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  1. #1
    LarWat
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    Default Replacing boots on trail

    Hi! I know that in the course of thru hiking, it's not uncommon to need to replace your shoes. How do you do this? Do you buy the shoes in advance and have them mailed to you? If so, how do you account for how your feet may change or the new support they may need? Or do you just order a pair from REI when you notice your old ones failing?

  2. #2
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    some people buy extras and have them sent...

    some call stores and have them shipped to the next town or whatever....

    and it's getting to be more common where there's enough places to buy them along the way in person...

    just might take some coordination about getting into town and finding places and all that......

  3. #3

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    Good questions.

    The basic categories of hiking footwear tend to have common approximate mileages that can be used as replacement guidelines. While individual mileages and subsequent wear vary a bit I have found these guidelines to be reasonably close to my replacement cycles with each type. Trail runners: about 300-400 miles, trail shoes: about 500 - 600 miles, Gortex mid-high boots: about 800 - 900 miles, and full leather boots: about 1,200 - 1,500 miles (with proper leather care).

    Hiking footwear seldom just stops working one day or at the mileage estimations. While I hesitate to say its a "Zen thing" with respect "listening" to one's footwear, I have found when footwear has crossed into the replacement zone they provide some signals they are in process of failure. They can lose their grip on surfaces that they worked well on before, side support can get a little sloppy, or start raising blisters where none had occurred prior. Some people will use inserts to try and replace the internal foot support and/or duct tape to hold the sole to the shoe or other sketchy repairs. While good for a day or two perhaps, these shoes probably signaled their demise long prior to failure.

    Tracking daily mileage in the specific type of footwear one has, it's not too difficult to reasonably predict when footwear will start to show accelerating wear and the point where replacement is needed. Having waited too long to get new footwear to save a few bucks and suffering those consequences has made me a believer in not waiting for major shoe failure to act. Since feet change with time on the trail, my experience is a new pair of the same footgear shipped to me will probably not be a good fit. For me, finding a retailer with a selection of different footwear is better as I can get a better fitting shoe at the time I need them, and the type of footwear best suited for the conditions I am expecting for the next few hundred miles.

    A quick look in the internet can provide a lot of information where one can find an outdoor retailer for example. As a reference, here is a link (albeit old) of retailers along the AT corridor https://thetrek.co/outfitters-appalachian-trail/. Hotel/hostel transportation, trail shuttles, and uber can be handy to perform this errand, scheduling a zero day near a retailer in proximity to the replacement guideline mileage of the current footwear makes sense in combining errands and good use of down time.

    Certainly some people find little problem with getting several pairs of the same shoe and having them shipped in along the way. However, my experience along with several others I know suggest the optimum method of replacing footwear is at a retailer to get the best fitting option.

  4. #4

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    My feet went from 13 wide to 13 EEEE over the years of hiking, I use trail runners with third party inserts that are or were offered in two thicknesses. https://www.columbia.com/p/enduro-so...0aAryGEALw_wcB They also have a "LP" version which is lower volume. Worst case is you switch to lower volume is you feet widen out.

    I routinely wear out one pair and switch to a replacement from the same manufacturer with no break in. New Balance has the typical "model of the year" but their lasts used to make the shoes dont change a lot. They are phasing out my favorite last so I just keep a few pairs in stock. The key thing is my inserts last longer than the trail runners so I just switch my inserts into the new pair. I keep two pairs of the same insert in rotation and one of the pairs is over 10 years old.

    Maybe you are real lucky on your size and take a common size, then perhaps you may be able to find a place with inventory but those local dealers have tough time competing with on line. Even New Balance makes limited runs of each size and when they are gone they are gone until the next year. I need to grab them when they come out or take a chance later searching every dealer in hopes of getting one of the few in that size are left.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 02-01-2021 at 14:55.

  5. #5
    Registered User ScottTrip's Avatar
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    Default

    I went through three pairs of trail runners. Just bought new pairs when I got into town, most outfitters now carry most styles and sizes of trail runners.

  6. #6
    LarWat
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    Default

    Thank you everyone for the info! I'll take a look at retailers along the trail (although a rough 2020 season may have changed some things) and see if I can make some estimates

  7. #7
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    The long segment of the PCT that I did in 2015 was the only hike where I had to replace shoes which I did twice -- once around 200 miles in because my shoes already had 300 miles on them. And another about 700 miles in at Kennedy Meadows. I purchased the replacements (Brooks Cascadia trail runners) in advance and sent them to resupply locations. The middle of a long hike isn't a time when I would want to change shoe models and buying in advance can be a lot cheaper than going into a town like Lone Pine and hoping that the outfitter has what I need, no doubt at full price.

