Posts Tagged hiking
In my quest for the perfect apres ski boot and all-round, packable outdoor travel shoe, I gave Pakems a trial run. This brand new product designed by a single mom is marketed as a lightweight, compressible shoe designed for use after a ski day. Pakems come in two styles (for both men and women): a high top for winter use and a low top for summer. Both are made from water-resistant ripstop fabric with an insulated, DWR-coated upper, and EVA midsole, and a rubber outsole. Both tighten with a very simple single-pull lace system.
The shoes are undeniably simple, but that’s the point. They’re meant to get you from Point A to Point B in comfort, after changing out of your technical footwear (ski boots in winter, hiking boots in summer). The sole is quite flat, and you don’t get a terribly secure fit, which for me means I won’t be walking in them too far. However, they’re comfortable, and after a day of exercise, they’re certainly a relief to slip on.
How small do they pack down? My size 8 Pakems measure about 10 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 2 inches thick. They weigh about 13 ounces (a size 10 weighs 15). They come with a small compression bag, but I ditched that pretty quickly in favor of simply squishing my Pakems down into my backpack or bag. If you do use the compression bag, it comes with a strap designed to attach to a backpack or even your waist…I found this overkill, but the strap does also work as a ski boot carrying device when you’re wearing your Pakems, which I’ll admit is pretty nifty.
In most cases, I have room in my ski boot bag for a standard pair of snow boots to change into, but for the days I don’t want to (or cannot) secure a ski locker and opt to carry a small backpack all day, the Pakems fit nicely. They’re also nice to keep in the car to slip your feet into for the drive home (from winter sport days or summer hikes). I’d also bring mine along for river rafting days in the early summer or late fall, when my feet get cold after being wet.
My Pakems are comfortable, but not very breathable…again, these are not designed for long-term wear or long distances. They’ll easily get you from the ski lodge to the parking lot or village, and look decent on your feet while grabbing that apres ski drink, but aren’t meant to go the distance. The low top version is ideal for backpackers who like to bring an extra pair of comfortable shoes for evenings around the campfire; I now favor them over my sandals for this purpose, as they keep my feet dry and clean in addition to giving them a much-needed hug after a day of hiking. Think of them as slippers for the backcountry.
The only difference between the high top version and the low top version: the high top covers to just above the ankle, whereas the low top is cut below. You’ll want the high top for winter wear. At the time of my review, Pakems came in only black, but they have now come out with a variety of fun patterns and colors. Pick up a pair at the Pakems website for $70 (high top) or $60 (low top) or Amazon for as low as $47 for the high top. They’re also available at Moosejaw.com.
Need a good all-around daypack or hiking pack that won’t break the bank? This new Shrike backpack from Kelty includes a lot of features in its sub-$100 list price.
If you go on any message board frequented by people getting ready to take off on an extended bout of travel, you’ll find plenty of arguments about what size backpack is the right one to take. If you’re the type who can stuff everything you need into one that holds just 30 liters, go order this Shrike pack from Kelty right now. If you’re just looking for a great hiking pack or daypack to keep in the closet for when you need it, however, this is also the pack for you.
For those in the former category, this top-loading pack doesn’t have a lot of wasted space and you can still manage to fit in a laptop or tablet. You won’t get a lot of padding–it’s a two-pound backpack after all—but the way it’s stitched there is some space between the bottom of the laptop pocket and the bottom of the pack. Not enough to be fine if you drop it from shoulder height without a sleeve, but enough protection if you always set it down gently.
Even with the electronics stuffed in the various gadget pockets, you’d have plenty of room for days of clothing. It’s tough to manage getting everything into just 30 liters of space, but there are lots of loops on the side to hook on some extras.
For your average person using this as a daypack, however, it’ll be more than ample. It’s got all the things that are standard these days: water bottle pockets, a key clasp, lots of gadget pockets inside, adjustable shoulder straps, and compression straps to pull everything in tight.
There are a few nice touches with this Kelty Shrike pack though, including a zippered pocket section on the top for getting to things you’re going to need to find without digging. Like your camera, or a flashlight. There’s another handy zipper pocket on the front. I especially appreciated the “Dynamic AirFlow back panel” when I took this out for a hike. It’s not quite as cool as the netting-style systems that keep the pack completely off your back, but there’s plenty of separation and the extra cushioning makes this Kelty pack quite comfortable.
This Shrike 30 can be a serious backpack, complete with a strap to go around your waist, or it can be a casual daypack you can take on hikes in the nearby mountains. It’s hydration bladder compatible if you want. It’s rugged, well-made, and punches above its weight class when it comes to the reasonable $90 list price.
Are you taking your pasty white skin somewhere bright and sunny anytime soon? Are you hiking in the mountains in thinner air? You’re probably going to need some sun protection on your sweaty head and this Mountain Hardwear Canyon Sun Hiker is a great choice.
I don’t normally start off with the price, but this cap lists for $25, which is probably less than your home sports team’s new logo hat. This is a technical sun hat that delivers, however. It has a UPF rating of 50, so you can walk in the sun all day and not get a burned head, even if you’re a bald Irishman. That strip you see on the side is mesh, so it solves the main problem of wearing a hat in the hot sun: the heat won’t get trapped.
