Footwear for JMT
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May 5, 2012 at 9:28 pm #1289590
Location: John Muir Trail (SOBO)
Season: Mid August to Early September
Duration: 3 Weeks
Distance: ~220 miles
Most will probably be thinking "not another footwear thread…" but I have been going back and forth about selecting the proper shoe for me to enjoy the JMT. I wear light tactical boots on the job and am used to them. The bottoms of my feet are happier with the thick soles of boots but want something lighter. Minimalist soles bruise my feet after more than a few miles. Trail runners are ok but I don't like the low cut of them (heel slips out sometimes) and prefer a beefier sole on rocky terrain.
Tried on some Merrel Moab Ventilator Mids (non waterproof) but my feet got hot just sitting there and they feel a little on the clunky side.
I like my Inov8 X-Talon 240's for dayhikes but the soles are too minimal for me when backpacking. I really like the mid height top of them that "wraps" around my ankle over much lower cut trail runners.
What I am looking for is a hybrid between a light boot and a trail runner. Something with a highly breathable mid-height mesh top with the sole and cushion of a light boot with a rock shield. I fear that a basic trail runner sole would be too minimal for my feet and cause bruising. Each shoe must be 16oz or less, no leather.
I have considered the following but they look somewhat "short" for my likes:
La Sportiva Wildcat (or the new 2.0)
Brooks Cascadia 7.0
Will be wearing mid weight merino wool socks, possibly with thin coolmax thin liners to resist blister formation.
Any ideas?May 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm #1874821chris smeadBPL Member
@hamsterfishLocale: San Jose, CA
Im in the same boat. I just ordered a pair of the sportiva wildcat Gtx from rei, but I'm not convinced they are light enough. I figured I can always return them to rei if they don't work.
Also, rei carries the C-lite 2.0. They are light, and the specs say water resistant which may be good enough for the snow I expect to hit. But the reviews seem to say they don't grip well on wet rock.
That little cover on top may interfere with the breathability, I'll find out when I try them on tomorrow.
Please share if you try these as well.May 6, 2012 at 1:04 am #1874834Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
But then, we wear low-cut New Balance Joggers for 2-month walks in the European Alps.
Boots are dinosaurs.
CheersMay 6, 2012 at 6:30 am #1874866
Hi Roger, the main reason I prefer mid-height over low-cut is not for support. Low-cut shoes tend to slip off my heel so I like the "wrap-around" of mid's better. Heavy boots are indeed dinosaurs for most things.May 6, 2012 at 10:07 am #1874909Michael LevineSpectator
@troutLocale: Long Beach
I've done the JMT and will be going again this summer. I went with the sportiva wildcats the first round but wouldn't do it again. I had the 1.0 version. See how on the shoe the front protection doesn't go around the edges very far at all? I guess the shoe is billed as more of a "race shoe", and so they cut a few corners for weight savings, like that. I shredded BOTH of my outside sides of my shoes beginning at the side toes and the tears ripped back and back. I wound up trying duct tape, sleeping pad glue and patches, and eventually sewing them with dental floss for half an hour each day. Granite can get sharp! Also completely possible I'm just clumsy. Also this was my fault as I bought a race shoe when I wanted a general use trail runner.
That said I'm going with La Sportiva Raptor's this year, which are meant to be a bit more rugged, and a bit more grippy as a bonus. I'm sure they don't vent quite as beautifully, but I love them so far. They're supposed to be based on the same footprint or some such.
One recommendation: Your feet get used to whatever you do with them. If you always wear boots, you'll need boots. So when you were saying your feet bruise with minimalist shoes I'd say you SHOULD wear them more often, so that your feet build up some strength and callous. The JMT will wear on your feet, so maybe to train try some more minimal shoes, even if you eventually put on a heavier pair for protection.May 6, 2012 at 11:02 am #1874926drowning in spamMember
I normally don't recommend Superfeet insoles, but the plastic plate they have might be enough to stop the bruising you've experienced.May 6, 2012 at 11:13 am #1874931Steve ThompsonBPL Member
I've hiked in in both an ASIC Gel Trabuco and a Montrail AT plus trail runner. The Montrail is the more stable of the two and has a full length rock plate that does a good job of protecting the foot from bruising.
The downside to the Montrail is they run a bit wide for me, but if that is your foot give them a look. They have 2 mid ankle trail runners built on the same last that may be just what you are looking for.May 6, 2012 at 11:16 am #1874932Hiking MaltoBPL Member
"See how on the shoe the front protection doesn't go around the edges very far at all? I guess the shoe is billed as more of a "race shoe", and so they cut a few corners for weight savings, like that. I shredded BOTH of my outside sides of my shoes beginning at the side toes and the tears ripped back and back."
That happened to the three pairs of size 12.5 (equivalent) Wildcats on my PCT hike. However, the two size 12's had no such issues and those were worn in SoCal to Mojave then a second pair through to Tahoe and a hundreds of mile of snow. Not sure why the difference in size made such a difference but it did in my case.May 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm #1874947Greg MihalikSpectator
"Not sure why the difference in size made such a difference but it did in my case."
Here is my WAG: With the larger than usual shoe you are more prone to drag your toe across the water bars and tombstones. We "know" what our clearance limits are, and when a half inch is added things go amiss.
This became Very apparent to me when I bought some sandals a half size larger than usual in order to "protect" my toes. The result was numerous stumbles (on flat ground) until I learned to "pick 'em up".
YMMVMay 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm #1874992Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
To me the MINIMUM shoe for backpacking is something like my Merill Moab Ventilator shoes.
I also have the Moab GTX boots for colder or wetter conditions.
