Certain popular boots, such as the Vasque Skywalk, are called "Mid-weight backpacking boots." What does this specification mean? If my proportions are fairly average, how big of a pack can I wear with a mid-weight backpacking boot? Arthur New York, New York

I’m hiking Kilimanjaro next August, and I need a lightweight and highly functional daypack (for a woman). Porters will carry everything else. What’s your pick? J.C. Palo Alto, California

Do really large (6,000 to 7,000 cubic inch) external-fre backpacks still exist? If so, where can I find one? Lovett Statesboro, Georgia

Do mid-height, fabric-and-leather boots offer any protection from rattlesnake bites? It gets very warm in the Gila and fabric is much more comfy than all-leather. Hal Las Cruces, New Mexico

Your Gearness, I keep seeing reviews for sub-5,000 cubic inch packs. Some of us get to wander the wilderness packing extra for the family or scouts, and we need bigger packs. What can you recommend for comfortably carrying 40 to 60 pounds in our beautiful mountains? Andrew Lehi, Utah

What is the best protection if a mountain lion is encountered on a hike? They have been spotted in our area, and we love to hike in our local wilderness park. Susan La Crescenta, California

Gear Dude, I need to replace my worn out three-season boots, and I haven't had any luck shopping here in England. I’m looking for a full-grain, one-piece leather upper and a Vibr sole, with none of these fancy schmancy Gore-Tex linings (I'm kinda old fashioned that way). Can you please help? Aaron Nottinghshire, England

My wife’s toes are constantly jming into her hiking boots on day hikes. We do moderate (8 to 14 mile) day hikes, and the downhill portions obviously create the greatest toe stress. Is there a particular type of hiking shoe that would remedy this? Ron Richmond, Virginia

I’d like your opinion on the Scarpa Escape GTX and La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX boots. I getting ready for a trip to Gannett Peak next summer and have narrowed my choice to these two boots. Logan Madison, Alabama

I live in an Army town where my choice for outdoor gear is fairly limited to military surplus products. Relatively cheap ALICE packs and woodland co Gore-Tex abound here. Is military-issue gear comparable to more expensive brand-ne gear? Jeff Lawton, Oklahoma

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I'm going backpacking in the north Olympic National Park beaches later this month and wondering what to bring for footwear. We're carrying full packs, but I'm thinking my hiking boots won't be great on slippery rocks and boardwalks. Any advice? Paula Augusta, Maine

I recently received a pair of 20-year-old Trappeur Gaston Rebuffat boots. I can’t find any information on them at all, but I do see them in almost all old climbing pictures. These babies feel like they’re made out of wood. Is there anything I can do make them more comfortable, or should I just give up? Travis Anchorage, Alaska

I recently purchased what were supposed to be great boots, only to have them rip my heels apart. I narrowed the problem down to the point where a combination of ses meets in the heel of the boot. My old boots were leather lined and didn’t have the ses of death. So, where can I find leather-lined boots these days, and how can I protect my heels when hiking regardless of the boots? Tanya Washington, D.C.

What footwear do you recommend for climbing Kilimanjaro? We will start in dense tropical rainforest and cross several climates to finish atop a sub-freezing, snow-covered peak. Oscar Smithton, Illinois

I have low-volume feet, and my Vasque Sundowners just died after 12 years. I have visited every outdoors store in town, and I just can't find a good hiker that actually fits. I tried Vasque, Kayland, Scarpa, La Sportiva, Montrail, Asolo, and even a few others. Nothing. Any suggestions? Greg Portland, Oregon

I plan to hike Mount Whitney over the course of two days with a 35-pound pack. What kind of shoe do you recommend? Hiking or backpacking boots? I want boots that are comfortable and fast. Yves Dana Point, California

What’s the difference between hiking boots and backpacking boots? I'm a beginner hiker/backpacker and looking for enough support from a boot that doesn't weight a ton. I’ll probably carry 35 pounds for five days max. Will hiking boots work? Peggy Charlotte, North Carolina

