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  1. #1
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    Default Chaco sandals on the PCT

    I did an AT thru in '14. Shoes were really making me hurt, so I switched to Chacos in Front Royal, VA and hiked all the way to K in the same pair. I'm wanting to know if anyone has hiked the entire PCT in sandals? I figure snow would be a problem, but I'd like a first (or second) hand experience. I've been toying with the idea of making a cuben fiber or Tyvek cover for those sections.

  2. #2
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    Check out Joe's PCT gear list (he's the owner of zPacks). He hiked the PCT in sandals.

    http://www.zpacks.com/adventures/pct_gear.shtml

  3. #3
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    Hiked, I think if I'm recalling correctly, all of the OR PCT in Keen Newport sandals. Went with an extremely UL load having been trail toughened well ahead of this PCT thru avg 32 mpd for OR at a moderate pace but hiking long hrs while also enjoying other daily non hiking activities. ie; could have cranked up the daily mpd avg if I wanted. On different PCT hike went from Campo to KM in Keen Newports under much the same hiking style and hiking conditions as I did in OR. This time doing a bit higher mpd avg for that hike. BEWARE of taking care of your skin on your feet while wearing sandals especially in SoCal as deep heel splits, and thorny dangers can abound. I had to switch back to trail runners for both that PCT thru and that PCT long section hike. I developed severe shin splints.

  4. #4

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    Yes people have done it. Be aware of a few differences from the AT. The PCT is mostly in the sun in SoCal and very dry. You will experience cracking on you feet. Know how to handle it. In the High Sierra, you could be hiking in snow, including postholing, for 2 to 3 weeks. Will you be happy just wearing ziplocks over your feet in sandals,or will you prefer something else.

  5. #5
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    I am well aware of the cracking issues.😲 Using lotion and Prep. H (good for swelling) work well. I guess my main concern was preventing frost bite and abrasions from the snow. Although I wear socks, so that would take care of cuts and scrapes.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Illinois View Post
    I did an AT thru in '14. Shoes were really making me hurt, so I switched to Chacos in Front Royal, VA and hiked all the way to K in the same pair. I'm wanting to know if anyone has hiked the entire PCT in sandals? I figure snow would be a problem, but I'd like a first (or second) hand experience. I've been toying with the idea of making a cuben fiber or Tyvek cover for those sections.
    Two things. 1) I've been in the same situation with trail runners really hurting my feet alleviating the pain by switching to sandals. It wasn't per say the trail runner designs it was ignorance by me in choosing improper fitting trail runners for my feet's characteristics and hiking style. 2) Hiking extensively in sandals or even wearing routinely can, and FOR ME do, alter my feet's characteristics making trail runners that had been previously fine now ill fitting.

    Personally, I avoid hiking in sandals that don't have adjustment straps so the sandal really firmly stays on my feet in place during fords, while steeply ascending/descending, braking, sinking into mud, etc and always with toe bumper protection to avoid split toenails, cuts, toe gashes, etc. No feet no hike! Not a fan of wearing sandals over snow and/or ice either; IMO sandals aren't made for that.

  7. #7
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    "Although I wear socks, so that would take care of cuts and scrapes."

    Ever have a Joshua Tree spine or mesquite thorn jam into your feet or between your toes while assuming socks will prevent cuts and scrapes? How about brushing the sides of your feet up against a Fishhook barrel or Hedgehog Prickly Pear cactus?

  8. #8
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    Did you wear socks with your Chacos on the AT? My only concern for you would be sun in the first 1,000 miles of the PCT nobo. I doubt your feet were ever really in the sun from Front Royal to Katahdin unless you were super early season, before leaf cover; even if they were, it's not the same as the Southern California desert and high-altitude sun. Socks or a lot of lot of sunscreen would help there. Snow I didn't have to deal with personally (late-ish start in 2013, a dry year) so I can't provide advice.
    "Hahk your own hahk." - Ron Haven

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    Although I am certain they will work fine and have read of other hikers using them, don't chaco's weigh a ton?

  10. #10
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    They are a tad heavy compared to trail runners, but then again, they double as camp shoes.

  11. #11

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    I'd recommend Vibram Five Fingers. Your feet wont crack from sun exposure. They work great for all the conditions you might encounter on the PCT, except hiking on snow for longer than 10 miles at a time. That's pretty rare these days.

    Shoes are just dumb cumbersome relatively recent inventions of man. The idea one needs support or ample soft padding under the foot is dumb. It took millions of years for we bipeds to develop feet. They function quite well if you let them function as intended.

