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 What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer? 
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Hiking Forums Are My Crack
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 What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
As you may or may not know, I've too much time on my hands. This has been discussed before but not for some time. But after thegibba was talking about his Vasques, I figured I'd bring it up again.

I'm wondering if anyone else is like me, regarding boot manufacturers. I am and have always been a Merrell person. Not because after buying a pair and liking them, I refused try anything else. There are just the only brand my feet are happy in.

My first pair I bought about 12 years ago I don't remember the exact model as they keep changing the names. Not sure why, there waterproof mids are pretty much the same year to year. Maybe just to keep it fresh. Any, they fit like a glove and were like wearing sneakers. Supper comfy, for me, right out of the box. I got a good 6 years out of those. I replaced those with the Merrell Radius Mid. Like I said, pretty much the same as what I had. Just slightly different look. And an even grippier sole. In the mean time, I picked up backpacked and wanted a ruggeder boot. I noticed, and heard a look of positive thing about the Asolo Fugitive GTX. So I just got a pair. They weren't that comfy but I understood some boots need that break-in time. They never broke-in. Once more, they had 0 grip. A backpacking boot, with the stiffer sole, tends to be that way. But these were ridiculous. Sold them on ebay and went back to Merrell. Picked up a pair of Merrell Perimeter GTX's. As the others, supper comfy right out of the box. And decent grip for an all leather, backpacking style boot. I destroyed those bushwhacking so I needed another pair. I made every effort to try another brand. REI, was probably getting sick of my buying and returning boots. I tried pretty much every brand of backpacking style boot, other than Asolo. I wasted my time. I gave in and tried on a pair of these. http://www.rei.com/product/748502/merre ... boots-mens As all my other experiences with Merrell, unbelievably comfortable. And decent grip for a harder sole.

Because the the deal was so good at Sierra Trading Post $60, and I'd wanting to try a pair of trail-runners, I picked up a pair of these http://shop.alpenglowgear.com/la-sporti ... 7AodUBIApg It took a couple of tries with the size but got a pair that seemed OK. But after the first decent hike, really uncomfortable. But, gave them a chance to break-in, and overall, there pretty good. Just not as comfy asd Merrells for me.

Unfortunately the soles on my Radius Mids, are slicks now. Too bad because there's nothing wrong with the uppers. That's the trade-off for a grippy sole. I just received in the mail yesterday, a pair of these to replace them.http://www.rei.com/product/865979/merre ... boots-mens Now, if only I could try them out. But I'm confident I'll love them.

Well, that was a long winded where of saying a prefer Merrells. :roll: So, what do you prefer?

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Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:01 am
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Sovereign Woodsman
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
I can't say for sure that I have a brand yet.

About 15 years ago I was using EMS day hikers (no longer made), which were pretty comfortable and a pretty decent boot for the money at the time. Not terribly grippy though, but I still have one pair that I use sometimes in winter around town. No tread left (and I mean NO tread), and they leak, so I think it's time to give them up.

I also have a pair of ~10 year old leather backpacking boots from Alpina, which I got resoled when I got back into hiking, but they just don't fit my feet anymore. They were a good boot though, grippy and waterproof.

For winter hiking I've only been using the Garmont Snow Momentum boots, which I've liked overall (in fact, they're the only boot I ever bought a second pair of!). Fairly warm and comfy once broken in (some folks have issues with the pressure they put on the achillies, which bothers me too but after ~20 miles of hiking it's left both times). Not the best grip on rock/slab, but since I pretty much only use them with snow on the ground, it doesn't matter. But both pairs developed leaks around the mesh in the toe box after about 1.5 winter seasons. It might be time for a new boot for winter hiking.

4 years ago I bought the Vasque Breeze that has been mentioned here lately. They are extremely comfortable out of the box, 2 days after I bought them I did an 18-mile hike in Maine (Sugarloaf, Spaulding, Abraham) with no issues at all. A week later, the first time it rained while I had these boots on, I found out the pair I had leaked badly. Really badly. Exchanged them for a new pair of the same, which were much better, but only for a while. They leak at the toe mesh just like my Garmonts, not badly, but it's now to the point where I can't step in 1-2" of water briefly to cross a stream without getting wet socks. Their grip never was that good, adequate early on, but after 2 heavy seasons of use and another partial season, the tread is worn a bit and I won't wear them on hikes with rock slab, dry or not. Still super comfortable though, so I use them on hikes without a lot of steep rocks or slab (a Bonds traverse last fall was awesome in them).

