I'm having trouble finding a good-fitting boot. A 12 feels short and a 13 is creating blisters on the tips of my toes. Can you suggest some brands that might have something in between a 12 and 13? I'm backpacking in west Texas and throughout the Rockies. Thanks! Erik Austin, TX

I'm looking for a lightweight, water-resistant, secure, and organization-friendly pack., basically what I would call my weekend pack. I'd like to have enough space for some food, water (hydration sleeve a plus), backup clothes, and all the gadgets we love so much (i.e. cell phone, iPod, GPS, headlp, etc.). Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Chris Royal Palm Beach, FL

I planning a number of long backpacking trips in the Cascades and Olympics, as well as climbs of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ads, and Mt. Rainier this summer. Recently, most of my old gear was stolen from my car while moving. I still have a tent and sleeping bag, but I no longer have my backpack, boots, stove, or any foul-weather gear. Can you recommend the best all-around light gear that is not too expensive but can hold up to the demands of the Pacific Northwest? (Just so you know, I a small women—5'2" and 103 lbs—so I need to keep things light and small.) Michele Portland, OR

I'm looking for a good day pack that I can use both hiking and mountain biking. I'm 6'5" and need to find one that will fit properly. Justin Rineyville, KY

What boot would give me the most bang for my buck when hiking south on Appalachian Trail in the early spring through summer, considering durability and water-tightness? Ian Nottingh, PA

I'm looking for luggage to use on a ten-day eco-tour of Costa Rica. Do you have any suggestions? Mark Buffalo, NY

Before there was Timbaland, there were Timberland boots. And before pop stars began naming themselves after consumer brands, there was the Abington Shoe Company. Established in 1933, it would eventually blossom into the $1.4 billion footwear-and-apparel behemoth now known as Timberland. Boots were cut from simpler cloth then—the only indulgence…

I've been using a Gregory Palisade backpack for week-long trips, usually on the AT or in the Whites. But I’d like to purchase a pack made specifically for women. Which pack will provide similar size and features as the Palisade? Kate Boston, Massachusetts

Can you recommend some good winter backpacking boots? Most of the time, I’d be around 4,000 feet, though I do spend some time around treeline as well. Bill Billerica, Massachusetts

My work frequently takes me to developing-world destinations where streets are unpaved and sidewalks nonexistent. Yet I'm generally expected to maintain business casual attire. Is there a shoe that acts like a hiking shoe but doesn't look out of place with a pair of khakis in the office? Christopher Washington, D.C.

El Naturalista‘s Messenger Bag is old-school cool ($420; elnaturalista.com).

I have the chance to purchase an old, never-used Dana Design Bomb pack to replace my Dana Sluiskin 30, which has proven to be a bit small. I do a lot of peak bagging and some light overnights in Colorado and occasionally take friends who don't have packs. What do you think? Mark Topeka, Kansas

Who makes quality comfortable backpacks for kids, ages 8 to 12? My grandsons love our weekend camping trips, but the best packs we can find, extra-small women’s packs, still have harness systems too large for them. S Fairbanks, Alaska

I have a new pair of Scarpa Trek Pro hiking boots and wore them for a week inside for up to four hours. They seemed great, so I went out in the bush for 2.5 hours and ended up with huge blisters on my heels. Was I too hasty or bitious in my first outing? And what is the best way to treat blisters? Alison Victoria, Australia

What weight of fleece (for a jacket) would you recommend for late-summer backpacking in the Pacific Northwest? I’m hiking the Wonderland Trail in early September and don’t know if 100 will be warm enough or if 200 will be overkill. Steve Puyallup, Washington

Does anyone still make unlined or leather-lined hiking boots? Shoes with a synthetic lining make my feet really hot and sweaty. Any suggestions? Tim Sonoma, California

I'm going to Nepal for an internship this summer and then to South erica for the Peace Corps next winter. I need a backpack that's durable enough for travel and big enough to hold all of my stuff. But, I would like one that is technical enough for backpacking trips. Any suggestions? Sean Columbus, Ohio

I just got a pair of Vasque Summit GTX boots, an all leather, sturdy backpacking boot with smooth leather and a Gore-Tex liner. What’s the best way to break them in? And how can I keep the leather conditioned long-term? Mark Lawrence, Kansas

Are backpacking boots made with fabric uppers stiff enough for good ankle support and protection against sharp rocks? I'm looking at the Kayland Apex Trek for a trip to Alaska, where I will glacier walk with crampons. Most of my other packing is done in the lower 48. John Evanston, Illinois

I want to know about Vibr rubber. What is so special about it? Badrim Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Other than color, is there any difference between men's and women's boot in the se model? I specifically interested in the La Sportiva Glacier. Chris Geneva, Illinois

For the past five years I lived out west, but I’m now in Indiana for a year. To make the best of my stay, I’m looking for new goals to tackle and have decided to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. What is the best backpack to take on that challenge? Charles South Bend, Indiana

Though the treads on my six-year-old Garmont Nagevi boots don't look too worn, I've noticed that I'm slipping more than I used to. I've spent some time trying on other light hikers at the stores, and they all feel light and flimsy. I'm told this is due to new advancements. Is this true? Nancy Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I hope you can settle a disagreement between my wife and me. We’re going on a five-day trek to Machu Picchu along the Cino Salcantay carrying day packs only. My wife has a pair of 10-year-old Vasque boots that she insists are adequate but don't look very substantial to me. Any suggestion as to what boots she should be wearing on this hike? David Palm City, Florida

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