Footwear - what works for you?

BushChef

Karen Hood
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Hi all. I'm curious to know your thoughts on footwear in the bush. My husband has been reading a book some of you might be acquainted with - titled Ultralight backpackin' tips by Mike Clelland. In the book Mike talks about which shoes are most suitable for trekking outdoors and how to wear them etc etc.. I tried one of his suggestions on firetrail last week, which was to loosen off your boot laces so much that your boots are like slippers. This allows the feet to breathe and can more actively prevent hotspots and blisters. I found that this helped me a little but I still got hotspots.

My feeling is that its a very individual thing as our feet are all so different.. I still don't know what method is best for me, perhaps my feet are just super-sensitive?? I can't seem to avoid getting hotspots when walking on firetrail, no matter what I do!!

What are your thoughts? Any pointers you'd care to share?

Cheers,

BushChef.
 

Moondog55

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I wear what I can find that fits, even if I need to spend some time breaking in the bots I still prefer old-fashioned full leather boots with a stiff rand and dep lugged sole and as stiff as is reasonable.
On a good flat track it makes sense to loosen the laces and allow the foot to flex.
I get hot spots when I haven't walked for a while, small blisters forming under the skin are a pain in the foot, my remedy is to go barefoot as often as possible and to wear my walking boots at least once a week.
 

Ash

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I find hiking shoes from Rivers work well for me. They breathe quite well. I can walk all day without getting sore feet or blisters. I also wear explorer socks. As for the laces,I like mine nice and tight. If they are loose my heel moves up and down to much and rubs on the boot and gives me blisters.
 

chutes

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I'm with moondog, I prefer leather military style boots. If leather boots are well-broken in, you wear wool socks and practice good foot maintenance overnight and during long-ish stops, they can't really be beaten.

I wear an ancient pair of black army GP boots because I find I need the ankle support these days, but I have used everything from goretex matterhorns to jungle boots and cheapie ankle boots walking on tracks and trails. The common denominator as far as I'm concerned is making sure your boots are well-broken in. If your current boots HAVE been broken in and still give you hotspots and blisters, try switching brands.

Scarpas are a really good boot for both men and women.

I find that some of the modern boots out there which are made from heavily siliconed leathers or synthetics are difficult to break in properly. With the old GP boots, they are definitely a little clunky and probably too heavy, but they can, with proper breaking in, mould themselves to your foot like a glove. That is the advantage of a nice, traditional leather boot.

I guess another option for you would be to have a pair of comfortable runners with you as camp shoes and swap to them when you're walking on hard-packed dirt.
 

Big Bill

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Dunlop Volleys and Wool socks with or without gaiters depending on terrain ...........I still wear boots on occasion but more and more often bare foot for hunting and volleys for hiking.......
 

Templar

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I wear leather boots, mostly GP type boots, my present ones are Altama temperate boots and my old Alt. Jungle boots... many miles walked in those.

As for wearing them in... a couple of options:

1: leather boots- wear them in a hot shower and walk them dry...
2: leather treated - take a wire brush and remove the coloured layer back to bare leather, colour again with raven oil of the correct colour and then rub in dubbin and boot polish... they will be soft and form fitting and will even take a mirror shine if you like too.

I personally like my laces done up... the idea of having loose boots on my feet gives me blisters and twisted ankles just thinking about it...
 

Stewart Townsend

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I wear leather boots, mostly GP type boots, my present ones are Altama temperate boots and my old Alt. Jungle boots... many miles walked in those.

As for wearing them in... a couple of options:

1: leather boots- wear them in a hot shower and walk them dry...
2: leather treated - take a wire brush and remove the coloured layer back to bare leather, colour again with raven oil of the correct colour and then rub in dubbin and boot polish... they will be soft and form fitting and will even take a mirror shine if you like too.

I personally like my laces done up... the idea of having loose boots on my feet gives me blisters and twisted ankles just thinking about it...
Basically what Templar said.

Prefer leather and use dubbin or if you can't get it Snoseal. Dubbin makes them soft IMO and comfortable.

Try using 2 pairs of socks, maybe thinner ones as you already have boots in your size. Did that for years with no problems.
 

Corin

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Have you tried volleys?

I am no fan, but lots of people will tell you how good they are in the Aussie bush.
 

