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Footwear
#58709 05/19/21 06:26 PM
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I’m hiking up the Whitney trail via the switchbacks on May 27th. For anyone who’s gone up that way recently, want kind of footwear would you recommend? Trail runners? Winter boots? Or lighter boots? Thanks!

Re: Footwear
Andrew B #58710 05/19/21 09:38 PM
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Trail runners will be fine. I hiked it in lightweight hiking boots -- with crampons strapped on when I was playing in the snow by the cables. But hiked the entire trail without spikes.

I have been trying to switch to trail runners, but have found that the old boots are kinder to my toes on the descents, so I've gone back to them. I use New Balance hiking shoes/boots because I need a super wide toe box.

Re: Footwear
Steve C #58711 05/20/21 02:41 AM
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Thanks!

Re: Footwear
Steve C #58714 05/20/21 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve C
Trail runners will be fine. I hiked it in lightweight hiking boots -- with crampons strapped on when I was playing in the snow by the cables. But hiked the entire trail without spikes.

I have been trying to switch to trail runners, but have found that the old boots are kinder to my toes on the descents, so I've gone back to them. I use New Balance hiking shoes/boots because I need a super wide toe box.

If you haven't tried them yet, try a pair of Altra or Topo Athletic trailrunners (Lone Peaks or Terraventures etc). Those two companies' claim to fame is wide toe boxes. My feet have been very happy since switching.

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Re: Footwear
MikeH #58798 06/04/21 03:58 PM
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1st timer here.. this forum has been super helpful with my preparation. Thank you to all of you that contribute quite regularly!

Are waterproof boots a must? My feet tend to blister in waterproof boots. I am going to try out the liner + wool sock thing to see how it goes.

Also, would you recommend carrying microspikes late July? Trying to cut down weight, but I read trip reports from late July that talked about snow in past years.

Re: Footwear
aristotle #58799 06/04/21 09:54 PM
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I have never understood the "thing" with waterproof boots. Are they supposed to make it so you can wade through a stream? Maybe through two inches of water... but how many places does anyone encounter such a stream? The Whitney area streams all have log crossings or large enough boulders that you can cross without getting wet boots.

This year, there will be no snow by the end of June, and streams are already so low you don't need to worry about wading.

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Re: Footwear
Steve C #58802 06/06/21 01:03 PM
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The usual stream crossings were easy yesterday, but the spring at 12,400’ made the lower 20 something switchbacks more like wading than hiking.

Re: Footwear
bobpickering #58803 06/06/21 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bobpickering
The usual stream crossings were easy yesterday, but the spring at 12,400’ made the lower 20 something switchbacks more like wading than hiking.

Ah, the switchback spring is still really gushing, huh?

That's how it was last August.

Re: Footwear
WanderingJim #58812 06/07/21 10:37 AM
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Thank you all for your responses! Its a tradeoff for me - dry feet vs blisters. Hope I ended up making the right call with Moab ventilators.

Re: Footwear
Steve C #58817 06/08/21 06:19 AM
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Steve,

Assuming your question isn't rhetorical grin wink I've used high-top GTX boots (Salomon Quest 4D boots) that are more or less waterproof for 10 years, Here's why: I incidentally chose a pair of boots when I did the JMT in a double snow year in 2011. Those boots were invaluable. Obviously, if you submerge your boot below the top your feet/socks will get wet. My good experience made me a believer in waterproof.

However, I cannot tell you how many times you find a rock for stream crossings that is 1-3 inches submerged you can still step there and stay dry, where you would get your feet wet with any other type of boot otherwise. Further, there were many times where my foot slipped off a log and I'd dip a toe or half-boot and my GTX boots would stay bone dry. They're also really great for snow or mud when sticky versions of either might adhere to the boot and slowly soak it through.

There are cons, weight/breathability namely, but I've been buying the same boot since and I've been very happy with them whether scaling 14ers or grinding out the JMT/HST. I've always been very assiduous in choosing socks so breathability hasn't been a major downside. Thus the Whitney area may not mandate such boots but they've been useful regardless.

What kind of footwear will you be sporting on the JMT?

Last edited by Snacking Bear; 06/08/21 06:45 AM.

@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain photos
Re: Footwear
aristotle #58818 06/08/21 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by aristotle
Thank you all for your responses! Its a tradeoff for me - dry feet vs blisters. Hope I ended up making the right call with Moab ventilators.

I think Steve made a good point about Whitney streams. I think you made a good choice.

I've always found sock choice and lacing technique to be the better indicator of blister prevention. I have gone years without blisters on my feet. The last time I did the JMT (along with the HST) I didn't get a single blister AND wore waterproof boots. If you are curious about my technique you can find it below.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

I always choose fully synthetic socks, meaning 0% cotton. I do not want a lick of it in my liner or my outer sock. I choose an ultra-thin liner and then a thicker boot sock outer. Before I put on my socks I apply body glide (the feet use body glide) lightly to all surfaces of my toes, the balls of my feet, the outer edge of my feet, and along my Achilles tendon.

I put on my socks so they are tight to my skin (no bunching!) then put on my boots, pounding my heel into the heel cup before firmly lacing across the foot, locking back my heel firmly (tighter than the foot but not by much and not too tight). Once laced on both feet I will walk around for a few minutes prior to unlacing my boots and tying a second time in the same way: reseat my heel and re-lace to a similar tightness.

