View Full Version : A little shoe help for Mr Square Feet

01-08-2008, 19:43
Just wondered if any of you have the same problem with selecting boots as I do - the problem of having a square toebox.

Seem most people's feet (that I've seen) are rougly flat to the top of the big toe, then curve exponentially downwards as you move out to the smallest toe. It's at least a smooth curve.

With my feet, my third toe is almost the same length as my big toe, and my forth toe, although shorter, is very prominent. From my big toe to my smallest toe forms a roughly triangular shape, instead of a curve.

What this means in practice is that 98% of boots and shoes (and even trainers) rub my fourth toe until it blisters and I have to stop. Traditionally, I have compensated by buying shoes at least 1 size too large. This has been OK since my feet are quite wide as well, and smaller sizes tend to pinch the sides of my feet together.

So, with that overly lengthy explanation done with, does anyone have any advice for selecting boots to thru-hike with? Assuming they won't last the whole distance, I'll probably have to buy another pair at some point.

I'm also assured by various shopkeepers that waterproof boots aren't quick-drying, and quick-drying boots aren't waterproof. If there is a pair that is both, I'd love to hear about it ;)

My reason for selecting boots is mainly for some ankle support, although I've done a lot of coastal/ hill walking in ankle-less walking shoes, and didn't miss the extra weight or support of a good pair of boots.

Would love to hear some opinions :)

01-08-2008, 19:53
Except for those with special needs, non-waterproof trail runners are usuually the best choice.

Shoe fitting is very personal. Your best bet is to go to a running store and try on as many different brands of shoes as you can, and then order trail runners that match the shoes that fit you best. Don't scoff at off-brands. Lots of people swear by Hi-Tecs. Get what fits you.

For people with feet that are shaped so oddly that they cannot find shoes that fit well, Chacos are a great choice. Order them a size too big to help prevent toe-stubs, and continue to wear socks with your chacos so that your feet don't dry out.

A pair of trail runners will last 400-600 miles until the support blows out. Sometimes more, sometimes less. If you're low mileage hiker then you don't need the support as much and might be able to get a lot more miles out of a pair. Also, if you're a small/light hiker, you might get a lot more miles out of a pair before they die on you. Boots last longer than trail runners, but generally cost the same per mile that trail runners do.

Your feet will likely change shape as you hike, so don't pre-order shoes.

Normal running shoes would also work, but they tend to die pretty quickly.

Chacos seem to last more like 1,000 miles--a lot more miles for your money.

Montrail used to make great shoes, but I had quality problems recently and learned that Columbia bought out montrail, so buyer beware.

01-08-2008, 19:55
Look at Keen brand.

Nearly Normal
01-08-2008, 19:59
Short of getting your toes trimmed, custom footwear or sandals. A few have hiked the trail bare.

01-08-2008, 20:14
I'm curious as to why you recommend non-waterproof shoes. I find walking in wet socks to be one of the most depressing ways to walk. And also speeds the production of blisters on my feet.

As for socks, since I discovered smartwool socks I've used nothing but. Wouldn't want to walk without socks eithers. Just doesn't work for me.

I'll look in Chacos.. never heard of them before.

01-08-2008, 20:29
My middle toe is longer also.

Get measured. Width, height/volume of foot.

Once you get a pair of running shoes that fit, move on.

I finally broke down and got in line for a custom pair of boots.

Good luck.

01-09-2008, 13:47
You will get wet. The AT is a very rainy trail, and waterproof shoes are a joke--it's more important to dry out quickly after you do get wet than to attempt to keep your feet dry. All the waterproof liner does on footwear is hold the water in.

01-09-2008, 15:49
Get shoes longer than your feet --- I normally wear size 10, for my thru-attempt on the PCT this year I'll start in size 11's. If the shoe fits in other areas, it can be a bit long-ish and then it doesn't matter how square your foot is, and I'm sure you've read that foot size changes after enough miles.

I'm using Golite Sundragon's. These are shaped much better for me than most shoes --- wide toe box, rounded (not pointy) toe. I like these shoes in general; very comfortable, and I've got over 400 miles now on my test pair so hopefully durable enough (TBD). Can be a bit slippery when on smooth wet surfaces.

The sundragon's aren't at all waterproof, you'll get wet quickly in them. But you can walk them dry. Bring gore-tex socks for wet days, size those on the large size, so can wear a liner plus wool sock inside. This works for moderate rain as well as snow.

Continuous rain over long periods, anything is eventually going to get wet. Live with that, knowing that your shoes will dry a lot faster than those wearing so-called waterproof footwear ...