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Bedroom slippers for boulder hopping
on September 12, 2010
I bought these last spring after a few years of being annoyed with a fine pair of boots which are just too heavy for my kind of backpacking.
I started hiking in the days when the proper pair of boots for trail hiking was something like Riekle (sp?) Rotondos, which weighed five pounds per pair and were as cozy as cast concrete. But they were tough!
After years of cutting the weight of each new pair of hiking boots, and often just wearing running shoes instead of boots, I searched for a high-topped version of running shoes because low top shoes pick up too many little pebbles, sticks, and grit. I tried these over a busy summer of backpacking, and I really like them.
They're extremely comfortable and cushion steps very nicely, even making loose-rock strewn trails tolerable. I also found that they're great for off trail on rock, turf, and dirt of all sorts. Snow isn't a strong point for them, but I carry light, instep crampons for that nasty stuff if it gets steep. On the granitic rock of the Wind River Range, and the slate and rubble of the Olympics, they stick; ascending, descending, and laterally. I didn't get much walking on wet rock this summer, but stream fordings showed that they're nothing special on slick underwater rock, but not bad.
Despite being really out of shape starting a hard Wind River trip, I had no foot problems until my final day of descending 4000' on miserable trails, and I picked up a minor blister on the ball of a foot. A week later I was totally comfortable again in the Olympics (and glad to have some oxygen to breathe for a change).
Concerning Gore-Tex vs. breathables: I've discovered that for me, non-Gore-Tex is best for summer hiking, even in the wet. I learned that just clambering across a stream and letting the water squish out after is quite pleasant. The boots still feel fine, and you've got cool feet on a hot day, too. I used to stop at every ford and change into something for wading every time, like most hikers I've seen, but wading is actually pleasant, and a lot simpler than changing footwear twice within 20', or teetering across rock steps or stray tree trunks. In miserably soggy Olympic Mountain weather, Gore-Tex boots eventually just fill up with water anyway, and are slow to drain.
Gore-Tex is best, I think, for around-town walking in wet weather, or in cold weather hiking. Just my two cents worth ...