Hiking

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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

I'm vacationing at Purcell Lodge in B.C. this August and I need a comfortable boot that will give enough support for the Canadian Rockies. I will only carry a light day pack. I have twisted one ankle and even broken my foot (not a hiking-related accident) so I definitely need stability. Thank you for your help; it is greatly appreciated! Leigh Ann Arlington, TX

What size pack would you recommend I use to do thru hike the Appalachian Trail? What brand would you recommend? Bob Page Salisbury, NC

I spent a week hiking rugged trails in the Great Smokies, where conditions and socks were wet. After three days I developed blisters and raw sores on the tops of my middle toes on both feet. Never had that happen before. Can you help me avoid this in the future? My boots are a few years old and I use them regularly; my socks are good quality wool hikers, liners CoolMax synthetic. Guy Columbia, South Carolina

Which multi-day backpack do you recommend for a vertically challenged (four-foot-eleven), large-chested female backpacker? Lori Chula Vista, California

Which hiking boots are the coolest for hiking the Copper Canyon in Mexico? We're going in August. Would trail sandals be OK? We will be taking a day excursion with less than ten pounds per pack. Susie Kansas City, Missouri

Any advice on which packs will help transfer as much weight as possible off my shoulder while backpacking? I broke my collarbone a few years back and the newly formed peak in the bone is right where the shoulder strap lands. After a few hours with a fully loaded pack my arm seems to go a bit numb, and quitting isn't really an option. Matt es, Iowa

I just bought a pair of Asolo 535 non-Gore-Tex hiking boots. I planning on hiking the John Muir Trail in early August, and I'm trying to determine if I really need boots or if I can just use running shoes. My pack weight will be right around 30 pounds. Spencer Denton, Texas

I'll be on a 28-day outdoor survival course in southern Utah shortly and I looking for a pair of light, quick-drying shoes that can last over 500 miles of rough terrain and provide good traction. My current choice is a pair of Salomon XA Raid 3D's, but I'm having second thoughts as the ordeal approaches. Pierre Ardeche, France

I recently bought a pair of Vasque Zephyr boots (not the Gore-Tex model) from an outdoor store, but the boot salesman was, shall we say, underwhelming. They were very comfortable, but I think he might have overestimated the weight limit on them. I regularly backpack with 40-pound loads. How do you think these boots will hold up? Frank Wayland, Iowa

Help me, Obi-Wan-Gear-Nobi! My three-year-old Zberlan GT's tore me a new one (heel blister, that is) while hiking the Ouachita Trail this weekend. I haven't worn them since a canoe trip last summer when they got waterlogged during most portages. Question: After serious saturation do boots need to be broken in again? What would cause my friendly Zberlans to turn on me? Yours, Blistered in Dallas. Greg Dallas, Texas

I'm going to the Amazon and Machu Picchu in June. What pack would you recommend to carry cameras, binocs, books, and other personal items while sightseeing? John Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dear Gear Guy, I looking to replace my trusty Asolo AFX 535 backpacking boots after they got chewed on by marmots in the Tetons. I kid you not! I considering the Asolo Forclaz, but are there any other good leather boots out there that don't have a Gore-Tex liner? Joshua Baltimore, Maryland

I'm looking for the perfect 24-hour pack. I need it for my commute to work, a 25-mile bike ride plus hour's train ride, and want space to stow my laptop, pens, wallet, energy bars, cell phone, and so forth. I'd also want a hydration bladder. After work I'll either head to the local bouldering rocks, stop by the gym to pump some iron, or go on an evening hike. So for that I'll need somewhere to stash my gear, as I'd rather not transfer over the common supplies to a second pack. Greg Simi Valley, California

I'm going on a two-month trip to Micronesia, where I'll be taking weeklong trips away from the main islands to some outer islands. I'm after a suitable daypack that can withstand the salt-spray environment. We don't need tents or sleeping bags as we will be in thatched huts, but still want ple storage for food, water, fishing gear, and the like. Christian Mishawaka, Indiana

I blew out a pair of much-loved, ten-year-old Asolo AFX 530 boots this past weekend. While hiking, the soles fell off and upon inspection I found dry rot. Contacted the company and they explained that there was something wrong with the engineering of that boot, so they offered to replace it at wholesale cost. I love hiking (schlepping about 40-pound loads) but finding that I'm not hiking the strenuous trails as much as I'd hoped to. Should I switch brands or look for a more moderate boot? Is the wholesale cost replacement a fair deal? Jack Nashville, Tennessee

I'm seeking a recommendation for backpacking boots that will provide support when carrying 60- to 80-pound loads in backcountry conditions. I'm after something that is not completely stiff like a mountaineering boot, but that promises comfort on multi-day trips, is waterproof, and is stiff enough to support strap-on crampons. Gary Seattle, Washington

Do you think The North Face Pivotal Suspension Pack is worth the extra weight? Ryan Leawood, Kansas

