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Taking the Plunge and Looking for a Single pair Trail/Camp/Water Shoes
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Matthew Archer
(koilife) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Taking the Plunge and Looking for a Single pair Trail/Camp/Water Shoes on 05/16/2012 16:32:49 MDT Print View

I’m finally shedding my waterproof, clod-hopper hiking boots for trail shoes, and I'm dipping my foot (pun intended) into Tenkara fishing. I’d like a single set of footwear that is good for equal parts trail use, camp use, and wading while fishing -- but I’m open to a fallback position of trail/camp and separate wading.

Given my use case (further described below), what qualities of shoe I should look for? Is there material justification for the extra weight of dedicated wading shoes/boots in addition to trail/camp shoes? And, do you have recommendations for specific shoes?

I consider myself an experienced but casual hiker, mostly on established trails throughout the Colorado Rockies (with very rare bushwacking). Two to four-day trips of 10-30 miles are the norm, through rarely more than 10-12 mi per day; several thousand feet of elevation gain and loss is common. I typically put down about 120-180 miles annually. My five-day solo pack weight is right around 30 lbs, including water; but higher when I’m “Sherpa Dad” with my kids. To my mind, this rules out minimalist kinds of shoes. I think I’ll need good support given the pack weight.

My typical elevation ranges between 7,500 - 12,000 ft. I tend to follow the snow melt higher as the season progresses and then move back down as the fall comes, which makes for fairly cold streams. I avoid snow hiking as the norm, but need adequate coverage in case of an unexpected storm or the occasional snowfield crossing/postholing.

I expect daily fishing to range from 1-3 hours with much of it spent wading. I’d like to use the same shoes I use on the trail and around camp, along with neoprene socks/leggings over wool socks, which should solve for the snowfield/storm as well. This suggests 1) a good fit range to handle the added neoprene, 2) softer, stickier soles instead of harder endurance soles, 3) good toe and stray gravel protection, 4) minimized padding that will dry quickly and resist rotting and funk.

I’ve been considering Inov8 Roclite 295s and several of the Keen models.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Wading on 05/16/2012 18:04:12 MDT Print View


I'm just getting in to Tenkara fishing as well (so I can't offer any real advice) and have been debating the same issue. For now, I'm just going to stick with my regular trailrunners and see how it goes. If you haven't seen the site, lots of good info there from Jason Klass who is also a UL backpacker. This thread in particular may be of some use:

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Wading on 05/16/2012 19:17:35 MDT Print View

would a neoprene sock of sorts work for wading?

Matthew Archer
(koilife) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
RE: Wading on 05/16/2012 20:02:30 MDT Print View

Randy -- I've been to and seen the articles. In fact, Saturday, I'm going out fishing for the first time with Jason.

I've also read any number of articles here on BPL, including "The Backpacking Fly Fisherman" and "Backcountry Fly Fishing: Lightweight Gear and Style". What I haven't found yet is a good discussion for a good, one-shoe-does-all.

Today, I hike with my 4+ lb boots, plus I pack a pair of 14.75 oz water shoes that I use around camp. This summer, I'm hoping to cash in the weight of the water shoes for the weight of my rod, net, neoprenes, and tackle (~11 oz) get change back, along with a 2+ lb bonus in dropping my trail shoe weight.

Matthew Archer
(koilife) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Socks only on 05/16/2012 20:07:29 MDT Print View

Nathan -- I'll probably give the socks-only a try, but my suspicion is that, with any significant amount of time in the water, my soles and toes will get pretty beat up on rocks and other underwater debris.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
wading on 05/16/2012 20:12:45 MDT Print View

Sorry, just trying to help. I thought his article about studding shoes would be useful if you used trailrunners. Disregard my comments.

Edited by rlnunix on 05/16/2012 20:16:12 MDT.

Matthew Archer
(koilife) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Don't Apologize on 05/16/2012 21:00:45 MDT Print View

Randy -- No offense meant. Trust me, I appreciate the comments.

I think the studs are quite clever, in fact, though I'll confess to mental images of miles of clickity-click along the trail each day. I plan to ask Jason about his studded Newports on longer, multi-day treks.

Richard Gless
(rgless) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Single pair Trail/Camp/Water Shoes on 05/16/2012 21:08:28 MDT Print View

I'm trying to sell a pair of "Korkers" dual hiking/wading shoes. Any interest?

Shameless way to bump a gearswap thread.

