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#193820 - 02/24/16 08:51 AM Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me?
AlanL Offline
member

Registered: 02/24/16
Posts: 36
Loc: North Carolina
Hello All,
Allow me to give some background information to setup my question.

I've been backpack camping for years. My typical trip is a 4 day 3 nighter with a ~45# pack. Hike 3-7 miles, setup a base camp, day hike during the day. 2 trips a year... always the NC mountains. For the last 10 years I've worn an Asolo Fugitive GTX in a size 10. I prob could use a 10.5 but they have been fine for the last 20+ just a little snug. They also either need to be repaired or replaced as the soles are coming off.

I am a distance runner. ~100-130 miles a month. I run in Saucony Triumphs in a size 10.

This year we plan on doing a totally different trip. We will do a 29 miles section of the AT. Amicalola to Gooch Gap with a few detours over tree days. I'll be going out with a 22-28# pack. So a little less than 10 miles a day.

Now the question. New boots? or Trail shoes?

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#193824 - 02/24/16 12:23 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: AlanL]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1386
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I don't know much about running shoes, but I've got a buddy who doesn't use hiking shoes (low-top boots) - instead, he uses trail running shoes, which are lighter than hiking shoes. He carries a 25 pound load.

What I might suggest is this: load up your pack with the 22-28 pound load you're planning to carry, and go take a 5 or 10 mile day-hike at a local park, using you running shoes. You'll quickly find out not only whether they're supportive enough for the load, but also whether the tread is sufficiently "grippy" to give you enough traction on the trail. (If possible, pick a day when the trail is a little wet; you need enough traction that you're not constantly slipping around, though the occasional slip is unavoidable.)

If the running shoes work, go with them - they're already broken in and, I assume, comfortable. If not, get shoes or boots.

So, which - shoes or boots? That depends a lot on what your future loads look like. Is the decrease a permanent thing (due to changes to lighter fear and/or less gear) or is it a one-trip-only change? If you're going to be carrying the heavier load after this one lightweight trip, and boots work for you, I'd stick with boots. If you're making a permanent change to lighter loads, give the shoes a try. (I usually carry about 20 pounds for a weekend, 25 for a week, and trail shoes - low top boots - work great for me.)

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#193828 - 02/24/16 01:27 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: AlanL]
jimmyb Offline
member

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 276
Lighter the better.

As you know, foot wear first has to fit well AND be comfortable for the expected mileage and terrain. Thats on you as no one can realistically advise another beyond giving options of what works for them. That of course will be helpful in a more general manner. What I CAN tell you is that weight on your feet makes a huge difference after thousands of steps during the course of a day. I would suggest the lightest possible footwear as long as it keeps to my opening statement. Like many things you are searching for your threshold, for the lightest footwear you can use effectively. Personally once I realized the myth of heavy footwear advantage I made it my gear priority until I was satisfied I was as light as I could go.

In my case I ended up with Hokka one one TOR mids. They are soooo cushy and light for a mid. As we hike a lot of sharp edged rock strewn trail the thick EVA foam base really soaks up the constant impacts. I love 'em. I would really like to get away with the shorter shoe version but because of disabling balance issues the extra material of the mid gives me better feedback for balance. It has nothing to do with support as I don't think the average mid offers much more advantage any way. I do find a mid for me offers a little more protection against ankle abrasion in rock strewn trail and I have never needed gaiters wearing them. As for cushioning, it seems to have made a big difference on my knees and hips at the end of the day. I am much more refreshed when reaching camp than with any other footwear so far.

I would strongly recommend anyone reading this who is just getting into BPing or hiking in general to invest some time and money on light weight footwear. It will make your miles happy ones. grin

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#193832 - 02/24/16 02:28 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: AlanL]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
I DON'T mean to be snarky or dismissive with this first comment, just --- FYI --- this topic has been discussed a whole lot, likely on this and certainly on other backpacking forums. So I would encourage you to search archives for the discussion thread as I don't believe a lot has changed recently.