I re-tie my boots for two reasons: one - when first donning my boots they are cold, rigid, and my socks are uncompressed by my body-weight thus re-tying allows my foot to settle in the boot, two - sometimes I tie my boots too tight/loose or the tension of the laces shifts after my boots are warmer re-tying gives me time to feel out my first lacing and ensure a snug fit without over-tightening.

Another thing I do sometimes includes bringing a fresh pair of socks to swap out mid-day on hikes over 20-miles (or when my feet get soaked).

Over the last 13 years of big hikes my incidence of blisters has trailed off as I've dialed this in, but YMMV.


@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain photos
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Re: Footwear
Snacking Bear #58819 06/08/21 07:58 PM
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S-Bear: Thanks for the full description of what works for you. For my JMT, (starting in 3 days!) I was planning on wearing my New Balance Leadville trail runners, but after several day hikes this spring, I switched to my older New Balance mid-height hiking boots. At the end of the day, the trail runners hurt my toes. No blisters, but maybe toes hitting the front of the shoe. This after tying them extra tight for the descents.

So I am wearing my New Balance MW1569.

Interestingly, looking up my old orders on Zappos.com, I see the trail runners are size 10, while the hiking boots are size 11. THAT could be the reason they hurt my toes!!

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Re: Footwear
Andrew B #58821 06/09/21 12:04 PM
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A good pair of alpine sandals are not a bad way to go once you already have blisters. Or you can always bring them with as a backup. After trying to break in my new pair of Scarpa Charmoz boots the week before the first photo, I was left with matching poker chip sized blisters on my heels. So I ended up just wearing flippy floppies car to car (except for the slope next to the switchbacks... wore my boots and crampons going up that at least). I think they worked out great and have worn them many more times in the the summer alpine. However there are three important things to consider...

- The unweathered sand up in high in the Sierras is quite abrasive compared to dune, beach and wash sand. If your sandals stay wet and get any grit between the tops of you feet and the strap, it will grind away at your skin like a 20 grit cat tongue! straps that don't absorb water are best.

- When postholing up to your crotch in sandals, it's great to have a long ice axe to retrieve them after you pull out from the snow. They tend to get yanked off and get stuck way down in there. Better yet its best to tie leashes to your ankles with some thin dynema cord so there is no way you can lose them!

- Glissading (much like rappelling) in flips requires you to clinch your toes real good to keep them from coming off. Glissading in board shorts requires clinching too but at least you don't have to worry about loosing em.


7-10-2019 Going up the donkey trail
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


7-17-2019 Heading up the north fork to climb the east buttress. I wore climbing shoes on route and boots coming down mr chute to Iceberg lake but sandals again for everything else.
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

Re: Footwear
crberg456 #58822 06/09/21 12:13 PM
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Some years ago, there was a Barefoot Ted who hiked the Whitney Main Trail completely shoe-less.

Re: Footwear
crberg456 #58824 06/10/21 12:59 PM
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Those mountaineering boot blisters are no joke. I had the same problem with some La Sportivas on Telescope Peak. I wasn't so wise as to bring backup sandals as you were.

Later I bought a better pair of Scarpas and started taping my heels with leukotape. I still shiver thinking of those blisters crazy


@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain photos
Re: Footwear
crberg456 #58826 06/10/21 06:51 PM
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I saw someone who had climbed up to Kearsarge Pass from Onion Valley barefoot once.

I guess you can get used to such hiking, but his feet were covered with cuts and bruises. Maybe it was his first time doing it. smile

Re: Footwear
WanderingJim #58916 06/27/21 08:27 AM
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Update with the MOAB ventilators + injinji liners + smartwool socks

Week 1 - 13 mi hike with 3K gain - break in, some soreness but no major issues
Week 2 - 7 mi hike with 2.5K gain with a 27lb pack - no issues
Week 3 - 16 mi hike with 3K gain - no issues
Week 4 - week 1 hike but with 33lb pack - tied my shoes very tight to avoid toe banging into the shoe, ended up with what looks like heel bursitis (swelling next to the Achilles tendon). I did not feel any pain on the hike itself. With the trip only 3 weeks away, I am really dejected. Any advice?

Last edited by aristotle; 06/27/21 08:51 AM.
Re: Footwear
aristotle #58920 06/27/21 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by aristotle
Week 4 - week 1 hike but with 33lb pack - tied my shoes very tight to avoid toe banging into the shoe, ended up with what looks like heel bursitis (swelling next to the Achilles tendon). I did not feel any pain on the hike itself. With the trip only 3 weeks away, I am really dejected. Any advice?

aristotle - You are asking a medical question. You should really see your doctor or an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine. Anecdotal stories from the internet may or may not be appropriate for your situation. Good luck!

Re: Footwear
aristotle #58927 06/28/21 05:34 AM
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I second the recommendation to seek a medical professional.

I will also note that you can hurt your feet by tying shoes too tight. If the achilles swelling is not a blister I might try to tie your shoes a little looser. Some foot in shoe movement is inevitable, but never be afraid to loosed your lacing if your feet feel overtight.


@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain photos
Re: Footwear
Snacking Bear #58939 06/29/21 09:02 AM
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Thank you for the footwear advice, I should have been more clear on what advice I was seeking. Fingers crossed that it wont bother me for the trip.

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