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Topic: Building one's own boots, Frustrated with options - you with me?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 1:40 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am just tired of the same-old boots that don't meet my needs or desires in footwear. I've tried so many different models over the years and have always ended up with the same frustrations:

-Lack of toe splay room - toeboxes not wide enough or too pointy. Virtually every boot that claims wide toes really aren't. And yes, that includes Keen.

-Too narrow in ball of foot - leads to morton's neuroma

-Too loose in the heel/ankle/instep - causes heel slip or for the foot to slide forward. My heel isn't flat, why is the inside of my shoe/boot?

-Lack of padded heel and ankle areas leads to pressure-blisters - exacerbated by stiff midsoles/shanks that won't let the boot flex with the foot, putting abnormal pressure on the heel.

-Midsole/Heel too high causing destabilization and lack of groundfeel/support. Every single time i've rolled my ankles it has been in high topped boots with thick midsoles. I've *never* rolled my ankle in minimalist shoes. Ever.

-Midsole too longitudinally stiff, creating awkward artificial walking gait

-Often poor outsole grip on slick surfaces due to "blocky" tread instead of "toothy" tread

Overall, this has led to various foot pains/problems. I've tried all kinds of footbeds, and read up extensively on foot biomechanics etc. I've also recently begun using "minimalist" footwear for walking and running. This essentially addresses all the problems above, but the lack of protection underfoot, especially with a load, leaves feet bruised, aching, and susceptible to injuries from sharp rocks etc. Plus there are few high-top models.

Type of Boot

I want a boot that embraces the minimalist spirit while still providing decent underfoot protection/support. A balance between flexibility and groundfeel and impact absorbtion and support. There is nothing on the market that truly bridges this gap. It's either very minimalist or an underwhelming design that misses out on some key aspects (wide toes, good outsole, elevated heel, etc).

This boot would hug the midfoot and ankle well without tying the laces so tight they cut off circulation in my feet. They'd let my toes splay (in width and height) to support me and flex fully with my footsteps.  Something with a thinner midsole/outsole (1/2" total?) with little to no heel rise that still provides reasonable cushioning and a rock-plate that filters out the worst of sharp objects without affecting flexibility too much. There should be built in footbed/arch support to simulate walking barefoot on softer ground, but not overly aggressive as to prevent a natural walking gait. Probably out of some material that after a couple of weeks forms to the foor, like a cork footbed. Lastly, it should have a toothy outsole (but not necessary super deep) that handles muddy wet leaves and rock.

The ankle should come high enough to keep debris out. The upper should have a breathable non-waterproof fabric option and a waterproofed option that might be leather. It needs to be tough but flexible to move with natural foot flex. Something that will hold a good DWR coating.

There could be two models - one with a thicker midsole and upper for more load bearing and rougher terrain, and a lighter/thinner one for straight-up day hiking under mixed conditions.

Who's with me on this? Anyone else tired of compromising on boots built on specifications and principles  that were laid out decades or centuries ago with fashion in mind as opposed to function?

I know nothing of building boots so this would be a long-term plan, and probably a ridiculous one at that, but I'm just tired of paying tons of money for boots that make my feet hurt, no matter how careful I am in selection. And believe me, there are few people more picky about it or who pay as much attention to the shape of their feet than I. I have a bunch of boots lying around that I can't wear comfortably and feel like playing Dr. Frankenstein.

My current boots I use are Salewa Mtn Trainers. Wide enough in the toes sixed a half size up and nice and light/weight, but much too stiff, and little ankle padding leads to pressure and blisters. Low enough to the ground for better support but the elevated heel isn't helpful. Outsole ok but not toothy enough for off-trail. If these were much more flexible and had a toothier tread they'd be great.

