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lilikoi's avatar

Milford Track NZ - Boots vs shoes?

Asked by lilikoi (10031 points ) October 15th, 2010

A while ago, I asked a similar question and got great responses. I decided back then to stay with lightweight trail running shoes and consider goretex socks for cold wet environs. What I’m reading about the Milford and Fiordland in general is that hiking boots are strongly recommended. I can’t decide what to do re footwear and would appreciate some advice.

I’m not sure exactly what to expect out there. Seems like temps range from 30s-50sF but can be as high as 80s during summer. There are water crossing where I think your whole foot gets submerged. Photos Ive seen show well worn, level trail but people make it sound harder than that….yet it’s referred to as a walk… There is a 1000 ft elevation gain at one point I think.

I see 3 options -

a. stick with trail runners I already own, add insole, thick wool socks, and goretex sock over it.

they have thin soles and would need an insole, are not waterproof, but do offer what seems to be decent grip. they are very breathable – good for tropical humid climate, maybe not so good for cold temps. I could wear thick wool socks and consider a gore tex sock liner to go over that (not sure if that will make foot slippery against shoe sole?). major con would be that shoes would probably be wet the whole trip – heavier and spongy. no ankle support.

b. low-top gore-tex hiking shoes

this may offer a thicker, stiffer sole with better grip? they should be waterproof however if they are totally submerged in water I don’t see how you’d escape that experience without the shoe filling up with water and then subsequently not being able to drain. after you empty the shoe, would it dry out quicker than the trail runners? i expect they’d be less breathable than non-gore-tex trail runners and that might make them warmer – the cold seattle summer breezes cut right through my trail runners. interestingly, on sale, i found a pair of these type of shoes for the same price as the gore tex socks.

c. mid goretex lightweight hiking boot

ankle protection i think is the main advantage here. there is little cost difference between a pair of these on sale and a pair of (b) on sale. higher top may keep feet warmer. seems like once they are wet they will be heaviest and bulkiest and tend to make feet cold instead of warm.

Your thoughts? I have no experience with anything beyond trail runners.

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7 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

I would suggest the lightweight goretex hiking boot. If you are going to gain/lose a lot of altitude, the ankle support the boots offer will be welcomed.

I have topped my goretex chest waders a couple of times and have not gotten much water in them.

If you can, pack the trail runners along, then you can change out of the boots if you don’t feel you need them.

lilikoi's avatar

Thanks for weighing in. What are chest waders?

Am I right that the only way to ensure dry feet is to go with a waterproof sock? I figured goretex would be best for weight but they may not make them in my size. I think an alternative might be neoprene if I can find closed cell?

Rarebear's avatar

When I hiked them it was very wet. I would use lightweight mid cut goretex boots such as Lowa GTX renegade or similar. But I was carrying my own weight on Milford—I didn’t go with the \tur.

WestRiverrat's avatar

My chest waders are what I wear when I am setting decoys in the duck pond. They are waterproof booted pants that come up to just under my arms. They keep me warm and dry.

When I get into water a little higher than the tops of the waders, I am warm and dry to the point where my waders end. Above them, I am wet and usually cold.

Rarebear's avatar

I wouldn’t bother with chest waders when on the Milford. It’s not THAT wet. I just remember a constant drizzle when I was there. I did fine with a poncho.

snowberry's avatar

I’m not a runner, but I do know a bit about neoprene, and anything else that’s waterproof. You sweat in there! Neoprene socks will leave you with wet feet. They might not be cold, but they will be wet.

lilikoi's avatar

I ended up going with Smartwool socks with Rocky’s Gore Tex Socks over them. Worked great unless the water level was higher than the top of the sock. While everyone else clamored to get their shoes as close to the wood stove as possible, I sat back and relaxed. Didn’t matter how wet my shoes were, my socks stayed dry.

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