Bartnmax

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I think a lot of it depends on what you're doing.
I do a lot of deer hunting in some very wet, steep & at times slippery terrain, & whilst I know volleys have excellent grip on hard surfaces, they simply would not cut it in those situations. Why? No ankle support. I can just about guarantee a broken, or at least very badly sprained ankle if you were to try hunting those areas in volleys. If trecking on reasonable ground or paths for long distance I can understand the use of volleys, also where there's water work involved, but if it's steep then I would keep away from volleys. I do use a pair of volleys when fishing but they definitely stay home when I'm deer hunting.

I have a pair of Rossi Eagles that are heavy, strong leather, have taken ages to 'break in' & are the most comfortable boots I've ever worn hunting.
I can wear these heavy boots all day long in very testing terrain without getting fatigued in the slightest, as my ankles, & hence surrounding muscles dont get strained. Others I would definitely recommend are Scarpas & Meindles. I've worn out a pair of Scarpas & they are the best boots I've worn bar none (so far).
My next pair will be Meindles I think as I have mates that hunt deer with me that swear by them & whilst I love my Rossi's they did take a long time to get broken in & the Scarpas are just too dear. Both the Scarpas & Meindles are premium quality products but worth every cent you pay for them IMO.

Bill A.
 

Aussie123

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Feet are so variable that its impossible to generalize. Styles, brands and models all differ so much.

I recently needed new boots and looked around a bit. I bought some "Columbia Mens Daska Pass Omni-Tech Hiking Boot ". I've been very pleased with them, so much so that DW tried them and decided not to give them back, so I had to buy a second pair.

They are waterproof and are a mix of synthetic and leather, but very supportive to the ankle -good for carrying packs esp rough ground like fire breaks; and really good for descents; but above all comfortable and easy to wear all day. Because of their composite nature I found they did not need much breaking in.

You need to try on everything in the stores you visit, and both mens and womens, they are made the same, but usually its just the length vs width ratios that differ.

After trying on quite a few boots, I found I had a Goldilocks moment when I tried on the Columbia, they were “just right” and I’ve been very pleased.
 

Myc

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I've always been pretty picky with shoes, mostly because I've NEVER had a pair that fit me properly or didn't give me blisters or problems, but I finally found the perfect walking/hiking boot recently. I can't recommend them highly enough as a women's leather hiking boot, mostly because they are the most comfortable thing I've ever worn, and they are very supportive and need almost no breaking in (quite flexible, very natural feeling unlike a lot of boots that are quite stiff and unyeilding.)

I've heard it said that Doc Martens have gone down in quality due to their out-sourcing production and whatnot, but at least for this boot, not the case.

Doc Martens "Delia".

delia.jpg
 

chutes

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I've been a bit of a fan of Doc Martens shoes and boots since I was but a schoolboy. Pretty lightweight, comfy and sort of hardwearing in the urban environment. One thing I will caution about them is that the air cells in the sole will most definitely collapse on you if they are worn hard. I had a pair which collapsed on some sharp, rocky limestone terrain up near Rockhampton. It was a caving trip with a lot of time spent on arse and knees, so it wasn't a problem at the time, but the next time I put them on to go hiking, they didn't feel right and I noticed the soles had been cut in several places causing them to collapse. I ended up chucking them out.

I wouldn't rely on them for too many multi-day treks, but if you find them comfortable enough for shorter walks and for wearing around town, they should give you years of service.
 

Templar

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Defence used to issue a chit for soldiers to wear Doc's if they had foot problems requiring orthotics... two pair a year at public expense, if I remember rightly... originally for the black 8-9 hole high tops (GP Boot height) and later for a the redish brown ones when we changed over to brown boots... both for combat and support arms..
 

Walker

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Like others have said - it depends on what you are doing. For example:

1. Lots of creek hopping or doing canyoning (slippery greasy wet rocks) I always use volleys - the soft herringbone soles grip to almost anything.
2. Lightweight walking on or off track always use Dunlop KT26.
3. Long duration, heavy walking on/off track use leather boots always with a 'Vibram' sole = support and grip.

Regardless of footware, I always wear two pairs of socks - a thick pair (e.g. Explorer socks) near the skin, a thin pair over the top. This allows friction to occur between the sock layers rather than your feet = no blisters. (Try not to use 100% synthetic)

Also, leave shoelaces a bit loose for the first hour or so to let your feet swell, then tighten them up to a comfortable level.

