No gear is more important to a hiker than shoes and I have been having shoe problems the past few weeks.
Many hikers on the Continental Divide Trail wear trail running shoes which are slightly heavier running shoes designed for trails. Over the years I have leaned that trail runners usually don’t work that well for me and I need a more supportive shoe. I hiked the New Mexico section of the Continental Divide Trail wearing Vasque Breeze hiking shoes which worked pretty well, other than being slightly too narrow in the toes and the stitching failing. The shoes are about half leather and half mesh and the leather took a long time to dry when they got wet. When hiking around melting snow your shoes get wet a lot and that was one reason I looked around for different shoes when I started hiking again in Glacier National Park.
Shoes from a company called Altra are very popular with long distance hikers so I decided to give them a try. The Altra’s worked well during training hikes but you never know how shoes are really going to work out until you hike four or five twenty mile days in a row. I should have known better. My right arch and outside of my foot was sore when I reached East Glacier.
The hiker box at Brownies Hostel in East Glacier had a pair of Brooks Cascadia shoes in good condition that fit perfectly so I switched to them. The Cascadia shoes are more supportive with a somewhat stiffer sole. They were better for me than the Altra’s, but my feet were still hurting so it was shoe shopping time when I reached Helena, MT.
A outfitter in Helena called Base Camp had a pretty good selection of shoes so I spent the morning trying on shoes and pacing about the store trying to imagine what they would feel like if I was walking on the trail. I ended up changing to some La Sportiva Primer Low shoes.
I have now hiked from Helena to Anaconda in the new shoes and I think they are going to work out OK. I’ll know more soon.