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Liv2Ride
07-01-2010, 18:55
Hey all. I'm a boot wearer but I'm wondering if anyone has used or currently uses hiking sandals for backpacking. Key word Backpacking, not hiking. What was your pack weight and what terrain and distance? If you have experience with wearing sandals instead of boots/shoes for backpacking what were your results and what are your views based on your experience using sandals instead of other footware for backpacking? Also, what brand/model did you use?

Thanks!
Liv

copperjohn
07-02-2010, 00:02
I ran into a NOBO 2 weeks ago near Groseclose, VA wearing sandals. I thought he was crazy for wearing sandals and what appeared to be thin dress socks. Real nice guy though. He was wearing what appeared to be Chacos, not TEVA's. He appeared to be doing great and didn't appear to be in much discomfort from his sandals.

I would have issues with this on the other hand...
1. I would get blisters on the insides of my ankles from the constant rubbing from the sandal straps.

2. The second would be ankle stability and protection. You would need to be very careful not to role your ankle because the sandals wouldn't give you any support. The would also not protect you if you stepped beside one rock onto another and having the other rock catch your ankle.

3. Arch support. You would definitely need a sandal with good arch support. Walking on something completely flat, like a flip-flop, can be very detrimental to some people.

4. Finally, cushioning. The terrain is rough as we all know and will a sandal give your foot enough protection and cushioning over the long haul?


From my own experience I have stopped for dinner at a nice vista and then hiked the last couple miles into camp for the evening with my TEVA's. Bad mistake, my feet were killing me.

So I wouldn't ever do a thru with only sandals but it's obviously being done by at least 1 guy out there.

Shiraz-mataz
07-02-2010, 06:35
I've been pecking away at the AT for a few years now in 30 mile sections. My backpack has ranged from 50+ pounds (back when I was stoopid!) down to its current 25 pounds with my ultralite gear. In all that time I have never, ever worn closed shoes. Until this spring, I have always hiked in Teva Terra-Fi 2 sandals, or barefoot when trail conditions allowed. The sandals have always performed flawlessly! My feet are pretty strong due to the fact I hardly ever wear shoes so arch support has never been something I looked for. Matter-of-fact, I think the sandals have a bit too much cushioning and support in that department (for my liking). And this may seem a little counter-intuitive but I wear the straps loose to the point where the footbed practically dangles when I lift my foot. The benefit here is that the straps don't rub and blister my skin. The only real hazards of using sandals has been when they grab sticks or rocks but you just need to watch where you step. Also, your feet, especially your heels, will tend to dry out and crack if you don't do some maintenance. I said I've used sandals up until this spring because I just tried out VFF's for the first time and loved 'em for the ability to feel the ground without the fear of puncture wounds. I do miss the open air nature of sandals and the ease with which they can be removed and put back on...

couscous
07-02-2010, 07:04
I've used LL Bean Explorer Sandals for weekends in the Allegheny Mtns. of Pennsylvania with sub-15# packs. Biggest advantages are stream crossings, sandals dry extremely quickly, I don't get blisters because my feet are usually dry, and I feel more in touch with the path. For more difficult terrain, I usually start with lightweight Merrell Moabs and carry the Sandals as my camp shoes. ~ There are some section hikers this year wearing Vibram FiveFingers. http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/products/index.cfm

Liv2Ride
07-02-2010, 07:31
....I said I've used sandals up until this spring because I just tried out VFF's for the first time and loved 'em for the ability to feel the ground without the fear of puncture wounds....

Interesting stuff from everyone. I want to try wearing sandals but if/when I do it'll certainly be a short trip with much less than my typical 33-36lb carry. I like the idea of bringing along a pair of boots in the event that the sandals don't work out or maybe even to flop back and forth with them as my feet need a break from the heat.

Shiraz: I know..dumb question but what is a VFF?

Thanks all. Liv

Hooch
07-02-2010, 07:38
I know..dumb question but what is a VFF?VFF = Vibram Five Fingers (http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/)

Tractor
07-02-2010, 07:59
I met GQ in Duncannon a few years back who hiked in sandals. He had already acquired another pair for the ready. If I recall, he would wear some thin socks at times. Also, he had a very high comfort level in wearing sandals, and this particular brand & style, before ever considering wearing on a long hike. Varied terrain did not seem to be a problem though GQ did travel lite.