  8. #8

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    If you know what you want, you can order them on line and have them shipped to where ever you are. A lot of variables in how long your footwear will last. PA is famous for chewing up boots and spitting them out in pieces. The 500 mile rule of thumb is a good one. It's best to change out the boots before they totally die.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  9. #9
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    Leather hiking boots are bulky and not breathable, but much durable than trail shoes. Leather shoes always last longer than hiking shoes with mesh. Trail shoes are breathable and quick dry, but often wear out fast. Change shoes during the trial is quite an issue. Thus I would like a pair of leather hiking boots with durable outsole such as Vibram to wear. And also have a pair of trail shoes in a backpack.
    Last edited by Oregoncat; 02-02-2021 at 06:00.

  10. #10
    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    I hiked the whole AT on one pair of boots. Monorail AT hikers. Had them resolved after 1200 miles. Not much good at the end of my hike.
    Grampie-N->2001

  11. #11

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    I'm REI member and I love REI, but on the trail, it is nice to support local outfitters. Most important is to buy a size one to 1.5 bigger so you can keep all your toenails.

  12. #12
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    Most important is to buy a size one to 1.5 bigger so you can keep all your toenails



    like in a jar after they fall off?

  13. #13
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    I don't want to trigger a boots vs. trail runner debate, but I will point out that most people seem to agree that trail runners do not require much, if any, "break in". That's certainly been my experience. So as long as I send replacement trail runners that are the same model as the one I am using, I've never had any issues related to shoes being new.

    I have have heavy boots as well which I now use for winter hiking (Asolo) and they indeed take time to break in. I will point out that the soles of boots also wear down. I had an old pair of Asolo boots that I finally replaced with the new pair after resoling those old boots twice. I don't know how many miles I got on each sole, but I doubt it was much more than 750, which might be marginally more than trail runners but I really doubt that one pair of boots could last an entire AT or PCT thru hike.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    I'm REI member and I love REI, but on the trail, it is nice to support local outfitters. Most important is to buy a size one to 1.5 bigger so you can keep all your toenails.
    But that could result in your foot sliding around inside the boot and cause blisters. My problem is I have really narrow feet and most boots are too wide, resulting in my feet rolling inside the boot when slabbing on tilted ledge or trail. My other problem is one foot is nearly an inch longer then the other, so I either jam my big toe on the long foot or slide all over the place on the short foot, so I have to kind of compromise.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    But that could result in your foot sliding around inside the boot and cause blisters. My problem is I have really narrow feet and most boots are too wide, resulting in my feet rolling inside the boot when slabbing on tilted ledge or trail. My other problem is one foot is nearly an inch longer then the other, so I either jam my big toe on the long foot or slide all over the place on the short foot, so I have to kind of compromise.
    You may solve this problem by using liner socks. I know it is cumbersome but liner socks will solve both the "sliding" issue and prevent blisters.

  16. #16

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    How do you guys wearing trail runners keep your toes from slamming into the front of the shoe when going down hill ? cant stand the things, even when I could find some that actually fit.
    Which seems to be a thing of the past as New Balance no longer makes SL3 shoes. and everything else seems to be designed for 3 toed lizzard men with curved feet.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dropdeadfred View Post
    How do you guys wearing trail runners keep your toes from slamming into the front of the shoe when going down hill ? cant stand the things, even when I could find some that actually fit.
    Which seems to be a thing of the past as New Balance no longer makes SL3 shoes. and everything else seems to be designed for 3 toed lizzard men with curved feet.
    Do you use hard insoles such as Superfeet or Power Step?

    For me the arch on the insole helps control forward movement in the shoe.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  18. #18
    LarWat
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    You may solve this problem by using liner socks. I know it is cumbersome but liner socks will solve both the "sliding" issue and prevent blisters.
    How do liner socks solve the sliding issue? Aren't they really thin?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sam1000000 View Post
    How do liner socks solve the sliding issue? Aren't they really thin?


    if the boot is a touch too big----the liner sock, in conjunction with a regular hiking sock, will help to make the fit a little better.....


    for me----the combo of liner sock really helps out.....

    kinda wicks some moisture away----kinda helps with blisters----kinda helps with padding adding a touch of comfort...

    i also use an insert to help with comfort......

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dropdeadfred View Post
    How do you guys wearing trail runners keep your toes from slamming into the front of the shoe when going down hill ? cant stand the things, even when I could find some that actually fit.
    Which seems to be a thing of the past as New Balance no longer makes SL3 shoes. and everything else seems to be designed for 3 toed lizzard men with curved feet.
    There are lacing patterns you can use for several things like heel stability in the shoe and stopping forward motion of the foot in the shoe itself. Since I discovered these, I have not had more than a few minutes annoyance with foot slide and other problems that contribute to blistering and no longer need to use liner socks. Here is a link to a Backpacker lacing overview https://www.backpacker.com/gear-item...ng-techniques/, but there are dozens more you can browse through to find specific need solutions.

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