Poll: How many pair of shoes (Not Boots) to hike the trail.

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  1. #1

    Default One Pair of shoes for entire journey? My vote is no

    I am in a facebook group for AT hikers, Im sure many of you are too.

    A member has posted inquiring on both "how cheaply you can skimp by", claiming bull that it takes $1000 + to hike the trail.

    My reply to that is that I and most would call skimping under 1K to be borderline hoboing up the trail

    His second comment in the post is more of what I want feedback (reassurance on from here), and that is that he thinks he is going to walk from Georgia to Maine, on 1 pair of Merrell trail running type of shoe.

    My response to him in a non antagonizing way was that he'se gunna need 3-5 pairs of those shoes depending on how rough he is on shoes.

    My thinking is at least a pair every 500 miles, and possible 2 pair for New England.

    Many could question at what point to replace a shoe? Lets set the standard at when they are no longer comfortable to wear, the sole is flopping off, the fabric is worn away, holes in them...Cause in the end I guess they could be a tatters and no be replaced
    Last edited by Gambit McCrae; 01-06-2016 at 12:13.
    Trail Miles: 3,978.2 - AT Trips: 70
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    I am in a facebook group for AT hikers, Im sure many of you are too.

    A member has posted inquiring on both "how cheaply you can skimp by", claiming bull that it takes $1000 + to hike the trail.

    My reply to that is that I and most would call skimping under 1K to be borderline hoboing up the trail

    His second comment in the post is more of what I want feedback (reassurance on from here), and that is that he thinks he is going to walk from Georgia to Maine, on 1 pair of Merrell trail running type of shoe.

    My response to him in a non antagonizing way was that he'se gunna need 3-5 pairs of those shoes depending on how rough he is on shoes.

    My thinking is at least a pair every 500 miles, and possible 2 pair for New England.

    Many could question at what point to replace a shoe? Lets set the standard at when they are no longer comfortable to wear, the sole is flopping off, the fabric is worn away, holes in them...Cause in the end I guess they could be a tatters and no be replaced
    Completely agree on all counts. I use 500 miles but some stretch it well beyond. many then wonder why they have foot and knee problems. 1 pair, good luck.

  3. #3

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    I've seen some pretty tattered shoes on the trail in NH, which is a bad place to have shoes with the tread worn off and the toes flapping in the breeze. Trail runners wear out pretty fast, 500 miles is a good average. PA can eat up a new pair in short order.

    With only $1,000 one is unlikely to make it to Virginia before running out of money.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I've seen some pretty tattered shoes on the trail in NH, which is a bad place to have shoes with the tread worn off and the toes flapping in the breeze. Trail runners wear out pretty fast, 500 miles is a good average. PA can eat up a new pair in short order.

    With only $1,000 one is unlikely to make it to Virginia before running out of money.
    I was going to mention PA along with New England but left it out

    Always good to hear from ya Slo-goen!
    Trail Miles: 3,978.2 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 59.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 0.0

  5. #5
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    I am reminded of something a hand surgeon once said to me. "You can have your hands or you can have your job. You cannot have both." This was after 3 surgeries. As it applies to this topic, one can possibly find shoes that can last the entire trail, but I seriously doubt anyone's feet would survive in such shoes. Said another way: "You can have one pair of shoes or you can have one pair of feet. You cannot have both." I go through a pair of shoes every couple hundred miles or so. I like it that way. The shoes wear out and the feet feel great. Of course that is just New England hiking. I am yet to venture south of the Maine Junction on the Long Trail. I think it would take me about 10 pairs to make it to Springer.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

  6. #6
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    I'm expecting 4 pair of Merrell Moab's, but will not be surprised if I go to 5.

  7. #7

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    If you get some real quality shoes, such as Limmer boots then it's possible to do a thru-hike on one pair and I wouldn't doubt it if a few mass-produced shoes have made it thru a thru; however, that is the exception, not the rule.

    I have no idea what the average number of shoes is for all hikers that have completed a thru; it would be an interesting thing to know...

    On a side note, I've always been tough on shoes, they don't last me long; however, I've noticed that the shoes I use exclusively for running lasts me much longer than shoes I use for walking.

    To me this is counter-intuitive, but after thinking about it, it makes sense, because when you walk you dig your heal into the ground and pole vault your body over it. However, when you run, you simple land nearly flat on midsection, which is a much larger section and you're not beating up on the stitching as much, at least it seems that way.

    I have two pair of shoes that have about 1,000 running miles each and I'm still using them, but just started breaking in a new pair. What's cool is I always buy the cheap $20 - 30 shoes. So I figure if I just run (or bike) everywhere I'll be saving tons of money on gas --- oh, and shoes...

