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Shoe help for 2-3 week backpack trip

Hi there,

I am looking into doing a two- three week section of the AT in Virginia (the southwestern section). I need to get some new hiking boots and it has been a while since I looked into buying a pair. I have been debating getting a pair of boots that will last a while or trying out a pair of trail runners and seeing what those are like. I am happy to look into both options but wondering the best place to start for this kind of trip. My price range is 100-150. 

Thanks for your help!

7 Replies

@TierneyW thanks so much for reaching out - your backpacking trip sounds great! Before we can really help you in selecting a pair of boots/shoes, we'll need to know more about your feet! Are they wide, narrow or regular width? High, low, or medium volume? Do you have any trouble spots, like bunions? What brands have you worn in the past that have/haven't worked? With that information, we can at least point you in a good direction!

In the meantime, a few things to consider:

  • Here's an article on choosing between hiking boots and trail runners - boots vs. shoes is a pretty personal choice; you'll get lots of opinions from others on what has worked for them but in all reality, you're the only one who will know which works best for you!
  • Because proper fit is really critical for footwear, and really hard to perfect over the internet, we definitely recommend visiting your local REI store (almost all have reopened) for help with picking your footwear for this trip. If a visit isn't possible/of interest, you could instead consider setting up a free virtual outfitting appointment where you can chat with one of our employees all about your feet!

Hope this helps get you started; we'll watch for a reply from you if you want us to help consulting through the community!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@TierneyW thank you for engaging in Conversations. You've chosen a fantastic section of the AT to hike and one of my favorite hiking regions in the country! That said, the trail can get pretty rocky/root covered. If you find yourself leaning towards some of the trail running options out there, ask whether or not they have a rock plate. A rock plate is a thin, hard material embedded between the outsole and the midsole that provides protection underfoot from sharp edges and hard surfaces. Not all trail runners have them, but they can make a big difference on longer backpacking adventures. Have a great time out there!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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@TierneyW one word: trail runners, specifically hoka one one's (ok, that's more than one word)

Your feet will thank you.  I have a lot of hiking time in SW VA on the AT ( I live in VA).

I get the super cushioned shoes, which helped to eliminate almost 100% of the rock pressure.

They look sort of goofy, buy believe me, they are like walking of clouds. 

and as a bonus, they dry super quick after walking thru streams.

I love this shoe: https://www.rei.com/product/155542/hoka-one-one-stinson-atr-5-trail-running-shoes-mens

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes

+1 for trail runners (from someone nee to them, used to use mid height hiking shoes).  They're lighter and dry much faster.  That said, I have the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 and can confirm that rocks are uncomfortable.  I didn't know about a rock plate when I got them but it's something I'll look for in my next ones . 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I read somewhere that altras came out or were coming out with a much thicker sole version to tackle that issue

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes
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That being said, I took back my altras because I could feel every single pebble on the trail

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes
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I haven't hit any "real rock" yet and really love the way the Altras feel.  I'll hang on to them until they wear out but I'll be looking into the ones that you suggested @Philreedshikes when they do. I don't mind wearing goofy looking shoes 🙂

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.