And so last spring, in my quest to buy a boot that wasn't 5 pounds and was still waterproof, I went looking for boots without mesh in the toe box. I think those are a serious design flaw, assume they will leak there before long! I ended up buying a pair of Oboz Bridgers, after almost buying a pair of Salomons. No mesh, light, and fairly comfortable. What I didn't expect was how grippy they would be (I had given up on finding a day hiker boot with good grip). Those things are unbelievable in how well they grip, my first hike with them was Whiteface and Passaconaway when the ledges were damp (not running water wet mind you, just damp) and they were awesome. They're my go-to boot now for most things, though I have noticed the sole wears a bit faster than the Vasques. Probably because the rubber is softer, but I'll take the trade considering I don't have to worry about every step I take possibly slipping! So far no leaking issues either, and with the lack of mesh I expect that applying some Nikwax would actually be effective. They aren't the most comfortable boot I've ever owned, but they're pretty good and didn't need a lot of break-in.

So yea, that was MY long-winded way of saying I have no idea what brand I prefer. Time will tell with Oboz. If I could get the Vaque comfy-ness with everything else about the Oboz Bridger, I'd be a happy hiker! I've tried some Merrills on in stores, and they do feel very comfortable, but the ones I've tried just never seemed to fit my foot quite right.

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Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:46 am
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Sovereign Woodsman
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
I'm happy with my Asolo 520 TPS boots for 3-season and the same Garmont Momentum Snow boots that Matt has for winter. I've had both for 3-4 years now without any problems, although I don't hike as frequently as some. I should also confess that these are the only hiking boots that I've had, before that I used an old pair of Timberland leather boots but they didn't last very long into my hiking career. So while I do like both of my boots I do not have any particular brand preference.


Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:06 pm
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
For about 15 years all I used was LL Bean boots. They weren't the lightest or the most comfortable, but they took a beating and the couple times something did go wrong they were easily replaced for free. I still have a 20 year old leather Mountain Guide insulated boot I use in winter. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking, although if you get it wet it freezes solid as a rock overnight.

I tried to find better all around boot but has the soles fall off some Merrills and went back to Beans. Then one day I found a pair of Keen's at their outlet. Tried them out and have never looked back. They're light weight, grip fantastic on all different types of rocks around the northeast and feel like wearing slippers. Zero break in time too. Easily the most comfortable boots I've ever had. In the last couple months I've got a pair of their Revel II's for winter hiking and a pair of the Traghee II's mid height for summer. Both are great and both are sold at LL Bean so they're covered with their guarantee. Beans also sells Oboz now, which I may try down the road when I need a new pair, but I like the Keen's so much I really see no reason to other than curiosity.


Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:32 pm
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Mountain Maestro
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
So far, I've been all Keen. When I try to stray, the boots fail me in some way or another. I had some Merrell's winter boots that turned my toes purple. I had some Asolos that proved to be too narrow, despite my love of them. I really like the wide toe box of the keen. (almost clown-like wide)

That is not to say I think they are perfect. My 3 seasons tend to lack traction on smooth granite (problem around here?), and are a bit heavy. My winter's don't have the little heel grab that keeps crampons (only ever needed them once) and snowshoe heel straps in place.


This is the year I try trail runners. We shall see.


Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:54 pm
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
Warm season:
On my second pair of Lasportiva Raptors. Incredible traction.
Will be getting a pair of the Lasportiva Bushidos this spring. Same sticky rubber......

Cold Season:
Northface Ice flare gtx for moderate cold
Salomon Mountaineering boots for real cold and crampon use

Petch

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Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:16 pm
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
I returned my Asolo Breeze's today. I tried on a bunch of Oboz, Soloman, Keene. The European companies were just too darn tight even with a wide verison. Nothing felt quite like the Merrill Moab. I put it them on and it felt like having a beer with an old friend. It's a tread pattern I can trust, and just works. If it isn't broken i'm not gonna fix it. Well it sorta works. The last pair i had, the sole is breaking from the rest of the boot. The first pair i have, I still use day to day. They are inexpensive enough that if they wear out within two years, whatever. I'll deal with that, as long as i can head up a rock slab with confidence.


Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:12 pm
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
Keen Targhee II for 3-season hiking for about 5 years now. I use the low and mid hikers and replace once a year in summer after maybe 300 trail miles. Most comfortable out of box shoe I have worn. Fits the "American Athletic" foot style with a wide toe box protected with solid rubber. Lots of toe room. I am hard pressed to try others at this point. I have a pair of Oboz which seem very much like a Keen copy. They are also comfortable like Keens but lack the toe box. Not sure they have an advantage over Keen but are a good shoe. They both have waterproof versions of low hikers. One of the most obvious features of both is the good inserts. I do not need to replace Keen inserts generally. I do with all other brands IME.

For winter, I have a pair of Merrill's and do not love them but they have done the job and are comfortable enough. I am not impressed with the wear they have shown in a limited amount of time and will be looking to a new brand next time.

Columbia's have served me well in winter in terms of high quality insulation and waterproofing but the bugaboo 2 did not allow my Grivel G-10 to fit, so they had limited use.

I have not tried Keen's winter boots but it may be time to try them based on the quality of their other products.


Sat Apr 25, 2015 7:28 am
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
Started with Vasque. Hated them. I don't even remember what they were, thats how awful they were.

Currently, I am using Adidas Terrex Fast X and love them. Also have a pair of patagonia's that are nice for quick hikes. Just picked up a pair of La Sportiva Synthesis GTX and have yet to use them but i will abuse them next week in texas.

My whacking boots were zamberlains that are several years old and finally falling apart.

Greg

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Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:09 am
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
I'm with you Joe, I prefer Merrells. Just bought a pair of low-cut Merrell Moab Ventilators for my new 3-season boots. I had a pair of La Sportiva Wildcats (trail runners) for a couple of seasons, and they felt fine but got beat up and had holes in them pretty quickly.

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Mon May 18, 2015 3:16 pm
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
JustJoe wrote:
As you may or may not know, I've too much time on my hands. This has been discussed before but not for some time. But after thegibba was talking about his Vasques, I figured I'd bring it up again.

I'm wondering if anyone else is like me, regarding boot manufacturers. I am and have always been a Merrell person. Not because after buying a pair and liking them, I refused try anything else. There are just the only brand my feet are happy in.

My first pair I bought about 12 years ago I don't remember the exact model as they keep changing the names. Not sure why, there waterproof mids are pretty much the same year to year. Maybe just to keep it fresh. Any, they fit like a glove and were like wearing sneakers. Supper comfy, for me, right out of the box. I got a good 6 years out of those. I replaced those with the Merrell Radius Mid. Like I said, pretty much the same as what I had. Just slightly different look. And an even grippier sole. In the mean time, I picked up backpacked and wanted a ruggeder boot. I noticed, and heard a look of positive thing about the Asolo Fugitive GTX. So I just got a pair. They weren't that comfy but I understood some boots need that break-in time. They never broke-in. Once more, they had 0 grip. A backpacking boot, with the stiffer sole, tends to be that way. But these were ridiculous. Sold them on ebay and went back to Merrell. Picked up a pair of Merrell Perimeter GTX's. As the others, supper comfy right out of the box. And decent grip for an all leather, backpacking style boot. I destroyed those bushwhacking so I needed another pair. I made every effort to try another brand. REI, was probably getting sick of my buying and returning boots. I tried pretty much every brand of backpacking style boot, other than Asolo. I wasted my time. I gave in and tried on a pair of these. http://www.rei.com/product/748502/merre ... boots-mens As all my other experiences with Merrell, unbelievably comfortable. And decent grip for a harder sole.

Because the the deal was so good at Sierra Trading Post $60, and I'd wanting to try a pair of trail-runners, I picked up a pair of these http://shop.alpenglowgear.com/la-sporti ... 7AodUBIApg It took a couple of tries with the size but got a pair that seemed OK. But after the first decent hike, really uncomfortable. But, gave them a chance to break-in, and overall, there pretty good. Just not as comfy asd Merrells for me.

