Foot care is one of the biggest parts of hiking, bugging out and everything in between. Its also something that people rarely understand or care to consider. This of course becomes a very big problem at mile 10 of the 20 mile bugout trek. You are really going to want to have all or some …
If you cannot walk or are in pain when walking due to blisters or emersion foot also known as trench foot, or from a twisted ankle, or bruised foot because your boots or shoes offered no support or shock absorption, your survival may hang in the balance.
Boots and Shoes
While you may want your hiking boots to make a fashion statement, they also need to be practical and actually provide comfort and support. Are they waterproof or water resistant, do the soles offer a good gripping surface and do they provide the proper shock resistance, and most importantly, do they fit well?
Cheap boots will have cheap soles that can become dangerous when traversing wet surfaces and can cause stone bruises because they offer no protection against debris on the ground. Quality shoes or boots cost money, but it is money well spent when it’s below freezing and the ground is wet, cold and the terrain is rough. Twenty-five-dollar shoes or hiking boots from your local big box store will not hold up and they can immobilize you out on the trail.
There are hiking shoes, hiking boots and backpacking boots. The backpacking boots are for those of you that plan an extended hiking adventure with a backpack that would be heavier than a daypack, for example. Backpacking boots would offer more protection because they are sturdier, but are also heavier as well, so there are choices to be made when it comes to shoes, and much depends on your lifestyle, terrain, probable weather conditions, and fitness level in some cases.
Hiking shoes are ideal for short walks or hikes close to home where the weight you are carrying is minimal. Hiking boots are essentially hiking shoes that rise above the ankle to provide more support. They offer much needed support when on rough terrain, and anyone that has not been out hiking in a while or may have ankle or knee problems should start out with hiking boots to help prevent twisted ankles.
You can, of course, choose the type of shoe you want based on personal preferences, terrain, and length of hike, but remember things can change quickly out on the trail. Backpacking boots can be used on any trail, sidewalk, or roadway, while hiking shoes, for example, can also traverse all terrain, but the rougher it gets the less protection you would have with shoes.
Plan for emergencies, wet and cold weather, and plan to stay overnight in the woods. If you plan for the worst-case scenario, then you are also prepared for the worst, better to be ready and not need your survival gear than to need it and not have it.
Break your shoes in before setting out on any hike. Make sure they fit well, and some shoes/boots with insulated lining inside require you to size up by half or even one shoe size in some instances. Remember your socks combined with the insulation inside the boot could cause the boot to not fit properly.
Wool or wool blends are ideal if they are not too thick. Fabric technology has allowed manufacturers to produce wool blend socks that are thin yet offer the ever so important wicking, and insulation even when wet feature that we expect from wool, and then there is Polypropylene.
Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first. Polypropylene is an incredibly versatile, bendable, thermoplastic polymer. Get all that?
Okay, what does this mean for you and your feet? Well, the material does not absorb water or break down when wet. The material holds more heat than wool, and will retain it for much longer, and of course, the material will wick any moisture away from your skin.
We don’t need to tell you that cotton is not what you want to be wearing in cold weather.
If your feet get wet, dry them, and every chance you get dry your socks. Hang them close to a fire and allow the smoke from hardwoods to penetrate the material. The smoke helps control bacteria, which causes odor.
Have more than one pair of socks so you can change them often. Wet, cold feet can cause blisters and of course, emersion foot, (trench foot), which can lead to amputation of toes or even the entire foot and eventually death from gangrene if left untreated.
Umbrellas simply put protect you from rain, snow, and sun. If it starts raining while you are hiking, you would typically put on your poncho or rain suit. Both offer protection, but they also cause you to sweat more, and in warmer weather, this can bring on dehydration faster and sweat soaks your clothing and this is not a good scenario if the nights cool off rapidly or if it is cold out, to begin with. People can get hypothermia at 50° F.
Have to stop hiking because the sun is beating down, well an umbrella can help keep the sun off you, thus keeping you cooler, and this allows you to continue hiking.
An umbrella is a mini shelter, which keeps snow and sleet off you as well as rain and the sun. Turn it upside down, if you have a shelter from the rain other than the umbrella so you can collect rainwater for drinking and bathing.
An umbrella can be an emergency walking stick/cane or weapon in some cases. They are light and can be strapped to any pack, and more than one umbrella would be ideal and they would not add any significant weight to your pack.
