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My first hiking shoes!
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Ther Iel
My first hiking shoes! on 03/24/2012 13:42:36 MDT Print View

Hello everyone!
I have been slowly convinced to change my approach to mountain hiking. So far, I have been taught that any mountain hike = heavy leather boots.

Having done my homework, read lots of useful information on this website, invested in some literature (Mike Clelland!) I decided that it's time to buy my first pair of proper footwear.

What I am looking for:
->3 season shoe
->breathable (non-Goretex)
->good grip (wet rocks etc.)
->newbie-friendly (not super-ultra-lightweight)

I have found recommendations for the following models:
--> Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra
--> La Sportiva Wildcat 2
--> La Sportiva Raptor (thank you Phillip!)
--> La Sportiva Crosslite 2
--> Inov-8 Terroc 330
--> Inov-8 Rocline 315
--> Inov-8 FlyRoc 305

[I decided to omit ultra-popular 295 for its particularly low durability (as compared to other models)].

My (newbie) views:
->I don't like Crosslite's design (net)
->I have no clue what's the real difference between Inov-8 models (despite having studies the website), but Terroc 330 seems to be my favourite.

In summary: I don't really know which shoe to choose. Obviously, I will pick the one with the best fit. However, I would prefer to have some idea of their comparative performance before I go to the store.

I would truly appreciate ANY views/advice/recommendations you might have!

Thank you!

Edited by theriel on 03/24/2012 14:16:45 MDT.

Phillip Colelli

Locale: AT, follow@
Try them all on 03/24/2012 13:55:04 MDT Print View

Try them all on if you can. From the looks of it, most of those would all be great shoes for you. What it really comes down to though is what fits you the best. If you can achieve the perfect fitting shoe, you will be happy.

I can't really offer much comparative advice. I do own LaSportiva Raptors though which I think are very similar to the wildcats. I love them. They are very grippy but have softer rubber than wildcats. The lugs on the bottom (which looks the same as wildcats) IMO really are what provide the grip on steep down hills. My feet feel really supported by the entire shoe.

I'd recommend some superfeet greens too and your feet will thank you.

Edited by pdcolelli42 on 03/24/2012 13:56:03 MDT.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Shoes on 03/24/2012 14:03:52 MDT Print View

I have an earlier version of the Salomon that's just about worn out - and I've enjoyed every mile!

I'm breaking in the Wildcat now, and find it pretty good, though not much support under the arch.

Which ever one you get, I'm sure you'll be delighted with the lighter weight on your feet!

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: My first hiking shoes! on 03/24/2012 14:37:02 MDT Print View

I'm surprised you found a comparison that says the Roclite 295 is less durable than the Terroc 330.

My Terroc 330's look like they're done after only about 200 miles. The tread in the forefoot is almost worn down. There are holes in the uppers near my pinkies. The liner behind my heel has worn through and it seems like more of it falls out every time I remove my foot. I do like these shoes once they're on my feet, but I expect shoes to last at least 300 miles. Usually it's the midsole in shoes that wear out, but that's one of the few things in this shoe that feels like it has plenty of life left.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
My first hiking shoes! on 03/24/2012 15:11:46 MDT Print View

I'd forget about recommendations. Everyone's feet are different. The most important things about shoes are fit, fit and fit! Nothing else matters. There is no substitute for trying on many makes and varieties.

Once you've found the perfect pair (and you won't know for sure until you've gotten some trail miles on them with your pack), buy several pair. The manufacturer will undoubtedly change the model next year.

I very reluctantly made the change from boots to trail runners a few years ago. It was amazing how much difference the trail runners made, including increased stability. It's the footbed, not the leather around the ankles, that is most important for that. I also have been blister-free since the change, despite having quite deformed feet. I will never go back to boots!

Edited by hikinggranny on 03/24/2012 15:14:04 MDT.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Rockplate on 03/24/2012 15:27:06 MDT Print View

What about New Balance? Also, do any of these shoes or NB's have rock plates? I'm needing to buy some shoes also, and love my NB's, but am finding that I'd really benefit from a rock plate.

Larry M
(Maethros) - MLife

Locale: Mid South
Re: Rockplate on 03/24/2012 16:03:42 MDT Print View

New Balance MT110
Brooks Cascadia 7

These are currently my primary shoes. Both have good rock protection and breath very well.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: My first hiking shoes! on 03/24/2012 16:04:55 MDT Print View

Any of them are fine IF they give you a good fit.

IMO, you MUST go to a store where you can try them, wear them around 10-20+ minutes, and wear them while pointed downhill on a ramp. A real outdoors store will have a carpeted ramp for that purpose. REI certainly does.

If it still seems good in the store, DON'T wear them home just yet. Keep them clean, wear them around the house for a day (REI and the independent store I used work in will take them back if you haven't gone outside in them).

Go for the largest size that doesn't give more than a minimal and completely benign amount of heel slip. Your feet get bigger on a high-mileage day and more so on long trip. That's almost certainly a 1/2 size larger than you usually buy, often a full size larger.

I find shoes over my ankles just cause problems (except if I need coverage in deep snow). I need stiffness in the sole (my distinction between a low-cut hiker / trail runner versus a regular running shoe which is all cushy rather than stiff enough to protect me from roots and rocks bruising and twisting the bottoms of my feet.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Re: Rockplate on 03/24/2012 17:07:28 MDT Print View

Thanks Larry!