Are there hiking boots or shoes for the occasional hiker that do not require a break-in period? John Phoenix, Arizona

I going on a backpacking trip in mid-March to Buckskin Gulch, which is a slot canyon on the Utah-Arizona border. What type of footwear do I need? Zach Littleton, Colorado

I'm in the market for a pair of boots for fast springtime ascents of Mount Whitney and Shasta in summertime. I'm thinking Makalus or Glaciers from La Sportiva, but as I'm also planning a trip to Everest Base Cp next summer, I'd like something that's versatile. Justin Marina, California

What is the best multi-day backpack for a tall guy (1.97 meters)? Thanks! Deon Cape Town, South Africa

I signed up for a three-month mountaineering semester in the Canadian Rockies and having difficulty finding a pair of plastic mountaineering boots to fit my narrow feet. I need something very warm because I have bad circulation and have had minor frostbite in the past (that's why I have avoided leather boots). Melissa Victoria, British Columbia

I need a pair of solid backpacking boots. Is there really that much difference between a Lowa that sells for $200 and a Hi-Tec that sells for $100? I'll be hiking on occasionally rocky, steep terrain. Pela Pickens, South Carolina

I'm planning on climbing Argentina's Aconcagua in January '05 and could do with some advice on gear, particularly what sleeping bag and boots I will need. I've been considering getting a Superlight zero-degree down bag from The North Face, to be combined with a Thermalite sleeping pad. As for boots, I'm looking at the Scarpa Freney Pro GTX. (I'd like to stay away from the plastics unless absolutely necessary, as I unlikely to get much use of them again). Do you know how suitable this proposed gear setup will be for Aconcagua? Ciaran Dublin, Ireland

I'm wondering what type of setup I'll need for a through-hike of the Arizona Trail. The toughest things I can envisage are the varied climatic zones and terrain, plus the issue of no water for long stretches. It sounds like I will need two or three different gear setups to execute the trip successfully. But then I only have the dinero for one. Any ideas? Todd Scottsdale, Arizona

Would you be seen dead wearing a fanny pack on a day hike? Pack makers like JanSport do model bigger backpacks with detachable waist packs, but I'm not convinced that this would do my trail cred much good. However, I after some sort of compact, light daypack that will cover me for short yomps where my load isn't all that big. Any ideas? Aaron Salt Lake City, Utah

I'm planning a trip to Ecuador this December, where I'll spend a few days each of mountain biking, hiking in the Andes, and whitewater rafting. Last time I hiked in the Andes I just wore running shoes, without problems. I was thinking of getting a pair of Chaco-type sandals and a pair of trail runners, instead of full-on hiking boots, to cover the variety of activities as well as lighten my load. Any advice? Sarah Houston, Texas

Dear G-squared: Why are 90 percent of backpacks internal- as opposed to external-fre? Is their comfort and performance really that much superior to justify the price difference (yes, I cheap, but I try not to be stupid)? My son and I will be carrying about 50 pounds for ten days in the New Mexico mountains. Also, can you get a good fit on a pack you buy on the Internet, or is it better to deal with a local shop? W.B. Nako Cincinnati, Ohio

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I interested in buying a pair of Limmer boots, and have heard that they are very comfortable and the best backpacking boots you can buy. However, some have warned me that the old-fashioned construction means less cushioning that could "rattle my brain," especially since I have a heavy footfall. Is there a significant difference between cement and stitch-down boots? Brad Essex Junction, Vermont

I going on a five-day trek in Bhutan at altitudes of around 12,000 to 13,000 feet. We won't be carrying our packs, just our daypacks. Should I be looking for lightweight hiking boots or middleweight boots for the five-day walk? The trek is rated 'A' for easy, but I will be going from sea level here to the higher Bhutan altitude. Cristy Deale, Maryland

Has Outside Online tested any jogging strollers lately, and where might I find the reviews? I'm looking for a jogging stroller to use mostly for hiking and walking (no running). Felicia Norwalk, Connecticut

I just got back from camping in Tennessee and Kentucky's Big South Fork NRA (which you should check out, by the way!) and had some fun pulling ticks off my legs the whole time. I'm letting the backpack air out, but how do I make sure it's 100 percent bug-free? Take it to the dry cleaner or just spray it down with agua? Incidentally, how'd you get such a cool job? Chris Loveland, Ohio

I climbing Rainier this July and instead of wearing my normal hiking boots up to Cp Muir, I was wondering if you thought a pair of trail-running shoes would work until we have to switch to plastic boots? What would be some good options for lightweight shoes that would still give you good support when wearing a pack? Mike Columbus, Ohio

I'm about to embark on a long, multi-city trip through the western U.S. and need a backpack both for trekking and city-hopping. Can you recommend one with an attached daypack? I've been looking at Osprey's Aether 60 plus Daylite daypack. I eventually want to use the pack for wilderness trips, but on this trip I'll be using it mostly for heavy, heavy books. I'm bewildered by all the options! Josh Cbridge, Massachusetts