Like the Ventilator shoes they have great durability and, for my feet at least, good comfort.May 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm #1875059Bradley JayBPL Member
+1 Montrail AT plus
These fall right between straight trail runners and hiking shoe.May 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm #1875095
Thanks for the suggestions. I tried some Superfeet last year in the X-Talon 240s but my feet seemed to do better with stock insoles. May try out a pair of Montrail AT Plus and Dirty Girl gaiters and see what happens on dayhikes.May 7, 2012 at 11:21 am #1875275Chris ScalaMember
The Montrail AT Plus is a Gore-Tex shoe, right? I was under the impression this is generally a bad idea for most conditions, especially the Sierras where stream crossings are deep and often… Seems like so much work to constantly be changing shoes. I tried out the "Let them get wet" philosophy recently and my feet do dry very fast. And the merino wool socks seemed to prevent them from catching a chill even if they were wet.May 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm #1875396
I don't think the current model has a waterproof lining, at least I hope they don't. I just bought a pair under the assumption that they were not waterproof. My understanding was that the earlier version (with the letters "GTX" in it's name) were gore-tex lined. I haven't had mine out in the woods yet but it's supposed to rain all day tomorrow so I'll go stand in a puddle and let you know for sure.May 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm #1876065
How did the new Montrail AT Plus (non GTX) work out for you Robb?
I am still up in the air as to what to try.May 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm #1876072
I always backpack in trail runners, for most trips I use the Montrail Sabino Trails, but if it's going to be very rocky/off trail I use the AT Plus- mine are the low cut versions of both, both are comfortable, both are hard wearing, both grip well- the AT Plus is a little stouter (and weighs a little more because of it)
they (both) have a roomy toe box which for me is a necessity, if you have narrow feet- they may not workMay 10, 2012 at 6:53 am #1876184
We had 1 1/2" of rain that day (set a record) and I forgot all about testing the shoes;
I'm calling a senior moment excuse (though I seem to be in a senior month lately). So I just now went outside and stood in a water puddle for a minute or so. I made sure the water came up over the tongue of the shoe since it looks to be of a different material than the sides of the shoe.
If these aren't waterproof then they are extremely water resistant: no apparent water penetration. Now I'm bummed,I already have a pair of gore-tex lined Sportiva low tops that I have used for backpacking (really hot) and didn't want another waterproof pair.
I'll check again for a longer period and report back (have a conference call coming up, might as well stand in a puddle as sit at a desk).
Couple notes on the shoe. Fit is very wide. I have wide feet (problem fitting into any shoe with a narrow toe box) and these things are cavernous, to the point where I either need thicker socks or a different insole. I bought my normal shoe size and length is fine (plenty of room to prevent black toenail syndrome).May 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm #1877242MinerBPL Member
I found the JMT to be tough on shoes. When I hiked the PCT which includes the JMT, I found that when I swapped out my trailrunners after 500-600 miles (due to the internal support breaking down), they were still in good enough shape that I would mail them home to use for day hiking latter. Not true with the shoes I went through the High Sierra with which had holes in the front and went straight into the trash can. Getting soaked from hiking over snow covered passes and wadding through numerous water fords seemed to soften and weaken the leather so that all the rocks being kicked damaged the shoe more. Though in all fairness I was going through in late June/early July and I suspect you will be going through in a drier part of the season.
I personaly was happy with Inov-8's Roclites 315s which are really durable with good traction compared to many of their other shoes though not as flexible due to the harder sole material. If you don't have previous experience with doing such a long trail and hiking for that long, I would recommend sizing up your shoe over what you normally use since many find their feet growing or swelling more over what they had experienced with just a weeklong trip.May 14, 2012 at 3:37 am #1877430CurryBPL Member
If you're using SuperFeet – especially the greens, you need to go up at least a half shoe size. Maybe a whole size depending on the shoe.
I wear the Asics Gel Trabuco and buy one size larger for thru-hikes. However, even though I wear Superfeet in all my shoes and they do fine for running and day hikes, I have to switch to a gel insert in my left shoe for backpacking given an old running injury which makes the Superfeet insole rub on my inner arch. So I end up wiht two differnt insoles.May 23, 2012 at 10:45 am #1880421
From Montrail Customer Service:
Thank you for contacting us. I'd be happy to assist you with your question. The AT Plus actually does not have any form of waterproofing in it. It is composed of a Nylon mesh for greater breathability, but won't help keep the water out. If you are looking for a waterproof shoe, I recommend the Badrock Outdry. It has a similar profile to the AT Plus, although slightly snugger in the middle.May 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm #1880447
they are not waterproof, which IMO is exactly what you want. Gore-tex low shoes have no advantage for hiking that comes to mind, but several drawbacks- they don't dry, they are hotter and they cost more
the AT (if it fits!) is an optimal shoe for rougher, rocky trails, you could probably get by w/ a lighter shoe if the trails are less rocky and more groomedMay 26, 2012 at 1:03 am #1881273
Picked up some Inov8 Roclite 315 on sale based off some favorable reviews I saw. It seems ideal but I ordered a half size larger than usual (normally an 11) and they still feel tight in the toebox area and slightly behind, not quite wide and tall enough in that area. Kinda bunches my foot together. Length is fine but I am not sure if going up 1/2 size more to a 12 would resolve the tight issue and they may end up being too long. As a reference, my regular trail runners are New Balance 572 size 11 in regular D width and fit great.
Anyone have experience with this? Those Merell Moab Ventilator Mids (size 12) are still the most comfortable fit wise but are clunky, heavier, and warm.May 26, 2012 at 7:13 am #1881293
I haven't tried Inov just because of the issue w/ them being narrow (I need my shoes a little wide) they make a Moab low that would be a little lighter (they also make the Moab in wide as well), have you tried any of Montrails lineup? the Sabino Trail and AT both have a roomy toe box
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