It’s rare to find a pair of boots that feel broken in right out of the box, but the Quest 4D feel like they were tailor-made for my feet. The ankle support these boots provide is what seals the deal for me. Rolling an ankle in the backwoods, or anywhere for that matter, is not something any hiker wants to do, and if you can find a boot that is comfortable, sturdy, breathable and looks good, with good ankle support, you had better grab them fast.
Walking around the backyard doing yard work is one thing; hiking over rough terrain with a pack on is another matter entirely. There are work boots and there are hiking boots. You need to know the difference and you can’t scrimp when it comes to hiking boots, because if your boots fail you, where does that leave you. Unless you are Cody Lundin you are left barefoot and possibly with a foot or ankle injury from wearing the wrong hiking boot.
Cheap boots are like cheap tires, they will leave you alongside the highway or trail, and it’s never just at the end of the driveway, or at the trail’s end. No, it’s miles from home when the temperature is below freezing, or so hot, you could fry an egg on a rock in the sun. Boots never fail at a convenient time, so it is important you get it right the first time.
The Quest 4D 2 hiking boot is lightweight, and as a previous article had stated heavy boots put a strain on your back, shoulders and body in general, in particular when wearing a pack, so light is better if they are sturdy. The technology that went into these boots ensures a comfortable hike and yet the boots are strong enough to withstand essentially, whatever you throw at them along the trail.
- Lightweight, Breathable Abrasion Resistant Materials Allows For Breathability And Comfort.
- GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort Footwear Keeps Your Feet Dry -From The Outside As Well As From The Inside
- Rubber Toe Cap, Which Is The Right Solution For Toe Protection In Mountain And Trail Environments
- The Unique Lacing System Allows You To Tighten Or Loosen The Levels, In Other Words, If You Want A Portion Of The Boot Tighter, You Can Do So Without Tightening The Entire Lace System
- STABILITY: Salomon’s 4D Advanced Chassis Guides The Foot On Even The Roughest Terrain, Reducing Fatigue For All-Trek Comfort
The sole grips even wet rocks, but never assume any boot is slip-proof, so always walk with caution on slippery surfaces. The boots have what is called a “SECURE GRIP” Salomon’s non-marking Contagrip® soles, which have a reverse chevron pattern that grips on wet, loose, hard, or dry surfaces. They do grip well and the mud falls off easier than most other boot soles. I hate boots that collect mud until you feel like you are dragging concrete blocks along the ground.
Ample padding cushions the foot and absorbs shocks well. No more jarring that makes the teeth rattle when stepping down hard on rough terrain. By the way, you may have to adjust the thickness of your socks because the lining may cause the boot to fit tighter with heavy socks in cold weather. The boot does a good job of protecting the feet from the cold, while at the same time, the material breathes to help keep the feet dry and cool during the summer months.
You may be able to do away with the heavier socks because of the lining, but make that decision once you have the boots home and have tested the pair out.
I have worn theses boots for hundreds of miles and I found that I don’t feel hot spots anymore and blisters are pretty much a thing of the past. Sweaty feet, the wrong socks, and poor quality boots all add up to blisters and hot feet. These boots have cured the problem of all that with the quality materials and design, and what is even better is my feet don’t ache and back strain is reduced to be almost non-existent when I hike when wearing these boots.
There is no question that weight slows you down when hiking, and where you carry the weight while hiking, makes a bigger difference than you may have realized.
In 1983, the United States Army conducted a study titled “The energy cost and heart-rate response of trained and untrained subjects walking and running in shoes and boots” (Army Research Inst Of Environmental Medicine, 1983).
The study found that a very small increase in the weight of your shoes added up to a significantly higher expenditure of energy when walking. The adage “one pound of added weight to your feet equals five pounds of weight on your back” may be credible. The weight of your hiking shoes or boots can make a difference.
A heavy boot or shoe is as a rule considered a good thing, however. Heavy soles protect the feet from stone bruises, nails, and other sharp objects while the heavy leather uppers help protect against snake bites, sharp sticks, and so forth, but all that protection comes at a cost, however.
Often times, people buy hiking boots to help support their ankles and feet, to prevent twisted ankles and supposedly, to prevent aching feet, good arch support in other words. However, if your boot or shoes do all the work your ankles, feet, and legs will essentially never be able to. They may not get stronger or strong enough, so you can reduce the weight of your hiking shoes.
