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Gear Guy

What's a good pair of multi-sport sandals?

This summer I plan on taking a backpacking trip to the Selway River or Kelly Creek in Idaho. I hope to do some fishing as well, which will require wading in the river. I do not want to take wading boots due to the weight. Do you have any recommendations for sandals or other footwear that can serve as both hiking sandals and water sandals? I need good sole support for hiking and walking over boulders while wading. I also require a non-slip surface that will grip wet rocks. I have found that hook-and-loops material does not work well when wet. Last summer, the hook-and-loop straps kept coming undone on my Tevas. Any help is greatly appreciated. J.L. Walker

A: Turns out there are some shoes out there that may offer what you're after, J.L. A company called Bite, which got its start making golfing sandals, has in the past year made a big foray into trail and wet-use sandals. Their big improvement over earlier sandals has been the incorporation of a toe guard, so you won't be curled up on the trail, moaning in agony, should you stub your foot on a rock. Bite makes a true "fishing" sandal called, appropriately, the Troutstream ($59). But, it has felt sole pads, which, while lauded by most fishermen, aren't the best thing for general trail use.

So, this spring, Bite has come out with a sandal called the Headhunter ($69), of which I happen to have a pair. The Headhunters are basically a sturdy trail sandal-incorporating Bite's toe-guard-with a sticky-rubber sole designed for use around water. I won't say they'll work perfectly on wet rocks, but in terms of a compromise sole that's good on trails as well as around streams, they're probably as good as anything on the market right now. Also, the Headhunters have no hook-and-loop fasteners; small sliding buckles keep them fastened firmly to your feet. Give them a look!

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