    I'm a pretty big puss when it comes to pain. I wont walk 10 feet barefoot over a stone driveway but I'll do a 30 over Sierra or Washington shale pain free any day.

    I guess the point is find what is comfotable before hitting the trail.

  12. #12
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    Illinois,

    I run and hike in Luna Oso sandals. http://lunasandals.com/collections/t...ducts/luna-oso They are much lighter and feel more connected than my Teva or Chaco sandals ever did. My mileage and continuous days on the trail are considerably less than your experience. Perhaps you need something with more cushioning.

    Good Luck

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Illinois View Post
    They are a tad heavy compared to trail runners, but then again, they double as camp shoes.
    The PCT and PCT thru-hiking culture is different than the AT and its thru-hiking culture. I notice very few PCT thru-hikers belaboring camp shoes choices or even carrying separate camp shoes.

    Briefly comparing the two thrus for a NOBO: the PCT has less of a regular daily location where hikers congregate in numbers where on the AT the shelters draw hikers in like a dung beetle is drawn to shart, the weather is much drier hence not the desire nor need to dry out wet feet/remove wet shoes hence not the desire to spend as much time in camp or regularly daily large group socializing, higher MPD avg on the PCT, more advanced lighter wt kits overall for PCTers, PCTers have been/are historically those who have done another previous long distance hike(i.e.; these are people who generally know they LOVE to hike, not love to camp as much)-------------IMO, all these traits equal less need for separate camp shoes in camp for PCTers.

    The same light wt breathable low cut but supportive with some flex trail runners work just fine for thru-hiking and camp shoes on the PCT overall. Make sure to air out your feet, socks, AND shoes often, watch for hot spots, match your feet characteristics to the trail runners, match your sock choices to the conditions and ALL that is on your feet, change socks often always into something dry and preferably clean from salty sweats and trail grit, tend wisely to your feet, pick trail runners that aren't prone to holding sand/letting sand easily enter, and things should go better with trail runners on the PCT for ya.

  14. #14
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    I have a question for you Illinois and all those that hike in sandals while wearing(sometimes?) socks. What kind of socks do you wear? And, how often or how soon before they are damaged with holes? I hike in different wt wool socks almost always shorties(ankle socks, running socks) which are rather pricey. When I'm wearing these socks under a sandal they don't last nearly as long as if, all things being equal, I wore them with low cut light wt trail runners or light wt low cut hikers.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for the input everyone. I'm not too worried about cushion or support. Just wanted to know if the sand/snow have caused problems in the past. I guess I'll keep the sandals and send a pair of shoes to the first mail drop and send them home if I don't need them.

    I always hike with DarnTough that go several inches above the ankle. I rotate between two pair and and hiked over 1000 miles in them (combined). They are wearing a bit thin where my sole puts the most pressure on the foot bed. DarnTough DARE you to wear a hole. They are around $20 a pair, but they also have a LIFETIME warranty.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Ever have a Joshua Tree spine or mesquite thorn jam into your feet or between your toes while assuming socks will prevent cuts and scrapes? How about brushing the sides of your feet up against a Fishhook barrel or Hedgehog Prickly Pear cactus?
    You would have to work hard to jam a cactus into your foot on the PCT.

    I've worn Chacos for hundreds of PCT miles on section hikes in all the major regions of California, but not for a whole thru-hike. I found them to be quite comfortable. I wore them with wool socks to prevent sunburn and chafing. I think darn tough socks would work fine. I never wore them long enough to get heel cracks, but apparently that's a pretty common issue. Single-digit humidity and all that. The only thing I didn't like about Chacos were the traction isn't that good on some dry surfaces, it's hard to add crampons and when I walked in snow, and snow would ball up under my toes.

    I don't think 5 Fingers work very long for most people who try them. The surface of the trail tread gets pretty hot. Hot enough that I've burned the bottoms of my feet in some minimalist shoes.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  17. #17

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    My feet did get burned a few times on the PCT in SoCal wearing vibrams in 2013. It was rare though. It was real hot just before Ziggy and the Bear. That stretch of soft hot sand burned my feet. In subsequent years this wasnt a problem as it was way cooler when I hit that stretch. In reality this isnt any different than what I experience in shoes like new balance minimus, etc.


    I got a few cactus/tree burrs in my foot. Again, very rare. Maybe three in around 3000 PCT miles.

    Walking on loose scree for miles can get annoying. The smell of vff's after the anti-microbial treatment wears off is just terrible. Enough I have to put them far away from my tent when camping.

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