Your Shoes/Boots Are Based On Your Activity
1.) The so-called trail runners are made for those that literally run woodland trails, as opposed to road-running shoes that are designed to run on flat terrain like sidewalks, and asphalt or concrete roadways. Trail runners typically have a stiffer sole to help protect against stone bruises, and usually have a toe protector to stop those annoying and sometimes serious toe stubs.
Trail runners are not designed for steep, slippery, or very rough terrain. They would be ideal for those hikers that stay on well-defined and relatively even hiking trails. If you wear a lightweight runner, you can add more weight to your pack without noticing the difference, more food, and water for example. Trail runners typically rest below the ankle, so do not expect any protection from snakes, heavy brush or sharp branches along the ground.
2.) Hiking shoes are made for rougher terrain, but all of the added layers of protection add up to more weight. Hiking shoes can be the all around shoe for that outdoors person who has over the years developed foot and ankle strength because the shoes do not offer much if any protection from twisted ankles. Experience counts, because the shoe is heavier so your backpack load will have to be lighter. This means you carry minimal supplies, but have the skill and knowledge along with the essential tools and materials that allow you to replenishing along the trail.
3.) Hiking boots are for those concerned about twisted ankles or for those that have had injuries in the past that make you susceptible to sprained ankles. The soles are designed for slippery terrain and most quality boots offer protection from water and cold weather. Boots will go above the ankle, and so offer, some protection from snakebites, sharp branches, and other objects. They are heavier in comparison, of course so keep this in mind when choosing.
Unlike a backpack, your boots or shoes cannot be stripped down to lessen the weight once you have them home. The only realistic thing you can do is to honestly evaluate your capabilities and where you plan to hike, so you can purchase the boot or shoe that fits your lifestyle and still offer the protection your need, while reducing the weight in some cases.
To be prepared, it may be a good idea to have a pair of trail runners and a pair of hiking shoes or heavier boots in your vehicle or even in your backpack so you can adapt to the situation. If you get stranded in a vehicle, for example, and have to hike out, you want the right footwear for the terrain, and keep in the mind the terrain can change quickly.
The more you hike the stronger your feet, legs and ankles will become, so you can lessen your dependency on the heavier boots if a twisted ankle is your main concern.
ARMY RESEARCH INST OF ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE. (1983). Retrieved 2016, from http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA131420
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Recently I received a pair of Timberland Whiteledge hiking boots from James Menta of SoleLabz.com who asked me to do a review of these Timberland hiking boots. When I got the boots several weeks ago, I decided to wear them for a couple of days to see how they felt. Well I found them to be so comfortable that I am still wearing them every day. I like them.
First a bit of information on Timberland
Timberland is an American company that is headquartered in Stratham, New Hampshire, but they have offices all around the world. While they are an American company, the boots that they sent me were manufactured in China.
The term “Timberland” was firstly introduced in 1973 as a name of a specific innovative model. It featured their revolutionary (at the time) injection-molding tech, allowing for a stitching-free sole upper. This made the boot completely waterproof and left room for changes depending on the designated climate.
Here’s what Timberland had to say about these waterproof boots
Timberland recommends this boot for occasional hikers.
The body of the boot is full-leather, meaning it’ll provide optimal water-resistance. It’ll take some time to break in, and the flexibility won’t be its main asset. On the other hand, leather offers sturdier construction and increased durability as well as high abrasion-resistance.
Since the major part of the upper is one big piece of leather, there’s no need for side seams, which increases performance in the water-resistance department. They’re lightweight considering the chosen material.
As Timberland boasts, the feature that defines Timberland White Ledge is the thick padding around the ankles provided by the upper tongue and collar. It is supposed to provide better ankle stability, which is especially important for beginner hikers.
This level of cushioning also adds to the overall comfort of the boot. The sole is made of rubber and connected to the upper without any stitching.
They feature a well-known Timberland’s signature mark, there oiled leather, so don’t be alarmed by sporadic scuff marks on this boot.
OK, so that’s what Timberland claims, now here is what I think.
The boots are very comfortable and with all the rainy weather, we are having they have proved to be waterproof. Because I pronate rather badly I am really hard on shoes and boots. I will destroy cheap tennis shoes in several weeks. So far these boots are showing no signs of damage and I think they will hold up well.
