There seems to be a rather interesting debate now days about the best shoe for hiking. There are many advocates for the hiking boot which provides ultimate protection and added ankle support. The growing trend seems to be moving away from the heavier boot to a lighter weight trail shoe. These trail running shoes are gaining popularity because of the breathability the offer and the light-weight flexibility so desirable for thru-hikers.
I have not mentioned shoes on my blog because when I do share my approach many people shake their heads and chalk me off as a fool. I primarily wear sandals – Chaco Sandals (Z1 Unaweep Sandals to be exact). Every shoe that I have ever worn provides several blisters within the first ten miles on the trail. I know there is a period of time needed to break-in a hiking boot but whether they are right out of the box or they have been on my feet for 6 months, they attack my feet in such negative ways. I have tried the soft lightweight running shoe and the durable hiking boot (and many models in between) all with the same result. A couple of my toes overlap and even with a shoe with wide toe box, a painful blister plagues my walking. My concern of a long hike persisted until…. I tried a pair of Chacos. Now, I am sold…1,400 miles later including a rim-to-rim-to rim hike in the Grand Canyon and several 25+ mile hikes without one blister.
Understand, I am a true fashion plate on the trail. Not only do I wear sandals, but I wear socks with them (even in the heat of the summer). Often I wear two pairs of socks. I love Injinji toe socks – they are super lightweight and they keep my overlapping toes separated while providing some protection from the sun. Sunburn feet are painful. My second pair of socks usually have “REI” printed on the top and they vary in weight depending on the outside temperature. Sandals in the winter demand some pretty substantial socks. Sandals with socks in the rain are uncomfortable so I have a pair of Five Finger running shoes that I often use to slop through a wet and muddy trail or fording a stream. They work great.
Countdown: 173 days!!