Liv2Ride
07-02-2010, 10:25
VFF = Vibram Five Fingers (http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/)


Oooooh. Thank you. :D

MuleDeer
07-03-2010, 00:17
About a month ago i did the Maddron bald loop in TN, the first day of hiking, roughly 5 miles i wore my VFFs. The next day i decided to wear my REI brand hiking boots and i felt like a duck. I had gotten so used to the agility and control that when i put on a full boot i was flopping around, i think i fell into a total of 6 streams, which is rather unusual for me, usually pretty agile.

overall, VFF's worked great, bring them as a camp shoe, im pretty much done with boots.

Knox
07-03-2010, 11:39
I've done several 3-4 night loops (25-30lb pack) in sandals (Privos, Keens) and they worked beautifully. Boots make me clumsy too, but I would say that it's better to have strong ankles if you're gonna go the sandal route (obviously.) Even if it's colder weather, a thick pair of wool socks will keep your toes warm and still give you the flexibility. Also cuts down on blisters, if you have a problem with that (never blistered a bit in mine.)

Liv2Ride
07-03-2010, 12:37
....Also cuts down on blisters, if you have a problem with that (never blistered a bit in mine.)

Yep I do have a problem with blisters. Hence my quest for the perfect pair of backpacking footware. So far I have not been able to find a pair of boots that have the fit that I need to keep me from getting blisters on the back and sides of my heels. I have really wide feet but my heels are narrow and I need good arch support. Over the years I've tried lacing techniques, sock liners, duct tape, body glide, you name it, I've tried it. Except sandals and trail runners because I do prefer the coverage and stability of boots. Anyway, just ordered a pair of Vasque Watergate tech sandals. I'm going to give it a shot and if they do well for ordinary hiking then I'll try them on a short backpacking trip. I'll bring along a pair of boots just in case. :)

JJJ
07-03-2010, 13:33
Last year I did a 10-20-20-20-10 mile section hike from Roan High Knob nobo to my home.
All but one day was in Merrell Mirgrations (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp;jsessionid=VOBS0EYM1TJHXLAQBBKCCO3MCAEFKI WE?id=0066663824453a&type=product&cmCat=froogle&cm_ven=data_feed&cm_cat=froogle&cm_pla=0620401&cm_ite=0066663824453a&_requestid=42825). I was packing around 30-35 lbs I'm 180+.
Loved 'em. I've ran in them some to, but they are better on less techincal stuff for running.

This year, I did 3 days with me wife in Grayson Highlands 7-5-3 miles, the 7 & 3 days in the VFF, packing ~50 lbs. They were fine also.

Montrail Masochists are probably the best typical shoe in the rocks.

Yukon
07-05-2010, 06:59
I just picked up a pair of Keen Newport H2's for canoeing and I gotta say they feel good enough to throw a pack on and go hiking with...didn't think I would ever say that about a sandle.

kyhipo
07-05-2010, 10:15
I hurt my ankle shortly after leaving springer,and my new pair of mid ankle hiking shoes sucked actually made it worse.So I wore my old tevas about week actually wasnt that bad just needed to lighten my load a little.ky

Spogatz
07-06-2010, 12:05
I like the Keen sandals and have hike some in them but what I don't like is that when you get a rock under your foot you have to stop to shake it out with the Keens.

a real pain in the foot...

Tipi Walter
07-06-2010, 12:28
Here's my experience with backpacking and sandals.

** Tevas: I used these on many backpacking trips carrying some real world weight(60lbs)and found them to be a torture device due to the straps cutting in around my ankles. Never again.

** Back in the '80s I used a pair of nice Birkenstocks with the cork footbed and these things lasted maybe two months before they delamminated and disintegrated. DO NOT BACKPACK IN BIRKS.

couscous
07-20-2010, 13:46
Hey all. I'm a boot wearer but I'm wondering if anyone has used or currently uses hiking sandals for backpacking. Key word Backpacking, not hiking. What was your pack weight and what terrain and distance? If you have experience with wearing sandals instead of boots/shoes for backpacking what were your results and what are your views based on your experience using sandals instead of other footware for backpacking? Also, what brand/model did you use?

