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  1. #1
    Start date: March 13, 2012 Stats 2012's Avatar
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    Default Trail runners in snow?

    I know many thru-hikers prefer trail runners -- often non-Gore-Tex trail runners -- to boots, but do these sneakers perform in the cold (possibly snowy) months or are boots necessary then?
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  2. #2
    Registered User Kaptain Kangaroo's Avatar
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    Depends.... (don't you love it when people say that) I wear trail runners in the snow & it is fine for me, but I don't suffer from cold feet. I would not do this in serious alpine hiking areas in the dead of winter where frostbite is a real possibility. But for the AT in early spring where the temperatures are not super low it works for me.
    Your feet will get wet, especially when the snow turns to slush... but the upside is the trail runners will dry out much more quickly than heavy leather boots. Some people like to put a plastic bag over their feet inside the shoe to help keep their feet dry & warm, but I have never bothered with this.

  3. #3
    Start date: March 13, 2012 Stats 2012's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptain Kangaroo View Post
    Your feet will get wet, especially when the snow turns to slush... but the upside is the trail runners will dry out much more quickly than heavy leather boots.
    Thanks for your input Kaptain. So, am I to assume you don't use Gore-Tex shoes, or would that even matter with trail runners? Wouldn't using a light(er), synthetic, Gore-Tex boot eliminate the problem of wet feet altogether? I'm not trying to start an argument here -- I'm really confused and trying to get to the heart of the trail runner vs boot dilemma.

    There is no denying that trail runners are lighter, and IMO this is the main reason to use them over heavier boots. However, I am trying to wrap my mind around the inevitable second argument that they dry out more quickly than boots do.

    Are wet feet on a thru-hike unavoidable?
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  4. #4
    Registered User Kaptain Kangaroo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stats on the AT View Post
    Are wet feet on a thru-hike unavoidable?
    Yes........ your feet will get wet ! When you have 5 straight days of rain & you are slopping through calf deep mud all day, no shoe or boot is going to keep dry. On my thru in 2006 I left Pawling NY with dry shoes & then got caught in a thunderstorm. The next time my shoes were dry was Hanover NH, & that was only because I bought new shoes...... It rained almost every day & the trail never dried out. My socks actually started to rot on my feet & had the most foul ammonia stench. (ahhh, the memories !)

    I think you will find that Goretex shoes will behave somewhat like leather boots, they will keep the water out for a while, but once it gets in they will take ages to dry out. Remember that Goretex is designed to stop liquid water passing through the membrane, & that includes water that gets on the inside of the boot ! I much prefer the plain mesh trail runners (I use Merrell Moab Ventilators). The water gets in more easily, but that also means it can get out. In my Merrells I can walk through a creek & get totally soaked feet. In about 10 minutes the squelching has stopped & after about 4 hours my shoes & socks will be dry again. Boots can stay wet for days.

    I also find that wet trail runners are a lot kinder on my feet than wet boots & are less likely to give blisters.

    You will find every opinion on this site. Some people love leather boots & they work well for them. Probably the 2 best pieces of advice I can give are.

    1. Try things out before ou start your hike & try to figure out what works best for you under different conditions.

    2. Have enough spare money available so that you can change out pieces of your gear on the trail if you find that something is not working for you.

    Cheers,

    Kaptain

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    I'm not giving advice, just saying what works for me. I use Vasque or New Balance Trail Runners, both seem to fit MY FOOT. I wear a 10 wide most of the time. I use non gore tex for the most part, reason being is that dirt is not a friend to goretex it breaks down the membrane and your feet/shoes are in constant contact with dirt, mud, sweat, and so on. I've used mine in pretty low temps, mid 20's with maybe a medium weight sock. You can also use "Seal Skinz" or cheap plastic bags to help insulate your feet if they get cold. I'd really rather purchase the Seal Skinz that last forever than to use a plastic bag that can tear but that's just me. Best ADVISE is FIT,FIT,FIT, I don't care if the shoes are pink with lime green stripes (will, I might care a little bit) as long as they fit.

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    Default Trail Runners

    Plus all that the Kaptain said, I didn't want to repeat his advise whoops, suggestions.

