Tuesday 9 September 2008

I'm alive, I'm just waiting!

I just wanted to make this clear as I haven't posted for a while and I now seem to hate losing touch with...well no one in particular, but if you're a blogger - you know what I mean.

I've not been doing much in terms of getting outdoors lately, not least because I picked up a bit of a cold and then a chest infection which left me feeling a bit deflated.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it on the blog but some work colleagues and I had planned to complete the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge on Saturday 30th, but since I hadn't fully recovered I had to do the sensible thing and drop out. In a suspicious show of solidarity (more likely a lack of interest) the guys were happy to postpone the trip until another time - Funny that!

Given that I had expected to be doing the challenge and I knew I was gearing up for a two day backpacking trip in October, I decided I would see if this trail shoe phenomenon is a stroke of genius or another lesson for the novice! I had read an article in Trail from PTC I found the whole idea intriguing. Not because I was surprised by the claim that trail shoes could change your experience on the hill but because I'd always found I move with more confidence in shoes rather than boots and this was getting me thinking.

I looked at the key brands and models and decided to get out and try a few on. I'd read a lot about The North Face Hedgehogs but they are in limited stocks everywhere at the minute so couldn't try on my size. I tried on a pair of Vindicators but I'd decided on a waterproof shoe if I was going to risk these for anything but winter use.
I tried on a pair of Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slam XCR's and they felt really good in all the right places. I tried on a pair of Scarpa Enigmas but I didn't feel that the heel was deep enough for my profile and to be quite honest wasn't excited by the style. I tried on the Merrell's again, went away and thought about it, tried them on again and bought a pair! Oh how I come on since the Brasher disaster!

The Three Peaks trip would have been a good introduction for them but now it looks as though I'll be trying for the first time in October. I have one concern so far and that is their ability to grip on slippery surfaces like wet brick, and I'm hoping this isn't the case on wet rock - like everything though I guess time will tell.

Having worn them for a few hours walking to work recently, I am seriously excited about the positive effects the reduction in weight and increased fluidity of movement will bring to my time on the hill. I'm not sure if this is true but I read somewhere in this crazy world that weight savings at your feet count for a larger proportion than in your pack. I think this might have been you PTC in Trail but I've been to sleep since then so correct me I'm wrong here! I'll let you know how I get on with this after the October trip.

All the best folks.


Martin Rye said...

Colin Fletcher wrote in The Complete Walker...."in ten miles there are 21,120 average paces. At one extra pound to the pace, the boots make you lift in a ten mile tramp, over ten tonnes more footgear".... So having lighter footwear saves the most weight and energy, meaning less fatigue and less food needed to be carried for the same distance. Trail shoes are the way to go.

I wrote that not long back. PTC has wrote many a fine article on trail shoes.

I have written about my journey with them and I can only say go for it.

baz carter said...

I used a pair of Salomon XA Comps on St Cuthberts Way in May without any trouble. I packed a pair of Seal Skinz and sock liners to use when wet, which it happened to be when I crossing the Cheviot (the boggiest bit.) As they are unlined I didnt feel the need to remove them to air my feet when I stopped as I would've done if wearing boots.

I'm a convert.

Marcus said...


I think this says it all really and when you consider the additional speed that must come as a result it, its seems even more like the obvious choice. I obviously will reserve judgement until I've actually tried it because you can't measure personal preference or experiences.


I've read that people will use non-lined shoes with Seal Skinz more and more - perhaps that's something I need to consider.

baz carter said...

Using lined shoes is a bit of a waste because as soon as the water goes over your cuff you've got wet feet. Being lined they dont drain well nor do they dry as quick.

I've tried the shoes without seal skinz and after the initial shock of wet your feet will not feel uncomfortable if you're wearing smart wool (or similar) socks. Wading through muddy puddles your feet will get very dirty and if gritty they can rub. Putting on damp shoes isnt pleasant. having a fresh pair of socks helps. I prefer the seal skinz as they get around some of the above.

Anonymous said...

I've also found that lined shoes don't dry particularly well. I take the footbeds out and put them in my sleeping bag to dry out over night, just a bit more pleasant the next day.
On your first walk take some thinner socks with you just in case. I tried a few combinations and found my feet were most comfortable in coolmax liner socks, as the GTX does make them warm.
I have never had a blister in them (yet!)

Marcus said...

I bought some coolmax socks for my last trip and they worked a treat. I'm not sure if this is just placebo but the Merrells have the XCR lining which is supposed to breath better. I always use Coolmax socks and so far I've found the merrells to be quite comfortable in terms of heat. Of course, this could all change after 6 hours walking on the hill with a pack!