Which backpacks are big enough to hold a down sleeping bag (7X13” packed) and a three-season tent (7X23” packed), ong other travel supplies, but still small enough to carry on a plane? I’m going to Europe in the summer, and I've looked at the REI Tour Travel Pack and the North Face Terra 40 pack. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks. Chris Ledgewood, New Jersey

I have had a few sprained ankles over the years and wondering if the Lowa Vertex GTX is still the gold standard for ankle support. I'm 50 years old and going to Philmont with a bunch of hardened 17-year-old Eagle Scouts. Any suggestions? David Winterville, North Carolina

My spouse and I are walking England’s hilly but not rugged Cotswold Way in July. Luggage will be shuttled, but we need waterproof daypacks to carry raingear, lunches, first aid, hydration, and souvenirs between villages. What would you recommend? Alison Louisville, KY

What are the pro and cons of so-called “bodypacks” that balance the load on both the front and back of your body, such as the Aarn Bodypack? John Athens, Georgia

I’m walking the Cino de Santiago in April, but I can’t settle on a backpack that is light, holds around 35 pounds of gear, and will fight off the wet weather of Northern Spain. Any ideas? Jes Coquitl, British Columbia

I got a new pair of all-leather boots over the holidays and want to be sure I take good care of them. But there are so many different kinds of waterproofers and cleaners out there. Help! Cathy Little Rock, Arkansas

When we reviewed winterized packs (“Cold Storage,” February 2007), all of our favorites couldn’t fit on a single page. So here are four more ski-and-snowboard friendly backpacks that you can strap on wherever the snow is deep.

I need a boot to wear in the Nicaraguan backcountry, where the terrain is mainly small hills and marsh. There are many snakes, so I would like a boot that is comfortable but will protect against snake bites. Any recommendations? Shawn Cabot, Arkansas

I'm planning a one-year trip around the world and need a travel pack or backpack that is waterproof, durable, and carry-on size. It’d be nice not to look too much like a tourist. Any thoughts? Cliff Boston, Massachusetts

I'm planning a short backpacking trip into the Smoky Mountains, and the trails have several creek crossings. Do you have any recommendations for a backpacking boot that is quick-drying but still has enough support? Sawyer Charleston, South Carolina

I've never ice-climbed, but I interested because my dad used to climb. Which boots are good to have and which ones should I avoid? Theodore Knife River, Minnesota

I’m planning a week-long trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness next spring and need a large (at least 5,000 cubic inches), durable backpack. What do you recommend? Tom Morganton, North Carolina

I need gear-cleaning advice. My Vasque Breeze XCR light hikers are caked in mud, and my North Face Fusion backpack has a moldy odor. How do I clean these items without ruining them? Lilly New Haven, Connecticut

How should I choose a moldable liner for plastic mountaineering boots? Which is considered the warmest? Alan Quebec City, Quebec

What is the difference between a travel pack and a backpacking pack? I bought the Deuter Quantum 70+10 to take along on the Superior Trail next summer, and now I wonder if it was a good choice. Ross Winona, Minnesota

Maybe my feet have gotten bigger lately (though I’m an older guy), or my boots are getting smaller. Either way, I have some good leather boots that could use some stretching. What’s the best way to go about this? Art North Bend, Washington

I hiking the Grand Canyon for the first time next spring, and I concerned about foot care. I a diabetic and sores can really turn bad quickly. Do you have any advice? Trey Dallas, Texas

My wife and I are looking for a backpack with a child carrier so we can introduce our new little one to the pleasures of nature. Should we go with a backpack/carrier with less storage space for my petite wife, or a big carrier for me with lots of storage space? Alex Toronto, Ontario

I just returned from climbing Longs Peak in Colorado, and it was my first trip wearing mountaineering boots (Asolo Titans). They were a bit overkill for Longs, but is there any reason why every step I took after the first couple of hours felt like someone was slapping the bottom of my foot with a two-by-four? Are all crampon-compatible boots this uncomfortable, and what can I do for next time? Nick Maryville, Missouri