Edited by rgless on 05/16/2012 22:15:29 MDT.

Matthew Archer
(koilife) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
ROFL on 05/16/2012 21:28:35 MDT Print View

Richard --- Nice plug! . . . wrong size. C'est la vie!

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
I use Roclite 295's on 05/16/2012 22:13:39 MDT Print View

I had three backpacking/fly fishing trips last year, one in the San Gabriels and two in the Southern Sierra (GTW). On each of these trips I hiked and waded in my Inov8 Roclite 295's. The sticky rubber soles were okay when wading and fabulous on the trail. While fishing, my feet got cold, especially during the early spring trip into the San Gabriels. I didn't use anything other than thin socks to help keep my feet warm and the water was a bit too cold for comfortable wet wading while fishing. The cold water did limit the amount of time I wanted to keep my feet in the water and hampered fishing a bit. This year I plan on going with one size larger model of 295's and bring some Simms neoprene guard socks to help keep my feet and lower legs a bit warmer while fishing. I loved the weight savings of leaving waders and heavy wading boots behind but paid the penalty with cold feet while wet wading.

Dale Whitton
(dwhitton) - M

Locale: Sydney
River and Walking Shoe on 05/17/2012 01:40:22 MDT Print View

Matthew - I went through a similar dilemma - but from a packrafting POV. I needed shoes which could handle hiking as well as have good grip on slippery rocks when portaging as well as good toe protection.

I recently picked up a pair of 5.10 Water Tennie which I've used on one trip with good results. They are a combo neoprene / mesh shoe with excellent rock grip and sturdy enough for walking. You can check them out here:

If you couple them with wool and neoprene socks then they should be warm as well :-)

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: River and Walking Shoe on 05/17/2012 04:19:51 MDT Print View

This has been a problem for me, also. I swapped out my heavy waders forregular hiking shoes. I use the leather, Timberland Chocorua Trail w/ Gore-Tex®Chuka. I have used these for around ten years. They are a bit heavy at 3lb per pair, though. Not a traditional boot, they are well ventilated, soo, hiking through a stream or hiking over dry land they work pretty well. They also cover my ankles so the usual slips on submerged boulders, rocks don't tear at your ankles.

The leather is well treated. After about a week of wearing them in, I use 40 or 50wt motor oil, thickly over the leather. Then let them sit in the sun for several hours or on several layers of news papers for 24 hours. Then I wear them for another week or two and apply heavy past wax, Nikwax or the like. Again, this is applied heavily over all the leather. After a couple days I brush them with a horse hair brush. This treatment lasts about a year-year and a half. The tread seems to wear out faster than the leather.

The boots themselves last about 4-5 years, but I have three pair. One pair was tossed because the tread was worn so badly. Generally a good value at $108 (I think these were from Dicks Sporting Goods.) These are NOT stiff soled, rather a cross between flexible and stiff. (Stiff heels, flexible fronts.) Get them a half size larger, generally. They adjust within about a full size range, but two thick socks is about 1 full size range. The inserts are loose and come out. The scree colar is excelent. The fabric venting alows your feet to pump any excess water out after 50 steps or so. Or, you can add an eyelet to help.

For stream hiking, bushwhacking, and/or wading (usually a combination) I add a piece of scrubbie. Use Weldwood Original Formula contact cement, not water based contact cement. This is applied from the heel to the start of the front tread. It takes a couple coats on the scrubbie. (I smooth the label and first "dot" off the bottom with a dremel tool...grind, it away if you have a grinder handy.) The Vibram is terrible for wading in. Rock snot and slick worn rounded rocks need extra purchase. I use the scrubbies because they hold up OK and don't interfere with normal hiking. They can build up a little ice and snow till they get worn, though. They grip on your arch, which may be a bit uncomfortable, but far better than no grip on streams like the Ausable(High Peaks of NY), Salmon River(NY), Upper Mohawk River and tributaries, Beaverkill, Lansingkill, and upper Hudson River system. I have used these extensivly throughout most of the ADK's (unknown streams), Vermont, along the NFCT (Northern Forest Canoe Trail), the NCT (North Country Trail) and hiking the NPT. They work.

I use two pair of thick wool socks for 40+ degree water. They soak water, then warm up from body heat. They pretty much prevent water exchange, soo, they stay fairly warm. Colder, but not aching cold in 40F water...Fairly well at 50F.

