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Thread: Work boots?

  1. #1

    Default Work boots?

    OK, half of you are gonna think I'm crazy, but don't laugh, it's a serious question.

    Any thoughts on using work boots for hiking? Like these:

    http://www.zappos.com/chippewa-apach...=pd_sims_sdp_1

    or these:

    http://www.timberland.com/shop/mens-...boots-1026a214

    I like high-top, firm boots (especially when it gets cold and wet). Most hiking boots these days are really not much of either (and yes, I do know of lots of examples, but still most are not this high). And yes, I know I should just use trail runners, or go barefoot. But assuming I'm crazy enough to want to wear big heavy boots, any reason these 9 inch beasts wouldn't work well for hiking (setting aside their weight, I don't care about that)?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Registered User thestin's Avatar
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    That steel toe is going to get real cold real fast when you are walking through snow. Met a guy in the Smokies in the mid 70s who was miserable with cold toes.

    I would be worried about chafing on your leg with a boot that high.

  3. #3
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    If you don't care about the weight, whatever works for you works for you, our opinion notwithstanding. Go hike. As you admitted, you're crazy.

  4. #4
    Registered User kayak karl's Avatar
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    Have you worn work boots all day in the wet and cold just working? Try it, it will answer all your concerns.
    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

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    Ummmm. NO! Please. NO! A very good friend tried this back in the day it did not fair well. Half dollar size blisters after the "inards" fell apart. The exteriors
    remained well intact.

  6. #6

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    Looks like a recipe for many blisters to me, but hey: Whatever you like.
    I'd at least go try a 20 miler some day to see what that feels like.
    Then go try the same hike in something lighter. (after you heal)
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by thestin View Post
    That steel toe is going to get real cold real fast when you are walking through snow. Met a guy in the Smokies in the mid 70s who was miserable with cold toes.
    Well that's one thing I hadn't thought of. Chippewa makes a comparable boot to most of their steel toe boots without the steel toe.

    http://www.chippewaboots.com/footwea...r/logger/25408


    Quote Originally Posted by kayak karl View Post
    Have you worn work boots all day in the wet and cold just working? Try it, it will answer all your concerns.
    I've worn work boots all day many days, working as a carpenter in New England (five winters). But that was a long time ago. I still have a couple pair, but they are over 20 years old and I think the ones made today are very different?


    Quote Originally Posted by Tractor View Post
    Ummmm. NO! Please. NO! A very good friend tried this back in the day it did not fair well. Half dollar size blisters after the "inards" fell apart. The exteriors
    remained well intact.
    See above - not sure I would rely on "old data" like that. The newer work boots have Gore-Tex and other materials and insulators not often used in work boots years ago...


    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    Looks like a recipe for many blisters to me, but hey: Whatever you like.
    I'd at least go try a 20 miler some day to see what that feels like.
    Then go try the same hike in something lighter. (after you heal)
    Is there a reason the weight of the boots would contribute to blisters (serious question)?

    I appreciate the comments. Not trying to argue or talk myself into these - really. Just trying to get some input. These are pricey boots to buy to experiment with. Any further input would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

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    Wore a pair of timberland work boots on my first backpacking trip as an adult back in '82. Hiked 2.5 miles the first day. On day two I could barely walk 2 miles to my next campsite the blisters were so painful. I stayed there about three days soaking my feet in the pond and lounging in the lean to. After that trip it was sneakers all the way!


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    Some things have to be experienced. Try them on a long 1 day shakedown with convenient bail spots. Odds are very high that you will be cured of considering work boots as a viable choice before the day is over.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

  11. #11

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    There are a few problems with boots.

    First, they can rub. Remember, you will be walking all day. Boots that are comfortable for work may not be suitable, from a friction perspective, for walking across uneven ground with a pack on.

    Second, there's the sweat. Sweat + friction = blisters.

    Third, there's the weight. I have these lovely Swiss boots from Raichle. They are leather, and have great soles. I thought they were the way to go.

    Until I tried trail runner inspired shoes.

    I currently use these: http://www.thenorthface.co.uk/tnf-uk...ore_category=1
    (trailname: Paul-from-Scotland)

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by donthaveoneyet View Post

    I've worn work boots all day many days, working as a carpenter in New England (five winters). But that was a long time ago. I still have a couple pair, but they are over 20 years old and I think the ones made today are very different?

    Is there a reason the weight of the boots would contribute to blisters (serious question)?

    I appreciate the comments. Not trying to argue or talk myself into these - really. Just trying to get some input. These are pricey boots to buy to experiment with. Any further input would be appreciated.

