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boots or shoes for philmont?
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steve suppes

Locale: Midwest
boots or shoes for philmont? on 06/12/2007 06:56:43 MDT Print View

Looking for opinions/suggestions for footwear at Philmont both for myself and the boys. They recommend the classic heavy leather hiking boot. Is this really necessary? I've been hiking/backpacking in a nike acg shoe but mostly just overnight weekend trips with no problem.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: boots or shoes for philmont? on 06/12/2007 09:48:58 MDT Print View

Wow, loaded question. You are probably quite used to shoes, and have conditioned your ankles accordingly. Might not be the case for all of the boys.

Seems that mountaineers are the only ones who absolutely need the classic heavy leather (or plastic) boots. How heavy are your packs? Might want leather boots for over 40 to 50 pounds, synthetic boots for over 30 to 40 pounds, and shoes for anything less.

For the boys, perhaps leather offers a little better safety margin given the possibility of side impacts, twisted ankles, etc., but if you teach them about the advantages of light footwear and caution them what to watch for, they can probably be successful with shoes too (within the aforementioned weight ranges).

Also, there is quite a bit of difference between shoes. Shoes designed as trail runners or hikers tend to be much more stable and supportive than road runners. Basketball, tennis, or casual shoes really have no place on long hikes. I haven't looked at any Nike AGC's lately, but some in the past were relatively heavy and not particularly supportive. Currently popular shoes are Salomon, Montrail, Vasque, Adidas, Inov8, Keen, North Face, etc.

For you, I think I'd choose the shoes, or at the very least, some much lighter boots. But... I've never been to Philmont - perhaps the trails are full of razor-like scree?!?

Oh yeah, one final note. In some conditions I use short stretchy gaiters with my trail runners. Good for keeping dirt, seeds, and other debris out of my shoes. Mine are REI Mistral Gaitors.

Edited by jbrinkmanboi on 06/12/2007 09:50:52 MDT.

steve suppes

Locale: Midwest
boots or shoes for philmont? on 06/12/2007 12:09:53 MDT Print View

Pack weight for myself and son should be 35lbs or less.It is apparently common for pack weights of 50+lbs. Our base weights are currently at 14lbs. This does not include water, food , shared gear (tent) and crew gear. They say to expect 10 to 20lbs extra for these items. They recommend 3-4 liters water especially for the dry camps. The most food to carry is 4 days worth.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: boots or shoes for philmont? on 06/12/2007 23:35:24 MDT Print View

I have used lightweight boots extensively for 30 to 40 pounds total loads up until recently. Mine are Timberland Cadion XCR's. They are very supportive, did not require break in, and are as light as many trail shoes. They would be a good compromise and all around performer if you are looking to spend some money.

Otherwise, seems like your shoes could work. I am now using trail runners for almost all backpacking trips, but my loads are now down to 15 to 25 pounds. Also, I have switched to non-Goretex shoes and bought ones with high breathability. Theory being that while my feet may get wet occasionally, they will also dry more quickly and completely than with Goretex.

I don't have the citation handy, but they say that 1 pound on your feet is like 5 on your back.

Edited by jbrinkmanboi on 06/12/2007 23:52:30 MDT.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: boots or shoes for philmont? on 06/13/2007 11:38:27 MDT Print View

Another boot suggestion:
You might also want to look at the Merrell line of boots. Most are very durable and also provide good ventilation and taller tops to protect ankles from torquing. Merrells can handle the weights you will encounter with great traction and protective Rands. They are often on sale and a good value. They require next to no break in time.

steve suppes

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: boots or shoes for philmont? on 06/13/2007 12:30:58 MDT Print View

Merrells are a brand I have seen at some of the stores (bass pro/cabelas) here. I'll check those out next time I get to one of the stores.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: boots or shoes for philmont? on 06/13/2007 18:12:07 MDT Print View

I went to Philmont last year as a Scout, and if I were to do it again I would definitely wear trail shoes/runners instead of the mid-weight boots that I used. The trails seemed relatively smooth to me (maybe it's just because I'm used to the local rocky NJ trails) with the exception of the final ascent to the top of Mt. Baldy (highest point in the park at 12,441 ft.). Granted, my total pack weight never went above 30 lbs., and that was when it was fully loaded with 5 days of heavy Philmont food and 3L of water. Good luck on your trip! I guarantee that you'll have a great time.

John Ohl
(johnohl) - F
Boots or Shoes for Philmont on 06/13/2007 19:04:54 MDT Print View

I was the adult advisor on a 1999 south country Philmont trek and a 2002 north country trek. In 1999 we had only two days out of ten that it did not rain. We were glad to have heavy hiking boots with gore tex liner. In 2002, the conditions were drier (same year as forest fires) so the gore tex was not necessary.

Philmont is extremely rocky. I vote for good side/ankle support as with a conventional leather boot and not go with a trail runner.