Pack: 16# at the start, <15# at the top of the first hill .. 95+ temps
Terrain: Smithburg, MD to Harpers Ferry, WV .. easiest section on AT
Mileage: 31 miles
Sandals: LL Bean Explorer Sandals without socks
Results: No foot issues, feet stayed dry, no blisters .. BUT I'd either switch to a pair with mesh all around or trail runners just to eliminate the nuisance stops to shake little stones out. Probably why so many people are wearing trail runners instead of sandals.

sbhikes
08-10-2010, 16:00
I've started wearing Chacos, the Z1 without the toe-loop. I LOVE hiking in sandals. I have worn them barefoot and with socks. There is a little chafing without the socks. I've worn them on incredibly rocky and stick-filled trail. No probems whatsoever. I feel just as safe as shoes. Never stubbed a toe or anything. My pack weight is around 10lbs but I could go heavier. The only thing I don't like about Chacos is that if I'm doing a really long day, they do start to feel quite hard. Not a lot of cushioning.

I've tried the keen sandals but too many rocks get stuck in there and it's very hard to get them out. If sand gets in there, it's impossible to get out and they really rub you raw. They also have no traction. Chacos don't have much traction, either but it's far and away more than keens. I've fallen down wearing Keens just trying to walk on level trail and take a swig of water at the same time. I also fell into a yucca bush and was badly injured. In Chacos I fell where the trail was crumbling away. Anybody could have fallen there.

garlic08
08-10-2010, 16:26
I've met at least one person who has hiked the Triple Crown (AT, PCT, CDT) wearing sandals. His only problem was occasional heel cracking, which he took care of with Bag Balm. He only had to carry a couple of ounces for a thru hike. His typical pack weight was about 10 pounds, and he hiked 25-30 mile days. I don't remember the brand of sandals. Sometimes he wore socks, sometimes he didn't.

I wear very lightweight, mesh-topped trail runners in all conditions, and have never been tempted to try sandals for backpacking. I had a pair I used around the beach for a couple of years, and they really chaffed after any decent distance.

eXtra
08-24-2010, 21:50
FWIW, I hiked 250+ miles of the AT in off brand TEVAs, and I loved it. I'd been having alot of blistering problems with normal trailrunners, and started walking in the TEVAs out of sheer frustration (they were my camp shoes originally). With socks, I had no problems with chafing/blistering, and the light weight of the sandals really allowed me to up my milage. The downside of TEVAs, and probably other sandals, is the inability to keep dirt, pebbles, and sticks off of your feet. It got frustrating having to stop every 15-20 minutes to remove stones from your sandals. Also, they left something to be desired in the traction department. Still, overall, I felt it was worth a try, and I had no ankle problems or anything like that (~35 lb pack).

Tinker
08-24-2010, 21:57
I just picked up a pair of Keen Newport H2's for canoeing and I gotta say they feel good enough to throw a pack on and go hiking with...didn't think I would ever say that about a sandle.

I did the last 20 miles of the Hundred Mile Wilderness with H2s, plus I hiked to Katahdin Stream Campground, hiked up and down Katahdin, and back to my son's car at Abol Bridge in them. My light low top hikers had stretched out to the point that my feet rolled inside them on sidehills, hence the H2 use. I wore either Smartwool socks or Sealskinz inside the sandals depending upon weather conditions. I had some debris get between my sole and the footbed a few times but it wasn't as bothersome as I expected.
I still prefer a closed, light nylon shoe, though.

BigToe
08-24-2010, 23:54
I have 300+ miles section hiking in my Chaco Z1s, as well as many miles of day hikes. Most comfortable footwear I've ever had. I wear socks with them (fashionable!) to keep my feet from drying out, and use a little bag balm on my heels every night. Try it, you'll like it!

Shrkbit143
08-25-2010, 09:00
I know a thru hiker that wore Chacos for the whole hike south to north and did the PCT only wearing them with socks.

MMX
08-25-2010, 10:52
Chaco Z1 are great for hiking and the service they provide is outstanding. They have quick turn around for resoling and have sent me new pairs when stock was low until they can send me my pair resoled with the sole ordered. resole + free pair not bad.
I really like hikinging in vff as well. Tried a thru again this spring and fell on the ice and broke my hip. My preference is the VFF treck version as it has more of a traction sole. The only draw back is having vff available when they wear out. I lined up several pairs in a few different sizes from a great outfitter I deal with. I would recommend this as supply is tight and not enough folks carry them yet. I have several pair and have over 500 miles of backpacking in one pair and more life to go. I get as much or more life from VFF as I do Chaco FWIW and I am a big guy 260# carrying 20-30 # depending on time of the year. No blisters in the vff but do get some heal cracking without proper care in Chacos.

peakbagger
08-25-2010, 16:20
During one section hike I had a tough time with my feet using a set of custom Limmer boots that I had used for 4 or 5 years. After getting blisters on the sides of my feet and between the toes, I had no choice but to switch to Tevas with smart wool socks. I had a 30 pound backpack with the addition of two Limmer boots (probably 3.5 pounds). I did 18 miles on PA's infamous rocks the next day and 12 the next morning before getting to the end of the section hike with no issues. After that I stored away the Limmers and switched to New Balance trail runners (size 13 EEEE). I usually carry the Tevas for stream crossings and backup and on occasion switch over to them. The only down side as mentioned is that its easy to pick up rocks and sticks on occasion. I really didnt notice significant extra wear on the socks but they do tend to get dirty quicker.

