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Re: Looking for a Good Place to Buy Hiking Boots in the Greater Bay Area

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Looking for a Good Place to Buy Hiking Boots in the Greater Bay Area
February 09, 2017 10:56AM
Hi everyone,
I am looking to replace my hiking boots, and wanted to find a place or places in the greater Bay Area that has people who know what they are talking about and has a decent selection. I had an old pair of Montrail's that lasted for years, and I could wear for mile after mile without any discomfort. Sadly, they have been discontinued. I got them at the REI in Berkeley 15 or so years ago. I got my next pair of Lowa's at the REI in Concord, but was disappointed with the customer service and selection. The boots ended up giving me blisters after 10+ mile hikes even after they were broken in. My wife is in the same boat. This is the year we are going to do it right, and take time and travel around to try various boots to find the perfect ones for our feet. Too many great hikes have been marred by blisters and lost toe nails to continue using the boots we have. Does anyone have any places they like to get boots? I'll travel a few hours to find a place that will help us hiking in bliss again.
Thanks!
avatar Re: Looking for a Good Place to Buy Hiking Boots in the Greater Bay Area
February 10, 2017 01:36AM
I've been buying all my hiking footwear at REI in Berkeley. I haven't found it useful to rely on the staff too much, as they all all seem to have their own ideas of what boot would be best for me. I've tried on a number of name-brand boots, some of which I hated from the first step even though they were very popular with other wearers. They just didn't seem well suited to the way I walked, and I was in no hurry to learn a different walking style.

What I settled on years ago was Merrell Moab Ventilators, the "mid" version. I've tried the "lows" too, and wear them around town, but for serious hiking I prefer the mids. I sometimes wear Moab Waterproofs when I'm expecting rain, but I find there's an increased risk of ending up with unexpected blisters. I'm guessing that the moister environment inside the waterproofs makes my skin less resistant to friction, especially in warm weather.

It took me several tries to get the sizes right (different sizes for different uses, it turns out). Early on, in my pre-Merrell days, I noticed that when I'd done a lot of hiking my shoes would start to feel tight. I solved that by first switching to Merrells in a wide size, then finding arch supports that worked for me. I typically throw away the standard Merrell innersole and replace it with a Dr. Scholl's "custom fit" arch support sandwiched between two Spenco flat insoles. I seem to have found the right size of Merrells to accommodate that particular combination, and it's been working really well for me.

I used to bruise my toenails a lot going downhill, until I went to the "mid" height for the extra support and made sure to tighten the laces before starting down. At one point I started getting a blister on the side of my heel, of all places. It seemed to be from the friction as my heel squished up and down on all the padding. I added Spenco heel cups and that seemed to take care of it. For some reason the heel cups didn't want to stay in place till I stitched them to the insole directly under them.

A few years ago I bought a pair of "winter" boots to experiment with -- Moab Waterproofs a size or two bigger than I usually wear, so that I could fit two pairs of "expedition" socks inside. They weren't what the staff recommended and I had no idea how they'd actually work out. I recently got my first chance to try them out in Yosemite Valley, and they worked perfectly for me. My feet, at least, had no idea I was walking in snow at temps in the 20s.
Re: Looking for a Good Place to Buy Hiking Boots in the Greater Bay Area
February 10, 2017 09:48AM
Thanks for the information. I think most boots would require a certain amount of customization to get the right fit. I've been dealing with foot and ankle issues for the past year, and am getting them resolved, so I'm motivated to do my research and put in the time to find the best one for my needs. I think it's a matter of visiting various stores and trying on many different sizes, styles, and brands before making a decision. Time and patience. Anyone else have any places they like?
Re: Looking for a Good Place to Buy Hiking Boots in the Greater Bay Area
February 10, 2017 05:49PM
Sports Basement has a reasonably wide selection, though more trail runners than boots at least the last time I was at the Sunnyvale store.
avatar Re: Looking for a Good Place to Buy Hiking Boots in the Greater Bay Area
February 10, 2017 04:25PM
I think you're right about the customization. That's a major reason I avoid starting with anything that's so elaborate that customizing might defeat its other features, and so expensive that I wouldn't want to give up on it and move on.

Fortunately I've never had much in the way of ankle issues. I guess if I did, I'd have to reconsider higher-top boots. As it is, I've always found them a bit tiring to walk (or work) in.
Re: Looking for a Good Place to Buy Hiking Boots in the Greater Bay Area
February 11, 2017 06:59AM
Not all REI stores carry these, so I ended up buying from Amazon. So far, the best I've owned. I have 2 different models, the 2.0 and 3.0. Good luck!!

https://www.amazon.com/Sportiva-ECO-3-0-GTX-Boot/dp/B00DTH3LGQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1486825066&sr=1-1&nodeID=679255011&keywords=fc+eco+3.0
Re: Looking for a Good Place to Buy Hiking Boots in the Greater Bay Area
February 12, 2017 08:22AM
One additional data point, while @ REI in Sacramento, I wanted to ck out this backpacking boot. Great reviews.

https://www.rei.com/product/774690/zamberlan-vioz-gt-hiking-boots-mens

The sales person mentioned he sells these to Geologists.


Good luck.
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