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Fast and Light Shoulder Season Footwear Tips
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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: foot training on 02/22/2012 13:56:52 MST Print View

Brian, I know nothing about flat feet, and thus can't comment if they'd demand anything beyond the ordinary.

Mark Olah

Locale: New Mexico
WP/B Shoes on 02/22/2012 14:38:37 MST Print View

I have read countless articles extolling the virtues of minimalist synthetic trail runners with mesh sides. Typically authors (e.g. Dave) take the viewpoint that there is no room for debate---WP/B leather shoes/boots are never a good idea. I'll admit I've tried to drink the kool-aid, and have a few pairs of shoes that fit the BPL ideal (inov-8, etc.) But I find they just don't work for me and my local trails.

In New Mexico our trails don't have any of whatever that wet stuff is in these pictures. Just bone dry dirt and cacti and pricklies in all forms. My inov-8's are horrible in such conditions! Dirt and sand comes through the mesh panels and over the low cut sides even with tight fitting gaiters. They provide no protection against the prickly local flora. And they provide little rigidity for scrambling up loose, dry, rocky mountains.

When I'm hiking off-trail anywhere below 10k ft in NM I bring either Keen Targhee II Mids, or Asolo Fugitive boots (and gaiters too). Both have a WP/B membrane which works wonderfully in at wicking sweat from my feet when the relative humidity is <10% and the only water in a 20 mile radius is inside my pack. They provide support for scrambly sidehilling and arroyo crossing, the thick leather keeps out cacti, and the high sides and WP/B membrane keeps the fine dust and sand outside my shoes and my feet safe from blisters. When there are no trails there is also no compacted soil, so I find stiffer boots are not as much of a problem, and in fact they seem to help.

Just thought I'd share my alternative viewpoint on all this. I am trying to lighten up my footwear, and have had some success in the alpine, but every time I'm out moving cross-country in the NM desert, my minimalist trail runners end up holding me back.

Kurt Lammers
(lammers8) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
postholing w/trail runners on 02/22/2012 15:16:07 MST Print View

Thanks for the article Dave, timely and insightful for me as I prep for an overnight this weekend. Typically when I expect to posthole for any length of time (as I will for at least the last 4-6 miles Saturday) I robotically reach for my GTX boots, smartwool socks and knee high gaiters; with new optimism I'd love your opinion on safely/comfortably swapping my beloved, large enough non-GTX trail runners into this scenario, w/smartwool and GTX socks? I've never considered wearing trail runners in "deep" snow. Neoprene socks aren't likely an option on short turnaround. Temps expected in the 20s, rain for the first 2500' and 7-9 miles. Thanks (and to anyone else with experience here) & cheers

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 02/22/2012 15:18:57 MST Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 17:34:38 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: postholing w/trail runners on 02/22/2012 15:31:49 MST Print View

I've had good luck w/ wet and dry snow w/ GTX socks and a thin merino sock (I use Darn Tough ones)- and trail runners you need gaiters obviously if the snow is of any appreciable depth- these were in temps in mid teens to 30's

the one thing I haven't to do, as Dave mentions in his article, is ford any streams above the height of the gtx sock, I think if that is the agenda then neoprene is probably warranted

Maxine Weyant
(Maxine) - MLife
Re: re: foot training and conditioning the skin on 02/22/2012 16:29:11 MST Print View

Regarding Flat feet--it's important to strengthen the feet as much as possible. One exercise is to put a towel on the floor and use your toes to scrunch and draw the towel towards you (put a weight on the far end of the towel.) Also, walking barefoot uphill in sand. Wearing arch supports can really help prevent foot fatigue, and they improve stride efficiency by providing a more functional lever to push off with, and to edge with on sidehills. Flat feet tend to be pretty hypermobile and apropulsive.

I recently started doing Yamuna Foot Fitness (the "foot waking" program) which strengthens all the foot muscles and lower leg muscles while adding flexibility to the calves/Achilles. It would also help strengthen weak ankles. You use knobby half-balls, about the size of a grapefruit half, and roll your feet over it in multiple positions articulating each toe and working every muscle in the foot and lower leg. You start sitting and work up to standing. The knobs really hurt at first, so start with thick socks. You can get the Foot Waking program and DVD online (Amazon, etc)

Skin--A book called "Fixing Your Feet" is also great for tons of advice about toughening up the skin, etc. A lot of it is more anecdotal than evidence-based, but it's nice to learn what some ultra-runners do to toughen up their skin and prevent blisters-- with tea, alcohol; some use drying agents and some swear by lubricants. My favorite is the ultra-runner from S. America who marches in a washtub filled with rice. That would strengthen the feet as well, I'd imagine. Cheers.

wander lust
gaiters on 02/22/2012 17:02:38 MST Print View

I do not wear knee high socks, but just knee high gaiters do the job for me when it is not too cold. They even keep my feet reasonable warm in cold river crossings and double as lower rain protection.

