Sunday, August 18, 2013

Finally, a pair of hiking boots I can wear!

This posting is specifically for all the women who read my blog - especially those who love to hike and backpack, but have painful bunions. I've had bunions from the time I was a teenager, and they have slowly but surely progressed to the point where every time I see a podiatrist, he/she recommends surgery.  I'm not a fan of foot surgery, especially since my bunions do not hurt 99.999% of the time.

This photo was taken during my trek from Lukla to Everest base camp in Nepal during 2009. I really did a number on my feet during the trek - blisters galore, bursitis of the metatarsals, and, of course, the bunion challenges. I managed with lots of zinc-laden sports tape, lambswool, and creative taping of my feet, blisters, and bunion pads placed behind the bunions. I was a bit slow at times, but I walked every step of the way from Lukla to Gorak Shep, up Kala Patar, and back to Lukla.

Finding shoes has always been a real challenge for me. The shoes have to have a sufficiently large toe box so that the sides of the shoe do not put pressure on my bunions. I'm pretty successful at finding running/walking shoes that fit this bill. Forget high heels or any fashionable dress shoe. I've resigned myself to the fact that I will always look frumpy when it comes to shoe fashions. However, I truly do need to have hiking boots that not only are sturdy and can take the abuse I give them during my field seasons in South Africa, but I need them to fit well and to not put pressure on my bunions.

In all the years I've been hiking and doing field work, I've never had an ideal pair of boots that do not hurt my feet. However, I think I may have finally found the perfect pair as of yesterday. I went to Outdoor Source, our local outdoor activities supply store, and told the woman who waited on me my sorry saga about hiking boots. She told me that I should try a boot made for men because the toe box is much wider than those in womens' boots. 

Voila! I could tell when I put these boots on that they would be very comfortable.  They are Salomon GTX boots, and I'm totally happy with them. I did a hike at Highbanks Metro park last evening with them and felt no hotspots, no pressure points on the bunions, and they were very comfortable. I did another walk in them this morning and they still feel great.  The big test will be in South Africa, but I suspect that I have finally found a solution to my bunions vs. hiking boots life-long battle.

So, ladies - if you have bunions and have never found a hiking boot that was comfortable, I highly recommend that you try your equivalent shoe size in menswear boots. 

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