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Big shoes and a backpack for long backs
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Hans Kristoffer Graff
(Boffen) - F
Big shoes and a backpack for long backs on 07/11/2012 11:38:38 MDT Print View


I'm just getting into backpacking and camping, but I've been lucky enough to borrow or use a bunch of old gear that my family has had laying around, so I've avoided going through a bunch of heavy packs and tents and all the other stuff you typically spend your money on before you decide to go lightweight.

In the last couple of weeks I've spent countless hours watching youtube videos and reading blog posts about gear of every kind. Like I mentioned all of the stuff I currently use is old or borrowed, and sooner or later I'm going to have to buy pretty much all the gear you use for camping. Of the items on the "sooner" list is most notably a backpack and a pair of shoes. My problem is that I have huge (size 13, sometimes larger, depending on the shoe), flat feet, and a long back.

Almost all of the recommended shoes I've read about don't come in sizes larger than a 12, so I'm not really sure where to look or what brands/models I should be looking at. Even though my feet are flat, I don't seem to have a need for special insoles or anything like that. However, with flatness comes wideness, so I need a wider model. I don't really care if they are hiking shoes or trail runners, seeing as I've only had experience with regular running shoes and mountain boots from before, so I'll just have to check if I like them when I get them. Also, I'm vegan, so no leather please!

When it comes to the backpack, I've basically narrowed my choice down to either the ULA Circuit or the MLD Exodus FS, but I'm still not completely sure if they'll be big enough, although I think this might just be a side-effect from currently using a 95 liter backpack. I'll listen to any and all recommendations, but I think I would prefer a bag with a (removable) support system. I don't use a water bladder or anything like that.

I look forward to you guys' feedback,

Edited by Boffen on 07/11/2012 11:39:53 MDT.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Big shoes and a backpack for long backs on 07/11/2012 12:35:07 MDT Print View


First, your feet: get whatever fits! Obviously in the lightweight community we prefer light trailrunners, but first and foremost your shoes need to fit (and shoes, boots only as a last resort). I know New Balance makes large sized shoes in a ton of widths. You may have to order them directly, but they are one of the most accommodating shoe companies when it comes to sizing.

Second, the backpack: If at all possible, buy this last! You've already proved why. You're used to a 95L (which is huge!!!) and you have no idea how much space your backpacking gear (once you purchase it) will require. Focus on eliminating excess gear that you most likely carry in your 95L pack. As you purchase lighter gear, it also has a tendency to decrease in volume. Also the more you backpack the more you'll develop a style of backpacking. Maybe you like weeklong trips and need extra volume for food, or maybe you just do SUL overnighters and need the tiniest of packs. Regardless, there's a very high probability that as you start buying your own gear, you'll want to replace your new pack pretty soon.

For your money, I'd say you're better off investing in the highest quality and lightest sleeping bag/quilt and a lightweight shelter. Those two purchases will probably last you the longest in your backpacking career before you need/want to replace them.

Good luck!

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Big shoes and a backpack for long backs on 07/11/2012 20:35:46 MDT Print View

I too have wider and long feet- 12 - 12.5 and EE.

Try this one:â„¢/GM2101_S,default,pd.html

It comes in a 13,14 and 15 and is almost an EE width- especially across the fore foot- even though it it listed as a D.

I worry this model may get discontinued...

I have a couple more recent release shoes I am about to try - Scarpa Spark (48 is largest) and Solomon XR Mission (12 is largest) - and if they do not work for I'm gonna buy extra pairs of the Sabino as the only ones that work for me well so far.

Good Luck!

Hans Kristoffer Graff
(Boffen) - F
Re: Re: Big shoes and a backpack for long backs on 07/12/2012 15:32:02 MDT Print View

I realize that I should of course get whatever fits. However, living in Norway, my choices are VERY limited. Normal shoe shops very seldom carry shoes in sizes larger than 12, and the one place I know of that caters to big feet have a very narrow selection of shoes. I've been buying shoes from the internet for a couple of years now, and whenever I buy models I haven't had before I always order the size that might be too big, and see how they fit me, and order the same shoe in the perfect size the next time. It sucks, but it's preferable to having shops order in shoes for me, which generally takes at least as long, and limits my choice to whatever brand they carry.

Regarding the backpack: I agree with everything you wrote, but since I'm borrowing the pack from my uncle who's a fairly avid hiker/camper, I'll probably have to return it to him before I can buy a shelter, which is the next thing on my list that I need, and without a backpack, I can't go on overnight hikes. Besides, other than the shelter, I pretty much know all of the gear I'm going to carry. I'm currently watching a lot of "what's in my pack" videos on youtube (are there any similar threads on the forum?) to see what people manage to fit in their packs.

