The weather is warming up and the days are getting longer, and for me that means more time outdoors hiking, and caching. That means some preparation is in store. I bought a new day-pack, but the most important part of my gear is footwear. Feet are probably the most important part of hiking, or for that matter just about any activity.
First thing to do for hiking is to find some comfortable boots. When you go shopping for them take along the socks you most probably will be wearing, Then try on a few pairs and take time to walk around the store, not just a dozen feet in front of the salesperson, but all over the store, spend a few minutes in them, Make sure they are comfortable, while walking as well as when sitting – you may spend a few hours driving to the trailhead, standing. Some stores I’ve been in have ramps and ‘rock piles’, try the boots in all conditions. Make sure they are comfortable, did I say that already, not too tight, but also not too loose, they are not supposed lounging slippers.
I said to bring socks when you try on boots, Thin socks can make a small boot feel good, but when you start wearing socks with enough insulation and cushioning they will make the boot too tight. The same goes for you dress shoes.
On the subject of socks while caching (and other outdoors activities). in the past I used the cotton “sport” socks. A few years ago my son mentioned wool socks. I’d always thought of wool as hot, but I decided to give some a try. So I tried REI ‘wool‘ socks. Since then I almost always wear them . Then seem to wear forever. Some of them are not real wool, but the manmade wool made from (recycled?) Polypro. The types I seem to stick with most often are labeled Smart Wool not only are they warm, but they are cool too. Even in summer my feet are not too hot in them, and my feet do get hot and uncomfortable in most other socks.
Talking of REI “wool” socks: On one recent cache hike I stepped on a bunch of leaves, but they were only a layer of leaves covering about 12″ of water, though my foot was wet, my foot didn’t feel cold at all.
A lot of times I wear them while kayaking, along with a pair of Teva’s. Here’s a story of wet feet and socks. Donna and I took a class in Rescue and Recovery a while back. The instructor reminded us of the saying “Dry Feet = Wet Head”, or if you try to keep your feet dry, you’ll probably fall in and get wet all over. So my entry and exit involve stepping in water, sometimes almost knee-deep. Much of the time I’m in cool water and wear Teva’s but if I forget to leave the socks in the car I have my “REI Hiking” socks on. Even when wet they keep my feet warm while paddling, and on the drive home. I’ve found that those socks don’t feel cold wet or dry.
Now my old cotton sport tube socks have one purpose – I put my Go-Pro Video Camera in one – a soft lens cover. This protects the plastic lens dome from getting scratched.
Disclaimer, I just like REI, it’s one of my favorite stores, close and convenient.