I'm very knowledgeable about a variety of boots and my own foot needs specifically. I have wide square toes, medium width feet, narrow heels, low volume. My left foot is nearly a full size wider than my right but the right is wider, making things much worse.  My single biggest problem are toe-boxes that are too narrow - i go up a size and then the boot has too much volume. I'm open to suggestions but I've probably seen or tried them all. Keen has surprisingly low volume toe-boxes that aren't all that wide despite being squared. I like the new La Sportiva Omegas but they have a very elevated midsole and heel rise.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 1:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Know any cobblers?
I got a good one in my home town. Resole, repair, but he loves building stuff from scratch.
They won't be cheap, but they would be exactly what you want.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 2:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I spoke with a cobbler down the street about it once. Problem is he build boots mostly for fashion. He told me he's built some hiking boots before but looking at the materials he planned to use they are old-school clophopping waffle stompers made of thick cow-leather. Not quite what I have in mind. Plus, I don't have the cash really.

I'd need to find a way to separate the midsoles on my boots and customise them before putting them back together.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 2:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

:laugh:

Smokey, your perennial boot woes on these forums make this post feel like the first sign of Spring.

I suggest that you contact Limmer Custom Boots and see what they can do for you. If they can't make you happy, you'd better just start hiking barefoot.

Goodluck!
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 3:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(vinovampire @ Feb. 22 2013, 2:31 pm)
QUOTE
:laugh:

Smokey, your perennial boot woes on these forums make this post feel like the first sign of Spring.


Goodluck!

Hahaha, yeah, I suppose that's true. :)

QUOTE
I suggest that you contact Limmer Custom Boots and see what they can do for you. If they can't make you happy, you'd better just start hiking barefoot.


I would try my minimalist shoes but my delicate tootsies are much too used to being coddled and too weak yet. Limmer makes some wonderful boots but the customs are super expensive and on a many year waiting list.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 8:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Smokey, I totally identify. I spent months looking for boots last year and finally just quit looking. My boots are so old I can't even count the years, something like 15 years old. I can't find a single thing to replace them with and I got sick of mailing boots back and forth across the country. So I just got a new tube of Shoe Goo.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 23 2013, 5:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice. If I had a very good pair of uppers that fit well and in good shape I'd strongly consider taking it to a good cobbler to have them install a custom midsole and outsole.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 23 2013, 6:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi...


I'm familiar with the problems you're referring to (I wear a size 16 boot!).

Have you given any thought to having a podiatrist evaluate your feet for orthotics?There may be a chance that orthotics could play a major part in relieving some of your troubles.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 24 2013, 6:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What good are orthotics if there's no boot that matches your foot shape?
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 24 2013, 6:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi...


                             You'll have to ask your foot Doctor...you never know...!!
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 25 2013, 12:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My problem is primarily of fit to begin with, so orthotics would be of limited help. Also, I'm trying to avoid overly aggressive foot motion control and relying more on a balance between my foot's natural desire and sense of the environment with external protection. It's a hard compromise.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 25 2013, 1:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Are you  close enough to NH to give them a visit? They would work with their in hand stock to attempt to find a solution.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 25 2013, 1:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm a bit far (Toronto ON), and not planning to head out that way any time soon unfortunately. One day...
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 25 2013, 1:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(SmokeyBear @ Feb. 25 2013, 10:32 am)
QUOTE
I'm a bit far (Toronto ON), and not planning to head out that way any time soon unfortunately. One day...

A quick Google pulled this custom hiking boot maker from B.C., six month wait or less (3-4 now), probably at least in part as he's pricey...

http://www.hikingbootshandcrafted.com/contact.html

Okay that's much further away than NH....

There may be others more in range.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 2:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

He's great but the boots are little more substantial than I want and at $1000 per pair definitely unaffordable for me.

I'd love to take my Chaco Z1 sandals and build an upper around them - the shape of the footbed is perfect for me, though a little wide in the heel. Chaco has some boots but none are really all that substantial or have good off-taril properties. I've worn my Z-1 sandals on and off trail, and my biggest issues is that stones/grit gets caught under the foot, and wet straps rub my feet raw.

The polyurethane footbed is heavy but is a brilliant balance between filtering out stones and cushioning and flexibility. A little thinner would retain much of the cushion but provide betetr groundfeel and even better flexibility. Plus the sole is a little too high off the ground, destabilizing the wearers on uneven conditions (I've acdidently stepped on the edge of my sandal and tripped more than once).

