Footwear choices

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby gzrrnnr » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:41 am

As someone who has worn trail runners in the mountains for the last two decades, I would not do it any other way. But I think the point about using boots until the ankles are strong is very valid. Trail runs on tech trails will do the strengthening, but start slowly. For me, the Brooks Cascadias have worked the best over the last six years. Gore-Tex uppers are good in wet grass or puddles, but if you have to cross knee-deep streams, the water is going to get in regardless, even with gaiters. The weave in the Cascadias at least lets it drain out. Whatever material is used for the upper, having a large toe box allows the toes some wiggle room and eliminates blisters for me, especially with the Injinji toe socks and Smartwool light hiking socks. The Cascadia is a size larger than I normally wear, but I quit worrying about blisters a decade ago. Good luck on whatever boots/trail shoes work for you, and enjoy the peaks.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby Krinkles » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:51 am

There is no reason to wear boots on any 14er in CO. They are heavy and they beat your feet up. There are even now crampons designed for trail running shoes. With around 100 14ers under my belt, I've tried a lot of footwear. The best shoes I've found are the Five Ten Camp Fours. They are breathable, light, super rugged, and have Five Ten's proprietary super sticky black sole. I wore these for 60 miles on the John Muir Trail with a big pack, on Class 5 rock, and also with snowshoes in January. Dryness protection is not necessary, feet and footwear dry quickly in trail runners with wicking cycling socks. There are many awesome trail runner-type shoes out there so go with what fits well and take it from there.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby dfrizzle » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:19 pm

my 2 cents...i own the goretex version of those solomon's and love them. i wear them hiking 14ers and most trails. they're even my go-to in the winter since they're waterproof and find they work just find with snowshoes. some people complain about the lacing system but i think it's pretty individual as i actually love the lacing system and feel my feet are pretty secure. like someone else mentioned, they're also great skiing/snow shoes in the winter since they're waterproof..just throw them on in the car after a day skiing. they seem pretty darn functional.
that said, i also wear my keen newport h2's on 14ers and backpacking trips in the summer and don't find i have much problems without the ankle support. the synthetic dries fast, the sole is thick and comfortable, and the toebox makes me feel safe with a little scrambling and such. i can't bring myself to wear the chacos in any serious hiking just yet.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby VagabondSurveyor » Sun May 06, 2012 7:06 pm

+1 on the Brooks Cascadia. I love that shoe, and the rock plate in my opinion makes it a better choice than other trail runners.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby thompsonmike » Sun May 13, 2012 9:54 am

I sprained my ankle in Hawaii, January 2011. It was very muddy and I jumped down about three feet slipped on a rock smashed my tailbone, sprained my ankle, and almost smashed my head on the rock behind me. Needless to say I'm much wiser from the experience. Anyway, my ankle is still sore and I'm afraid of hurting it again but I'm not going to stop hiking because of it. I have to wear an ankle brace when I play basketball or I'll most likely be out of commission within the first 15 minutes. Would it be more recommended to buy low cut trail runners and use a laced ankle brace or high cut boots without a brace or even high cut boots with a brace? I am most definitely a novice to hiking and my first and second 14er will be at the end of July and beginning of August. I'm planning on Pikes Peak first to make sure I'm still okay at that altitude and then if all goes well on to Long's Peak.

I'm going to go out to REI today (hopefully the WI sales people are helpful in this department) and try on a bunch of different shoes to see what fits well. The big concern is my ankle because I don't want to be stuck at 13k and have to hobble down for 3 hours like I did in Hawaii. =/

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Re: Footwear choices

Postby tlerunner » Sun May 13, 2012 10:46 am

Look at the Montrail Badrock Mid. I am considering a pair myself
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby DaveSwink » Sun May 13, 2012 2:16 pm

[quote="thompsonmike"] Anyway, my ankle is still sore and I'm afraid of hurting it again but I'm not going to stop hiking because of it. [/quote]

Mike, unfortunately, tendon/ligament injuries heal very slowly. High top boots will provide some support, and a diligent practice of taking shorter steps when descending will help even more. I would suggest that you re-visit your choice of 14ers to climb with an ankle that gets sore under stress. Pikes Peak via Barr Trail and Longs Peak via the Keyhole Route are two of the longest 14er routes with huge altitude gains. Some mountains that would be more friendly to recovering ankles would be Quandry, Bierstadt, Sherman, or Grays/Torreys. Please be careful not to put yourself in a situation where others have to be responsible for getting you down.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby pbakwin » Sun May 13, 2012 3:44 pm

I use only trail runners or approach shoes. To me anything over 12oz per shoe is nuts. Anyway, the Cascadias are very nice with super protection & extremely durable. But, the outsole is very hard & so does not grip well on rock. Good for trail hikes/runs, not great for scrambles. La Sportiva has models with grippier rubber. In the running line the Fireblade works exceptionally well. The best rubber around, I think, is on the Sportiva Xplorer. Sticky even when wet! And durable. In these shoes you can walk down the Homestretch (Longs) with your hands in your pockets. On the super light side, Sportiva Vertical K is just 6.5oz and some nice grippy rubber. NFI.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby MuchosPixels » Mon May 14, 2012 8:35 am

I find that I need much more support and better fit while descending, so whenever you try on shoes test for that. I also prefer shoes/boots with sticky rubber. Not all vibram soles are equal. Some have rubber compounds that are downright dangerous in wet conditions. Fit is critical. The best shoe/boot in the world is useless and can downright hurt you if it doesnt fit you well.

I love Scarpa Epic's (shoes). They are tough enough, comfortable, not too heavy, have sticky rubber in the right places. Perfect for day hikes.

For tough hikes with a pack I use Vasque Zephyrs II. (used it on Pikes during spring, 35lb pack, see profile pic)

There are PLENTY of great choices out there. Try on as many as you have to to find one that fits you great.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby randalmartin » Mon May 14, 2012 8:58 am

If you are going to go the route of Trail Runners I would make sure you work with someone that actually knows what they are talking about. I chose to go to Boulder Running Company when doing my evaluation and purchase. Very helpful staff.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby djkest » Mon May 14, 2012 9:10 am

I didn't realize there were so many boot "haters" on this site! Kind of an interesting discussion. I don't have the "answer" as I feel my current choice of boots is a little lacking. I do appreciate having a rugged bumper on the front of my toes though. That being said, I have done a handful of 14ers in Asics running shoes and they did surprisingly well- although slippery on the top of Handies coming down, got a couple hundred miles of road running on that pair.
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Re: Footwear choices

Postby Lemmiwinks » Mon May 14, 2012 12:21 pm

As far as footwear goes, what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. My preference is lightweight hiking boots because their still give you ankle support, water resistance, and a strong sole without weighing you down. I have a pair of Merrills that work great, and I never notice them when they're on (a sign of a good boot).
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