CrumbSnatcher
08-25-2010, 16:42
1998-99 i wore montrail moraine light-heavy weight boots
after 99, i hiked in z-1 chacos with vibram soles
i would like to wear trail runners, but really enjoy the thicker soles of the sandels
i have had many sticks jammed between my feet and the sandels, that **** can hurt.
i might have to try a enclosed sandel sometime, more like keens(if they work for wider feet)?
by the way i have NEVER-EVER had a blister, wearing sandels! but you need to keep your feet moisturized, if/when they dry out and crack :(
that **** hurts too!

uberart
08-26-2010, 02:58
I finished a thru hike wearing keens. I met a bunch of long distance hikers wearing sandals. I did need socks after a while for the more sensitive tops of my feet. Boots make you so clumsy and weigh you down. Unless you have ankle problems my experience is that boots will always do more damage to your feet than the trail will while wearing sandals.

moon424
08-26-2010, 03:53
Thank you for your experience! I like hiking, but sandals don't fit for hiking, comfortable sports shoes does. I have no experience with wearing sandals instead of boots/shoes.

sbhikes
09-13-2010, 15:49
If you have no experience wearing sandals how can you say wearing sandals is not a fit for hiking?

People have worn sandals since near the beginning of mankind. They have only been wearing running shoes with EVA and all that plastic crap since the 70s.

Dogwood
09-13-2010, 19:07
I ran into a NOBO 2 weeks ago near Groseclose, VA wearing sandals. I thought he was crazy for wearing sandals and what appeared to be thin dress socks. Real nice guy though. He was wearing what appeared to be Chacos, not TEVA's. He appeared to be doing great and didn't appear to be in much discomfort from his sandals.

I would have issues with this on the other hand...
1. I would get blisters on the insides of my ankles from the constant rubbing from the sandal straps.

I've only

2. The second would be ankle stability and protection. You would need to be very careful not to role your ankle because the sandals wouldn't give you any support. The would also not protect you if you stepped beside one rock onto another and having the other rock catch your ankle.

3. Arch support. You would definitely need a sandal with good arch support. Walking on something completely flat, like a flip-flop, can be very detrimental to some people.

4. Finally, cushioning. The terrain is rough as we all know and will a sandal give your foot enough protection and cushioning over the long haul?


From my own experience I have stopped for dinner at a nice vista and then hiked the last couple miles into camp for the evening with my TEVA's. Bad mistake, my feet were killing me.

So I wouldn't ever do a thru with only sandals but it's obviously being done by at least 1 guy out there.

I hiked roughly 250 miles of the AT in Keen Newports with the miles scattered across 12 states. At one time, when I carried camp shoes, these are what I opted for, but found them quite acceptable for hiking the AT on short, 15 mile or less days, carrying no more than 25 lbs. I'm about 190 lbs. with high arches. The sticks and stones can be a nuisance. Heel crack were my worst enemy. Sometimes I wore wool socks with them Sometimes I just wore the Keens by themselves.

They worked great in all day downpours with the warmth of the wool socks and, obviously, in camp.

Key features for me in a BACKPACKING sandal are: 1) Never get blisters! I never got blisters from ankle strap rubbing with the Keens like I have ALWAYS received from other sandals. 2) need firm ankle stability, all around foot protection, and traction. Heel has to lock into place and firmly stay that way. Which is why I also like the Keens for hikes with many water crossings! The side straps of the many Keen styles provide that bit of extra protection for the sides of your feet! The protective toe bumper is classic Keen styling! 3)arch support especially for high arched feet, especially when hauling a heavier load, which is kinda counter productive to wearing sandals, IMO 4)cushioning - I love cushioning! - in all my hiking shoes and socks! I was also prone to shin splints at one time which I think the cushioning helped avoid.

Now, if only I could get all those features of the Keen Newports in a sandal that was about 4 ozs lighter! Keens are heavy! Heavier than some mesh trail runners!