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No current information is currently a den tips with new data. Houston's Best Men's Jeans: 34 Heritage. Wool liners cost less; polypro liners dry faster. For equivalent thickness, the warmth is about the same. Pac boots are warmer than winter hiking boots—sometimes too warm—and totally waterproof up to the top of the molded rubber. Pac boots are instantly comfortable, requiring no break-in time, but the fit is usually rather amorphous because the insulation compresses under your foot and the boots are normally available only in full sizes.

Pac boots are perfect for aurora watching and other inactive pursuits. For strenuous hiking or snowshoeing in rough terrain where you want a snugger fit and better ankle support, look for a pair of insulated, waterproof winter hiking boots. Hunters spend a lot of time walking off-trail in cold, snowy, or marshy terrain, and they need warm, waterproof footwear more than most backpackers. All three construction techniques, including injection molding, which has been much improved in recent years, produce a durable boot.

All-leather uppers typically cost more, weigh more, and last longer.

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The insulation, which is stitched permanently into the boot lining, is usually Thinsulate, a microfiber batting that resists compression and provides a lot of warmth with minimum thickness. As with summer hiking boots, the best insulated winter hiking boots back up their leather with a sewn-in Gore-Tex bootie.


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Neither pac boots nor winter hunting boots are good for multiday trips in the winter because even the best leather eventually absorbs water during the day, then freezes at night into a misshapen caricature of itself just like a leather mountaineering boot. Although stiffer than necessary for snowshoeing, the boots are warm, dry, and relatively light because of the custom inner boots. In many places these streams are the trails; the banks are so choked with brush and sometimes poison ivy or hemmed in so tightly by cliffs that the only way to make progress is to walk right in the streambed.

As a general rule I dislike letting my feet remain wet for long periods. Waterlogged skin softens and blisters easily and is susceptible to fungal infections. Some models even have soles made of the same sticky, high-friction rubber used on rock climbing boots.

Sandals offer the advantage of letting your feet dry out quickly once you do get back on shore, but they provide no ankle support and no protection against bruising and scratching by hidden, underwater rocks and branches. In the past the prospective victim trembled and asked himself: Will I ever be able to break these monsters in? Will I curse myself for years for purchasing an exorbitantly expensive pair of blister machines?

Fortunately for backpackers, those days of fear and loathing are mostly gone. Still, a few words on fitting boots may be in order. For starters, buy the socks you intend to wear before selecting your boots. The particular sock combination you choose affects the fit of your boots a great deal. As a general rule I recommend wearing one pair of thin, synthetic or wool liner socks with a thicker pair of wool or wool-blend socks on top. The smooth, tight knit of the liner sock tends to reduce friction and hold blisters at bay; the thick wool sock provides insulation and cushioning and absorbs moisture.

Cotton socks are very comfortable if your feet will stay dry. If they get wet, however, as they. Cotton is highly absorbent, which means it takes forever to dry. Some people recommend wearing liner socks made of silk because they believe silk socks reduce blisters. Now that revolution has reached a plateau, and the hiker faces a different decision: What balance of weight versus support do I want?

Boots are made on a last, a metal form that defines the shape of the boot.


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Different manufacturers use different lasts—some narrow, some wide—depending on what they think will fit the greatest number of feet. A few manufacturers offer different widths in the same size and model of boot. Try different models and different manufacturers, and even different stores, which may carry styles the first did not. Unlace the boot completely and shove your foot as far forward as possible, until your toes touch the front of the boot.

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If you can fit one finger in between your heel and the back of the boot, the length is about right. Lace up the boot and walk. Does your heel shift up and down inside the boot?

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A small amount of movement may be acceptable, particularly in a stiff, new boot. If the movement is excessive, however, it will cause blisters. Snug boots restrict circulation, which can lead to cold feet and even frostbite.

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Stand on a sharp edge to test the arch support. Squat down and see if the toe box folds into a sharp wrinkle that jabs your toes. Let your foot roll to the side and see if the boot provides adequate ankle support. Walk down an incline and see if your foot slides forward, jamming your toes into the toe of the boot.

You may be surprised at how quickly a lightweight day-hiking boot begins to seem inadequate for serious backpacking. Unfortunately, the stiffer the boot, the harder it is to judge if it will be comfortable over the long haul. The first priority is keeping your boots clean. Dirt left clinging to boots will work its way into the leather, fabric, seams, and stitching, then grind away until the boots fall apart. Consider it a moral imperative, akin to washing behind your ears, to clean your boots with water and a stiff scrub brush after a muddy trip; a little mild soap will help.

Next, dry your boots slowly, well away from any heat source. Leather is just the skin of another mammal. To speed drying further, try stuffing the boots with crumpled-up newspaper, then replacing the newspaper every hour or so. Cowhide, like your skin, was naturally oily when it clothed the cow. Also like your skin, cowhide can dry out, become brittle, and crack if soaked repeatedly in water or exposed continually to hot, dry conditions. Here controversy reigns, with each manufacturer of conditioner finding some reason to claim that rival products will rot the leather, degrade the stitching, and delaminate the soles as well as give you night sweats and premature baldness.

The safest course is to use the conditioner recommended by the boot manufacturer if the manufacturer recommends one , if for no other reason than to preserve your rights under the warranty. Boot repairmen caution that using Sno-Seal, a venerable product with a devoted following, on a modern dry-tanned leather boot will make it nearly impossible to resole because adhesives will no longer bond to the leather. If the stitching holding your boots together is starting to fray, you can apply some kind of liquid sealant or boot-patching compound to the seams to make them more abrasion resistant.

By the time the sole needs replacing, the uppers are usually shot. More durable all-leather boots may well be worth resoling.

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If adventure has a final and all-embracing motive, it is surely this: we go out because it is in our nature to go out to climb the mountains and to sail the seas, to fly to the planets and to plunge into the depths of the ocean. By doing these things we make touch with something outside or behind, which strangely seems to approve our doing them.

We extend our horizon, we expand our being, revel in a mastery of ourselves which gives an impression, mainly illusory, that we are master of our world.