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Footwear & Footcare: Would you suck on these toes? || SD LIVE (July 22, 2015)

Live recording

Footwear and Foot-care from Sierra Designs on Vimeo.


Pre-episode teaser

During the next SD LIVE event, I will discuss Footwear and Footcare. Tune in tomorrow: Wednesday, July 22, 11:30am PDT. The program will run 30-45 minutes.

Topics will include but are not limited to:

  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Gaiters
  • Maceration
  • Blisters
  • Calluses

This is intentionally a live event,  as we want and encourage audience participation. If there’s a question or topic you want me to cover, please chime in.

If you are unable to catch the live broadcast, it will be available for viewing afterwards. However, normally Sierra Designs offers some kind of discount for live viewers, and you’ll miss this.

Now, back to that headline. I think any foot fetish will be cured by these photos:

Severe maceration after the 2009 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, in which we raced 180 miles across the Eastern Alaska Range in 4 days

Severe maceration after the 2009 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, in which we raced 180 miles across the Eastern Alaska Range in 4 days

Gerry Morton blistered up on the first day of a John Muir Trail thru-hike in the worst of places: the forefeet. He's a tough guy -- we finished the hike in 7 days.

Gerry Morton blistered up on the first day of a John Muir Trail thru-hike in the worst of places: the forefeet. He’s a tough guy — we finished the hike in 7 days.

Courtesy of Craig Gulley. He'll have to share the story -- I don't even want to speculate how feet can look so nasty.

Courtesy of Craig Gulley. He’ll have to share the story — I don’t even want to speculate how feet can look so nasty.

My feet were macerated from the 2009 AMWC, but at least they didn't look like Chris'. It's a good thing we were so sleep-deprived, as his pain sensors must have been too numbed to notice what was happening with his feet.

My feet were macerated from the 2009 AMWC, but at least they didn’t look like Chris’. It’s a good thing we were so sleep-deprived, as his pain sensors must have been too numbed to notice what was happening with his feet.

18 Responses to Footwear & Footcare: Would you suck on these toes? || SD LIVE (July 22, 2015)

  1. Dave July 23, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    Lots of emphasis on dry sleeping socks.

  2. Andrew B. July 23, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    You mentioned Hokas briefly in this presentation, but do you have any opinions on or experience with maximialist shoes (e.g., Hokas or the Altra Olympus)?

    • Andrew Skurka July 23, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      No personal experience, but I have seen a few clients use them. In their current form, they are crap for backpacking. Not because of their “maximalist” design, but because they sacrifice durability in an effort to be light. One client destroyed his Hokas after a hard 7-day trip (80 miles, 40 off-trail, 3-4k vertical feet of gain each day), and a husband/wife duo was near the end of their Hokas after 4 moderate days in the Grand Canyon and 5 moderate days with me. In all cases, the mesh was fraying badly and socks could be seen.

  3. Dave July 30, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    Some feedback, but is there any way the people behind the camera can wear mic or something?

    It’s very difficult to hear the person sometimes. In front of the camera, the sound is very clear. Any sound coming from behind the screen sounds odd and at times like a whisper.

  4. Rob August 3, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    Andrew, have you tried kinesio tape instead of leukotape?

    • Andrew Skurka August 4, 2015 at 6:51 am #

      I have not used it, but if my understanding of it is correct, it’s an entirely different kind of tape. It’s stretchy and looks thicker than Leukotape. Given the small areas on the foot that need to be taped, I don’t think it’s necessary to have any stretch in the tape. And thicker is bad, since it may exacerbate the friction that caused the blister originally.

      But maybe I’m wrong. What has been your experience with it?

      • Rob August 4, 2015 at 7:29 am #

        I haven’t used it for treating blisters. I have some in the house that my wife used for helping with some running injuries and I was just wondering if the two could be used interchangeably.

