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  1. #1
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    Default Hiking Sandals vs. Trail Shoes

    I have used, for the last 100 miles of the AT, "trail shoes" (Merrell...very nice!) instead of my beloved Timberland light leather boots (soft, comfy, happy feet!), and found that the weight difference (boots were 3 lb 15 oz, trail shoes were 1 pound 11 oz) made a huge difference, under the old saying (true!) "a pound on the feet is like 5 on the hips". By that standard, I saved almost 2.5 pounds, equivalent to 12.5 pounds of packweight. I was literally RUNNING some of the AT hills (which if you saw me would be pretty scary to see!) it felt so good.

    I've just started seeing in catalogs "trail sandals", the best of which seem to be made by "Bite-Golf Company", or "Bite Sandals". They have trail sole treads that look VERY good, sandal uppers that look supportive, and (unlike other brands) a toe shield. The weight is 1 lb 5 ox, wich means a 6 oz weight loss, equivalent to 30 oz (2.5 pounds) out of my pack. They are also $70-80, after having just bought the trail shoes.

    I wouldn't wear sandals in cold or extensively wet trips, e.g. New England in fall. But then I wouldn't probably wear trail shoes then either. So I'm wondering about "trail sandals" generally and the "Bite" brand in particular.

    Anyone have any experience here?

    "Well a promise made, is a debt unpaid, and the Trail has its own stern code." -- Robert Service
    "Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond, For us who are true to the trail..." --- Robert Service

  2. #2
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    Default

    Have done about 400 mi. in sandels with wool socks and liners. The feet, of course, breathe good. Mid summer did the sandels with cotton socks - again, the feet stayed happy. In rain, the lack of sweat made it easier to naturally stay dry. I did walk through NJ last year when it was shut by the Govt. and was very flooded by previous rains - didn't have a problem.

  3. #3
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    Default

    You trying to lose weight, TW?

  4. #4
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    The only issue I've had with sandals is that my heels develop large, deep cracks with extended use. It's not painful (unless they get really big), but it takes a while to heal. Other than that, sandals are great, even in very wet weather. (You don't have to worry about your shoes getting soaked through in the rain )
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  5. #5
    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    I used sandals when I was a lot less fluffy (I was about 135 lbs, 5' 10" most of my life). They seem to work well if you aren't carrying a heavy load - either around your waist or on your back . I'll have to lighten-up before I can use them again. My knees and ankles scream when I wear my crocs too much.

  6. #6
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Why not go with something more like this to provide a touch more protection from stray rocks and roots?
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  7. #7

    Default

    There are several threads already on this site that discuss sandal hiking in depth.

    As for Bites, I have a pair and wore them once. They were 2002 models. The soles are spongy soft, like bedroom slippers despite looking aggressive. There is no shank and the rubber is not very dense. I liked the design of the toe guard when I bought them in 2002. However, by 2007, there are several other makes that have toe guards, including Teva Karnali Wraptors and Keens that have more full reputations for trail worthiness.

    Anyway, check out the search function on this site. There is at least one post of good sized review of Bites.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Weasel View Post
    I have used, for the last 100 miles of the AT, "trail shoes" (Merrell...very nice!) instead of my beloved Timberland light leather boots (soft, comfy, happy feet!), and found that the weight difference (boots were 3 lb 15 oz, trail shoes were 1 pound 11 oz) made a huge difference, under the old saying (true!) "a pound on the feet is like 5 on the hips". By that standard, I saved almost 2.5 pounds, equivalent to 12.5 pounds of packweight. I was literally RUNNING some of the AT hills (which if you saw me would be pretty scary to see!) it felt so good.

    I've just started seeing in catalogs "trail sandals", the best of which seem to be made by "Bite-Golf Company", or "Bite Sandals". They have trail sole treads that look VERY good, sandal uppers that look supportive, and (unlike other brands) a toe shield. The weight is 1 lb 5 ox, wich means a 6 oz weight loss, equivalent to 30 oz (2.5 pounds) out of my pack. They are also $70-80, after having just bought the trail shoes.

    I wouldn't wear sandals in cold or extensively wet trips, e.g. New England in fall. But then I wouldn't probably wear trail shoes then either. So I'm wondering about "trail sandals" generally and the "Bite" brand in particular.

    Anyone have any experience here?

    "Well a promise made, is a debt unpaid, and the Trail has its own stern code." -- Robert Service
    Make sure you keep the rubber tip on your hiking poles, don't kick any porcupines, and the whole look really pops if you wear a cassok tied 'round the waist with a cord.