Unfortunately the soles on my Radius Mids, are slicks now. Too bad because there's nothing wrong with the uppers. That's the trade-off for a grippy sole. I just received in the mail yesterday, a pair of these to replace them.http://www.rei.com/product/865979/merre ... boots-mens Now, if only I could try them out. But I'm confident I'll love them.

Well, that was a long winded where of saying a prefer Merrells. :roll: So, what do you prefer?



I've been through a few different brands, but finally found the "wow" boots.

KEEN Durand is the best I've ever had. You can get them on Amazon for $126. They are the most comfortable boots I've ever had. They can also take a serious beating and keep going. If you buy these, buy 1/2 size to full size bigger than you normally would. They run small.

If you only care about traction, Innov-8 Rocolite is second to none. The are uncomfortable and run narrow but wearing them is like having Spider Man's hands on your feet. They even provide decent traction on wet rock. I use them for trail running, but don't go more than five miles in them.


Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:43 am
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Sovereign Woodsman

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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
I went from the Vasque Breeze to the Asolo 520s back in 2013. I loved the Asolos, they are tanks and pretty much indestructible, if heavy. When switching back to them earlier this year after my winter boots, they were not nearly as comfortable. I suspect my body mechanics changed again, as they often do. So I went back to a back-up pair of Vasque Breezes again. They fit like a glove and I haven't looked back. So I think I will stick with them for now.


Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:57 am
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
Well, I decided to try the Oboz Bridger after having another minor issue with the soles on my Keens (a couple of the rubber "fingers" for lack of a better term were peeling) so I took advantage of LL Beans return policy and grabbed the Oboz. First strike against them is the break in period, of which the Keens have none. I've only put about 30 easy miles on the Oboz and they aren't getting any more comfortable. I took them for a quick 10 mile spin around Bear Brook state park yesterday and today not only do my feet hurt, but my knees, hips and back hurt too, something I've never have an issue with. I could feel it building but couldn't do much about it once you're 5 miles from the car. I think it might be because of the angled heel design Oboz use messing with my stride, needing just a little longer on the down step before the heel hits. Whatever the case not only are these boots not comfortable on the soles of my feet they make my whole lower body hurt. Something I have no interest in repeating on a 20+ mile backpacking trip in a couple of weeks.

So, I think I'm pretty much done with the Oboz experiment before it really even starts. They seem like a well made boot and their website convinced me all their features and their company were worth giving it a try. I can't say they are junk but I'm almost certain they won't work for me. For anyone else who's tried them did you have any such issues? Is there a prolonged break in and adjustment period that's worth toughing it out to get through? I think I should have just stuck with the Keens, as nothing I've ever tried works like them for me and the right boot can really leave your body feeling like it's ready for more after 15 miles or aching to be done after 5. Perhaps if it's not broke I shouldn't have tried to fix it, or at least if it breaks and LL Bean will replace it (and they have twice with the Keens) I should just return these now and go back to my favorites. You kind of feel like a dirtbag exchanging boots every 300 miles when the soles start to have issues but if they're willing to do it I'm willing to stick with the Keens they sell. That's a big reason I but stuff there's even if it costs a little more than the same thing elsewhere.


Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:53 am
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
The Bridgers definitely had a bit of a break-in period for me. Not massively long, but it definitely took a couple hikes. I also have to watch how I lace them to avoid putting a weird pressure point on the top of my foot, but I've found out how to deal with that. But I had none of the other issues you mentioned. It sounds like it just isn't the right boot for you.

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Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:47 am
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 Re: What Hiking Boot/Shoe Brand Do You Prefer?
started back in the 70s with Fabianos. Those suckers weighed about 6 lbs each but man were they bomb proof. Uncomfortable as hell.

Now a Keen summer boot and a Garmont winter. I've had Merrell shoes that worked well, but not such good luck with the boots. Weird, right? Keen gives me plenty of room in the toe box so no smashed toe nails. And I have super narrow feet and Keens just seems to work right now.

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Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:04 pm
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