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post #1 of (permalink) Old 12-28-2014, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
 
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Smile West Coast Trail foot wear - opinions

Hi
I'm planning on doing the WCT Sep 2015. Since getting back into hiking, I've adopted the light weight backpack and trail shoes approach. I have not missed my boots. But I have not hiked a trail like the WCT before.

I would like to have opinions from experienced WCT hikers. I would like to hear from those who have done the WCT and what their experience was with their foot wear choice:
Ex
1. I did it in trail shoes, my feet got soaked but I didn't care, lighter shoes dried faster, no regrets.
2. I tried it in trail shoes, Big Mistake.
3. I used hiking boots, that were water proof, my feet stayed dry, no regrets.
4. I used hiking boots, that were supposed to be water proof, my feet got soaked anyway.

I have read a lot internet trail reports and youtube vids. Most pics of footwear I see is soaked boots.

Thanks for your opinions and help in advance.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 10:37 AM
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Totally weather dependent. I used hiking boots and was comfortable (except for one long beach section which caused a blister). A friend hiked in trail runners and managed okay, but he had to creatively avoid some muddy sections. This was during a long dry hot spell on the West Coast.

More realistically, you will encounter more mud and weather than I did. I recommend hiking boots, but bring sandals or flip flops for hanging around camp.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 11:07 AM
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I wore heavy backpacking boots but i need the ankle support. I saw a lot of people wearing running shoes, etc. and they seemed to be fine. I think it really depends on the person.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 12:14 PM
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Just do yourself a favor and get good, waterproof hiking boots with ankle support. Also make sure to get gaiters. Your feet will get wet and muddy no matter what the weather is like. You're also going to be carrying 40-60lbs on your back and you're going to want the support, especially on some of the more awkward and tricky sections.

My gf and I did it early August 14 during a relatively dry time but still had to negotiate many nasty, deep muddy sections that are very difficult to get around. We both had good goretex boots and gaiters and were totally caked with mud almost everyday... but feet were dry, comfortable and blister free.

to echo guntis, light camp shoes or sandals are critical for chill times at the beach
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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I should add that I will be doing the trail over 7 days, so not rushing it. Also, I intend to keep my backpack weight to around 30ish lbs. I will definitely be using gaiters and trekking poles.

Thanks for the replies so far. You all kept your feet dry in your boots. I was beginning to think that keeping boots dry could not be done on this trail. That alone, was a big reason I was thinking of not bothering with boots.

I do think choice of foot wear has to be viewed as trail dependent (based on conditions). Obviously from just posting my question, Im tempted to use trail shoes. They are just so comfortable and light. But I respect the opinions of those who have experienced the trail conditions. Maybe I could compromise to a Mid- Goretex boot... hmm

I would like to hear from others who have done the WCT. Is there anyone out there that has done it in trail shoes, and regretted it?

If you were doing it, would you chose different foot wear?
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 01:34 PM
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I'm slowly prepping for the WCT too and plan on moderately heavy hiking boots.

Keep in mind that not all hikers are alike. On a test at Cape Scott, I found my heavy (1.5kg/pr size 13) hikers worked great, and were so comfortable that I wasn't in any rush to take them off. I wouldn't say the same for my older set of hikers, which fit decent, but are a bit more stiff and not as forgiving, even if they are a fair bit lighter.

Camp shoes are a definite must, dollar store crocs (lighter than the real thing) are my recommendation.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 05:40 PM
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I haven't done the WCT yet but hoping i can do it in mid August with some friends if we can manage to get time off work together. Due to 3 small kids at home my wife wont allow me to be gone from home more than 3 days, so i have no choice but to do it in 3 days.If you want to go light think of Fastpacking rather than Backpacking. Fastpacking is typically a lighter version of backpacking (no more than 20 pounds on your back). The advantage of Fastpacking is that you don't need to wear backpacking boots, thus you can move faster. It is often said that each pound (0.45kg) on your feet equates to at least five pounds (2.3kg) on your back. Think of all the thru hikers like Justin Lichter, Andrew Skurka, Cam Honan,etc, all mostly used trailrunners. Here is a good trip report from a couple who did in trailrunners with ultralight packs:

http://www.brettonstuff.com/index.ph...-report-day-1/

And their ultralight gear list here:

http://www.brettonstuff.com/index.ph...king/gearlist/

“Nature is always hinting at us. It hints over and over again. And suddenly we take the hint.” - Robert Frost

Last edited by alpinehiker; 12-29-2014 at 07:19 PM.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Alpinehiker

Yes, I have been to Brett's site. Its very informative and useful. Most ultralight backpackers all swear by using trail runners and will not bother with trying to have water proof foot wear. I agree with the philosophy to a certain extent. Even Brett on his hike expereinced wet feet for I think most the whole trail (if I recall he shows a pic of his pruned bare feet on his trail report) which I think he did in 4 or 5 days. Brett said his trail shoes worked out for him.
I have talked to a salesman at MEC who has also used trail runners and also Teva sandals.

