For backpacking course, footwear is the number one item to get right. It’s not just about buying the right shoes or boots for the journey, but also breaking them in and truly making them your own before you test them on foreign ground.
BOOT FITTING & SOCKS
First, find a reputable outdoor store in your area that has staff trained for boot fitting.
**Pro Tip 1: It’s best to do your boot shopping in the afternoon because feet typically swell as the day progresses and this will affect the fit.
At the store try on at least two or three possible boot options. Lace the boots up fully with the socks that you plan to wear — one pair of lightweight liner socks under mid-weight wool hiking socks. Start by standing on a downward slanting incline and try to jam your toes to the front of the boot. Next, take a walk around the store.
So how should they feel? Okay, great, you've got them on, how here are some basic guidelines for the fit.
Your toes shouldn't bump up against the front of your boot.
Your boots should be comfortable with plenty of room to wiggle your toes at the front of the boot.
Your heel may slip a little in the back of the boot usually 1/8” to 1/4”.
There should be no obvious pressure points.
If they are comfortable, but stiffer than other shoes you are used to, that's ok. If you are worried about your boots fitting correctly, ask the salesperson if you can wear them around your house (not outside!) for a few hours and return them if there is a problem.
**Pro Tip 2: Don't buy boots without trying them on.
BOOT BREAK-IN & CARE
**Pro Tip 3: Break in your boots well before the course begins!
Wear them around town, to school and at home, as much as possible. You should start wearing your boots several weeks before your course. This is going to help you a ton because it’s one of the easiest ways to prevent blisters in the backcountry.
The following list of boots are the recommended option for the majority of courses. In general,Hiking Bootswill offer the best balance of comfort, support and protection for your course. You may find a boot not listed that fulfills all requirements. Boot manufacturers change model names quite often so a model listed below may no longer being stocked.
For students with past ankle injuries or those prone to twisting ankles, we recommend a more substantial Backpacking Boots. This style boot is also recommended during years of high snow conditions (inquire with your Student Services representative for this information).
We DO NOT recommend Mountaineering Boots for any courses.
Terrex Swift R Mid GTX
Piuma, Reston WP
Voyager Mid, Targhee II
Core High GTX, Hyper Mid GTX
Thunder II GTX
Moab Ventilator, All Out Blaze Mid
Capra Sport Mid, Phaser Peak
Sawtooth Mid, Traverse Mid
X Ultra Mid II
Moraine Mid, Mistral GTX
Inhaler GTX, Breeze 2.0 Mid
Summit GTX, St Elias GTX
DO I NEED GORE-TEX BOOTS?
Short answer is no. Most backpacking boots have a waterproof/breathable membrane like Gore-Tex in them. These fabrics are designed to keep the boot dry. Unfortunately waterproof boots take much longer to dry out than non-waterproof models and do not breathe nearly as well. Since it can be very difficult to find non-waterproof boots, boots with a mesh panels built into the leather and treated with Gore-Tex can be a good compromise.
Since there is typically little precipitation in our California course areas, it is strongly recommended not to purchase boots with both a waterproof membrane and full grain leather, especially if you are prone to athlete’s foot or other foot ailments. The one exception is in cases of exceptionally high snow years since Gore-Tex coating with full grain leather will help keep your feet warmer in those environments. Check in with your Student Services representative to ask about current snow levels.
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