As trail shoes they work as well as any. And protect my ankles from scrapes and bangs. They are a bit heavier than trail runners but the convienence of using them far outweighs the additional weight for most hiking. I have Keens but they are as heavy as the Chukas. I also have used Montrail, Soloman, New Ballance, Tevas and Merrils. These do not hold up as well as the Chukas but are lighter. My boat shoes are Merrils at 9oz each. But, these do not protect my ankles very well and they consistantly fill with muck and sand when I get out of the boat. I use them for jogging these days prefering the Tevas instead.

Anyway, at camp, after 6-8 hours of fishing, I take them off and pull the liners out. I remove my socks and generally do not put my feet into the boot except for chores (firewood, getting water, cooking, etc.) I slip my feet out putting them on top of my boots to dry. If I were to hike out, I would simply replace the socks with dry ones after drying off the liners with a bandana, and, wiping out the insides of the boot. My feet get damp, but they would anyway from sweat, so, no big deal. If I am staying at camp, I put them where thay can get some heat from the fire, but not much. The welts are glued on and can be easily ruined with heat. 5-6' away and about 16-24 inches up is usually close enough for some trickle of heat. The leather may stiffen and the welts loosten if you get them too close...ruining the shoe. After brushing my feet off, I slip on dry socks to sleep in. My feet have been pounded and wet all day, they LIKE dry socks.

About half my hiking I intend to do some sort of fishing. Soo, I wear these when I go. A bit heavier than a trail runner (2+lb vs 3lb) but lighter than bringing two pair. With no plans for fishing, I use trail runners (Solomans) for hiking or Tevas sandals for canoeing. For the past 5-6 years the wife cannot get out due to arthritis in her knees, soo, we have been doing more and more canoeing. (Never thought I would be married to an old woman. Ha, ha...)

Note that I have also used the liner as sandals. By punching a couple holes between your toes and simply wraping around the heel before tying them, you *can* use these as walkers for around camp. Not really good for much else, though. I put a nasty blister on one toe when I decided I could hike 4 miles (2 miles each way) to take a shower at Fish Creek Ponds one evening.

Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Re: Taking the Plunge and Looking for a Single pair Trail/Camp/Water Shoes on 05/17/2012 06:43:45 MDT Print View

Along the general lines of this thread - can anyone recommend a good insole in addition to a shoe.

I just came back from a 5 day trip to Scotland with a temperature range from -5 deg C to +5 deg C for most of the trip. Rain each day and heavy snow the last two days so there was no avoiding wet feet. I went with mesh shoe that drained very quickly. I was happy with the shoe but not with the insole. It seemed to absorb a lot of water and did not dry particularly fast. My socks and shoes dried over night, but not the insoles.

So I wonder if the is an aftermarket insole that might less water absorbent.

Edited by Sparticus on 05/17/2012 09:01:37 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Taking the Plunge and Looking for a Single pair Trail/Camp/Water Shoes on 05/17/2012 06:50:12 MDT Print View

Superfeet(opinions aside) I have found to not absorb any noticeable amount of water. You will have to take them out if you wish your shoes to dry under them as they do not breath.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Trail Shoes with some beef on 05/17/2012 09:13:24 MDT Print View

A few years ago, I switched from Teva river sandals to Keen Newports, for the toe protection. As hikers, portage and fishing sandals while canoeing, they're excellent. I've also carried them as my "camp shoes" for backpacking and, although they're excellent for stream crossings and hiking, the darn things are downright heavy.

I've been looking for the newer, 1/4lb lighter Keen "Kreek" sandals (a lighter Newport with less toebox, or --someplace that stocks the Croc "Off Road" so I can check them out before buying--. The Crocs look thick enough to stand/walk over rocks in, appear "waterproof" in terms of soaking-in and can't be much heavier than the standard Crocs. Those look worthy of standing in a lake with, etc... Gotta be lighter than a Keen, right?

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Taking the Plunge and Looking for a Single pair Trail/Camp/Water Shoes on 05/17/2012 18:17:23 MDT Print View

I agree on superfeet. Liners are basically 4 types near as I can remember. Open celled foam, closed cell foam, carved built-up leather, plastic, usually a PE variety. The combinations can be a lot more than that. I think merrils are also waterproof (at least in the water shoes.) Generally, this and fabric (insulation and fabric covering) are laminated to give you a liner Fabric is often used over the insulating layers on the shoe, also. The Soloman GX have some warmth to them and softer, "cushy" feel than thin canvas sneakers. Anyway, wiping both out is pretty much required to get shoes to dry out when hiking. Superfeet also require periodic washing. Once a week or so, soap & rinse them when you are taking a shower. They can get pretty raunchy, if not washed. 'Corse, I guess this goes for any liner, really.

