With experience, comes knowledge. With knowledge, comes the impulse to share. At the very core of Impulse Adventures there is a desire to share our experiences with you first hand. We want you to come with us and experience our amazing destinations for yourself, but before you do, we’d like to share some of the things we’ve learnt over the years, to make your experience more comfortable, more enjoyable, and more rewarding.
Here you will find a collection of stories and guides ranging from exploring concepts of travel, to selecting the right gear, and getting prepared for your adventure.
The Impulsive Traveler
BootsSat, 12th Nov 2016
Boots. Your best friend, or your worst enemy.
A trekking adventure can be extremely rewarding, and a lot of fun. For most people, your enjoyment is directly related to your level of comfort, sure we head into some uncomfortable environments, but our equipment is designed to protect us from the elements, and create comfort where mother nature forgot to
Selecting the right footwear for you and your adventure is up there as being one of the most important things that can contribute to your happiness. Think about it, you're trekking to Everest Basecamp, thats at least 14 days spent walking, how much would you enjoy it if after day 3 your feet were in agony because you were getting blisters, or aches and strains because you're not supported? Not much.
There are 3 main categories of trekking footwear, and 2 main factors that will help indicate whats right for your adventure.
Hiking shoes are light, comfortable, and generally softer and more flexible than boots. Their soles will provide a lot more stability, traction and protection than a regular walking shoe, without the cumbersome weight of a bigger boot. A great even lighter alternative is a sturdy trail runner like the ever favoured Salomon XA Pro, light, soft, comfy and a lot of arch support, keep in mind, these are a lot more supportive than a regular running shoe, as their designed for trail. One major benefit of a hiking shoe, like the Merrell Moab, pictured below, over a trail runner is the stability and underfoot protection. Their soles are thicker and you'll feel less of the terrain on your feet, after long days on uneven terrain, this can make a big difference!
Mid height hiking boots:
A mid hiking boot is another light weight generally soft hiking shoe that extends a little higher than its smaller cousin above. The addition of this extra height provides the user with a little bit of ankle support. A common myth is that ankle support stops you from rolling your ankles, it doesn't. While it's still possible to roll your ankle, a little support from your mid boot can make you feel a little more stable on uneven terrain, and help support your ankles when they're under additional load from carrying things, like your backpack. Just like hiking shoes, within this category you can find a vast range of quality and design. If you're looking for a more supportive boot, make sure it has enough structure in the sole to help you! Examples below are the Salomon XA Pro Mid and Keen Targhee II mid.
Full height trekking boots:
This is the more serious end of the spectrum. Full height trekking boots offer a higher ankle, and therefore more support (no, it still won't stop you rolling your ankle, but it can help!) as well as generally a much more rigid sole, providing a strong platform for that support and plenty of protection from the terrain you'll be taking on. The down side of this type of boot is they are harder, stiffer and heavier, but that's an easy sacrifice when you need them!
"So which one is right for me?"
As mentioned before there are 2 main considerations for selecting a style, the terrain you'll be walking on, and the weight you'll be carrying. Most well maintained hiking trails can be comfortably walked in a good pair of hiking shoes, but when the trail conditions decrease, the support you need from your footwear increases. If you're expecting more rough and uneven terrain, a little ankle support can definitely be worth while. If you're on a longer trek, with more rough terrain and harsher conditions such as an alpine trek with uneven and loose rock, snow or even ice, a full height boot can give you the security that you might be after.
The other consideration is the load you're carrying. You've probably been walking around for a few years now, so your body is used to carrying its own weight. Add a backpack, and we need a little help to handle the added stress. As a general guideline, anything up to about 5kgs is usually manageable with hiking or solid walking shoes. 5-15kgs, mid height boots work great, 15+ kgs, you may want to consider a heavier trekking boot.
RIGHT! Now that we've decided on a style of boot, the next step is to narrow it down to one pair! There are a lot of different boots in each category, all have different levels of support and structure, different shapes, widths, volume, the combinations are endless! The best advice is to go to all the different shops and try them all on! You need to find the one that fits YOUR foot, and thats why specific advice can be a good start, but shouldn't be a defining end.
What to look for:
When trying on boots there are a few important steps to follow.
Be sure you're wearing similar weight socks to what you plan to use with the boots, it makes a surprisingly big difference!
Get both boots on and lace them up properly, you shouldn't need to crank the laces too tight, but make sure they're not loose.
Spend some time in them. Boots can take 5 minutes or more to warm up to your feet, over this time the way they feel will change slightly, you may start to notice small points of pressure or rubbing that could indicate future trouble!
Test them on angles. Your trekking trail is unlikely to be smooth, flat and horizontal like the shop floor, so you shouldn't test your boots like that. A good outdoor store should have a test ramp, or at the very least some stairs to walk on. 2 easy tests are walking up an incline, check to make sure your heel isn't slipping out of its position. There will always be a little movement, and stiffer the boot, the more movement, 5-10mm is normal, but you shouldn't feel your heel is lifting out of its cup. Secondly, walk down the ramp, this will test if you slide around inside the boots, excessive sliding could mean they're too big. If there's a little movement, try adjusting the laces.
lastly, at any point during your testing, if your toes touch the end of the boot, you can feel any specific pressure points or friction, or any other discomfort, you have the wrong size, or the wrong boot. If its noticeable now, it will be uncomfortable after a day of walking, and painful by the end of your trek!
Finding the right pair of boots my lead you on a journey as long as the adventure you're about to take! It's important to take your time, visit different stores, narrow a selection, then try the all again. Your future self, and your feet will thank you for the time you've invested when you're a few days into your trek!
Bonus tip: Inner soles and orthotics.
After market inner soles can revolutionise a pair of boots, and will change how they feel. No matter the quality of your boots, they all come with a flimsy little foam inner sole, its not too bad, but after a little time, the foam will be compressed to oblivion and they'll offer you nothing! A good pair of inner soles can offer a softer ride and increased arch support (if you need it, it can save your ankles some pain! See a podiatrist or good physio) but unfortunately will alter the fit of the boot as they take up more space and therefore raise your foot up. You may find your require a boot with more volume to allow for this. If you plan to get inner soles, or already have orthotics, make sure you get them first, and try your boots on with them inside!
The is old rule that you need to 'break in' your boots. While this may have had some credibility in the days of old, with modern technologies and materials, it's a thing of the past. Any boots made from synthetic textiles, or combinations of synthetic and suede/rawhide leather will likely soften up within 5-10 minutes of use, and thats about all you'll get. Heavier, stiffer, full grain or polished leather boots may take a little more time, and while over time, the leather will soften and potentially form around your feet a little, this should not be relied upon while fitting your boots! If something rubs, presses or hurts, they're no good for you (or the wrong size)! Don't be fooled by an inexperienced sales person telling you "it will go once you break them in". Bottom line, and golden rule is the perfect fit is most important! Find it, and you won't need to 'break in your boots'.
Note: while its not necessary to 'break in your boots', its still very much recommended to get them well in advance of your adventure, and wear them during all your training. This will help you get used to them, and also highlight any potential issues with enough time to deal with them before you go!
We hope this article has helped give you an idea of whats our there, and what you're looking for! If you're still not sure, or have any questions get in touch with us to chat about it. We even have some great tips of where to shop, and can help make sure you get a great deal too!