I recently purchased a new pair of leather hiking boots and, after a ten-mile break-in hike, cleaned them and treated them with mink oil (I couldn't find Sno-Seal anywhere locally). Despite all my years of backpacking, I didn't realize this oil can over-soften the leather and affect the support. Have I ruined my boots for good or is there something I can do to save them? Mark Indianapolis, Indiana

I'm having only moderate success finding a daypack designed for women. I tested a JanSport at EMS and confirmed that the women's cut really is more comfortable (collarbone bruising has been an issue for me when carrying heavy loads in standard packs), but the capacity was a little small and it had no compression straps. I thought Kelty might be good, but their lumbar supports are unforgiving and aggravate a lower back problem of mine. Do you have any recommendations, either with or without internal fres? Diane Cortlandt Manor, New York

I will be leading groups of teens backpacking this summer and worried about keeping contact with base cp and being able to call for help, should the need arise. Any ideas for effective, durable communication devices? Is there a difference between satellite phones and walkie-talkies? Etan Los Angeles, California

Are waterproof hiking boots hotter to wear than non-waterproof hiking boots? And are they less breathable than regular boots? If I'm hiking through the desert, would waterproof, leather hiking boots be too hot? Suzie Johannesburg, South Africa

I would like to camp at some walk-in campsites but can't carry a heavy pack, having a history of back problems. Does someone make carts for camping that can be wheeled on a trail? Andy San Francisco, California

I pretty new to hiking and wondering about clothing. Is there a list of recommended clothing to take on a three-day hike up a mountain (e.g., Washington's Mount St. Helens or Mount Ads?). Mike Marysville, Washington

I'm planning to hike the Grand Canyon in June. Do I need a high-top hiking boot? I have very comfortable, worn-in low-tops but have read that high-top shoes are recommended. What do you think? Danielle Peoria, Illinois

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We are going to climb Mount Whitney in preparation for a Mount Kilimanjaro bid next year. I'm five-foot-nine and 140 pounds, my husband's six-foot-five and 240 pounds. We're wondering if we'd be happier with internal- or external-fre backpacks, and what sizes we should be looking at. We were planning on going to REI and then I read your column and decided to ask you. Jan Federal Way, Washington

Gear Guy, I badly need your advice before I drop $200 on a new pair of boots for hiking Rainier's Wonderland Trail. Though the trip is in August, I will also use the boots throughout the spring/summer hiking season. I'm probably looking for something tailored to a low-volume foot, with or without Gore-Tex. Will Richmond, Missouri

Can you recommend a mid-sized backpack? I have been looking at the new Arc'Teryx Bora 65, which is nice but really expensive! Is there a comparable backpack for less? Petter Boulder, Colorado

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

Where do you think things are going in terms of backpack innovation? I looking to buy a bag for base-cp-style backpacking, but I don't want one that is outdated or poorly designed. I want cutting edge. It seems everyone focuses on weight, but in my mind accessibility is equally important. Zachary Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This question may seem dumb, but an old dog needs to learn new tricks! Having used external-fre packs since the late '60s, I've made the switch to an internal-fre one. I've studied all the diagrs about the best way to load internal-fres, but I'm still none the wiser. Bearing in mind I carry a fairly standard gear list, how should I pack for a five- to seven-day trip? Charles Cape Girardeau, Missouri

I want to buy a new pack for my husband for Christmas. Is it possible to use his measurements to find the right size without taking him with me, or is this the sort of thing he has to try out for himself? Any recommendations on a good pack to take out on weekend backpacking trips? Sally Athens, Ohio

I want to buy a new pack for my husband for Christmas. Is it possible to use his measurements to find the right size without taking him with me, or is this the sort of thing he has to try out for himself? Any recommendations on a good pack to take out on weekend backpacking trips? Sally Athens, Ohio

Way back in the late '70s, like many of my generation, I put aside my trusty old Kelty pack in favor of one of those newfangled internal-fre packs: first a Lowe, later a Gregory, and currently a Dana ArcLight. But as geezerhood creeps up on me and I spend more time on trails than off, I'd like to return to my roots and enjoy the better weight transfer and coolness of an external-fre again. My choice is between the Kelty 50th Anniversary Pack and the Dana Loadmaster Terrafre, discontinued but still available on closeout on the Web. Price is not an issue. There's no way I can try them side by side—if you've used them both, which did you think was the better pack? David Portland, Oregon

Last year I separated my left shoulder while taking a test run on my son's mountain bike (after "fixing" his front brakes). The physical therapist said I could only use an external-fre backpack in the future. Other friends, and some outfitters, disagree. What's your opinion on the external- versus internal-fre issue? Any specific packs of either ilk that will help keep the weight off my injured shoulder? Michael Front Royal, Virginia