I need such gaiters for bushwhacking and sharp vegetation in NZ anyway.

As mentioned earlier, goretex socks and shoes would only make sense if water never gets inside them.

Kurt Lammers
(lammers8) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: postholing w/trail runners on 02/22/2012 17:10:20 MST Print View

Thanks Mike I appreciate your insight - fording is unlikely as long as I traverse the logs and snow bridges appropriately :) so I think I'll give the trail runners a shot. Cheers

Ryan Tir
(ryan_t) - MLife
Drying Methods on 02/22/2012 17:11:05 MST Print View

So I suppose there's not too many good/fast methods to dry shoes/socks out once they are wet..?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Drying Methods on 02/22/2012 17:30:39 MST Print View

Yeah, it's called a fire. Be careful though, you can really harm or destroy clothing if you put it too close to the fire. Obviously for some this might not be a reasonable option, for whatever reason. But it's definitley the best way.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
improving strength of mesh? on 02/22/2012 17:36:06 MST Print View

Has anyone tried thinning down some silicone and brushing it on their shoes? I haven't tried it but was thinking it might strengthen the mesh a little and have the added benefit of reducing water absorption in the mesh. If it was really nice and thin it seems like it would add minimal weight.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Drying Methods on 02/22/2012 17:36:57 MST Print View

A fire might work good, but you don't always have a lot of control over the temperature that hits the shoes. Lots of shoes and boots are glued together, and some of the glues will fail after they've been heated just a little too much.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: shoe drying and reinforcement on 02/22/2012 18:52:07 MST Print View

Silicone won't adhere well to nylon. Aquaseal or Shoe Goo works well as a reinforcement. I use the former full strength, but put the tube in hot water for a minute to facilitate easy and thin application. If you put too much on excessively porous mesh, you risk creating a bumpy texture inside which can cause abrasion.

There are lots of ways to dry shoes, most revolve around fire. Be careful, melting the sole off is not cool. Hot (but not too hot) rocks placed in the shoes are safer and work well. Sheets of newspaper wadded up inside are surprisingly effective, and can be burned after use. Mostly I just don't worry about it.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Drying Methods on 02/22/2012 18:55:07 MST Print View

Good point Bob. You would have to be careful with shoes, and extremely so with leather boots. I was thinking more about socks and clothing though. During long winter nights hanging around the fire I usually end up wearing my sweaty layers dry.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Drying Methods on 02/22/2012 19:49:24 MST Print View

> So I suppose there's not too many good/fast methods to dry shoes/socks out once they are wet..?
The best way is usually wearing them while walking.

Btw - you don't need to dry your socks & shoes overnight. Just don't let them freeze. A large plastic bag placed under the end of your quilt works quite well for that.

PS: Dave C: +1

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Strengthening legs and vocabularies on 02/22/2012 20:00:26 MST Print View

To abrogate the prolegomena, or cut to the chase, this is an excellent article.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Upper bounds and breathable? on 02/22/2012 23:07:34 MST Print View

I have no experience with neoprene - how breathable is it? Accordingly, is there an upper bound to the comfort? At what temp should I expect to switch to wool? I know everyone's different, just looking for anecdotal experience.

folecr r
(folecr) - M
Full circle! on 02/22/2012 23:16:17 MST Print View

So what you're saying is that those canvas shoes I had when I was a kid... The ones with rubber soles... Those are the best shoes ever!

wander lust
drying and temp range for neoprene on 02/23/2012 01:45:56 MST Print View

I don't bother with drying footwear, they will get after less than 1 hour on the next day anyway.

You can walk socks dry amazingly fast.

In regards to breathability of neoprene:

It breathes fine, I don't wear it when it is warmer than 55 F and I don't have to cross really cold and big rivers.

It is either just one pair of socks for me or the nsr hydroskins. Note though, that everyone has different feet and I get warm fast when I am walking.

Jane Freeman
(Janefree) - F

Locale: Paauilo
Re: Training for feet? on 02/23/2012 09:58:20 MST Print View

Hi Brian. A website I've found helpful and comprehensive is tag words for a good strengthening video on YouTube are stability and mobility for healthy natural running There are also several feet strenthening videos on YouTube

I'd like to emphasize how important it is to go slow with transitioning from a thicker to a lower heel. One wouldn't walk into a gym for the first time and do 5,000 curls and that's what it's like for calve muscles to go out and say run or hike even five miles with a change in heel height. Calves do get sore at first. This is pointed out in a good podcast 'Dr. Mark Hits One Outta the Park' art and science of running form.

A personal benefit that I've experienced with a zero drop heel is a life long menescus problem in my knee has dissapeared.

Edited for being all thumbs on my phone

Edited by Janefree on 03/12/2012 14:35:52 MDT.