Do you have any recommendations on all-leather boots for women? I'm talking about all leather—no fo-cushioned insoles, no cloth vp lining. The only boot I can wear is a Redwing Irish Setter with an oak-tanned insole, but they don't make it in ladies' sizes. It seems like every manufacturer is going with their "miracle" man-made products, but these don't compare with good old leather. Phil Williston, North Dakota

I'm trying to find a daypack for my five-foot-tall wife for an upcoming vacation to Colorado. She has tried on several different models from Jansport to The North Face, but they’re not quite right. She wants no more than 1,800 cubic inches, easy access to a water bottle, and a stowable hip belt. Any suggestions? Bruce Omaha, Nebraska

I recently treated my leather hiking boots with the non-aqueous Nikwax. Will the leather ever be breathable again? Patrick Melbourne, Australia

My daughter is going into the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan and is looking for an everyday shoe that can handle the sub-zero temperatures. What would you recommend? Patricia

I’ll be working in northeastern Africa for the next five months, and I need a daily-wear shoe. The terrain is rocky, sandy, very hot, and very dry. I’m looking for a trail-runner or light hiker and have considered Merrell’s Cheleon. Any other suggestions? Peter Copenhagen, Denmark

With boots being so hard to fit, why aren't custom-made boots more popular? What about custom insoles? John Athens, Georgia

My 18-year-old niece is tackling a 30-day NOLS progr in the Wind River Range, and I’d like to help her find a pack. She’ll need 6,300 to 7,000 cubic inches of capacity and will be carrying some 60 pounds. Any suggestions? Ted Keene, New York

I’m planning a PCT through-hike (for next year) and thinking through footwear. Everyone seems to fall into one of two cps: heavyweight leather clunkers or ultralight replace-as-you-go. What about the middle ground? Is there some sort of rigid, steel-shanked running shoe with significant underfoot cushioning that can handle this trip? Mike Boston, Massachusetts

I'm planning a late-July attempt on Mount Rainier and have received conflicting advice on the boots to use. Will the La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX boots with supergaiters be warm enough? Or should I bite the bullet and buy a pair of plastics? Andy Denver, Colorado

I an avid outdoors photographer, but I’m tired of shooting the se things that tourists shoot. The solution: an overnight (or two-night) hike. I’m a newbie at this, so what type of pack and other gear do I need for these trips? Bill Pasadena, California

Is there a water-friendly sandal ong the usual brands, or otherwise, that has the support needed for a light backpacking trip? I'm planning a two- or three-day hike on the Jack's River Trail in Georgia’s Cohutta Wilderness. The trail has multiple river crossings, so I looking for an alternative to hiking boots. Or do you have a better alternative than sandals? Marshall Atlanta, Georgia

I need a backpack that’s appropriately sized for moderate four-day trips. Easy enough, right? The catch is that I need a little extra room for rock-climbing gear such as a 200-foot climbing rope, 60 feet of static line, and various carabiners and stoppers. What pack do you recommend? Ryan Baltimore, Maryland

I'm about to take on the Long Trail in Vermont for my end-of-high-school trip. My previous experience is short three- or four-day hikes, so nothing compared to the month-long excursion I'm about to undertake. What's the ideal long-distance boot for the Long Trail terrain? Tim Clifton Park, New York

After pulling my large backpack out of storage in my attic, I was dismayed to find that it stinks to high heaven. Are there some big guns that I can pull out to deodorize it without daging the pack?