I'm looking at shelters all of the time, and I'd like to buy one as soon as possible, and I've got an ok sleeping bag at the moment, although suggestions for high quality sleeping bags that fair well at just below zero that aren't down insulated (a vegan thing, not an "I don't want to be wet"-thing) would be appreciated.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Big shoes and a backpack for long backs on 07/12/2012 16:34:01 MDT Print View

I am guessing you have already read some of these Nordic lightweight hiking sites some of them are members here and you could contact them directly,not all are from Norway but some are and I am sure could help with local gear advice

there is a list on the right side of the page for more sites

here are some of their profiles for PMing them

Cesar talks about how to do it cheaply

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Big shoes and a backpack for long backs on 07/12/2012 18:24:23 MDT Print View

Hans, I hear you.

When I first started, I had a hand me down 1 person tent and 44L bag from Osprey (Talon). Even with a huge sleeping bag (at least it was down so it compressed better than synthetics) and a bunch of bulky fleece to stay warm, I was able to go on a 3 day/2 night solo trip. It was a tight fit but I got all my food (too much) and a ton of water (I had 3Ls all the time, despite walking in a clean stream!). So any of the packs you mentioned should be big enough. If they aren''re probably taking too much stuff anyway ;)

As for a bags, are you talking 0F or 0C, in Norway I assume you see a lot of cold nights. Just around freezing (0c/32F) there are plenty of synthetic quilts that will keep you warm if you add a warm beanie. Look at Enlightened Equipment (pretty inexpensive options too). Colder than that and down's packing ability really becomes nice, but there are synthetics available from North Face and such, they just are big. I respect the vegan thing, but at the same time the down is rarely harvest from live animals. The geese are killed for food regardless, the down industry just ensures that the feathers are not wasted. In other words buying down doesn't really increase the demand to kill animals. You can thank the eastern europeans for eating geese like Americans eat turkey.

Anna's links will probably give you the best idea for gear purchases for your region too.

For shelter, take the plunge into tarps. Get a cheap blue one used for covering a truck bed and just play with it. It'll be crappy and you'll probably hate it but it'll teach you whether you want the freedom of a tarp or if you must be enclosed in a tarp-tent shelter. If you like the openness, then you can spend some cash on a real silnylon or cuben fiber after more research. There's just so much to "learn" about being outside and what works for you (or doesn't) that the less money you spend the more you'll have for lightening your load down the road.

Hans Kristoffer Graff
(Boffen) - F
Anna and Dustin on 07/13/2012 04:18:08 MDT Print View

Anna, thanks for your links!


I'm talking 0C. While I like snow, I dislike snowshoes and hate skiing, so backpacking will for me be a spring, summer and fall activity. Something that has a comfort limit of maybe -5C would probably be ideal, because then I would probably be safe until snow is certain to fall. As for the reality of down, this blog post explains it better than I ever could: I don't want this to become some sort of vegan propaganda thread, because that often leads to a lot of arguing which is just tedious and stupid, so that'll be it from me on that issue. :)

I'll probably get a tarp for use when I know that the weather will be ok when I'm out camping but the main problem with tarps for me is the fact that there's no bug protection. I seem pretty much immune to mosquitoes, but horse-flies actively hunt me down and try to kill me. A bug bivy would solve this, and will probably be used with a tarp on nicer days. However, if the weather is foul, I would like to be able to stay in my shelter for a couple of hours reading and cooking, so I'm dead set on getting something that offers tent-like qualities for my main shelter. Something like the MLD DuoMid seems ideal, because it could fit an extra person, and because it seems pretty comfortable for waiting out the rain. I also have dogs, and it and similar shelters seem ideal for bringing dogs.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Anna and Dustin on 07/13/2012 11:37:58 MDT Print View

Well for 0C Apex quilts will definitely still be light enough to consider.

As for bugs, you can always get an innertent for any tarp made out of nanoseeum. MLD makes a few for their tarps themselves.

And yeah, you're right about not devolving into an animal cruelty debate. I was just saying for the high quality down we use in UL backpacking the process is usually/supposedly different than the low grade down you see in most applications due to the more stringent requirements and maturity of the bird to produce it. Then again ensuring the more humane practices are used is always a crapshoot between the honesty of competing special interests.

You could always get an eider down product! Those actually are taken from abandoned nests in the arctic. Supposedly the warmest for the weight...and naturally SOOOO expensive ;) You'll be fine with synthetics and for the temps you're looking at there is really only marginal benefit over using down, but clearly some cons towards any vegan lifestyle.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: Big shoes and a backpack for long backs on 07/13/2012 15:13:55 MDT Print View

If you've got a long torso (or even if you don't), and you're looking for a solid lightweight pack with some load transfer, and one that is made well, check out the Gossamer Gear 2012 Marposa:

Hans Kristoffer Graff
(Boffen) - F
Re: Re: Big shoes and a backpack for long backs on 07/13/2012 15:28:54 MDT Print View

That looks like a pretty good pack. How many ci/liters does it hold if the extension collar isn't fully extended?

I'll put that on my list along with the ULA Catalyst and the MLD Exodus FS. The GG pack is cheapest and seemingly carries the most, so it's a pretty serious contender. Could you post a list of what you fit in the pack?