The open cell foam is like a sponge. Replace this ASAP. Closed cell foam works pretty well. Better than things like Dr Scholls silicon...these break up under any active continuous use withing a few days, though, they do not absorb water.

Crocs? I cannot say I recommend them. For most people they simply do not fit. There is no breaking in, or, adjusting the fit. If they fit thay work well. Again, they are less than good for slick rocks...a lot like vibram. I hiked with a guy that swore by them. I met someone else comming out that swore at them, yet he had been using these for over a month around the house... IFFY I would say. I got one set for Christmas a few years back but could not adjust them for my feet. Your milage may vary.

Actually, the Tevas I was recomending had a toe box...far better than without.

Vince Contreras
(pillowthread) - F

Locale: like, in my head???
Tedinho Pros... on 05/17/2012 20:27:11 MDT Print View

Might want to take a look at the Chaco Tedinho Pro shoes...I've just started wearing a pair as of today...initial observations here:

Don't feel like doing script-fu; still waiting for a button...

Matthew Archer
(koilife) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Greatly Appreciated on 05/18/2012 08:25:51 MDT Print View

Thanks to all for their feedback. I'm planning a fit/feel outing this weekend.

Richard C. -- Thanks for your feedback on the Rocklite 295s. They remain high on my list as probably giving the best hiking support. How quick did they dry open? How quick did they dry while hiking?

Dale -- I talked to a local vendor who advised that the 5-10 water tennies probably aren't well suited to heavier hiking loads (my 5-day pack is 30 lbs+/-) or longer hikes (I typically plan for 10+/- mi/day). However, like many salespersons, he had no firsthand experience with them other than in the store. How's your mileage?

James -- I think I'll keep looking for lighter alternatives. At this point, I'd rather carry an extra 2 lb in my pack than an extra 1 lb on my feet. The scrubbie idea in interesting.

Paul, Ken, James -- Thanks for the exchange on insoles. I've never used anything but what came with my boots, and I hadn't considered the waterlogging issue.

Eric -- Never found a pair of Crocs that fit me for more than casual use. Newports remain on my short list.

Vincent -- Did you get the weight on your Tedhinos? At what shoe size?

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
"Support" and Roclite 295s on 05/18/2012 09:27:50 MDT Print View

Hi Matthew,
I wore Roclite 295s all last year (hiking, not wading). Great shoe for me, dried quickly after stream crossings, soggy ground, snow fields, etc. Sticky rubber sole and tread pattern is fantastic. The insole is thin, non-absorbative, and removable.

A couple caveats: Most Inov8s are relatively narrow, including the 295s. And if you're going straight from traditional boots, you'll prob. need to adjust your notions of "support." 295s are no more rigid than a pair of Chuck Taylors (if that)--you can easily fold the shoe in half. I had used trail runners for a couple years before the 295s, and was still surprised by the increased level of ground feel and flex. There was definitely a period of adjustment (and adjustment of gait), esp. on rocky terrain. This is with loads typically 15-20#, mileage anywhere from 10-20+ miles/day.

This is not a recommendation against the 295s--in fact, for me they were transitional to more minimal shoes (Trail Gloves). But I would expect some foot soreness the first time or two you have them out, esp. on rocky trails (or stream beds).

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Taking the Plunge and Looking for a Single pair Trail/Camp/Water Shoes on 05/18/2012 10:54:50 MDT Print View

I like my walking shoes to be completely geared to walking with no compromise. It's hard enough to find the perfect shoe without having to figure out if it can serve as a wading shoe as well. I think you need to find a separate shoe for wading that is light weight that doesn't take up too much room or add too much weight to your pack.

For my area, I need a shoe that keeps my feet warm and It must protect my feet as it's almost always very rocky and I don't want to risk a foot problem when I've got days of walking ahead of me. A compact design is also very important to me.

I carry a pair of neoprene booties to fish in. They are warm and have a protective sole. Total weight for the pair is 18 oz. and they pack flat since they are very flexible. You can find these at a dive shop.

Wading shoes for backpacking