Long distance hikers tend towards hiking shoes rather than boots, and I'm certainly in that camp. I would encourage you to read "both sides" and decide for yourself what makes sense.

Perhaps the most important issue is that you might be less happy or successful with trail runners (hiking shoes) if you carry a relatively large load (pack or body weight or both). But there are a lot of factors. Boot advocates want support, protection, and durability.
Shoe advocates accept that they'll be replacing footwear more often, and don't feel the need for so much support or protection. Shoe advocates love not only the light weight of shoes, but also the breathability. I feel like I get a whole lot less blisters because my breathable shoes aren't a sauna-like microclimate.

But seriously, listen to both/all sides on this and make your own decision. What's perfect for me might not be right for you and your hiking style or other situational stuff.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#193837 - 02/24/16 03:18 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: BrianLe]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
just to add to Brian's comments:

He is spot on. But I prefer boots. I probably carry heavier loads than he does, and probably hike fewer miles per day. But I don't like the feel of chunks of granite on the bottom of my feet--I prefer the stiffer soles and protection of boots.

Now you have two perspectives from people who hike a lot (Brian hikes more than I do!) and you can start to figure it out for your needs.
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#193841 - 02/24/16 04:14 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: AlanL]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Underdiscussed (for me) is trail debris. The high Sierra, my typical hiking ground, is usually sand and gravel and I've learned too much dirt and gravel in my shoes chews up my feet. Gaiters are one obvious solution, mid-tops plus long pants another. The latter is what I typically do now, except day hikes.

Show/boot stability can be designed into low and high-tops, so the model is much more important than the height. That said, ankles are vulnerable to bruising and cuts with low tops, something not uncommon to our debris- and rock-strewn trails.

The good news: literally hundreds of models to choose among. The bad news: find something you love and it will be gone/overhauled the next season. Rinse, repeat.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#193847 - 02/24/16 07:19 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: Rick_D]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
All I know is that since I switched from boots to trail runners 7 years ago, I have (1) never had a blister (used to be common) and (2) have never turned an ankle (also used to be common with boots). In fact, I've tried deliberately to turn an ankle with the trail runners, and can't do it. The boots have long since gone to Goodwill.




Edited by OregonMouse (02/24/16 07:20 PM)
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#193853 - 02/24/16 08:35 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1386
Loc: Southwest Ohio
My experience, too, OM. The only reason I still carry moleskin is to treat other people's blisters.

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#193858 - 02/24/16 11:30 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
My wife uses trail runners, and often gets blisters. I use boots, and never get blisters. But with trail runners I used to get bruises on the bottoms of my feet...I think this is a case where it is really true that YMMV!
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#193864 - 02/25/16 10:37 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: Rick_D]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"Underdiscussed (for me) is trail debris. The high Sierra, my typical hiking ground, is usually sand and gravel and I've learned too much dirt and gravel in my shoes chews up my feet."

Another issue that seems to vary by the individual. I rarely wear shorts when hiking, preferring to protect my legs from brush and sun with long pants. My trouser legs are long enough that they typically cover my shoes, and the result is that I rarely get debris into my shoes. I like not having gaiters because this also keeps my lower extremities cooler, and is one less disincentive to take my shoes off and let my socks dry out a bit at breaks.

I'm NOT saying that Rick is 'wrong' here. Just that a different solution is right for me!

Quote:
"The bad news: find something you love and it will be gone/overhauled the next season. Rinse, repeat."