I'd take the Z1 footbed, make it a little thinner (about 2/3), reduce the heel to toe drop to less than <5 mm, and put a toothier tread on it. Then I'd cover it in a nice flexible nylon fabric with a goretex liner inside. I'd make it a 6" boot going just over the ankle, with good memory foam padding on the tongue and collar upper around the ankle and above the heel. I'd offer an attachable tongue insert that helps take up extra room for low volume feet like mine.

Chaco makes something somewhat similar:

http://www.chacos.com/US....sions=0

But it is designed as a water boarding boot for surfers and such. There's not enough tooth on the tread, it doesn't have much padding, and it's definitely not waterproof. IF they fortified this design and reduced the heel rise it would be so much better.

Their waterproof leather version:

http://www.chacos.com/US....sions=0

Is better in some ways but still doesn't have much tread on it. Both versions rely on a thick foam insole to provide cushion, a mistake. They should use the footbed shape/form from the sandals, with a thin removable footbed that can be washed but doesn't affect fit.

So close Chaco - why not go a little further and make an actual hiking boot?
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 3:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

They may some day: Five-Ten was just a climbing shoe company at one time. Slopes are slippery.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 4:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

any custom-made boot is going to cost you, that's a certainty.  to me, though, you have to amortize that cost over several years and compare against what you anticipate spending on less-durable and apparently less-comfortable options.  

i have non-custom limmer boots - the lightweights are hardly minimalist shoes, but they are much more forgiving than the full-on heavyweights.  they still might be more than you want, but you would have to see them in person to start to make that call.  

couldn't tell you what their custom pricing is, but i would be surprised if it were within 20-30% of the $1000 per pair price you quoted from another customer bootmaker.  also, the legendary long waiting list may not be nearly as long now. at some point in the not too distant past, i heard it was more like 18 months.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 5:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Toronto to Intervale is 546 miles? That's a nice day's drive so maybe worth it after all: only need to go there once.

http://www.limmercustomboot.com/cgi-bin....-custom

$625 for the custom ones.

If the problems have been that persistent...
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 5:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Don't tempt me. Not sure if my car will survive the ride though. Maybe this summer... The hiking out there would be spectacular.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 9:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(High_Sierra_Fan @ Feb. 27 2013, 5:19 pm)
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Toronto to Intervale is 546 miles? That's a nice day's drive so maybe worth it after all: only need to go there once.

I've done this drive in one day. It's a killer. Best to stop midway in the Adirondacks and do some backpacking or kayaking.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 1:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(SmokeyBear @ Feb. 27 2013, 5:27 pm)
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Don't tempt me. Not sure if my car will survive the ride though. Maybe this summer... The hiking out there would be spectacular.

The hiking here is spectacular!!  :;): You'd only be minutes from the Presidential's...do it!!!!

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 1:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TrailTramper @ Feb. 27 2013, 6:15 pm)
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(High_Sierra_Fan @ Feb. 27 2013, 5:19 pm)
QUOTE
Toronto to Intervale is 546 miles? That's a nice day's drive so maybe worth it after all: only need to go there once.

I've done this drive in one day. It's a killer. Best to stop midway in the Adirondacks and do some backpacking or kayaking.

True, Lake Champlain, Vermont, lots of stuff to experience along the way. The St. Regis might be a little too early for a stop, but on the other hand....

ETA: Plan "A": Go there this summer and stop by the shop to see if they can work something out with their stock boots.

Leading to Plan "B": get a first measurement from the custom people while you're right there in Intervale to get you on your way to a pair that would surely solve your fit issues for once and for all....
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 1:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just out of curiosity, why a high boot instead of a lower shoe?

Have you tried any Montrails?  (Not sure if they make a hiking boot.)  I've had a pair of Mountain Masochists forever as a casual wear-around-town shoe and they have a nice wide toe box.  More recently, I've been wearing their Rogue Fly for workouts and "tame" trails and love them.  In fact, I think I like them more than my LaSportiva Wildcats, which is saying a lot.  It's got me thinking about trying Montrails on my less-tame hikes though I think the Fly is a little too 'minimal' for comfort.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 4:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I prefer boots for backpacking and hiking because they provide good water protection - where I hike mud and water is a big issue, and gators alone won't cut it (I wear them with boots). Plus the protection on the upper ankle from scratches etc is nice.