  5. Leevi February 18, 2016 at 5:27 am #

    Thanks for sharing this information with all of us. It’s well thought out, makes sense, and is obviously tested and tried by a person with vast experience. It’s really appreciated. Cheers!

  6. Hock Meng March 28, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

    Hi Andrew,
    any comments on the choice of shoe soles with respect to the terrain that you would be trekking/running in?
    i.e some soles would grip rocks better, others would be perform worst on wet rocks or clay surfaces,etc

    able to share if the patterns on the soles would also play a part in the choice of selecting a suitable pair of footwear?

    • Andrew Skurka March 30, 2016 at 9:48 am #

      Shoes are more versatile than skis or bicycles, but, yes, I do consider environmental conditions when selecting my footwear.

      When I plan on doing a lot of off-trail travel and/or scrambling, which is more often the case than not, I like having a stickier rubber. If I expect a lot of mud, aggressive lugs are helpful, even though they also attract dirt. If I’m hiking or running mostly or entirely on-trail, I can get away with something more minimal.

      Similar story for uppers. Highly porous mesh is great for most conditions, except in sandy environments. Durability must be considered too — for rugged terrain, I like a sturdy toe cap, reinforced material along the sides near my shoes, and some type of exoskeleton to protect the mesh and to reduce lateral movement in the shoe.

      • Hock Meng March 31, 2016 at 12:45 am #

        Hi Andrew,
        would you be able to provide some tips when selecting shoes from stores for the above purposes? as most footwear models would not be able to produce the information like the construct of soles and by the time you purchase them either online or at stores it would be too late to realize that you have made a mistake in the selection of footwear due to the poor choice in the sole construct or material especially now most footwear would advertise they are made of vibram soles and etc.

        • Andrew Skurka March 31, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

          If you have not developed a good instinct for shoes, it is worth buying them at a store. And BUY them at the store — consider the small price premium (versus online) the cost of good service.

          I would call them beforehand and ask what shoes they have that are in your niche. Or, if the store is nearby, visit and just browse.

          Do some online research to see what others have to say.

          Finally, go to the store and try them on. Wear the socks you expect to wear with the shoes — that can make a big difference. In my experience, you know pretty quickly what shoes feel best. Try not to be cheap — if the shoe that feels like a dream is $20 more, eat it — you’ll never regret it.

  7. Rene May 14, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi Andrew. I’ve really enjoyed these SD live sessions, any chance you’ll have more of them in 2016? Thanks.

    • Andrew Skurka May 15, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

      No, none others planned. However, we will soon be releasing some short pre-filmed instructional videos on map and compass, campsite selection, how to pack and pack, and a few other topics.

  8. Ronnie May 30, 2016 at 5:00 pm #

    What do you carry for a sprain?

    BTW, the Leukotape worked very well for taping a broken toe so I could hike. Thanks for the tip.

    • Andrew Skurka May 30, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

      I’ve never sprained by ankle so badly that I needed to treat it. So there is nothing in my personal kit for it.

      And I’ve only had one ankle who badly sprained theirs. We taped it up with Leukotape or athletic tape, can’t remember, and he dunked it in cold streams when available.

  9. Dave T September 4, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    After viewing this article I modified my foot system for this years hikes. I bought a pair of La Sportiva Synthesis, Simblissity Levagaitors, used a combo of Smartwool Phd & Defeet Woolators (I already had the phd’s) and Gurney Goo. The 4 day hike involved walking through wet grass, scree slopes and residual alpine snow pack. The 8 day was our West Coast trail which had muddy forests, river crossings, tidal flats, beach sand, stones and boulders. I feet did get wet (once totally soaked as I walked through a mid calf high stream). The Levagaitors kept out the sand and fir needles and the sock system as suggested, combined with Gurney goo at night before bed & when I put on my shoes, resulted in my first multi- day hike with no blisters. What a pleasure. Thanks for the advice.

    • Andrew Skurka September 4, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

      Wahoo! Glad it worked well for you.

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