We went shoe shopping today because the Keens we bought as replacements just were not working out.
Win ended up with On shoes, Cloudstratus model. Her service guy Mark was great. She got the shoes at Run On Shoes. Mockingbird; 5400 East Mockingbird Lane Dallas, TX 75206; (214) 821-0909 firstname.lastname@example.org
Interestingly, I’ve since found out about people who have traveled to Dallas from the coast just to work with Mark on shoes. He is as good or better than our experience indicates.
I ended up with Hoka Stinsons from REI. They are like walking on a could.
Almost got Wildcats (GTX version) instead. Both felt so very good. The Hokas felt better even if not waterproof.
Now we just need a few shakedown hikes. Of course we are back on the AT in about a week.
The bottom line is that this is a great example of how shoes that look great on paper and in person (the Keens really were pretty shoes and had a lot of good points to them) may not work out for someone—though they work out for many.
Happy (Win) lined her shoes so much she insisted I try them. They really were not a good fit for me.
As for the shoes I got. I really like them. But I liked the Wildcats enough that saved the information for the future, just in case.
Additional note about gear:
Especially with shoes, you need to understand that while dominating a category (20% or more of the hikers using a brand’s equipment) on a long trail (such as the PCT or the AT) seems important, it is pretty insignificant for actual sales.
A trail might generate 500 pairs sold a year or so. Or less.
What popularity on a trail does do is spin off sales of gear to people who would like to think about hiking while walking around town or doing four or five miles on local trails after work. Often it is a great way to find shoes (for example) to wear for daily walks or daily use.
As a result, often after starting in a garage and developing niche success, a brand will be sold to a company who changes it from gear to “poser gear.” That term is not necessarily bad, but it is a warning.
The elements of poser gear are:
• Looks cool.
• Often has Goretex, yet is very breathable, often at the expense of durability or effectiveness.
• Gear failure when used on a trail. Delaminated soles when used on a trail for a hundred miles or so are a good example of what happens with one brand. Others often have the equivalent of metal fatigue. 4-5 miles on flat ground, never a problem.
12-15 miles a day on a rougher trail, problems within 100-150 miles. Examples:
• Goretex works just fine around town, develops failures when used more than five-six hours a day or wets out after an hour in the rain.
• Soles are advertised for “through hiking” but are good for 200-300 miles on a long hike.
The other thing that happens is that a brand will notice increased sales of a niche and then “fix it.” Consider Brooks. The Cascadia 8 was hugely successful, got noticed, so they “fixed” the fact it had a wide forefoot. Which rendered it useless for hiking and generated enough bad word of mouth that the increased sales to core Brooks buyers did not happen. Now they are trying to regain their niche.
The bottom line is that often last year’s gear will suddenly not be useable this year. Or the gear of two-three years ago isn’t good for next year. It has become poser gear.
No way to explain that to people who have got this. They are sure that if personality such as Dixie used this gear five years ago, so they should use it next year. Dixie has changed almost all of her gear from five years ago.
Forget her example. Never mind that technology might improve (a four pound pack from a few years ago is no longer cutting edge), materials might improve (a five pound tent from the last decade is no longer a good, state of the art light tent), and Mountain House may yet come out with a food that tastes good and has enough calories for a hiker’s meal.
But realize that if you’ve identified poser gear as someone’s choice of gear, there is no way to change someone’s mind about it until it fails on them two or three times. Not worth arguing about.
Until then, when someone just wants to hear “you’ve got this” rather than anything else about their gear, just expect them to wear their Altras when they tuck into their hammock (that is a hiker joke).
Afterwards. A guy who gets knee problems with Altras asked for other shoes. One heavily downvoted Reddit response was to suggest the answerer’s favorite Altra type.
That happens so often that some people will jokingly respond to any question with suggesting Altras as a running joke. Something similar happens with hammocks.
Someone might be asking to compare a Tiger Wall tent to a Naturehike tent and someone is sure to suggest a hammock (eg “sleeping in a hammock gives me back trouble and I’ve started on trips above the tree line so I’m trying to decide beteeen two tents.”).
ZPacks tents are starting to edge in. E.g. “I’ve got $100 to spend on a tent for overnight car camping. What do you recommend?” Answer “pay $600 for a ZPacks—your back will thank you when you’ve been a few weeks on the trail.”
So yes. Happy had two pairs of Altras delaminate at about 100-150 miles in our last part of the trail. Switched to Keens. They seemed perfect but she started to have problems so she went back.
The guy at REI knew Mike (having worked with him) and sent her over. He measured her feet, looked at wear patterns and had her walk and fitted her.
So. She is in real shoes.
For me, North Face shoes were great walking around town, with good durability. I’ve worn one pair out around town. I have a second pair in my closet.
But on the trail it only takes 100-150 miles and the goretex cracks and water runs in. Happened twice. The first time I noticed it in 45 degree heavy rain. Looked down and then saw my socks through the holes.
Then it happened again in March.
So I would recommend them for local trails and after work jogging or walking. Great shoes. Inexpensive compared to similar shoes. The goretex is the most breathable I’ve met.
Would not recommend them for a through hike.
So lots in this wall of text. I don’t expect most people to read to the end but it was good to write this to solidify my thoughts.