I have been wearing this around sunny Guanajuato in Mexico and I had it on pretty much every day during a recent trip to Nicaragua. I like the look of it—technical but subtle—and it’s quite comfortable. It has a band and clip on the back to adjust the sizing, which was especially helpful when I was out on a windy boat and needed to make sure I didn’t lose it. Even in 90-degree heat my head stayed cool from the ventilation and when the other fabric did get wet, it dried in a hurry.
The Coolmax brim is a nice touch as it’s cool against the skin and it dries very quickly too. No matter which of the five color styles you choose, the underside of the brim is dark to reduce glare. Very helpful if you’re on the water or traversing the Bolivian Salt Flat. This Canyon Sun Hiker is a “floater” too: When it blew into the swimming pool from my lounge chair table, it floated on the top of the water until I retrieved it.
It weighs a mere 1.7 ounces (48 grams) and it still looked good after I kept stuffing it into my suitcase or daypack when moving from place to place.
In the photo at the top there’s Mountain Hardwear text on the side, but apparently that got nixed before production as mine just has the icon logo on the front. It looks good and is not obtrusive.
I’ll still wear a sun hat with a brim when I don’t want to slather sunscreen on my face and neck to walk around a city, but this is going to be my heavy rotation cap from now on and is definitely what I’ll pack for hiking or watersports.
We often talk on here about finding good double-duty travel shoes that will work in multiple situations. So do you really want to take along another pair of shoes you only wear when you’re not out doing something? If you ask your feet, they might say “Yes please!”
These Exit shoes from GoLite Footwear are in a class called “recovery shoes,” meant to be slipped on after a hard-core day of hiking, skiing, rock climbing, or sidewalk surfing. The idea is that you might love those hiking boots when you’re out on the trail, but not when you need to pad around the campfire or walk from your bed to the bathroom.
These are meant to cradle and cushion your feet, to treat them like a client at the spa who needs a good dose of relaxation. They’re lightweight so they won’t tax your legs anymore and the breathable mesh lets your feet cool down. Since they’re loafers, there’s no friction or pressure on top.
Memory foam means these fit better and better the longer you wear them instead of providing less support over time. I liked these better in month two of my tests than I did in month one. They also come with GoLite’s PreciseFit insole that is adjustable to work for narrow, standard, or wide feet—a thoughtful touch in a sea of shoes that act like we all have the same foot shape. I’ve ended up wearing these around the tile and hardwood floor house as much as I took them on trips (same with my Oofos), but I was happy I had them on one that involved two days of hiking with lots of rocky terrain.
The Exit shoes won’t crap out on you though if it’s still rough ground where you spend the night: a rock absorber system protects your feet and the Gecko sticky rubber outsole GoLite is known for provides plenty of traction. As with your favorite pair of slippers or flats though, there’s no built-up heel on them—your feet stay flat to the ground.
The space you have in your bag or pack may determine whether you can afford to pack recovery shoes, but if you can, they sure beat a pair of flip-flops/slides in the cold. They’re comfy and built like peanut butter on a cracker: soft on the top, tough on the bottom.
The GoLite Exit shoes come in several different color options, in stretchy synthetics (what I tried out) or leather, for less than $100. Check prices online at Zappos, Planet Shoes, or Amazon. Amy tried out the women’s version this past summer: follow this link to check out her Elixir review.
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For my inaugural test of the GoLite XT Comp shoe, I laced up at a lodge near the base of Lake Louise, Alberta, and set out to hike the wet and steep trails of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park after an early October storm. At the lower elevations, I navigated through muddy sections and slippery rocks with ease, and by the time I hiked half-way to my goal of Little Beehive above Lake Agnes, snow was falling. Near Lake Agnes, the snow had accumulated enough that other hikers were slipping traction grip overlays over their hiking boots. Not me: the XT Comp shoe was performing nicely in the wet slush and light powder, thanks to its ‘rock absorber’ traction sole comprising of rubber nobs. My verdict: the XT really is the ‘state-of-the-art off-road performance shoe’ that’s advertised.
During the five mile round-trip hike in the above conditions, my feet never got wet, despite the fact that the XT Comp doesn’t look waterproof. Why: a low cut and plenty of ventilation in the mesh upper makes this shoe look like a warm-weather pick. However, the traction on the sole is seriously substantial. It’s touted as lightweight, but I’d amend that to say ‘as lightweight as possible for a shoe with this much stabilization and traction.’ I loved the substance I got from this shoe without sacrificing the low ankle rise. If you’re looking for a reasonably lightweight, ankle-length shoe that provides the traction and stabilization of a full above-ankle hiking boot, this may be the one.
The heel is zero-lift for a natural stride; I found I needed to play around with insoles to get the just-right fit. The XT fits me wider than most shoes, which is both a plus and a minus: I like how easy it is to slip on over wool socks, and the ability to loosen them while traveling (I wore mine on a commuter train and in the car on the same Rockies trip), but I also needed to adjust the insoles to get the support I wanted.
All GoLite shoes come with adjustable insoles, which I definitely utilize. Use the velcro base to add or remove layering to the sole as needed. I found that removing all but the base of the insole gave me the best fit. Pick up a pair at GoLite for $125 in bright tangerine, or at Amazon for five bucks less. Also comes in men’s sizing, in artisan gold or navy.