Hiking boots

Posted by: chaz

Hiking boots - 01/11/08 08:58 AM

What is the length of time that a pair of hiking boots should last before replacement? I have the foot condition plantiar feseites (excuse the spelling).
I generally wear leather boots and put a cushion insole in them to help with the pain. I'm o.k. once I'm up and around but the first few steps in the morning are murder. I'm looking for a pair around $100 that will be used for 3 season hiking. the pair I have now are well broken in but afraid may be past their prime. Any recommendations?
Posted by: Heber

Re: Hiking boots - 01/11/08 09:12 AM

Can't help directly with your question about boots but I do know a bit about plantar fasciitis. For those who don't know this is not a foot "condition", like a bunion or something. It's an injury. There are small tears in the tissue that makes up the sole of the foot. If you don't let it heal it will eventually give you heel spurs and may require surgery.

Keep in mind I'm not a doctor, just a fellow hiker. You may need professional advice.

You pain in the morning with the "first few steps" it typical. What happens is that at night the plantar fascia shortens a little. When you put weight on it it stretches and causes those tears to re-open. This keeps healing from happening. The solution is to get a special sock to wear at night that keeps your toe closer to your knee. Take a look at http://www.thesock.com/ for an example. This keeps the plantar fascia stretched while you sleep so every morning you don't have new tearing going on.

The other piece of advice is to never take that first step in bare feet. Put your shoes (with good orthotics if needed) on while you sit before you get up.

I also think you'd be better off in running shoes (perhaps with orthotics) than in boots. They are lighter to hike with and generally better for your feet.

Just my 2 cents.
Posted by: chaz

Re: Hiking boots - 01/11/08 12:49 PM

Of all the people I've talked to about this condition. Yours is the only one that told me its an injury. No one told me about the tearing etc. I know that when I stay off my feet for a few days it gets better. Think I'll go for orthodics first. I was only thinking of boots for support with a backpack. So now it's time to think lighter with trekking poles. And try the sock. thanks...
Posted by: billk

Re: Hiking boots - 01/12/08 08:19 PM

I developed plantar fasciitis about a year and a half ago. I went to a Podiatrist who specializes in runners and walkers, and who is of the opinion that poor footwear is the cause of most foot problems. Not the cause of the injury itself, in the case of plantar fasciitis, but that wearing poor footwear over many years "sets you up" for foot problems.

Most shoes have some heel elevation, and many have a lot of toe spring (they turn up at the toe.) These allow the muscles at the back of the leg to shorten, and the same with the muscles and tendons at the front of the leg. Combined with a narrow toe box which pushes the big toe toward the other toes, these forces pull on the plantar fascia in opposing directions. Over a period of many years, that takes its toll. Note that this is my interpretation of what my doctor said...not his exact words. If you're interested, here's a link to his web site:


With his guidance, here's how I treated my plantar fasciitis: I taped the bottom of my foot like this, except I only used two pieces of tape, with a third piece going cross-wise under the arch to help the first two pieces stick:


I also did stretching exercises for both the back and front of my leg(s), and bought larger, wider shoes, and wore sandals when I could. I also used silicone inserts for a while, to get my big toe separated from the others (there are supposed to be gaps between your toes.) This is a slow-healing injury, and I taped my foot for close to a year. I avoided arch support, and continue to do so. To his credit, my doctor offered me the more traditional treatment, consisting of orthotics, cortisone, and possible surgery as a last resort. I'm glad I didn't go that way. At this point, it's fairly well healed, although once in a great while I'll feel a little twinge.

I used to wear Superfeet insoles, thinking I was doing something good for my feet. Now, I'm inclined to think I was weakening them. In those days (pre-plantar fasciitis), when I occasionally went walking in sandals or sneakers, my feet would ache after about five miles, but were fine for much longer distances wearing boots with the Superfeet. Now, I no longer get the five-mile ache wearing sandals. For hiking, I have a pair of Merrell Radius low-cut trail shoes, and a pair of Keen Targhee mid-height boots, both a size larger than what I measure. Neither are perfect, but better than the Lowas I used before.

To try and answer your original question...the lightweight boots won't last as long as heavy leather boots, and often can't be resoled. How long any boots last depends on how often and where they're used, and how they're maintained. If your leather boots are the traditional, somewhat heavy, stiff, type, I'd consider a more flexible lightweight replacement. The Keen and Merrell shoes I mentioned might be worth a look.

Sorry to be so long-winded, but the subject pushes my buttons. I realize that everyone's feet are different, and some people may need arch support, etc., but there's a lot of B.S. in the footwear world, and a lot of conflicting information about plantar fasciitis. Or plantar fasciosis, as some doctors say it should be called.