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Economy Trail Runners?
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Michael Gunderloy
(ffmike) - MLife
Economy Trail Runners? on 08/09/2014 08:06:45 MDT Print View

I'm working on pushing our Boy Scouts to lighter weight gear. One big issue is footwear. Generally the boys are in whatever boot is cheap from WalMart or perhaps Gander Mountain at the time when their parents go hunting for sales. Would love to move them into trail runners, but a hundred bucks or more a pop is not going to go over well with parents, especially when these boys seem to grow six inches and one shoe size about every two months.

So are there any reasonably inexpensive lighter weight shoes that work on the trail out there?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Economy Trail Runners? on 08/09/2014 09:20:06 MDT Print View

" especially when these boys seem to grow six inches and one shoe size about every two months."

what about whatever shoes they already have?

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Economy Trail Runners? on 08/09/2014 17:28:23 MDT Print View

Check out DSW for trail runners. You can usually find some of last year's models for around $50. I'm partial to Suacony Grid Excursions. Youth sizes are available.

shoes on 08/10/2014 11:40:16 MDT Print View

Almost any shoe is fine. Don't over think it. Spending money on boots is a bit of a waste if packs are under about 35 lb.

David Barnes
Budget Trail Runners on 08/11/2014 10:31:05 MDT Print View

Concur re DSW. Sierra Trading Post is a good sub 50.00 shoe source as well.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Economy Trail Runners? on 08/17/2014 21:21:19 MDT Print View

I just wore a pair of cheap Starters from Walmart that had the most mesh I could find. Yes, they don't have as good traction (lugs) and won't last long (a season at most), but as long as they fit well (mine weren't the greatest in that regard), they are fine and you won't get any cheaper.

That being said, my middle son (almost 17 now) has a pretty bad gait and poor feet and he'd go through his everyday shoes from Walmart within a couple months during the school year so I got him some Salomons that hold up much longer.

My youngest (now 8) I was getting full-toe sandals from Walmart but his grandma bought him some New Balance 550 that were perfect for hiking so that is what he wore in the Wind Rivers a couple weeks ago (though he did still hike a whole day in his sandals).

G Sticks

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
3 words on 08/19/2014 13:11:17 MDT Print View

Sierra Trading Post. Wait for sales, then have the whole troop pounce. I use the term "wait" loosely because STP almost ALWAYS has a sale running.

And I agree that you don't need anything too serious as long as it fits well and promotes a nice stride if the pack weights are low.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
+1 on STP. Especially right now. on 08/19/2014 16:26:06 MDT Print View

>"Sierra Trading Post. Wait for sales, then have the whole troop pounce."


Yeah, A few days ago I received a pair of La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0 Trail Running Shoes. STP stock # 5166R. Nice and comfortable right out of the box, seems to absorb shock nicely, has a little cover over the laces (so they don't snag?). List price of $110, STP price of $69.95. If there's not an additional 35% off (on orders over $100) for a keyword like "SITEMON814" like there was yesterday (there's not just now), sign up for the newsletter and get 30% off. Or wait a day or two for another daily keyword. My final price was $45.47.

Anyway, with only 15 miles on them, I was positive enough on them to order my 14-year-old son a pair in his size. And also the next size up (cause he's not getting any smaller) and it's easier to have a pair in the closet than scramble around again in a year.

A few ideas: They are sized in European sizes, so either print out a comparison chart or link to one of the interactive size conversion sites. If you don't mind handling the money, get all the boys' US sizes, convert to European yourself and order them all together. That easily gets you over the $100 order threshold. And splits the shipping up among many more shoes.

This kind of shoe is as much as I would wear for 40 miles in a day or 60 pounds on my back. I could manage with lighter (a minimalist shoe or a light-weight running shoe) but only for 10-15 miles a day with moderate pack weight. Beyond that, I'd want to the slightly stiffer and more cushioned soles that something like the C-Lite offers. I'd only ever use a more substantial shoe for crampon use or if I was doing a ton of talus and wanted the tougher upper of an "approach shoe".

Added bonus: They could totally wear these to school, knock around town, or do laps around the track in PE, so they aren't buying a "backpacking-only" piece of gear. Rather, it's multi-purpose, great for use in town, but also (IMNSHO) a near ideal intro-to-more-UL backpacking shoe. STP currently has all sizes and most all half sizes from 38 to 47 (US Men's 5.5 to 14).

