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  1. #1
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    Default winter/summer boots

    I have never hiked during winter and I am wondering, do most thru hikers have separate boots for winter conditions and warmer conditions or do hikers find boots that work in both situations? If there are boots that work in both situations I would like to puchase those, as I don't have the money to buy multiple pairs.

    thank you

  2. #2
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    Good question. I think if you use trail runners, you would want the same qualities for both summer and winter, namely that they should absorb the very minimum water when soaking wet. The less water they hold, the faster they will dry. Also, you will have less of a problem with melting snow, as when trail runners get wet in snow, they have a tendency to stay wet because they conduct more heat which continuously melts more snow. So above all else, they should hold the minimum water when wet. A test would be to dunk them, drain them, and then weigh them and compared to their dry weight. They will also thaw much faster when frozen, and be more wearable when frozen, if they hold less water.

    It will be harder to find a good fit, because they will have less of that foam cushioning that most trail runners have. The best ones have none, except around the ankle opening. So you want the minimum here, and it should be quick drying. Also the fabric of the shoe itself should not hold any water. Something like nylon, rather than something that wicks. Wicking isn't a bad thing, but its more important not to hold water at all, or the very least.

    You still need a good fit, and you will want it to fit well with both thin and medium and thick socks. Sometimes it is helpful to remove the insole so that you can wear thicker socks. Sometimes it is more important to have an insulated insole. Felt insoles are good in winter. You can also use your blue foam pad in an emergency.

    You might want a slightly larger size or width for winter vs summer.

  3. #3

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    +1 for trail runners. Bring some type of waterproof sock(seal skinz/VBL) and short gaiters (dirty girl) for colder weather. You will need more than one pair because you will wear them out on a thru but if you shop wisely you can get 3-4 pairs cheaper than most quality traditional boots. If you are leaving real early (jan?) and are not comfortable with this option search winter footwear, there was a thread on it a couple weeks ago.

  4. #4
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    Leather works also. Again, it is better not to have any padding. Also, you can experiment with waterproofing them or not. I find it is better that they are fully waterproofed in wet snow conditions, but better not in more dry snow conditions so they breath better. So I might them for a wet march hike, but not retreat them the following December or January, but wait until March again, if I go out. March can be nasty.

    My leather hiking boots are very minimal, and I have resoled them twice. They weigh only 12oz each, and so are just as light as most trail runners. The traction is not as good when I need a more aggressive tread, but it is ok for most conditions. I like the feel of them, and the way the leather breathes and handles moisture when not overly waterproofed. They hold some water, but they dry out from the inside, so they are much more comfortable to wear until dry.

    Not sure what I would take on a thru-hike. It's nice to rotate shoes, and you can't really do that on a thru-hike. Also, when you get a pair of leather hikers or trail runners you love, you will never be able to find a second pair the same by the time you wear them out, or even discover how great they are. Brands change way too often, even under the same name. Perhaps the secret is to learn to make your own.

  5. #5
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    Thank you for the great replies. I will look into these options.

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