And isn't that the unhappy truth. The shoe I used to love changed on me, the 'last' (the underlying shape that the shoe is designed around) was made a little narrower so that it no longer worked for me. I've been fortunate in that my new favorite --- ASICS Gel Kahana --- not only comes in 4E width but doesn't seem to change much from year to year (even though the model number keeps going up by one each year).
What I do is to buy a pair of the 'new' model, wait for a chance to do a lot of contiguous miles in them (50 or more miles is best), then when I've confirmed they still work for me, I watch prices and then buy at least five pairs. But don't wait and watch too long, as by the time they're going on deeper discount sales, the size I want is likely to be harder to find in stock.
Then in a couple of years, do it again. PITA, but still for me, this is way way better than wearing boots.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#193865 - 02/25/16 11:08 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: balzaccom]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 850
Loc: Torrance, CA
Originally Posted By balzaccom
... with trail runners I used to get bruises on the bottoms of my feet...I think this is a case where it is really true that YMMV!


I'm not trying to disagree with your experience, but one thing to keep in mind, different trail runners have different levels of foot pad protection. I have two pairs: 1) New Balance MT610v3 and 2) Salomon XA Pro 3D. The New Balances are much lighter but do not afford nearly as much foot pad protection. People say if you want that stiffer sole (for rocky ground) look to a shoe with a "Rock Plate", however I have yet to find a shoe that advertises with that term. In the end advertising departments don't like to give objective criteria to compare different brands.

I will also agree with the comments above regarding turned ankles. I used to turn ankles all the time with high top shoes. I have not turned an ankle since I have switched exclusively to low top shoes.

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#193884 - 02/26/16 10:24 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: BZH]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
All info here. I wear long pants usually when we go off trail through brush, for obvious reasons. When we are on the JMT (which ain't often!) or some other well-worn trail, it's shorts!
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#193916 - 02/27/16 12:09 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: balzaccom]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
Years ago I wore some old mountaineering boots that had caved in ankles on a long hike and probably permanently damaged my ankles. I now cannot have anything touch my ankle or it gets almost like squeak heel. I hiked in regular tennis shoes with superfeet insoles for a year before I could even go to light low-cut hikers. If the sole is thin, you can always add a sturdy insole like Super Feet. Low cut "light hikers" are between a trail running shoe and boot. That might work for you if trail runners do not. Fit is the most important thing. If I find a fit, I am not too fussy if it weighs a few ounces more or less.

I am in the "start light" camp. At least if the trail runners do not work out, you have a good pair of athletic shoes for home. Then work up as needed. Try insoles. The big PITA for shoes is that you really do not know if they fit until you have done a several day hike of many miles, carrying a pack. By that time, you cannot return them. And each shoe can have individual differences. I have tried on several pair of the same brand, same size and they all felt different. Manufacturing of the shoe is not so exact that each pair are exactly the same.

As for pants - I cannot do shorts- I just do too much off-trail, but I do not like the "swish-swish" of long pants and I like lots of knee room. So I use knee high gaiters. Solves both problems. Plus keeps out all the debris, ticks, and is tough material when bashing through brambles.

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#193977 - 03/01/16 08:13 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: wandering_daisy]
toddfw2003 Offline
member

Registered: 01/08/16
Posts: 326
Loc: Texas
This is the most comfy shoe I have ever worn. Its a cross between a hiking boot and trail runner. It also changed the playing field for breathable gortex hiking shoes/boots. Around 200 buck but you get what you pay for. 1lb 11oz is the weight of both shoes combined.

http://www.rei.com/product/881235/la-sportiva-synthesis-surround-gtx-hiking-boots-mens


Edited by toddfw2003 (03/01/16 08:17 AM)

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#194000 - 03/02/16 10:29 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: AlanL]
AlanL Offline
member

Registered: 02/24/16
Posts: 36
Loc: North Carolina
Thank you all for your advice. I'm going to try a Saucony Xodus 6 with some "Darn Tough" Marino socks. Seems like this shoe will be a good transition from my Saucony running shoes. I'll let yall know how it goes.

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#194012 - 03/03/16 06:07 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: AlanL]
PerryMK Offline
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1156
Loc: Florida panhandle
I've been following this thread but really didn't have much to add until you mentioned socks. I've been using Injinji Trail socks lately and can't say enough good things about them. Comfortable and go a long way towards preventing toe blisters. Of course footwear fit is still most important, but if your toes are misaligned these help a great deal.