They will load you heavy. My pack was every bit of 45 lbs. with my share of crew gear and food. That is after we had a shake-down and kept just the necessities. I recommend polypro. liners and heavy wicking socks. Three pairs of heavies and two pair of liners.

steve suppes

Locale: Midwest
Re: Boots or Shoes for Philmont on 06/13/2007 20:56:18 MDT Print View

Peter, I'm curious to know what your base weight was without food, water , tent and crew gear?

Edited by ssuppes on 06/13/2007 20:57:36 MDT.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Shoes for philmont on 06/13/2007 21:10:39 MDT Print View

I went to Philmont last year as an adult. One of my heavy & expensive 'official backpacking boots' Montrail Torre GTX split in the middle, making the pair virtually unusable. This was after about 20 miles of a total of 75 miles.

I switched to my camp shoes, low cut Merrell Moab Ventilators. Hiking in them was a noticable difference in weight and my feet felt great. I would not consider wearing anything but lightweight footwear when we go again next year.

The 2 lb difference on my feed felt like an additional 5+ lbs out of my pack, my knees and feet felt better in the Merrells than in the 'official backpacking boots.

While there may be some ankle support advantage to heavier boots, I didn't have any ankle slips or twists in the lightweight shoes, and actually felt more stable.

Good luck, have a great and safe trek.


Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Re: Boots or Shoes for Philmont on 06/14/2007 13:41:09 MDT Print View

my base weight without food, water , tent and crew gear was about 13 lbs. my normal base weight with shelter and heavy Philmont crew gear was about 18 lb.

steve suppes

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: Boots or Shoes for Philmont on 06/14/2007 13:49:50 MDT Print View

Thanks for the info Peter. I am at about 14 lbs base weight right now. I should be able to shave some more off that with a new pack and lighter sleeping bag. The big unknown is the crew gear and food weight. We hope to bring some of our own crew gear to lighten the load i.e. silnylon tarp, platy bladders, cook pots. I know this thread is on boots or shoes but the total weight plays into that.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Boots or Shoes for Philmont on 06/15/2007 15:27:42 MDT Print View

the Philmont article on BPL gives the best account of what the crew gear is like. In my experience, it is all very heavy and very durable, but many of the items they supply are not necessary IMO, such as the spatula. Silnylon tarp in place of their heavy dining tarp, platy bladders instead of their heavy and bulky reservoirs, and lightweight cookpots are all great ideas. I used platy bottles instead of nalgenes for my regular water bottle and they were a great success. The only issue was a couple of water spickets were very wide and made filling the bladders difficult but still possible. Finally, if you wear lightweight hiking shoes or even medium height boots I would recommend, as Jason suggested, a lightweight pair of short gators to keep out all the dust from the Philmont trails.

Edited by pedro87 on 06/15/2007 15:36:58 MDT.

Elspeth Sharp
(ElspethSharp) - F
Re: Boots or Shoes for Philmont on 06/20/2007 22:20:54 MDT Print View

Peter and Mike - Did either of you go into the Valle Vidal during your Philmont trips? I am going to Philmont in a few weeks and our trek goes into the Valle Vidal. I am wanting to wear shoes (probably Merrell Mesa Ventilator II), not boots, during the trip. However, the advisor pulling the trip together says that the Valle Vidal is especially rocky and has expressed some doubts about my choice of wearing shoes instead of boots. I have hiked the AT through PA, NY, NJ, and NH in trail runners, and I thought that was pretty rocky. I'm wondering - could the Valle Vidal be worse?

David White
(davidw) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Boots or Shoes for Philmont on 06/23/2007 09:08:19 MDT Print View

I did the Valle about 5 years ago. My recollection is that with the exception of a very few steeper climbs, the trail conditions were actually easier than much of Philmont. More walking in valleys with a few ridgeline traverses.

The Valle, which isn't owned by Philmont, is strictly LNT -- no bombadier toilets here!!! Very pretty country (at least pre-fire) with lots of wildlife observing opportunites.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Re: Boots or Shoes for Philmont on 06/29/2007 09:47:38 MDT Print View

My trek went near the Valle but not into it. In the North part of Philmont where I hiked there were certainly rocks but nothing like in the Northeast. I found the trail smooth enough that I did not have to constantly look down like I often am forced to do in NJ. From what I have seen in pictures and heard from others, the Valle is fairly easy, level hiking and is less rugged than the rest of Philmont.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Re: boots or shoes for philmont? on 07/06/2007 14:45:58 MDT Print View

If you are going light and have OK ankles, trail runners are no problem. Have worn them for two "superstrenuous" treks at Philmont as an adult advisor. Most recently at age 50, summer of '05. I'm overweight (just within Philmont limits) so carry too much body weight. My pack weight at Philmont including tent and crew gear is about 14 pounds without food and water. I have wide feet so use New Balance shoes.

If you have had past ankle sprains or similar troubles and have lax ankle ligaments, you may want to go with something more supportive.

Joe Johnstone
(entropy) - F
Boots for me on 08/03/2007 10:46:37 MDT Print View

Just got back last week, and I'm sure glad I had my Vasques Breeze boots. We had trek #14, and it went up Trail Peak, Mt Phillips and Tooth ridge, which were all very rocky.