Some people believe in certain lacing patterns too, but just experiment to find one that suits you.

After walking in shoes, rather than boots, you'll find the muscles, tendons, etc in your ankle will stengthen = will probably never get a twisted ankle regardless of the terrain.

The footbed of footware (shoe or boot) is critical for support. Usually the ones that come with the footware are crap, so I recommend taking them out and putting in one that suits you, even specially made orthotics if you continue to have sore feet, ankles, knees, hips and even back.

A nice footbed can make a hell of a difference - like walking in slippers - as they also cushion against stones, bits of wood, etc

I always wear shorts and gaiters - gaiters reduce the likelihood of stones, sticks and sand from entering footware and can prolong their life. They also buffet the pounding shinbones can take!

Obviously, always care for footware after a trip - leave in a protected, well ventilated spot out of direct sunlight. If using boots, I prefer snoseal as it is beeswax based and doesn't rot leather like the animal fat based ones.
 

BushChef

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Have you tried volleys?

I am no fan, but lots of people will tell you how good they are in the Aussie bush.
Hi Corin, yep I wear my volleys when I'm walking on softer soil, such as in rainforest areas. I find they're perfect for that. It's mainly firetrail that I find to be quite hard on my feet. Now that I think about it, I really do need to break in my boots a lot more. I bought a great pair of Scarpa's in NZ back in May but haven't done a great deal of walking in them as yet. Gotta get out and break them in some more!
 

BushChef

Karen Hood
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Hi Myc, these boots look really comfortable, super soft-looking leather. My previous experience of Doc martens were absolute torture! It took me about a year to break them in properly, I suffered really bad blistering most of the time before that. But these look great. I had a look for a place that sells them in Aus but couldn't find one online.. where did you get yours?
 
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BushChef

Karen Hood
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The footbed of footware (shoe or boot) is critical for support. Usually the ones that come with the footware are crap, so I recommend taking them out and putting in one that suits you, even specially made orthotics if you continue to have sore feet, ankles, knees, hips and even back.

A nice footbed can make a hell of a difference - like walking in slippers - as they also cushion against stones, bits of wood, etc
Obviously, always care for footware after a trip - leave in a protected, well ventilated spot out of direct sunlight. If using boots, I prefer snoseal as it is beeswax based and doesn't rot leather like the animal fat based ones.
I agree completely - I have replaced the original insoles of my boots with nice comfy orthopedic ones and it's made an amazing difference to my overall comfort whilst walking.
 

Myc

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Hi Myc, these boots look really comfortable, super soft-looking leather. My previous experience of Doc martens were absolute torture! It took me about a year to break them in properly, I suffered really bad blistering most of the time before that. But these look great. I had a look for a place that sells them in Aus but couldn't find one online.. where did you get yours?
BushChef, I had a similar experience with your old-school original Docs... except mine were a heavy duty steel-cap version. They were horrible, tough as anything but SO uncomfortable and I never fully broke them in even after several years of wear.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a source in Aus for them either - I was told they were not being imported into the country at all. I bought my pair from a U.K shoe store online, but they don't seem to stock it at the moment.
 

Bartnmax

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After walking in shoes, rather than boots, you'll find the muscles, tendons, etc in your ankle will stengthen = will probably never get a twisted ankle regardless of the terrain.
Havta disagree with this one a bit.
As a person that was involved in 'top end' sport many years ago (represented Australia overseas) I did a LOT of work strengthening my ankles, etc.
I could easilly cope with what is often considered the 'fastest sport on two feet' (LaCrosse). Also one of the most physical sports as well.
However, once I started deer hunting in winter I quickly discovered it is a whole new ball game.
If we have a good, close look at just about any experienced mountaineer we'll find they wear strong boots with good ankle support.
You'll never see low ankle support boots or shoes on a mounatain expedition.
Sprain/strains are not about weak ankles/tendons etc. They gererally involve tears due to sudden over-extension with a fair bit of weight then placed on the wrong areas as balance is lost.
That over-extension/loss of balance can be prevented through use of correct ankle support.
If the ankle is not adequately supported sprains/strains can occue no matter how strong one's ankles/tendons are.
I think you'll find that if you consult any manufacturer of footwear designed specifically for outdoor use they will always recommend correct ankle support as being being critical in preventing injury.

Bill A.
 
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