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#194058 - 03/07/16 12:46 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: PerryMK]
AlanL Offline
member

Registered: 02/24/16
Posts: 36
Loc: North Carolina
So far so good with the shoes. I did a 12 mile run on the road with them to break them in and get a feel for the shoe. My arches were a bit sore and the outsides of my calves but otherwise they week to work great.

I hope my toes don't freeze if we run into snow!

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#194074 - 03/08/16 11:24 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: AlanL]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"I hope my toes don't freeze if we run into snow!"

Thick wool socks make a lot of difference, with a liner sock underneath. So long as your shoes fit such that you have enough volume to fit a decent wool sock + liner pair.

If really concerned, you could go the vapor barrier route, or as I would suggest, bread bags --- same thing, just don't last long. Bread bags are also highly useful for in-camp if your shoes are your only footwear. I.e., wet shoes, dry socks, bread bags to keep the dry socks dry.

Some will use a goretex sock, and many (including me) like Rocky brand goretex socks. Do size these up if you get a pair, as they need to fit over that thick pair of wool socks. But I've done fine in snow without these; you don't want to plan on taking long breaks if your socks get significantly wet.

It really depends on what kind of snow conditions you're in, but bottom line --- it's all about decent wool socks. Seriously, check the fine print to see the actual wool content; sometimes so-called wool socks are more synthetic than they are wool.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#194076 - 03/08/16 12:22 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: BrianLe]
AlanL Offline
member

Registered: 02/24/16
Posts: 36
Loc: North Carolina
I picked up these when I got the shoes... but they may not work great for warmth.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QSK2...ailpage_o01_s00

But I may try my the socks and liners I use with boots and see how they feel. Which is these

https://www.rei.com/product/712784/rei-lightweight-merino-wool-hiking-crew-socks

The bread bag is an interesting idea.

Based on the current forecast, which could change, I wont have to worry anyway - Looks like we can expect 69-74 degree days.

Originally Posted By BrianLe
Quote:
"I hope my toes don't freeze if we run into snow!"

Thick wool socks make a lot of difference, with a liner sock underneath. So long as your shoes fit such that you have enough volume to fit a decent wool sock + liner pair.

If really concerned, you could go the vapor barrier route, or as I would suggest, bread bags --- same thing, just don't last long. Bread bags are also highly useful for in-camp if your shoes are your only footwear. I.e., wet shoes, dry socks, bread bags to keep the dry socks dry.

Some will use a goretex sock, and many (including me) like Rocky brand goretex socks. Do size these up if you get a pair, as they need to fit over that thick pair of wool socks. But I've done fine in snow without these; you don't want to plan on taking long breaks if your socks get significantly wet.

It really depends on what kind of snow conditions you're in, but bottom line --- it's all about decent wool socks. Seriously, check the fine print to see the actual wool content; sometimes so-called wool socks are more synthetic than they are wool.

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#194077 - 03/08/16 12:28 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: BrianLe]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 654
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Brian, have you ever tried bread bags as less of a vapor barrier and more of a liquid barrier for wet weather/standing water? The reason I ask is that, when I tried, they developed holes very quickly and failed to keep my feet dry. I want to try roasting bags next.

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#194101 - 03/09/16 12:48 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: 4evrplan]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Apologies if I over-respond to this, but it's hard to talk without establishing that we're on the same wave length about a somewhat complicated topic ...

Bread bags are a cheap, temporary thing, but I often carry them as they're multi-purpose for me.

I don't carry a second set of footwear for camp or water crossings or whatever, and I don't use waterproof footwear, so the main use for me is for the evening/morning if my shoes are wet, I can have dry socks in camp and the breadbags keep the socks dry against wet shoes. Of course when I start hiking I put back on the damp socks (so as to keep the dry socks dry), but for in camp they're very nice. For that much use, breadbags are durable enough.

If I'm not carrying water resistant overmitten shells, breadbags can do that job in a pinch.

