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shrapnel
06-10-2015, 00:02
I am a section hiker who is going to do PA this year. I need a good work boot to handle the rocks of PA. I know I will sacrifice weight, but I need the support and protection of how brutal the rocks can be. I have looked at Danner's, Red wings, Timberlands, but am not sure of the exact model. Cost is not an issue, although I would rather not go over $300.00. Anybody good advice will be greatly appreciated.:)

Dogwood
06-10-2015, 02:32
The real test of my shoe's worthiness is when they can repeatedly survive the lava expanses at Malpais National Monument or blitzes on the Kau Desert Trail at Volcanoes NP or on the Ala Kahakai Trail while leaving my feet blister and hot spot free. I've found my Keen Voyagers low cuts to be up to the task.

moytoy
06-10-2015, 04:58
I'm with Dogwood on this. And I'll add that a workboot is not going to protect your ankles like you think it will. You need to think hiking boot. When your ankles get tired they are more prone to injury. If you feel you need the ankle support go with the Voyager Mid. The Voyagers don't have the waterproof membrane so they will dry faster when wet. Also look at Merrell Boots for a good hiking boot. Boots are very personal ie. one brand doesn't fit all people.

shrapnel
06-10-2015, 07:36
Thanks for the response, but the Merrell boots I wore last year I will never wear again on a long hike. Big time blisters.

FlyFishNut
06-10-2015, 07:42
"Work Boot"??

I have this boot and it is REALLY light and feels broken in from the first time you put it on.
http://www.rei.com/product/866117/lowa-renegade-pro-gtx-mid-hiking-boots-mens

I'd never owned this brand before, but it was recommended and I'm glad I bought it. I hunted pheasant in it in SD and walked lots of miles in it. I've also hiked a fair amount in it - for example Grayson Highlands (taking the rocky route) and it performed great.

I don't see this boot lasting decades b/c it is supple (which makes it comfy) - but I can't really speak to that. I've only owned them for a year, but so far a great boot.

Venchka
06-10-2015, 12:06
It is a darn shame that Lowa dropped the non-Gore Tex, leather lined version of the Renegade before I could get a pair.

shrapnel: Have you ever considered driving up to New Hampshire and getting fitted for a pair of production Limmer Boots? The Light Weight and Ultra Light models are in your price range and not overly heavy as high quality all leather boots go.


Peter Limmer and Sons, Inc., located in Intervale, New Hampshire continues to be the source for the legendary Limmer Custom fitted hiking boot. They are also the exclusive "in store" dealer for the production Limmer line of footwear, and accessories. Peter Limmer and Sons, Inc. also offers a complete repair service on all Limmer products, as well as other, "all leather", footwear brands. Repairs are performed by highly skilled, experienced staff. Please contact the store for details on Custom, and repair services:

Peter Limmer and Sons, Inc.
P.O.B. 88
Intervale, N.H., 03845
Tel.(603)-356-5378
Fax.(603)-356-8488
E-mail:info@limmercustomboot.com

Just a thought.

Wayne

Hangfire
06-10-2015, 12:12
Hmmmm, I'm not sure there really is a boot that can handle the PA rocks. The problem I would have wearing my work boots would be the weight, if you're dragging along heavy boots you increase your chance of kicking rocks and stumbling and tumbling and all that fun stuff. Looking back on my PA experience (which wasn't pleasant) I'm not sure I have any good advice other than to take your time and cross your fingers and try not to curse too much because I assure you those rocks won't listen to you!

The Kisco Kid
06-10-2015, 12:28
Work boot!? Think hiking boot first, then trail runners.

Rocks in PA are totally overrated. PA is an easy state and maybe 10% has rocks. NH and Maine have a lot more rocks, roots and steep ascents and descents. Here is what I wore on my last hike in Maine. They have protected my feet better than any hiking boot I've ever worn: never a blister. Get a pair of trekking poles and trail runners and you're good to go.

30932

thecyclops
06-10-2015, 13:16
If you're thinking work boots,you ain't thinking about doing many miles,and miles in them....hurts my feet to even think about.Those will serve to make you heavy,awkward and slow.
OP,Folks do it all the time with trail runners and light hikers,no big deal....Oh,and "ankle support" is a myth.

illabelle
06-10-2015, 15:34
We've done two-thirds of Pennsylvania from PenMar to Port Clinton, and all of New Jersey. While I understand that the remaining portion from Port Clinton to DWG has the worst reputation for rocks, so far I would agree that the rocks are over-hyped. There were a few long stretches southwest of PC that were flat and smooth with no rocks at all. Other areas had rocks, but nothing crazy. The few places with a lot of rocks were a little tiresome, but not the boot-eating monsters we'd heard about.