I would like to hear from others who have done the WCT in trail runners and either admit it was a mistake or reaffirm their choice. And also from some hikers that used boots and wished they had used trail runners. The WCT may be one of those trails that due to the duration (7 days) and conditions (mud, rain, etc) the trail runner philosophy is tested. I think it is important to consider the opinions of those with experience.

I have 8 months to commit to a foot wear strategy, so lots of time. Like I said, Im tempted by the trail shoe strategy.

Cheers to everyone.

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 07:14 PM
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If i do it in August i will let you know, if you do it before me, you let me know .

“Nature is always hinting at us. It hints over and over again. And suddenly we take the hint.” - Robert Frost
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ilikemax View Post
You're also going to be carrying 40-60lbs on your back and you're going to want the support, especially on some of the more awkward and tricky sections.
This is not the same for everyone. If your feet are going to be wet anyway, that's a good argument for some people to go with a lighter shoe.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 09:23 PM
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"Justin Lichter, Andrew Skurka, Cam Honan,etc, all mostly used trailrunners."

Don't overlook that they have a pretty good fitness level and ankles well used to it.

Gotta honestly assess your legs under the load you'll be carrying, if you think they are up to it, decide based on weather. Boots are more stable and protect ankles a lot. Well fitting boots with your feet toughened up by training in them are pretty sweet indeed and just one sprained ankle can ruin a great trip. Shoes are so wonderfully fast, light and agile, I love them too. When I go solo and remote I tend to go with boots for the added margin of injury-prevention, but on the WCT it's only the embarrassment of an evacuation, not a few days waiting in pain to become overdue and looked for... Or a week of hobbling... Or worse...
Knowing shoes, boots and coastal hiking well, I would choose shoes over boots if and only if it's relatively dry and a good forecast. In a wet year or season, boots.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2014, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Alexcanuck,
All very good points made. The forecast will be a big consideration. In fact, if the forecast is for a week straight of rain, I doubt I will do the hike. I think camping in the rain sucks (hiking in the rain on the other hand can be nice if it is not cold). I have nothing to prove by camping in the rain for a week (done that).

I haven't heard from or seen a trip report from a WCT hiker that used trail runners and regretted the decision (maybe if their feet could do the talking the story would be different... lol)
Cheers
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 12-30-2014, 01:22 AM
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Hi danfred,

I did the WCT in trail runners and they worked well for me. My feet did not suffer any blisters, and the skin on my feet was in good condition at the end of the hike. No regrets.

However, other factors contributed to their success. I'd spent the year before hiking in trail runners, so my feet and ankles were well conditioned. Also, I was carrying at most 26 lbs on my back. Knee high gaiters were necessary to keep the trail runners on my feet in sucking mud.

Moisture-wise, my feet did not stay dry, but did not get soaking wet either. My socks were made of super thin wool, so they didn't retain much water, and my feet stayed warm even when wet. During wet and rainy periods, my socks and the environment inside my shoes could have been described as lightly damp. All the walking squeezes the water out from the socks, and since the runners were mostly mesh the water would drain out easily.

Each night I slept with dry socks on my feet. Each morning I coated my feet in a wax and oil based coating (Burt's Bees Hand Salve), a technique I learned from Andrew Skurka's blog. This water repellent coating kept the skin on my feet from pruning.

I'd definitely use trail runners for the WCT again.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 12-30-2014, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Flow,
That is was a great reply. Can I ask what were the shoes you used? Did you have to wash/rinse them after the mud sections, or just walk it off. Also, how many days did you do the hike in and what was the weather (much rain?)?
I have been wondering about maybe using gore-etc trail runners, but from the videos I have been watching and trail reports, it appeared that hikers with water proof boots were getting their boots wetted out, so what good would gore-tex in a trail shoe do?
Your shoe strategy pretty much describes what I was thinking. I always day hike in trail runners, and don't care about getting my feet wet. But, at the end of the day, I'm home and dry. I have used Merrell Moab Vents, but also just my old Asics joggers on day hikes. I'm getting new trail runners for this hike.

Cheers

Last edited by danfred; 12-30-2014 at 12:01 PM.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 12-30-2014, 03:40 PM
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The shoes I used have been discontinued, but they were the Merrell Mix Master Glide, the trail runner version of the Merrell Mix Master Move Glide (http://www.merrell.com/CA/en-CA/Prod...ter-Move-Glide), with the trail runner having a rockplate.

I didn't need to rinse after the mud sections. The gaiters kept out most of the mud, and the mud didn't stick to the shoes for long.

I did the hike in 5 days and 5 nights. It rained during two days, and very hard during one of them. However, since my feet were unaffected by immersion in water, I'd walk through creeks, tide pools, and go knee deep into the ocean even on sunny days, so my feet were damp the entire hike.

I agree with you about Gore-tex in a trail shoe. My runners being non-waterproof and made of airy mesh was essential to my footwear system working. Gore-tex trail runners wouldn't have worked because water in them doesn't drain out and they don't breathe well. Here are some articles on the subject that might help:
http://andrewskurka.com/2012/why-wat...your-feet-dry/
http://andrewskurka.com/2012/minimiz...h-of-wet-feet/

Cheers.
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