To be honest I find montrails to be amongst the tightest in the toes of any boots/shoes I've tried. Plus they're often just as wide in the heel as they are in the toes - too wide in the rear, to narrow in the front for my flippers. The masochists were particularly bad for me actually. Maybe the older ones were better?

I still don't understand why despite all the growing evidence that toes need to spread and flex up for best stability, and that a large number of people have squared toes, most footwear continues to be made with a pointy triangular toebox that doesn't suit a large proportion of the population. And for those with pointier toes, it often stems not from genetics but years of having their toes contorted into tight little triangles for fashion's sake. Allowing their toes to grow back out would be beneficial and having extra room doesn't cause problems, provided the rest of the foot is secure.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 5:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(SmokeyBear @ Feb. 28 2013, 4:40 pm)
QUOTE
To be honest I find montrails to be amongst the tightest in the toes of any boots/shoes I've tried. Plus they're often just as wide in the heel as they are in the toes - too wide in the rear, to narrow in the front for my flippers. The masochists were particularly bad for me actually. Maybe the older ones were better?

That's interesting.  Maybe the difference is women's vs men's sizing/design.  I have very average-sized feet (yes, I'm lucky) but I prefer my toes to be spread out (yoga influence, I think.)

I agree with you about the pointy-toes... just imagine if you had to wear high-heeled pumps!  Consider yourself somewhat lucky.


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(TigerFan @ Feb. 28 2013, 5:48 pm)
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I agree with you about the pointy-toes... just imagine if you had to wear high-heeled pumps!  Consider yourself somewhat lucky.

:D

Yeah, I'm very glad. Recently I've taken to wearing minimalist shoes for daily use as well as running (which I haven't been doing much of this winter I confess). They have wider toe-boxes and are much more flexible for toe movement. I've been having big toe pain on my right foot intermittently since last year and wearing stiffer shoes/boots with a lot of arch support seems to aggravate it, while minimalist shoes are virtually pain free. But my arches are getting used to this still.
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(SmokeyBear @ Feb. 28 2013, 4:40 pm)
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I still don't understand why despite all the growing evidence that toes need to spread and flex up for best stability, and that a large number of people have squared toes, most footwear continues to be made with a pointy triangular toebox that doesn't suit a large proportion of the population.

I totally agree with you on this. Plus, as Americans get heavier the forefoot is spreading.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 12:50 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Not sure I get it; maybe I've just been lucky. Seems like "Much ado about nothing."

When my original Fabiano 365s sadly wore out after a decade, I got a a pair of midweight one piece full grain leather upper Vasques. Two resoles later and they're fine after after a decade and a half of off-trail and heavy loads.

In between, I used up several pairs of the original Nike Lava Domes, off-trail and archery hunting in the peaks. I loved these. I'd buy 'em again if I could.

Guess I just have good feet, eh? I'm currently running in Five Fingers and love them, too.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 8:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(waterdog @ Mar. 01 2013, 12:50 am)
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Not sure I get it; maybe I've just been lucky. Seems like "Much ado about nothing."

I think the main topic is lack of boots that fit Smokey's flippers (wedge shape, aka duck feet).
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 10:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Waterdog - I am envious of your "dogs", as mine seem to bark and whine all too often. ;)

Asolo has new boots coming out:

http://www.rei.com/product/845709/asolo-zion-wp-hiking-boots-mens

That use a "natural shape" last. They look to be built as a very transitional slight minimised hiking boot built for flexibility, foot hugging, and ground feel. Hard to tell by pics but the toes look more rounded. They are eventually coming to my local store so I am looking forward to trying these. Not holding my breath, as Asolo is usually far too snug in the toes and wide in the heel for me.

http://www.asolo.com/eng/tech_det.php?itemid=38
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