviously help with staying dry, but they also keep my feet really warm. I switch between the lighter or heavier sock depending on conditions. If only I could find some warm footbeds, I'd really be set.

Edited by cooldrip on 02/14/2010 00:30:24 MST.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Trail Runners on 02/14/2010 00:36:29 MST Print View


Edited by annapurna on 05/02/2010 06:13:32 MDT.

Lapsley Hope
Boots on 02/14/2010 19:37:43 MST Print View

full boots....Asolo Fugitive GTX.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Gore Tex Socks on 02/14/2010 20:54:53 MST Print View

I've been using a pair of trailrunners with Gore Tex socks I picked up at REI over thin smartwool socks. I add a pair of gaitors if the snow is deep enough. I've heard these socks develop leaks after a couple of weeks. Thats okay with me because I don't us them often and its better than buyings boots just for my occassional snow hikes. My feet do get colder but I've used this system in Colorado in Jamuary (I think it was about 15 F) and did just fine. What I like is that if the socks do leak I can replace them for 30 bucks and keep using the shoes.
Ron - Is that McCaffy Knob you're on?

Edited by Cameron on 02/14/2010 21:04:42 MST.

Matthew Swierkowski
(Berserker) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Footwear for the Southern AT in this Weather. on 02/15/2010 10:13:02 MST Print View

I'm a recent convert to trail runners, and I go back to the boots with gaiters (low) for snow. I have tried light weight boots with more flexible soles, and old school full grain leather boots with stiff soles. I prefer the full grain leather boots with the stiff soles as the stiffness of the sole seems to make walking in the snow a little easier. It's a little counter productive though as the weight of the boots causes me to fatigue quicker.

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Boots on 02/15/2010 10:35:00 MST Print View

I have to admit if the snow is fresh and deep, or if I'm snowshoeing, I prefer boots. I don't really like post-holing in trailrunners because I don't know what's down there. Postholing through a bush or something can cause some pretty nasty injuries. And I find snowshoeing in low-cut shoes fatiguing; it leaves my ankles and knees sore from controlling that snowshoe and placing it on uneven surfaces, side-hilling, etc.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Boots on 02/15/2010 11:21:28 MST Print View

Scott you have a point there. Boots do protect you a bit better. I've had some close calls in deep snow. It seems to be the worst when there's a crust and I suddenly fall through into who-knows-what. Even with boots you have to watch it. I almost stabbed my leg on a sharp sliver of wood one time. Personally though I like trail runners with snowshoes in my limited experience.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
+1 goretex socks on 02/15/2010 11:55:41 MST Print View

I start NOBO on the AT in 10 days, and I'll use goretex socks over wool + liner socks inside my not-waterproof trail runners when there's wet snow. I have down booties for in-camp, however.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
w/b runners for me on 02/15/2010 12:03:38 MST Print View

I wear Goretex trail runners and gaiters in the snow. Just got back from a weekend of snowshoeing on the AT in Tennessee south of Damascus, and my feet were warm and happy the whole time. Smartwool Adrenaline Light Cushion socks, Salomon XA Comp IV Goretex, and old Goretex gaiters. 36 inch Redfeather snowshoes, a foot of snow for a base and drifts up to two or three feet. Good times....

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
+2 goretex socks on 02/15/2010 16:00:21 MST Print View

I have not hiked in the south, but for shoulder season use in NE I would use the standard trail runner/ wool sock combo with GTX socks. I would then carry along a pair of Integral Designs Hot Socks to ensure that my feet were dry and warm at night.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Footwear for the Southern AT in this Weather on 02/15/2010 18:06:41 MST Print View

In weather below 40 I wear goretex trail runners and a "vapor barrier" consisting of a 4 gallon very light ( @50 mil?) trash can liner over a thin liner sock with a very light "main" sock which can be coolmax or very light wool depending on the temp. I also wear a montbell schoeller shorty gaiter. The trash bags will wear out in a couple of days but they are VERY light so carry more. If you get some leakage or trapped snow melt somehow you still have a WPB over your foot and the liner. Usually ( we are talking the southern AT here ) you should stay dry and a bonus is that the main sock will stay clean and un-sweaty. Honestly there are a very narrow range of situations and locations likely to overwhelm this set-up in the southern AT. If it's deep powder and fresh the snow will be dry and loose. It's only going to be deep melting snow and thawing/melting drifts that are a problem. It's been really snowy lately but the critical stretches are still likely to be the Smokies Crest and the Roan Crest. I've worn this north from Yellow Mountain Gap by the Over-Mountain Shelter through crusty crotch deep drifts and not gotten wet but admittedly not all day through foot deep plus snow. One note is that crusty snow/ice will SHRED shock-cord instep straps.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Footwear for the Southern AT in this Weather on 02/15/2010 23:38:40 MST Print View

Why goretex if you're using a VBL? Or is that an un-intentional combo?

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Hiking v.s. camp on 02/16/2010 00:11:10 MST Print View

For hiking I'd use light to mid weight Gore-Tex BOOTS with knee high GTX gaiters. Nothing less will keep you dry.

If camping overnight you MUST use a vapor barrier liner (VBL) to keep the inside of the boots dry. If you don't do this you will have frozen boots in the morning.

If you put sweat dampened boots in a stuff sack and then in your sleeping bag overnight you'll have wet boots in the morning that WILL get cold. Thus, once again, the need for a psir of VBL socks.

Winter is no time to play the UL game. Everything must be oriented to safety - gear, planning and fitness.

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Boots on 02/16/2010 08:15:20 MST Print View

I like boots for some conditions, but they aren't the only way to stay dry. In fact, for alot of hikes in my area (Southern Highlands) they cause as many problems as they solve. On an AT thru-hike, you can deal with snow drifts, standing water, and icy stream crossings in a few hours. Boots are awesome in the snow, but once you go through a stream they'll be wet until you build a fire or spend a night inside. Deep snow, snowshoes, shorter trips: go with boots for simplicity. For longer trips, I like a modular approach; it allows my footwear to match the conditions at the moment. The BPL articles on lightweight footwear for winter are a good primer:

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
NEOS. on 02/16/2010 08:48:49 MST Print View

I've been experimenting with NEOS overboots here. So far I like them. They're relatively light, 2.2 lb/pair for tall model. They fit over whatever shoe you wear. Some models add insulation. One of the shorter models might be reasonable on the AT in winter in the south. They're somewhat heavier than gaiters.

I've been using them like mukluks, with no shoe, just a felt liner from a pac boot and two pair of wool socks. They are very warm like this. This is way too warm for down south.

They are not breathable. I haven't decided if that's a problem yet.

Not for the south: For extreme cold hiking (well below 0F) a winning combo might be mukluks for dry and the NEOS for wet with the same felt liners for both.

If I were using trail runners in real cold, I'd want to be able to add at least a felt insole for insulation from the cold ground.