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Economy Trail Runners? on 08/19/2014 16:39:54 MDT Print View

>"what about whatever shoes they already have?" -Jerry


Have them bring both their lightest boot and their toughest running shoe to the next meeting. Check for heel lift (rarely a problem since they've grown a bit since they bought them), and check for contact of the toes with the front of the shoe by setting up a 20-30 degree ramp. 2 feet of plain plywood screwed onto a 10- to 12-inch wood block is fine. Carpet it if you want to get fancy. Paint it and sprinkle fine sand if you want to get really fancy. Anyway, have them try to jam their feet forward in the shoes while pointing downhill. Any contact is a rule-out. Tell them to do this at any store when trying on hiking shoes. And to walk out of any store selling hiking shoes that isn't equipped with such a ramp.

In some cases, you'll identify a shoe THEY ALREADY HAVE that would be fine. In other cases, you'll avoid some blister-causing horror story happening on the trip. And you'll be developing a mind set that UL BPing is sometimes just the clever use of stuff you already have.

"Buy them a pair of shoes and they'll hike comfortably for a year. TEACH them to buy shoes and they'll hike comfortably their whole lives."

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Cheap runners on 08/19/2014 16:41:12 MDT Print View

lightweight breathable runners are quite trendy right now. Walmart, Target, Kmart, all are carrying very good light shoes now for very cheap. Chances are, most of the kids already own shoes that will serve.

Michael Gunderloy
(ffmike) - MLife
Thanks folks! on 08/20/2014 06:53:03 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the input. Some great ideas here, including the one that made me say "duh!" - some of them will already have decent lightweight shoes. I'll still have a fight on my hand with some other leaders who insist on the heavy-boot-over-the-ankles approach for all hiking, but perhaps I can quietly convert a few of the boys, at least for their non-Philmont hiking.

ed dzierzak
(dzierzak) - F

Locale: SE
2 cents more... on 08/21/2014 10:38:49 MDT Print View

Our crew at Philmont this year (3 adults, 4 scouts) had 3 in boots, 4 in lighter weight shoes - all survived. Breakdown was one adult (former military) and his son in boots, one youth in boots (his dad went to Philmont back before there was dirt - he knew everything ;)
Two adults and two youth in trail/hiking shoes lighter weight. My boots, though still in good shape are essentially retired. I did four treks in boots, three more in trail runners. My feet were happy...

Edited by dzierzak on 08/21/2014 10:39:47 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: 2 cents more... on 08/21/2014 11:58:27 MDT Print View

I use my old-style heavy leather hiking boots many times a year - frequently while chain-sawing, splitting wood with an axe, and less often for jack-hammering, pouring molten metal, and such. Between all those activities, I probably put 5 miles on them each and every year.

trail runners on 08/24/2014 17:07:41 MDT Print View

The hazard is, if a kid does unluckily twist an ankle wearing shoes, YOU will likely never hear the end of it. This is what some adults have in the back of their mind and just dont want to go there. Its hard to fight the stereotype.

Of course, some of these adults show up to troop meetings in hiking boots. Its part of the uniform to them. Always brown and green/grey mid hikers.

For this reason I told them the options and left it at that. My son and I wore runners. No one else did. The couple of people with blister problems, were wearing boots. One kid was wearing work boots his mom bought at walmart. His everyday tennis shoes would have been way better.

Parents also want to buy things big so that kids can use them longer. Some kids feet were swimming in their boots.

Edited by livingontheroad on 08/24/2014 17:11:48 MDT.

Michael Gunderloy
(ffmike) - MLife
Re: trail runners on 08/25/2014 04:50:12 MDT Print View

All too true. Too-big packs are at least as much a problem as too-big boots. Had one kid I helped strip down to a smaller pack which his mom decided didn't hold enough so she strapped a runner's pack and two more water bottles to the outside.

I'm hoping this is the year I can convince people that optionally wearing lighter shoes on the trail is fine, as opposed to the "heavy boots required or you don't go" mentality.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
TRAIL RUNNERS... on 08/25/2014 11:26:14 MDT Print View

I think the cadre here has provided some very good ideas/considerations. One thing I haven't seen asked is the kind of trails you plan to hike. Out here in Colorado, trails vary considerably from extremely rocky above treeline to just wet and muddy along streams. If you live in an area where the trails are generally soft with some rocky areas, whatever shoes they kick around in will likely suffice. If on the other hand you hike scree fields, better get a more substantial shoe. (This all assumes boys are carrying lightweight loads. No more than 25% body weight or less...) Hope this helps...

packs on 08/26/2014 17:46:22 MDT Print View

Yeah, we had a kid that brought an OK borrowed standard kelty internal frame pack to shakedowns. At philmont he showed up with a knockoff military pack with a huge lower compartment that hung down to his knees. The whole thing had to weigh 7 lb or more. By day 2 he had sores on his hips. His parents thought he needed a bigger pack at the last minute .

You tell them to till you are blue in the face, but they do not listen.