    Thanks!
    I have tried this with work boots that I found very comfortable during long workdays in outdoor work environments and found a few things in this experiment that prevents me from returning to these type of boots for hiking.

    Work boots are designed for intermittent use, which is different than hiking that requires constant use design. Working in a construction environment typically includes periods of time standing in one place (or small area) to perform certain tasks. They are designed with this in mind so they keep feet warm when you are not moving. Steel toe and composite toe boots allow for movement without being cold, however they work best in retaining warmth in winter by some movement followed by static use. Used for hiking, I found my feet overheated pretty quickly in workbooks I thought would be good in cold weather/snow conditions. Going to a lighter work boot (less to no insulation) I figured would balance that out, which they didn't and my feet got very cold regardless of what socks I had or layers I would add or remove. So foot temperature was difficult to control or anticipate.

    The protective bottom of the boot (steel or composite shank) is designed to prevent punctures and limit foot flex to reduce strain potential is great on a job site because you are not moving constantly over various terrain. The intermittent design limits problems resulting from initiation of fast or extreme movement after being stationary for a period of time and moving in challenging terrain like climbing loose dirt banks, ladders, through rock piles, or up and down uneven floors in framing environments. Though well designed for this sudden but not prolonged activity, it doesn't translate well to terrain that is typical of most trails. Limiting foot flex is where blisters find a foothold (no pun intended), your foot wants to bend and flex with terrain, when it can't, it will work against the inside of the boot as best it can, causing contact blisters from repetitive motion. These blisters appeared in some usual spots (alongside the ball of the foot or tops of toes), but also came up quickly on the bottom of the heel, ball of the foot under the big toe area, and at the ankle joint where the boot did not flex well to allow the foot a full range of motion.

    Flexing blisters, bruising, and chafing were also an issue with the tall lace boots and even the lower boots that resemble hiking boots. I tried various lacing techniques to limit this, but the boot design didn't allow much flexibility there. I didn't seem to have much problem with rain or wet conditions, though I did not press them into these conditions once I started developing fair weather blistering and chaffing.

    I was hoping to reduce my travel weight if my work boots could pull double duty for hiking but found for my use they were not well designed for it. You may differ of course, I do know someone who uses their work boots for hiking, but their mileage on any given hike is between 2-4 miles on light terrain for the most part. From my experimentation, I would highly recommend getting a boot specifically designed for hiking if you want to be comfortable.

  13. #13

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    Very helpful response, AT Traveler, thank you! One question - how long ago was this, roughly? And do you remember the boots you experimented with?

    I'm leaning away from this idea based on the advice here, and it's an expensive experiment anyway. Just still considering a couple of data points, like the fact that work boots seem to be made much differently now than some years ago....

  14. #14
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    please stay away from steel toes. They are cold in the winter and the caps only come in one width so if you have wide feet, they can apply pressure to the sides or the big and little toe over the course of the day. I used to work summers with steel toes boots doing a lot of walking and it took years for my toes to regain feeling after wearing them for three summers in row.

    If you skip the toe caps there are a lot of work type boots that could work, unfortunately to get the quality you are going to pay for it and you end up with the compromise. If you insist I would look at logger boots.

    The strange thing is that hiking boots of the sixties and seventies were quite close to logging boots. Heck if you still want that type of boot check out Peter Limmer and Sons http://www.limmercustomboot.com/cgi-...mBoot/index.pl They are a favorite of AMC and FS crews in the whites as they can last for years and are can be repaired. The trade off is month long break in and an extra pound or two on your feet. I used them for several years in the whites and then switched to trailrunners and never looked back.

  15. #15

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    There's the old adage "A pound on your feet is worth 5 on your back".

    If you have to experiment, try a lightweight boot. Bates makes some.

    I use runners for hiking, but still wear mids for trail maintenance, but I have some light ones.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by donthaveoneyet View Post
    Very helpful response, AT Traveler, thank you! One question - how long ago was this, roughly? And do you remember the boots you experimented with?

    I'm leaning away from this idea based on the advice here, and it's an expensive experiment anyway. Just still considering a couple of data points, like the fact that work boots seem to be made much differently now than some years ago....
    This was a fairly recent experiment, 2012. The boots were Timberline (insulated) but the other uninsulated pair I don't recall. The overall design of work boots has indeed changed over the past decade, they are far better designed for their intended use which makes them as specialized as basketball sneakers versus soccer shoes.