  8. #8

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    I would expect 3 pairs of trail runners barring a design flaw. If you want boots to last the entire trail Limmers will http://www.limmercustomboot.com/cgi-...mBoot/index.pl but the trade off is the break in takes months and you are lugging a lot of extra weight for the entire trip. The price of even stock Limmer boots $365 would cover the cost of three pairs of trail runners (four if you buy closeouts). Some folks used to buy Limmers, break them in and then have the soles replaced prior to a hike.

    Many of the trail runners including my favorite new balances have shifted to ultra light weight construction. My last pair of so called AT trail runners from New Balance started showing significant wear after a couple of trips. I have switched to different model for the next pair.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I would expect 3 pairs of trail runners barring a design flaw. If you want boots to last the entire trail Limmers will http://www.limmercustomboot.com/cgi-...mBoot/index.pl but the trade off is the break in takes months and you are lugging a lot of extra weight for the entire trip..
    I had my Limmers resoled three times. The third sole will last forever since I rarely wear the boots anymore. Besides being ungodly heavy, they don't fit very well any more, but I have yet to find another boot which sticks to slick, wet granite ledge like the Limmers. I bought "off the shelf" Limmers in 1989 with my GMC caretaker discount and only cost me $150. Yep, they would last a thru hike, but you'd have really, really sore knees at the end.
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  10. #10

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    It partly depends on the shoes. I've had trail shoes start to wear out in less than 100 miles (stitching came undone), and others that are still going strong at 800+. Most leather boots will last longer, but for me, trail shoes are usually good for 500-600.

    It also depends on body mechanics. I notice the difference when my running shoes reach about 500 miles, even though they show little signs of wear. I start getting more knee problems, foot aches etc. I have friends who were able to wear shoes until they were in tatters without any problems with their feet or legs. My husband also tends to kick a lot of rocks, scuffing his feet as he walks, plus he is heavier than I, so his boots/shoes lasted about half as long as mine.

  11. #11

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    Longevity depends on shoe and person and terrain.
    My previous inov8 flyroc310s which I dearly loved, lasted 750 miles before most of tread wore down under forefoot and slips on smooth sierra granite. Uppers in great shape, I could put another 250 miles on them on soft AT dirt. Its not so much that the lugs are worn, as it is the sierra rocks rounded them over.

    My current shoes, inov8 280 have 125 miles from a couple fall AT hikes this yr, look like new. The little tiny dimpled texture on bottom lugs can still be seen. One small lug at front has lost the texture and shows wear. They only weigh 10.65 oz as well.

    I dont know what shoes are only good for 500 miles, but your getting screwed by buying them imo. Shoes should last 1000 imo, without pushing too far.

    Must be the ridiculous shoes with 1/8" deep tread

    I recall a womans cascadias that literally fell apart before she finished jmt last yr. Heck I started it with shoes with 500 miles already on them and had no problems. Im sure she got a defective pair........haha

    But to the question, at least 2-3 pr shoes for an AT hike. Possibly 4-5 if you choose ones that dont hold up.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 01-06-2016 at 20:53.

  12. #12
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    my favorite hiking shoes (asics light mesh runners) were good for under 300 miles each, but felt wonderful till then and no break in for the next pair - went to a trail runner for my recent batch and get about 500 each - if you are only spending a 1000 during a full hike there is no budget for health insurance - decent fresh shoes are cheap prevention for costly medical treatment

  13. #13

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    Seen a guy try it on the PCT
    Had a ton of duct tape on them in OR.
    I don't think they made it.
    AT would be tougher on shoes I think.
    And, they don't make em like they used to.
    I remember Montrail Vitesses were the best.
    They quit making them: Lasted too long.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  14. #14
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    I typically get about 800 miles or so out of a pair of low hiking shoes with lug soles - not trail runners.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

  15. #15

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    I have tracked shoe/boot life for a number of years. Most of my hiking is in similar terrain you'd find in the Cascade mountains or the northern half of the AT.

    Asolo 520s average 1400 miles on the factory soles
    Merrill Moab shoes 450 - 500 miles
    NB trail runners approximately 300 miles

    I have not done an AT thru, but hike between 700 and 850 miles a year over the past few decades. Based on the data gathered over the years, I do not believe its possible to do a thru hike on a single pair of low shoes or boots. Low shoes or runners will likely take 3-5 pairs to make the full trip. Off the shelf boots is still a question mark, however the Asolo 520s are pretty stout and I don't believe they will get much more than about 1500 miles before their grip fails and need replacement, 2 pairs is likely needed. I cannot speak to the Limmer custom boots and if they have a sole that is not available on higher end boots you'd find in outfitting stores.

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