This is one of the worst spots, but it was short, and almost fun.
30934

This was much more typical of what we saw.
30935

rocketsocks
06-10-2015, 17:39
I am a section hiker who is going to do PA this year. I need a good work boot to handle the rocks of PA. I know I will sacrifice weight, but I need the support and protection of how brutal the rocks can be. I have looked at Danner's, Red wings, Timberlands, but am not sure of the exact model. Cost is not an issue, although I would rather not go over $300.00. Anybody good advice will be greatly appreciated.:)
Have you considered trail runners and going with pullover ankle brace/supports. I have a pair Brooks secadas with a rock plate built into the forefoot, helps to keep the metatarsals from bruising. I also worked in construction for years and have a pair of Danner boots, they make a good boot.

http://www.rei.com/product/864652/brooks-cascadia-9-trail-running-shoes-mens

shrapnel
06-10-2015, 18:23
It was a mistake to put "work" boot - I meant hiking boot. I have a pair of La Sportiva Wildcats with about 125 miles on them and I like them a lot. Just all I heard from most people is how bad the rocks in PA are and wanted something with a little more rigidity to take the penetrating rock edges. I hiked through NJ and NY last year with Merrells and will never make that mistake again - I might as well went barefoot. Thanks for the help people.

atbackpacker
06-10-2015, 20:33
i wear danner mountain lights all the time. it's a heavy boot but also comfortable and sturdy . i had them for several years and resoled at the shoemaker once.
i think the explorer model is a nice boot also. they both seem more old school if you like that stuff.

Dogwood
06-10-2015, 20:44
I too believe the rocks issue in PA on the AT is way too much negatively hyped. I actually enjoyed and embraced the rocks in PA. I enjoy scrambling in general(Sierras, Cascades, CO, NM, UT, as said above various types of lava, etc). Not that you are definitely in the same situation but on a NOBO AT thru by the time I got to PA I felt confident and strong enough(legs, feet, ankles, etc) that I flew through the state while many others whined. Mind you that was my first real long distance hike.

IMO developing your technique for such conditions should be part of your hiking skill set. However, shoes that protect your feet especially your soles and sides of your feet from sharper rock mixed in with all those rolly polly type ankle busters while still providing feel and excellent grip sure do help. Pay attention to the tread and conditions just ahead anticipating which rocks are solid and which ones are likely to roll, slide, move, etc. The more you do this the more you'll be able to read the tread designing your route and using different techniques accordingly. In states like PA I found it helpful to alter my technique based on what I anticipated ahead. Sometimes I stayed on top, other times I took a lower route down through largely open spaces between the rolly poly rocks where I thought it was safer, and at other times I mixed up where I walked. I rarely fight going through such conditions these days. I've learned to stay balanced and largely not fight my momentum while moving, what some would consider, extremely fast. This all works for me because 1) my body is hiker strong including my feet, ankles, legs, etc 2) I've gotten very good at reading the trail/route ahead 3) I've developed and learned to adjust my technique accordingly 4) I'm hauling an UL kit 5) I'm a shoe geek in that I match my shoe to the prevailing conditions

Couple of words on #5. I've had two pr of LS Wildcats. Great cushion underneath for somewhat clear tread and doing bigger daily mileage wih my UL kits but that also raised up my center of gravity a bit which is not something I typically want when going through the rolly poly stuff as fast as I usually do. Side mesh of these IMO offers little protection and durability should feet slip down between rock or your rubbing the sides of your shoes alot on rocks. Also cushion flattens out rather quickly when using them repeatedly on a daily backpacking basis. Hence, consider after market inner soles and ditching the crappy stock ones. But, when doing this make sure you maintain a good FEEL of the tread flowing with it staying in touch with it - FLOW. Don't fight he hike. PRACTICE. It helps with the undersole comfort on the rolly poly stuff. BTW PA is not the only place on the AT, and certainly not elsewhere should you decide on expanding your hiking adventures, you'll encounter such conditions. Don't automatically assume a HIGH CUT boot/European styled thick heavy leather mountaineering/hunting boot/work boot is the answer to these conditions either. Evaluate yourself, your hike, and hiking style before going down that road.

MuddyWaters
06-10-2015, 22:02
Ive seen hundreds of miles of rocks shred the uppers of one persons lightweight footwear, when anothers is virtually unscathed. The difference is mostly care in foot placement i presume. Different people can make different shoes work for them. Cant stop it from destroying the tread though.

DavidNH
06-10-2015, 22:17
i don't think there's a pair of boots in existence that can make it through the Pennsylvania rocks unscathed!

Hangfire
06-10-2015, 22:25
I must just be a wuss for having trouble with the PA rocks, but I would rather do the Whites 10 times over than do that PA section again, in fact throw in the notch as well, I'd gladly do it!

shelb
06-10-2015, 23:24
Have you considered trail runners and going with pullover ankle brace/supports. I have a pair Brooks secadas with a rock plate built into the forefoot, helps to keep the metatarsals from bruising. I also worked in construction for years and have a pair of Danner boots, they make a good boot.

http://www.rei.com/product/864652/brooks-cascadia-9-trail-running-shoes-mens

I am going to a specialty running shoe store tomorrow to be sized for trail-runners. My running co-workers SWEAR by the specialty running shoe stores. Today, one co-worker told me about how he bought a pair of running shoes there earlier this year, completed his marathon training and determined that he had knee pain with this shoe. They took the shoe back and credited the full price against another pair!!!

