Gear Guy

Can you recommend a hiking boot to mitigate heel pain?

I bought a pair of Asolo FSN 95 GTX boots for hiking Mount Rainier's Wonderland Trail. They felt very comfortable in the store and needed very little breaking in, but I had to stop wearing them by the third day on the trail as they sorely aggravated bone spurs in my heel. Can you suggest a pair of hiking boots with soft inner heels that won't slide around too much? Marc Silver Spring, Maryland


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Yikes. If Asolo’s exceedingly foot-friendly FSN 95 ($155; www.asolo.com) isn’t comfortable for you, then I’m not sure you’re going to find anything. It’s simply not possible to build a boot with a “soft inner heel” that offers support anywhere else. In other words, you’re looking at hiking in some sort of trail runner, which may work but is far from ideal


Of course, Marc, as you know, “bone spurs” are not sharp little projections poking out of your heel. Instead, you have some bony material forming on the heel. And even THAT isn’t what hurts. Instead it’s a ligament that gets pulled tight by the additional bone. So my initial remark aside, it’s possible that another boot may support your foot in a way that’s different from the Asolo boots, reducing the ligament inflammation. An after-market insole such as Superfeet ($30; www.rei.com) might also provide better support. And, you may find that over-the-counter painkillers such as Advil and Motrin, acting as an anti-inflammatory, will keep you mobile when on the trail. Other than that, if you haven’t seen one already, go to a podiatrist. He or she may fit you with an orthotic brace that reduces pressure on the heel and ligament. Or, failing that, surgery that releases the ligament may be in order.

Good luck!

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