+1 to what David said. Also, if you're an REI member, you can take the shoes back anytime and use their guarantee, though probably best to try them out thoroughly before relying on that so that you don't abuse it. Also, Zappos has an awesome return policy and free shipping both ways, allowing you to wear the shoes in your house for a while before making up your mind.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Re: My first hiking shoes! on 03/24/2012 17:55:20 MDT Print View

"Go for the largest size that doesn't give more than a minimal and completely benign amount of heel slip. Your feet get bigger on a high-mileage day and more so on long trip. That's almost certainly a 1/2 size larger than you usually buy, often a full size larger."

David, I've heard that mentioned a few times but there is also the view that its the upper aspect of your feet which become larger with use not the lower part which is the heel fit, so I've heard simple loosen the laces after walking for a while will do better? That trick has helped me out I just redo the laces after a few hours and it makes feet comfier at the end of the day, and costs $ nothing.

Anyhow, I'm trying for the first time some Roclite 315. Nervous about the change but so many +ve comments I'm giving a shot.

The advice of once you find something which works, buy multiple pairs, is very good advice, your feet don't change much over years but manufacturers "improve" their designs almost every year. Also each shoe will wear in some spot first, so if that is somewhere on the sole then the next pair, proactive apply some Shoe Goo to that spot and it will even out the wear and give a bit more life. In my case its often the heel outside edge wears first and that accelerates the shoe's failure so I now apply Shoe Goo to new shoes on that spot and replenish, it almost doubles the shoe's life in my case, til at least some other part then wears.

Edited by nigelhealy on 03/24/2012 17:57:10 MDT.

Ther Iel
My first hiking shoes! on 03/25/2012 11:00:48 MDT Print View

Thank you so much for your advice!

Unfortunately, it seems like buying Inov-8 in NYC is quite difficult if not impossible. Unless any of you knows any other stores, I will probably have to restrict myself to the local REI and their Sportiva and Salomon lines...

Still, if any of you has used more than one pair of the aforementioned shoes, any comparative feedback would be really helpful!

Edited by theriel on 03/25/2012 11:01:50 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: My first hiking shoes! on 03/25/2012 15:41:42 MDT Print View

Step 1: go to a show store and measure your feet!
You want both size and width!
Do not buy shoes which are not wide enough. Do not, ever.

People recommend all sorts of shoes with absolutely no knowledge of what size feet the target person has. That is just plain silly. As Mary said, FIT, FIT, FIT!

And when you find your shoe size, go UP at least 1/2 a size, to allow for foot swelling.


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
My first hiking shoes! on 03/25/2012 18:53:39 MDT Print View

Roger has spoken!

Try a running shoe store rather than REI.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: My first hiking shoes on 03/25/2012 19:26:24 MDT Print View

Find the shoe that works for you. Then weep bitterly when they change the design or discontinue the model in a year or so.

Seriously, I agree that shoes are an incredibly personal decision. I like Vasque Blurs from a couple of years back. Work for me. But would something else work? Sure, probably. One thing I did notice is that depending on the terrain, you feet may swell especially over consecutive days of hard hiking. Keep that in mind.


Dale Caldwell
(dalemc) - F

Locale: Coastal Georgia
size on 03/26/2012 14:30:49 MDT Print View

Which of these shoes have a fairly wide toe box?

To my understanding the Inovs do not have a rock plate... this seems to be a huge difference worth noting if it is true.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: size on 03/26/2012 14:45:49 MDT Print View

have some Roclite 315. The toe area is pointing to a narrowing, but not so much it feels like it is bending toes inwards, the area between knuckles is fairly wide, also the fabric is so soft it doesnt constrain the width.

Edited by nigelhealy on 03/26/2012 14:47:32 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: My first hiking shoes! on 03/26/2012 16:21:00 MDT Print View

Nigel (About one's foot swelling on trips) :

Yes, you might want to loosen the upper part of the shoe.

One option is to not use the last eyelet in the shoe to allow a looser fit near the top for most trail conditions. Then do use it on snow, side slopes, etc.

Another option is to use two shorter laces on each shoe. One for the lower half of the shoes and one for the upper half. That way you can "custom fit" the shoes to your feet and adjust them further as your feet swell and/or trail conditions change. I use some lacing patterns / tightnesses on some shoes that differ between long uphills versus long downhills.

(I've got two long downhills and two long uphills in 3 weeks on the R2R2R.)

Christopher Heine

Locale: Colorado
New Balance on 03/26/2012 18:53:15 MDT Print View

I picked up a pair of New Balance m310 at a discount shoe store near me for $40. I guess they are made specifically for discount warehouses but they seem to work really well. They have a rock plate.

Jeff H.
(jsh3650) - F - MLife

Locale: Northeast PA
Best Shoes for Rocks on 06/20/2012 07:27:32 MDT Print View

I'm in the market for some new shoes too. I used my cascadias for a 4 day hike on the PA section of the AT and when I was done the bottoms of my feet felt like someone had beat them with a sledge hammer because of the jagged rocks. Does anyone know which shoes provide the best rock protection without jeopardizing all that goes with using a trail runner over a bulky boot? I was leaning towards Salomon xa prod 3d pro ultra 2 or inov-8 295s.


Jason Emerick
(jemerick) - M

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Best Shoes for Rocks on 06/20/2012 22:07:03 MDT Print View

The New Balance MT1110's have a rock plate which has seem to do pretty well for me though a bit on the heavy side.