Gear I Use: Footwear

Ask ten hikers what the most important piece of gear you can get is, and you may well get 10 different answers. But if you push them a bit, I am willing to bet you’ll get a consensus on how important good footwear is. The right footwear for you is a personal thing, and I’m not going to get into how to pick out the “best” footwear for you, there’s way too many other sites out there that handle something like better than I could hope to. What I will do is tell you what boots I have and use, and some basic thoughts about them.

My all around favorite, every day wear boot is Danner Tachyon. They are light, comfy, and great for street or trail. They are similar style to a military jungle boot, so they are not any sort of water resistant. I do love these boots, but have two issues with them, both around the soles.

These boots are very light weight, and the soles reflect that. They will wear down relatively quickly compared to heavier boots. The other issue I have had is where the sole meets the toe, I’ve had a couple pairs start to separate there.

But I’ve had a half-dozen or so pairs of these boots and for a few years they were my every-day wear, as well as my go-to for hiking. Because they are part of their service line of boots, the colors are determined by what colors the military uses. My current pair is sage green, and unfortunately I can no longer get them in tan, so my next pair will probably be the coyote. They also have them in black.

When I wanted to move to something a bit beefier, I stopped by the Danner outlet in Portland and picked up a pair of Tanicus Dry (the waterproof version). I wore them the next day to do about 8-9 miles at Mt. St. Helens, and wasn’t sure I was going to like them. Took a few more wears to get them broken in, and they are my go to winter boot for snowshoeing and such. Overall, they feel like a beefier version of the Tachyon, in every way, from sole to the tongue.

This beefiness includes the uppers, making them a bit stiff in the ankle area, so they can be a bit difficult to slip on and off. I really have to shove my foot in there. Once on though, they’re very comfy. And their water proofing really works… well, at least until you submerge the boot. Which I may or may not have done on more than one occasion.

Looking for something in between the Tachyon and Tanicus, I picked these up on sale at REI, the Oboz Sawtooth Mid Dry boot. They are the boot I probably wore the most during the warmer months of 2018 and though the first half of 2019. Until the laces started busting. The outer layer started cutting against one of the metal lacers, and in the two hikes I took after replacing them, I ended up with blisters on my heels both times. The only thing I can think of is I somehow messed up the fit when re-lacing them. I want to get it figured out cause I like these boots too much to just give up on them.

The Oboz were my go to boot, even in winter this last year, but I wanted something lighter again for summer. I purchased a pair of Merrell MQM Flex Hiking Shoes from REI. I’ve put over 50 miles on them as of this posting, and I like them. I was looking for something light like the Tachyon’s, but in a shoe, not boot. I know the soles will wear quicker than my hiking boots, but I’m ok with that trade off. I wanted these to wear backpacking so I wouldn’t need to also carry a pair of camp shoes to wear after taking off my boots at the end of the day. These breath great, are easy to slip on after getting out of the hammock. My main issue right now is they have been very slick on wet rock/wood.

When shopping for boots or shoes, I really have to recommend going with REI. If you’re a member, their return policy is very liberal. You basically have a year to try them out and if you don’t like them or have issues with them, you can return them. I did this a couple years ago, I had been wanting to try a lightweight shoe and bought a pair of La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX hiking shoes. Overall, I liked them, initially they fit well, had good traction, etc. But after putting on about 30 or so miles, they just weren’t fighting right. I ended up taking them back, no questions asked. Yes, you may find them a bit cheaper at other places, but if you’re not in a rush and shop during member sales, they can be very competitive. And even if you pay a bit more, for me it is like having gear insurance, and if it doesn’t work out for me, I have a year to return them.

I love hiking, camping, backpacking, etc. I share photos and videos of my adventures, and thought I might also share a few thoughts on gear I like and use. These are typically not full reviews, just a quick glimpse into what I use and why.

Check out the other Gear I Use posts for more gear related information.

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