  9. #9
    Thanks for all the fine people that I have met
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    Default A Thru in Sandals

    I Thru'ed with a pair of ALP's later bought out by TEVA. If I could find a pair of ALP's, I'd use them again. ALPS were the only Sandle where the straps were one piece around the foot.
    What is needed in sandles is for the toe straps to circle the foot in one piece. When the toestraps attach to the sole and don't wrap around they rip out. and you are ripped off.

  10. #10
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    I've done well with the teva dozer

  11. #11

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    I thru-hiked in a couple of pair of Chacos. No blisters, and the breathability was awesome. Did have heel cracks, but it wasn't a dealbreaker. Got mighty brisk hiking through snow and ice, but I still have all ten toes. (Note to self: wear trail runners in winter)

    I just started on working on a little article about hiking in sandals a few days ago. I'll have it up on our site by next week sometime.

    -JS. MEGA 2000

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerosene View Post
    Why not go with something more like this to provide a touch more protection from stray rocks and roots?
    I love my Salomon's but the Techamphibians are really tough on your dogs on a trail like the AT. There is no heel cup, so your foot moves around inside the shoe. At least, that's what happened with my feet. They're great for paddling, though!

    Keen makes sandals with toe bumpers. I've heard mixed reports about the straps causing blisters.

    Oh, and everyone realizes the first response was to a post made in 2002, right?
    If you don't do it this year, you'll just be one year older when you do - Warren Miller

  13. #13

    Default

    nope - didn't even notice that!

    I love my Techamphibians, but you have to sew the back strap up. That thing gets loose all the time otherwise.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Swank View Post
    I love my Techamphibians, but you have to sew the back strap up. That thing gets loose all the time otherwise.
    That's been my experience also. I still really like the idea of heel straps--I wish they were more ubiquitous. I've also had the slide lock loosen about as much as laces loosen. They are much quicker to re-tighten though.

    Looking forward to your article.

  15. #15
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    I had exactly the same problem as rswanson mentions with Techamphibians --- first couple of miles were okay, but after that I started developing blisters on the backs of my heels due to the heel cup (or lack thereof). I've set mine aside to use in kayaking too, but won't walk significant distance in them.

    That doesn't turn me off from watershoes, however. I've been trying out a pair of Columbia Aquatooth watershoes, with no problems thus far (but note, maybe a total of 20 miles on these so far, in three separate walks).

    Like all (or at least most, dunno) water shoes, there's little or no arch support, but they're light --- 23.4 oz the pair in size 11 --- and thus far at least they seem comfortable enough and to hold up fine.

    I somewhat randomly bought these because I wasn't finding anything else local, and Campmor offered them at a point where I was buying something else from Campmor. The only issue I have thus far with the Aquatooth's is that it's a little bit of work to get them on (you have to pull on both the tongue and heel loops). Oh, and I'm not sure how long the elasticised lacing will last, but can be field-replaced easily enough.

    If I ever find something close enough to the "perfect hiking shoe", I'm buying a number of pairs ...



    Brian

  16. #16
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    Default

    I hiked Big Bend in Texas in only a pair of leather tevas. I thought it was great (and my partners thought I was crazy).

    As far as heel cracking, that can be brutal if not treated. Though, after living in Australia, I found a plethera of heal balms, etc. Leave it to a nation of flip-floppers to create an industry out of cracked heels!

  17. #17
    Registered User Mother's Finest's Avatar
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    Weasel,
    as to your question about Bite. They are a high quality maufacturer that will stand behind their product. One great thing about their sandals and shoes is that they are designed to accomodate an orthotic. So, you cats that wear orthotics can wear them with your sandals. (I don't mean superfeet i mean real orthotics)
    anyway, the guys who started it are real young, I think out of Portland and their main interest was developing products for the outdoors.

    How will they perform after 1000 or more miles? who knows. I personally would never hike in sandals, but that is me. Boots or running shoes.

    peace
    mf

  18. #18
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    Are there any sandals worthy of a hike through PA? The Keens I tried on were comfy, but I'm not sure the soles would provide enough protection from PA's pointy rocks.

  19. #19

    Default Pa Rocks and Sandals

    The Chaco sole, at least the old one, was essentially a big boot sole. Stood up as well as any boot or trailrunner I wore on the rocks. That said, very few boots/runners/sandals afford complete protection from the joys of Pa.

    I love Chacos and will say they are the be all and end all for my hiking needs. At the least, give sandals a try on a week long hike. Go without protection (other footwear) and see how you handle only having sandals.

    Wearing sandals Pros: Rain don't matter, don't have to carry extra footwear, no blisters. Cons: cracking, the rare toe stub and stick poke, wearing socks in cold, wet weather can get tricky.

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