I'm recovering from a ruptured disc and have an extended backpacking trip planned this summer, with doctor's approval granted! What's your opinion on the best packs for those of us with back problems; if not specific models, maybe manufacturers that build the best support systems? Andy Charlotte, North Carolina

My girlfriend and I are going backpacking for a few days. She wants to buy a female-friendly backpack. Any suggestions? Bill Cobb, California

My friend, not in a proper state of mind, decided it would be funny to completely fill and lather my Gore-Tex hiking boots in baby oil. I'm going on a hiking trip this summer in the Canadian Rockies, and I'm just wondering if these definitely need to be replaced or not. It seems like the oil would wreak havoc on the breathability of the Gore-Tex. Josh Grand Rapids, Michigan

What's the best way to waterproof a pack? Mike Bethany, West Virginia

I'm training as an emergency medical technician for wilderness search and rescue, so looking for a backpack that will give me compartmentalized access to my medical supplies. Any ideas? Daniel Patterson, New York

I hear there is a new Arc'teryx backpack looming on the horizon this April that is supposed to be a huge step forward in backpacking technology. Is there any truth to this? Kolby Vancouver, British Columbia

In a month I will be visiting southern Utah and hiking to and around the Wave area of the North Coyote Buttes. I'm interested in buying a nice pair of hiking shoes for this trip and for future trips of this nature. I also interested in buying a nice pair of hiking boots for hiking in the mountains and general wilderness hiking. The problem is that I’m a poor college student and can not afford two kinds of shoes for two kinds of hiking. Is there a shoe or boot out there that would work equally well on both terrains? I don’t think support as much as traction is an issue on slick rock, but support is a huge issue when hiking up mountains. Kristen Provo, Utah

I'm looking for a lighter backpack around 1,000 cubic inches to hike several 100 miles. I'm right now using a REI Flash UL Pack which is good for a four-day hike but its weight is 10 oz. I know there are lighter packs. Is there any that you would recommend? Keith Waynesboro, PA

Do you have any recommendations about footwear (boots, covers, etc.)? I've seen these nes used a lot for climbs: Koflach Arctis Expe, OneSport Everest, or Scarpa Inverno. Any "new" kids on the block? I'm looking to summit McKinley. Greg Allentown, PA

A couple years ago I saw an ad in Outside for a pack which was basically a strap that went over one shoulder and had several pockets on it for gear. I think it was called something like "strapack." Can you help me find it? David Washington, Missouri

G'day, Doug. I'm after an "all-rounder" backpack for trekking, travel, backpacking, the lot! I want a top-loader but can't decide between two Deuter bags, the Aircontact 75+10 or 65+10. The 75 might be a bit big for city travel, but it could carry all my climbing gear, trekking boots, tent, sleeping bag, and the like. On the other hand, the 65 might be better for ease of use, and I can then carry a cargo bag for the excess. What do you think? Mark Brisbane, Queensland

I'm looking for a do-everything mountaineering boot, a tall order I know. A friend and I have plans to travel through the Americas next year, climbing in the big mountains wherever we go, following the summer. I only want to bring a single pair of boots, so I want something that can handle bushwhacking in Patagonia, snow and ice climbs in the Canadian Rockies, and the cold and altitude of Aconcagua. Is there one boot that can handle all that? I'm leaning towards either the Scarpa Inverno or the La Sportiva Nepal Extreme. Alex Princeton, New Jersey

I an avid trekker in the Indian Himalayas, but on a recent five-day hike I ended up with mashed toes (black nails) and blisters in the heel area. I need a boot that's not too heavy and that will give good support on the killer downhills. L.L. Bean's Cresta Hiker or Vasque's Sundowner both get good reviews, though there seems to be some apprehension about the quality of the latter due to its Chinese manufacturing. Ravinder Delhi, India

My husband is going on his first ecology field study in the Amazon rainforest. He's been looking at different backpacks, including some from Kelty, but is unsure what he should get for his ten-day trip. He will need to take a sleeping bag and hydration pack. I'd like to surprise him with something for Christmas. What do you recommend? Kristi Walnutport, Pennsylvania

My husband and I love to hike, mostly day hiking at national parks. The problem is that he is six-foot-eight, and the backpack he uses fits uncomfortably and he can't use the chest strap. Can you help us find a pack that would fit? Janelle Olathe, Kansas