I have a wide toe box - and a narrow heel box. For this reason, I always blister (size of half dollars) on my heels.... I have tried hiking boots and shoes of many different brands. I have no problem in flat-lander Michigan; however, bring me to the AT, and it is atrophic! I look forward to solving this - this year!!!

Dogwood
06-11-2015, 02:28
Shelb, beyond trying a special after market orthotic or heel cup for reducing the slippage around a narrow heel or a hiking shoe meant for narrow heels have you tried any special lacing techniques for a narrow heel? I play competitive tennis as well as backpack. Here's a solution one player had. Here's the entire thread but look at what Mozzer linked to. http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=278494 Also, I'm not going to search for it but Backpacker mag has at least twice to my knowledge done a small piece on various lacing techniques one of which reduced the slippage caused by narrow heels. One last potential solution. Have you tried building up your narrow heels with tape or with something like a heel sock or heel brace like one can make from an Ace bandage or by cutting up a sock? When I've had split heels because of sandal use I'll sometimes do this with a ACE bandage wrapping just my heels firmly but not cutting off circulation. I get a really firm heel up that way.

BTW, coming full circle, one of the things I definitely avoid when hitting the scree(rolly poly type rocks) is a sloppy overly loose shoe. Overly loose shoes in such conditions and ankles can turn over easily or you catch an edge, toe, etc or you can lose friction w/ the rock causing loss of balance. Overly tight with not enough cush, poor technique, or rushing for the conditions and/or one's ability and the hot spots can quickly develop. Learn to keep friction with your various surfaces knowing it isn't always the same everywhere in all conditions.

shelb
06-17-2015, 22:33
[QUOTE=Dogwood;1977356]....you tried any special lacing techniques for a narrow heel? .....building up your narrow heels with tape or with something like a heel sock or heel brace like one can make from an Ace bandage or by cutting up a sock?

,,,,
avoid when hitting the scree(rolly poly type rocks) is a sloppy overly loose shoe.
/QUOTE]

Thank you for the suggestions! I picked up a pair of trail runners for this year's hike, sizing them well at a shoe store (gal spent almost 2 hours with me!). I will be using the lacing techniques she showed me to cinch up the heel. I am also looking including a heel support.

Unfortunately, even though I have tried "breaking these in" here in Michigan, the real test will be on the AT. I have never had a problem with blisters in Michigan, even when hiking across the U.P. It is only in the mountains on the A.T. that I have the blister situation on the back of my heels.

(BTW- yes, I use body glide on my heels several times a day and wear only smart wool socks, changing them during the day as necessary with sweaty conditions.

Dogwood
06-18-2015, 00:28
Shelb, have you tried a heel compression sleeve? It would build up and cushion a narrow heel as well as possibly offer less fatigue and quicker rebound from sore tendon and muscle use.

Another Kevin
06-18-2015, 20:32
We've done two-thirds of Pennsylvania from PenMar to Port Clinton, and all of New Jersey. While I understand that the remaining portion from Port Clinton to DWG has the worst reputation for rocks, so far I would agree that the rocks are over-hyped. There were a few long stretches southwest of PC that were flat and smooth with no rocks at all. Other areas had rocks, but nothing crazy. The few places with a lot of rocks were a little tiresome, but not the boot-eating monsters we'd heard about.

This is one of the worst spots, but it was short, and almost fun.
30934

This was much more typical of what we saw.
30935

Wow, is that all there is to the Pennsylvania Rocks?

When I hear, 'rocky trail,' I think of the ones that leave the parking lot on stuff like this:
https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3686/14299669903_45e37804e7.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nMBxEP)

start climbing a little bit through stuff like this:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2917/14256365406_029c9a0d55.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nHMAKy)

then start uphill in earnest:
https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3781/14299405663_3abeea2414.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nMAc7X)

with the occasional stretch of bigger rocks (note the blaze on the tree at top center):
https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3670/14092646157_d0e9732486.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ntjuHT)

maybe some breaking of the monotony of going over the rocks by going under them:
https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3672/14256394366_92e354a1b4.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nHMKmS)

squeezing through them (note red blaze on the left-hand side of the crack, which runs about 20 feet straight up):
https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3706/9764675293_8758ba8ddf.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/fSSvLz)

or trying to spot a suitable route to scramble, as the two ladies in blue are doing.
https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3767/9764802355_0bc472276d.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/fSTaxi)

All of these pictures were taken on about a four-mile stretch of the 25-mile Devil's Path in the Catskills.

Is there something to my contention that the Catskill Crud is just like the Pennsylvania Rocks, only with 2500 foot elevation changes?

For what it's worth, I hike in the Catskills in New Balance trail runners until the snow comes. In the Catskill Crud, I do well to get 500 miles on a pair of trail runners, because the Catskill Crud eats shoes. My trail runners don't have a substantial enough rock plate to be comfortable on sharp rock with the stock insoles, but work decently well with green Superfeet.

Once the snow comes, I switch to Timberland boots. Trail runners don't work with crampons. And once this crud is icy, you sometimes need full 12-point crampons to make progress, as you might imagine. Strap-on crampons with a steel stiffener bar work adequately with the Timberland boots.

In deep winter, out come the Sorel pac boots.