With all the rain and leaves on the ground, many of the surfaces around here are slippery. The tread on these boots seems to grip well. These are comfortable boots that look good, so I can wear them most of time. In an emergency in which I had to walk a considerable distance to get home, I think these boots would do the job. Even thought they are made in China as almost everything else is these days, I would recommend the Timberland hiking boots.
Those of you out there who have done hiking before or any sort of expedition, be it on moderate or rough climates and settings, will no doubt understand why having the right shoes in a TEOTWAWKI situation could mean the very difference between life and death. If you’ll find yourself obligated to travel a lot and carry heavy stuff with you, you’ll need to have the right provisions and gear for the job; and the right pair of shoes or boots is no exception. When it comes to survival footwear, wearing the right pair of shoes or boots will spare you a lot of trouble. There is no universality in this case, there is no one pair of shoes or boots for all scenarios and settings, but rather specialized products that will suit the wearer’s needs based on terrain, weather and distance. When choosing yours, looks will be the last thing to consider. You’ll have to take into consideration insulation, durability, shoe size (make sure you get the right size or walking in the wrong size shoes will take itstoll very soon), the type of socks you’ll be wearing (normal or hiking socks), the terrain and weather conditions you’ll need the shoes or boots for and ultimately the fact the sturdy footwear will need to be broken in. They might not feel comfortable at first, but in time, you’ll get used to them. Price is also an important issue, especially for tight budget preppers like me, who never feel like spending more than they absolutely have to. There many products available on the market and the prices vary a lot. But know that “expensive” is not necessarily equivalent with “best” when it comes to survival footwear, so you won’t have to sell your soul just to afford a pair of trail shoes or boots.
Hiking boots are the right shoes bring along for planed trips, especially if you’re planning on staying a bit longer outdoors; they work extremely well and will be very comfortable if you’re dealing with moderately rough terrain. They should be well built, fairly insulated and if you’ll be carrying some weight, they’ll be the best option you have. The sturdier the boot is, the more resistant it will be in the field. The taller boots are usually more durable and will offer better ankle protection. The best ones are partially waterproof and will be as comfortable as possible even after long walks on rough terrain. The Durand Mid WP is what I’ve been using lately and it’s probably the best pair I’ve had so far: it’s waterproof, breathable and it has an integrated heel cushion and midsole for better comfort.
Heavy duty hiking boots
This particular type of hiking boots takes the hiking game to a whole new level. They’re the best option for those who spend more time on the go then they do in their homes. They’re generally used for cross-country backpacking, be it on normal or very rough terrains. They might not be as light as regular hiking boots, but they’re the better option, as they’re tougher and better for people that are carrying heavy loads throughout rough terrains and settings. Choosing a pair of heavy duty hiking boots will require a great deal of attention from your part. These types of boots don’t necessarily feel comfortable at first, you’ll need to break them in first. So try them on carefully before purchasing and analyze whether they’re worth the money or not. The most serious stores have small areas that will simulate the boots performance on various terrains. The Asolo backpacking boots, with Gore-Tex inserts and Vibram outsoles are some of the best heavy duty hiking boots on the market; they’re pretty light too, as they weigh less than 2lbs.
They’re the epitome of survival footwear, and the first clear sign you get is in the price, as even the cheapest pair of mountaineering boots will cost no less than a couple of hundred bucks. As the name clearly shows, they’re suited for hiking in extreme and rough alpine terrain, at high attitudes and low temperatures.
They’re built to be heavy and rigid, but with good reason. Even the standard models have very stiff soles and shanks (in order to provide maximum protection to your feet and ankles), a multi-layered build comprised of rigid shanks for stability and protection, an insulating inner lining and a waterproof lining. The soles are very thick and rigid, built for maximum grip even on slippery surfaces. The Nepal Evo, by La Sportiva, is everything I just mentioned and more, with durable leather and metal lace loops and with an impressive overall built that will make it suitable for even the roughest conditions.
If what we’ve been looking at so far is a bit much for you, worry not. If you’re nothing more than an amateur hiker that goes on light hikes only, you can always buy a simple pair of regular hiking shoes. These are nothing more than improved sport shoes that will do well on regular strolls in the wild.
Unless you’re facing rough terrain on bad weather, you’ll have nothing to worry about. But whether you’re considering buying the simplest pair of hiking shoes or a state-of-the-art mountaineering boots, always try them on before buying. Unlike regular pairs of shoes, hiking footwear will require some wearing arround the house before you’ll get completely used to them.
By Alec Deacon
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