Could you recommend some boots that are waterproof and comfortable? Sometimes it snows like heck and I don't want my feet getting wet and/or cold. I also diabetic so taking care of my feet is imperative. Jimmy New York City

Are outsoles like tires? Do you have to sacrifice stickiness for long life? I own a pair of Vasque Wasatch GTX boots, and while I rate them for dry terrain, their Vibr soles slip quite a bit on wet rocks. On my next pair of boots, how can I get an outsole better suited to the wet trails of the Northwest? Mark Portland, Oregon

I looking for the perfect shoe for walking Spain's El Cino de Santiago de Compostela, something that will cushion for 20- to 25-pound loads and up to 20 miles a day. There will be some wet weather, and temps will range from almost freezing to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I hearing a lot about choosing a trail runner over a hiking boot from former Cino hikers who say it's not necessary for this terrain. I currently considering the women's Vasque Endorphin. Sheila Calgary, Alberta

ADVANCES IN SOLAR PANELS in recent years have led to some promising developments in off-the-grid recharging, with light, flexible cells that can be fused into tents, backpacks, and even clothing. Alas, the designs have thus far placed utility above style—executed with all the flair of a Soviet architect. But this…

My homage: I a regular and long-time reader; I have made purchases based on your advice; I previously submitted questions regarding winter camping gear; I even read your book, A Season of Fire. Everything but drink the Kool-Aid! My quandary: I six-foot-four with a long torso and having trouble finding daypacks that fit. Do you have any recommendations for a medium- or high-volume daypack with a good suspension system? Jim Holland Patent, New York

I've read some of your previous columns regarding women's hiking boots, but I don't feel confident in choosing a good boot. I'm a novice hiker looking for a women's hiking/backpacking boot. My plans are to travel all over the U.S. and live most of my time in the outdoors, forests, deserts, etc. I need a good hiking boot for year-round, long-distance, constant use. I don't plan on climbing any major mountains quite yet, though. Rebekah Appleton, Wisconsin

I'm looking for a stitched-sole, full-steel-shank leather boot. They seem to be an old-school requirement, but I really want to have a pair of hiking boots that will last me 20 years. Does anybody still make high-spec hand-stitched stuff, or are injection-molded boots the only option? Josh London, United Kingdom

I recently took a pair of Scarpa ZG 65 boots on a massive four-day hike through the Drakensburg Mountains. They ce back completely filthy, so I used some Nikwax products to help clean them up. On the bottle it says that if really dirty, use a "stiff nylon nail brush to assist," so I did. Unfortunately, that caused the inner fabric on one of my boots to become very, very furry. Please tell me how badly I have messed up my boots. Why would they include instructions that would harm one's boots? Kirsty KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

I'm looking for a versatile shoe that would serve as lightweight cp footwear as well as a good option for stre crossings. I've tried neoprene water moccasins and Teva sandals, but neither hits the cp-shoe mark (cold and wet after stre crossings, or in wet conditions). Jes Terre Haute, Indiana

My college-aged daughter will be studying abroad starting in January. The program requires that she bring everything she needs for the entire semester in a single non-wheeled backpack. She won't be camping out but doing homestays in Germany and Tanzania, with some travel in between. Deb Amherst, New Hampshire

For the past couple of winters, I've been climbing ice and mountains in a used pair of plastic boots that are a couple sizes too big. I bought them because they were inexpensive and fit reasonably well, plus I wasn't sure how long I'd stick with ice climbing. I now ready to drop the cash for a brand-new pair of plastic boots that fit. Any recommendations for a female with slightly narrow and cold feet? Claire Minneapolis, Minnesota

My wife has decreed that we shall hike the Grinnell Glacier one day this fall, a 12 -mile round trip. I 53 years old and not an avid hiker. To meet her challenge I'm spending the summer on the treadmill and stair machine. I'd like to get some sort of fanny pack for each of us, the type that holds two bottles of water. What features/specifications should I look for? Any particular brands? Jeff Mount Prospect, IL