If there could be snow, cold weather, then --- also in a pinch --- they're sort of a "poor man's V.B. socks".

But there are actually vapor barrier socks designed to be just that, and from what you describe it could be that a pair of those would be worth while for you. The way you size them is based on what you want them to accomplish: are they to keep external water out and hence you wear wool socks inside them? Or are they to keep perspiration in?

The latter seems counter-intuitive, but the V.B. approach is to keep you warmer by eliminating heat transfer from moisture transport. I.e., similar to neoprene (but not that same!), you stay wet (in this case from your own perspiration) but it's the same liquid and you're able to warm it up. I'm not really expressing this well ...

Here, Skurka does a pretty good job:
http://andrewskurka.com/2011/vapor-barrier-liners-theory-application/

They can be purchased --- I actually own a pair, but in practice, I seldom hike where I think that I need them and so they mostly sit unused in my basement:
http://www.campsaver.com/rab-vapourbarriersocks-mens
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#194109 - 03/09/16 04:11 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: BrianLe]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 654
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Yes, I mean keeping external water out. Specifically for me, it would be for hiking through muddy marshy areas. And, it's not just to keep my feet dry but also to keep the dirt and grit out that the water carries with it. I have seen VB socks similar to the ones you linked, but I'd prefer a cheap solution if it works.

Seems like a decent compromise to only wear the bags around camp. I've been keeping my wet socks on until bedtime and only then have I changed into my dry socks. It sure would be nice to have dry feet around camp though.

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#194129 - 03/10/16 01:27 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: 4evrplan]
JustWalking Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 129
Loc: PNW
Originally Posted By 4evrplan
Brian, have you ever tried bread bags as less of a vapor barrier and more of a liquid barrier for wet weather/standing water? The reason I ask is that, when I tried, they developed holes very quickly and failed to keep my feet dry. I want to try roasting bags next.


For hiking, I've never found any plastic bag that worked for any length of time - they all developed holes, including roasting bags. Of course, I only care about dry feet when hiking when it's cold - otherwise I just hike in wet feet (I'm lucky, I can walk all day in wet feet and it doesn't bother me, as long as I dry them at camp and keep them dry overnight).

For hiking in cold, wet weather, I use Rocky Goretex socks. They're the bomb. But you need to size up, and they're rather difficult to put on/take off since they don't stretch.

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#196994 - 11/24/16 06:44 PM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: AlanL]
EMT Dave Offline
member

Registered: 11/24/16
Posts: 55
Loc: MA
I have tried dozens of pairs of footwear from mountaineering boots (massive, heavy, nearly rigid), to early generation light weight hikers to modern light weight ankle highs.
I have just bought my first pair of trail runners (actually bought for Tough Mudders but they can do double duty). I have yet to try them, but I think they would be a little fragile for much hiking. Have not even had them on yet, but the top fabric seems a little fragile, inviting a big toenail to poke through.
I own too many shoes, but why wouldn't you want to change up for different conditions?

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#197000 - 11/27/16 11:27 AM Re: Boots Vs Trail Shoes for me? [Re: EMT Dave]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"I own too many shoes, but why wouldn't you want to change up for different conditions?"

Yup, in general I think that anyone would like to do that, apart perhaps from having to buy and store too many pairs of footwear.

On longer trips, however, changing shoes/boots to fit the current conditions is a very heavy luxury, i.e., carrying a second pair of any sort of footwear isn't something I'm keen on. The closest I get to that is to carry a set of microspikes for snow/ice in limited situations, and then mail them home as soon as I think I won't need them again (or at least "can do without them") on that trip.

I bought a pair of (Neos brand) overboots at one point, thinking that they would be a good compromise for snow-intensive (but not 100% walking always in snow) trips --- i.e., trail runners in limited or no-snow, and put on the overboots when the snow gets deep enough that they're warranted. But: I didn't end up using them. Too heavy, and bulky, at least for "my style" of hiking.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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