  17. #17
    Registered User runt13's Avatar
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    i actually where hiking boots at work for there comfort and durability, i am on my feet all day, cement floors, uneven outside terrain and rocks, rocks, rocks.

    i also use them for hunting and day trips.

    Tend to sway towards my Merrill's when i put the backpack on.

    just my 2 cents

    RUNT ''13''

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    please stay away from steel toes. They are cold in the winter and the caps only come in one width so if you have wide feet, they can apply pressure to the sides or the big and little toe over the course of the day. I used to work summers with steel toes boots doing a lot of walking and it took years for my toes to regain feeling after wearing them for three summers in row.

    If you skip the toe caps there are a lot of work type boots that could work, unfortunately to get the quality you are going to pay for it and you end up with the compromise. If you insist I would look at logger boots.

    The strange thing is that hiking boots of the sixties and seventies were quite close to logging boots. Heck if you still want that type of boot check out Peter Limmer and Sons http://www.limmercustomboot.com/cgi-...mBoot/index.pl They are a favorite of AMC and FS crews in the whites as they can last for years and are can be repaired. The trade off is month long break in and an extra pound or two on your feet. I used them for several years in the whites and then switched to trailrunners and never looked back.

    Thanks, and yeah, logger boots is what I'm looking at (per links above). And yes, the good ones are expensive ($300-plus), but no one seems to make boots that high and tough for much less. As for Limmers, they don't make a high-top hiking boot that I'm aware of.


    Quote Originally Posted by upstream View Post
    There's the old adage "A pound on your feet is worth 5 on your back".

    If you have to experiment, try a lightweight boot. Bates makes some.

    I use runners for hiking, but still wear mids for trail maintenance, but I have some light ones.
    Thanks, I was not familiar with Bates. Checked the website and yes, they do look interesting, including some 8 and 9 inch high-tops.

    ATT - thanks, that is helpful. And runt - yeah, me too - I wear my Merrill Moabs to work (I'm a lawyer, ha ha, everyone makes fun of me but I don't care)...

  19. #19
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    - I grew up backpacking in work boots and always thought those hiking boots that were made heaver with extra ankle support were overkill and a dumb hiking fashion statement. The work boots worked fine. And, they didn't cause any more blisters than any other shoe or boot that fit as well or poorly, depending on the fit. I never had any chafing problems with any of them.
    - Then I got older and richer and could afford to buy a pair of leather mountain boots. They were heavy, tough, 3/4 shank boots that held crampons. I hiked lots of miles, and after being broken in, they caused few blisters. I also used to think 10 miles was a good day's hike with my 50 to 90 lb (week+ trip with climbing gear) pack.
    - Ever notice how the military uses light weight work boot style boots. The higher top keeps more crap out of your boots without having to add gaiters. The light weight adds ability for more miles.
    - Now, I hike and backpack almost exclusively in low top hiking shoes, or trail runners, with ankle-high gaiters, a practice I started in the 80's when HighTech shoes first came out and I figured out how much more nimble I was with light-weight low-top shoes. I also rarely carry a pack heavier than 30 lbs these days, even in the winter.

    Conclusion: This forum is full of a bunch of namby pamby neigh sayers, most of whom are just repeating the fears of their predecessors without any extensive first-hand experience. I say, hike in whatever makes you happy. If you can find a pair of work boots that fit your feet well, you may well get many happy miles out of wearing them while grinning as you refuse to bow to the hiking fashion gods. If the boots are all leather, and well treated, they will be wonderfully water resistant and still fairly breathable, they will be reasonably durable and comfortable. They will also probably be heavier, more expensive, and overall less comfortable than trail runners or light-weight hiking shoes, but, if boots make you happy, I say go for it. As my wife would say, "Just because you like chocolate ice cream and I like vanilla, doesn't make chocolate ice cream intrinsically better."

    Finally, please forgive my overly broad and derogatory comment about people on this forum. Although there are a few topics that seem to draw a lot of inexperienced speculation and negativity from a few posters (like this boot topic and dogs on the trail), by and large, these forums are great and you folks all contribute great opinions and insights for me on a regular basis. . . I just couldn't help being obnoxious this morning. :-(
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  20. #20

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    You want high-top durable boots? I've been pretty happy with my 12" high Irish Setter hunting boots for winter slogs in deep snow:

    http://www.irishsetterboots.com/USD/...racker-gtx-880

    They have a couple versions with varying levels of insulation, from none to 1000 grams

    Hunting boots may not be made for cross-country trekking, but they are going to be better for hiking than a work boot.

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