As I’ve mentioned on this blog before (and is my opinion), the type of radio, the type of antenna and the type of battery is not as important as the boots you wear on your feet and the pack you carry on your back. I discussed my quest for finding a better fitting and more SOTA functional backpack a few months ago. Now I’d like to share the research, information and tell you about the boots I decided to purchase.
Just as I stated in the blog post about my backpack, I do encourage you to conduct your own research and by all means go visit an outdoor specialty shop or two and try on many different types and styles.
Types of Footwear
Much as I tried to do in my backpack article, I want to just briefly share what I’ve learned regarding the various types and styles of footwear available for outdoor adventure. You’ll find trail footwear listed in the following categories of shoes, boots and even sandals.
Most may automatically associate the hiking boot as the best form of footwear for hiking/backpacking/SOTA. I agree with this philosophy primarily because I have bad ankles. However, some outdoor enthusiasts prefer the trail-running style of footwear. New footwear technology is helping make these types of shoes as durable as hiking boots without the extra weight and mass.
Prior to starting my recent research, I owned two pair of what I called hiking boots. The first pair really are hiking boots, but are approx. 18 years old. My Asolo Globaline boots were purchased back in the mid 90’s and what I’ve used on many backpacking and hiking trips. The boots were heavy and didn’t fit very well. This improper fit was really noticeable when hiking downhill.
The second pair of boots are a leather Timberland hiker which really is more for looks than functionality. They worked well for a casual day hike with a very light pack load. However, I could feel almost every rock and pebble under my boots on the trail. Not good.
As I’ve grown older (I’m currently 46), my arches have fallen and the ligaments in my ankles have been stretched, torn and rolled more times than I care to remember. I’m also looking for a lighter weighted boot that will provide me 3 1/2 season use.
I’ve been reading reviews from various online outdoor bloggers as well as information in magazines such as Backpacker and Outdoor Magazines. Over the past several weeks I read extensive reviews on various models by Asolo, Lowa, Merrell and Salomon. After making a few visits to my local REI and speaking with REI staff, I shortened my list down to Lowa and Salomon. Specifically the Lowa Renegade II GTX and the Salomon Quest 4D GTX.
The Lowa Renegade and Salomon Quest are both very close in feature and functionality. Both feature over-the-ankle height and Gore-Tex waterproof breathable materials. The Lowa Renegade average weight is 2 lbs. 7 ounces with the Salomon Quest weighing 2 lbs.13 ounces.
The more I researched, the more places on the interwebz I began to find positive information for the Salomon Quest 4D GTX boots. The tipping point came after I found many of our armed forces were wearing these same boots in Afghanistan. I’m a firm believer that if something is good enough for our military, then it is certainly good enough for me.
I returned to my local REI to continue my research, try on a pair and eventually purchase the boots. While I do make some purchases from online retailers, I really do try to support businesses in my local area. Plus the staff at these outdoor specialty shops really know what they are talking about.
I decided to play slightly un-informed as I really wanted to make sure that what I needed and what I researched online would be what I would purchase in a new hiking boot. I explained to Thom at my local REI that I needed a boot which fit well, would provide the ankle support I lacked in my other boots and would be durable for the type of hiking I do.
Thom carefully listened and within about two minutes he had pulled the Solomon Quest boot from the shelf and said “This is what you need”. He also recommended the Superfeet Orange insoles to help support my aching arches.
After measuring my feet and setting up a pair of new Solomon’s with the Superfeet insoles, he told me to walk around the store for a half hour or so. I did just that and realized within about 15 minutes these boots would be going home with me.
My New Boots
Once home with my new Salomon Quest hiking boots and Superfeet Orange insoles, I wore them around the house and out and about in the neighborhood as much as possible to break the boots in. After wearing them for about 3 weeks I was itching to get them on a SOTA summit trail.
The first opportunity to introduce my new boots to Summits on the Air came on November 3rd with my first double SOTA activation of Chief Mountain and Squaw Mountain. I hiked for approx. 7 miles for the two combined activations and my feet felt like they were walking on a cloud.
This double activation allowed me to test the boots for both comfort, durability, stability and traction on trail conditions varying from dry to snow packed and even ice.
In addition to the new Salomon Quest boots, the Superfeet Orange insoles…I also splurged on a new pair of socks. I picked up a pair of Smartool hiking socks. Not only were these socks comfortable and kept my feet dry…they also provided the right cushion in the right places making everything related to my feet a perfect trail experience.
As I stated at the top of this article (and also mentioned in the backpack post) please do your own research and by all means, try on many different types and brands. Visit outdoor specialty shops and speak to knowledgeable staff. Places like REI will take the time to listen to what your needs are and help you make the right choice.
If SOTA is something you’re interested in participating in, I promise you’ll care more about what type of boots and pack you use and less about the radio, antenna and power source. But those are important as well.
Until next time…
73 de KDØBIK