  7. #7

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    I wear Gortex boots exclusively and have for years. I never have wet feet. By the time the Gortex gets clogged up or the seams start to leak, the soles are pretty well shot anyway and time for a new pair. If on the rare times significant water does get into the boot, they dry out quick enough.

    Okay, so trail runners dry out quickly (sort of), but they soak through nearly instantly too. Any time you walk through damp grass in the morning, cross a stream without good stepping stones, walk through a mucky section of trail, and of course, as soon as it starts to rain, your socks are soaked, which then leads to blisters.
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    Some history might be instructive here, regarding permeable and impermeable footwear. (And the Kaptain is right, your feet will get wet.)

    During the winter of 1950-1951 in the Korean War, the leading cause of frostbite and immersion foot (also known as trench foot) was the use of rubber-leather boots, similar to L.L. Bean "duck" boots. Soldiers and Marines also wore all-leather boots; boot polish was the only waterproof treatment for these boots and it quickly wore off. While it is true that those soldiers and Marines suffered from record sub-zero temperatures, frozen or wet footwear is frozen or wet footwear, whether you're on the AT, the PCT, or encircled at the Chosin Reservoir.

    Regardless of what footwear you use, the best way to avoid frostbite and immersion foot (more than a few AT hikers this year had immersion foot) is to get your feet out of those shoes/boots at regular intervals, dry your feet out, and use clean socks. Crumpled newspaper (if you have it and want to carry it) put inside the shoes at night will remove a lot of water. Try to avoid drying your shoes by a fire - you risk melting the synthetics and the leather will shrink. If the fire is too hot for your hands (hold them in front of the fire for 30 seconds), it's too hot for your shoes. Carry at least three pairs of socks: one pair to wear; one clean pair; and one pair that you have washed and set out to dry. Rotate your sock at the end of the day. If you can't air dry your washed socks, keep them inside your clothes or wear them to bed after you have squeezed out (not wrung out) all the water you can.

    Gaiters can help keep mud from slopping into your shoes, but water or watery mud will usually find a way to get inside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsmout View Post
    During the winter of 1950-1951 in the Korean War, the leading cause of frostbite and immersion foot (also known as trench foot) was the use of rubber-leather boots, similar to L.L. Bean "duck" boots. Soldiers and Marines also wore all-leather boots; boot polish was the only waterproof treatment for these boots and it quickly wore off. While it is true that those soldiers and Marines suffered from record sub-zero temperatures, frozen or wet footwear is frozen or wet footwear, whether you're on the AT, the PCT, or encircled at the Chosin Reservoir.
    Is this the origin of the Mickey Mouse Boots? These are insulated, vapor barrier boots, rated at either -20F or -65F. These boots are completely waterproof, and not breathable. http://www.bunnyboots.com/bunnyboot/anatomy.html
    What does the military use for cold weather boots now?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowleopard View Post
    Is this the origin of the Mickey Mouse Boots? These are insulated, vapor barrier boots, rated at either -20F or -65F. These boots are completely waterproof, and not breathable. http://www.bunnyboots.com/bunnyboot/anatomy.html
    What does the military use for cold weather boots now?
    Mickey Mouse/bunny boots were developed and issue for cold weather operations following the Korean War. Surplus military issue and commercial versions are used by Alaskans and contractors in the far north, around and above the Arctic Circle. Most bunny boots have wool felt insoles and liners. The insoles must be removed and dried every day. Sweat is the enemy and feet will sweat in bunny boots.

    Bunny boots are issued by the Army at Ft. Richardson, Alaska, for cold weather training.

  11. #11
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    I wear trail runners year round. I expect to get wet. I apply Hydropel to my feet and that seems to protect them adequately.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChinMusic View Post
    I wear trail runners year round. I expect to get wet. I apply Hydropel to my feet and that seems to protect them adequately.
    Good tip! Thanks! Do you think you can get the same benefit with Vaseline or those other anti-friction products (name escapes me right now).

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsmout View Post
    Good tip! Thanks! Do you think you can get the same benefit with Vaseline or those other anti-friction products (name escapes me right now).
    It's quite different than p jelly or the lubes. Hydropel is amazing.

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