I packed my bag and in it I put (6)

More people read the "I packed my bag" blogs than anything else (huge numbers!). Not sure why given the number of other people, experts, talking about the same subject. I guess what it does show is that I'm not the only one who finds this stuff a bit confusing.

Boots, or footwear, is the big issue for me at moment. Once you cross the rubicon and accept that boots, even modern lightweight ones, may not be the only answer, you have entered a new world of choice and uncertainty. If you add to the mix the debate about minimalist bare footwalking than the ground beneath you disappears.

I think I have concluded that my beloved Scarpas, although at the lightweight end of their range, might be unnecessarily heavy and, if the weather is good, too hot. They are comfortable but on the 10 hour days on the Nordalpenweg I got a horrible heat rash on my the side of my ankles almost as bad a blister. Lighter and cooler must be good for what is essentially a long summer walk.

Inov8 kindly sent me a pair of their Roclite 400 GTX boots. They are incredibly light so top marks on that front but they have a fit that I haven't got used to yet. They are the same size as my usual boots but the cut makes them feel big. Unlike my Scarpa's they don't attempt to grip the foot and the lacing system is more like a conventional shoe than a walking boot. That, combined with the cut, which is very generous, leaves space above and around the toes - a touch of the Wellington boot rather than the walking boot (even has the Wellington boot sound effect). Maybe the boot is too big, maybe it's part of the design approach, I don't know.

Despite the sound effect the boots are very comfortable, as comfortable as my Scarpas but lighter.

Have given them two workouts so far both a bit extreme. The first involved a two day climb of Mt Toubkal from the Toubkal Kasbah (brilliant place). The second day involved about 1000 metres of climb and, more painful, about 2500 metres of descent. My calves were stiff for a week but my feet were fine.

The second was a walk along the coast from Brighton to Eastbourne. My first day in Spain involves a long walk and I just wanted to check my 20 mile plus capacity. The Brighton Eastbourne test was 28 miles and involves a bit of up and down as, amongst other things, you have cross the Seven Sisters. It was a wet day, involved a lot of hard surface walking, particularly along the sea wall at the bottom of the cliffs (brilliant, as the tide was in, there was a bit of a storm, so huge crashing seas) and I didn't really stop. I did get a blister at the bottom of my foot (big one) but to be honest I would blame my soft feet, hard surfaces and an 8 hour 28 mile walk rather than the boots.

Anyway I think the jury is out on three things. Firstly in terms of the Inov8 boot, it's great, but can I cope with the squelching noise as I walk; secondly do I need a boot at all, would be just as well of with a walking shoe, approach shoes I think their known as; and, thirdly given it's a summer walk could I do without Gortex, could be cooler.

By the way, this is my first IPhone blog. As Lonewalker promised, it really is easy to use, even the touch screen keyboard.


  1. I am a relatively recent convert to trail shoes and I am amazed at how robust they actually are. I went with a Goretex lined Innov-8 Terroc shoe and have crossed Scotland in pretty dreadful boggy conditions and also walked a section of the HRP Pyrenees as well. They cope with everything that my old Scarpas dealt with, but at the end of the day my feet were less tired.

    Unless you are wading through snow, then I would always go with Trail shoes now.

  2. I walked in boots for years but found that if you were out for a number of days a leather boot did not keep you dry. After a couple of days in very wet conditions they weighted a ton and took about 3 days to dry once you got to dry terrain. I now use Inov8 Roclite 318 shoes which are Goretex lined and weigh very little. I have just done a week on Dartmoor and managed to stay dry for most of the time. Once I did get wet it took very little time for them to dry. I would not go back to boots and would use Inov8 without Goretex lining if I was going to walk in hot conditions.
    I used to work for the IDeA as well.

  3. Thanks for both sets of comments.

    Definitely going to give the Terroc a try. I have talked to Inov-8 and they are really helpful - they are even going to check out the squelching noise in the boot.

    I don't think one pair is going to last the whole walk, particularly with the pre-walk training I've got scheduled so I think I'll go with the Goretex lined ones for a start and then see.

  4. Roger O'DohertyOctober 1, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    I did a pyrenean traverse this summer and decided to wear trail shoes for all the very good reasons. After three weeks my North Face hedgehogs were a dangerous liability, having little grip left and my feet were suffering. I'm looking seriously at the GR7 for my next outing but will wear light boots with sorbothene insoles.