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Merritt D
(tmdraney) - MLife

Locale: No Mountains Close-by VA
West Coast Trail boot suggestions on 12/29/2012 12:47:20 MST Print View

I'm looking for a new pair of boots for my trip this year. I pretty much destroyed my Keen Targhee II this past year. I liked them. They were comfortable but not durable and I easily defeated the waterproofing in NZ. The they did not dry out for a few days. Since it rains similarly if not more on the West Coast trail, I figure I need something better. I wonder if I should get a waterproof pair at all and just get something that will dry as fast as possible. My feet get wet anyway from sweat and waterproofing (goretex, etc.)
probably does not help. I do like mids but I am open to regular shoes. The Merrell Ventilators look promising and they have the goretex option. Any suggestions?

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: West Coast Trail boot suggestions on 12/29/2012 13:15:14 MST Print View

I don't have suggestions on a specific shoe, but a light hiker works best coupled with a medium height gaiter. Water is one thing, but it is the mud bogs that are more the issue on the WCT.. I always use mids that are wp and bring liner socks that I can change throughout the day.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Merrill Moab Ventilator shoes & boots on 12/29/2012 13:35:35 MST Print View

I have both Merrill Moab Ventilator shoes and Merrill Moab GTX Mid boots.

I recommend the Merrill GTX Mid boots that look like the Ventilator shoes. They are the lightest DURABLE GTX boots I've found and mine are doing very well with about 500 miles on them. My Moab Ventilators have almost 1,000 miles.

You may want the Moab GTX shoes to keep weight to a minimum. I figure that when I need GTX I want a "mid" boot, which is barely a boot.

NOTE: on either Merrill shoe or boot I have reinforced the front 1/2 inch of the mesh (behind the toe cap) with SHOE GOO. This keeps the mesh there from fraying, as it otherwise inevitably will.

On a cleaned boot:
1. Use masking tape behind the area to be reinforced to make a clean line.
2. Color the reinforced toe area with BLACK permenant marker. (This matches the color to the toe cap)
3. Apply SHOE GOO to the toe mesh, keeping it off the toe cap. Work it into the mesh with your finger.

4. Let reinforced area dry for one day.

Edited by Danepacker on 12/29/2012 13:37:34 MST.

Mike Bozman
(myarmisonfire) - M

Locale: BC
Footwear for WCT on 12/29/2012 14:14:39 MST Print View

I agree with Dave and what he says about footwear for the WCT. Like myself, he has been on the WCT several times. I have also done many trips on the JDF trail in all season and weather. I have found light-ish mid height hiking WPB shoes/boots with a short gaiter to be ideal for wet weather and muddy conditions. I currently have some Keen mid height WPB boots (can't remember the model) and some Merrell Mix Master Mid that are also water proof. The all leather Keens are pretty warm for summer hiking but good at this time of year when it is only a few degrees above zero and everything is either water or mud. The Merrells are nearly half the weight (11.7oz each for US size 11) of the Keens and are great for the WCT hiking season.
I know that a lot of people swear that various WPB membranes just make their feet sweat and do nothing to keep them dry but when it is really wet they help keep feet warm, not dry. They reduce the movement of water in and out of the footwear with every step. It is much the same as how a rain jacket here on the west coast does nothing to keep you dry when hiking in the rain but at least you are warm!
With all that being said, last year was silly dry on the WCT. A trail runner or hiking shoe was ideal. My usual shoe is a Salomon Synapse (with a short gaiter). I used short gaiter on the beach and ditched them almost the entire time in the forest.
Judging by your profile you are in Virginia. It is a ways to travel to the WCT. I would pack both a WPB mid hiker and whatever regular shoes that you hike in. Ask about conditions when you get to the orientation and double check the weather forecast. You can just ditch the footwear you don't need in your car.
Do you use hiking poles? Your feet will stay drier if you use poles.

Merritt D
(tmdraney) - MLife

Locale: No Mountains Close-by VA
Thanks on 12/29/2012 15:07:02 MST Print View

Yes I use trekking poles.

Two sets sounds like a great idea! Saloman has some good looking choices too now that I look more.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
West Coast Trail boot suggestions on 12/29/2012 16:49:16 MST Print View

It's interesting that you mention the Merrell Ventilators because that's the shoe I've worn for many years and I hike a lot on the coastal trails here on Vancouver Island. The most important thing is to find a shoe that works for your feet. Merrells work really well for me and I always have a pair of Gortex and non-Gortex Merrels (low tops) and like both of them but I only wear the GTX shoes in winter. I like the non-GTX ventilators for slopping around in the water and mud on the WCT and JDF because they dry faster. If you wear low tops you are going to get wet feet regardless, so GTX isn't going to help. I can see that a GTX mid might work if you like that style of shoe.

I don't wear gators with mine but I always wear long pants so that keeps the sand and mud out (I just zip off the bottom of my pants and rinse off the mud as required).

Edit: I meant to mention that the soles on the Merrell ventilators are really poor on wet wood and wet rock (which is much of the WCT)... if I could find a shoe that fit me as well as the Merrells that had a better grip I would buy them.

Edited by skopeo on 12/29/2012 16:51:15 MST.

Merritt D
(tmdraney) - MLife

Locale: No Mountains Close-by VA
Keens again on 01/07/2013 17:04:18 MST Print View

I ended up with the Keen Gypsum. They seem to be much better constructed than the Targhee IIs and had much better reviews. I did not like how the Salomons or Merrells and others felt on my feet. We'll see how they do. Thanks for your help!