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GEAR CHICK - KRISTIN HOSTETTER - ASK THE EXPERT
Submit Your Question

Fitting Long and Narrow Feet

Q.} I have a narrow foot and a size 13 1/2. No one makes a 13 1/2 in a narrow. In a 14 the lacing pulls together and in a 13 my toes hit the end and turn black. Any suggestions? I've tried several brands, hoping to find a longer boot, but so for no luck.
Submitted by: Gary - Alamo, TX
A.} Dear Gary, That’s a tricky problem...it is very tough to find boots in that specific size. Typically boot companies make half sizes up to 11 or 12, then they only produce whole sizes from there (if you’re lucky!). Short of investing a fortune in custom boots, you don’t have too many options. We have, however, recently tested a great boot that worked very well with a tester with extremely narrow feet: the Vasque Breeze GTX. And while they don’t come in 13.5, they do come in 14, and because of the narrow last, my guess is that you’ll be able to cinch it up securely without maxing out the lacing system. I hope this works for you!
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READERS COMMENTS

Jack
May 26, 2012

Check out Russel Moccassin company, best custom hiking boots I've ever had!

Roger
Mar 29, 2012

The Breeze is a great boot. Also, try wearing the size 14, placing an insole insert, such as Superfeet Orange, on top of the Vasque insole that comes in the boot. This will eat up additional volume. I've done this, and it has worked well.

Anthony
Jan 29, 2012

Hello Gary. I'm your clone! (well, almost) I wear a size 13 and B width. I have had great success with the British shoe company Inov-8 (www.inov-8.com). I wear the RocLite GTX 400, but if you'd like a low-top, I'd suggest the X-Talon 212. They seem true to length to me and are designed to be used with a three-part insole system for custom fitting. The come standard with a 3mm in sole, then you can buy separately a 6mm insole and either wear just the 6mm, or the 3mm plus 6mm for a 9mm. You can get the shoes on Zappos with free shipping/free returns if it doesn't work out. The best part is Inov-8 is at its roots a minimalist shoe company, so these are superlight. My RocLite's weigh 14 ounces! That's total for both! I haven't done any serious winter stuff with them, just some winter day hikes and they did okay. I wore them all year for three-season stuff in Japan up to 3700m elevation and they were great. They held up well in Japan's wet and rocky country. I waterproofed them with Sno-Seal and they did fine and also dried out pretty quick after a couple river crossings. They are not insulated though, and I don't know of an insulated Inov-8 shoe, if that's what you're really after. I'm considering some overboots from 40-Below, but I'm undecided. Hope this helps!

Anthony
Jan 29, 2012

Hello Gary. I'm your clone! (well, almost) I wear a size 13 and B width. I have had great success with the British shoe company Inov-8 (www.inov-8.com). I wear the RocLite GTX 400, but if you'd like a low-top, I'd suggest the X-Talon 212. They seem true to length to me and are designed to be used with a three-part insole system for custom fitting. The come standard with a 3mm in sole, then you can buy separately a 6mm insole and either wear just the 6mm, or the 3mm plus 6mm for a 9mm. You can get the shoes on Zappos with free shipping/free returns if it doesn't work out. The best part is Inov-8 is at its roots a minimalist shoe company, so these are superlight. My RocLite's weigh 14 ounces! That's total for both! I haven't done any serious winter stuff with them, just some winter day hikes and they did okay. I wore them all year for three-season stuff in Japan up to 3700m elevation and they were great. They held up well in Japan's wet and rocky country. I waterproofed them with Sno-Seal and they did fine and also dried out pretty quick after a couple river crossings. They are not insulated though, and I don't know of an insulated Inov-8 shoe, if that's what you're really after. I'm considering some overboots from 40-Below, but I'm undecided. Hope this helps!

Tom
Dec 28, 2011

My girlfriend has a similar problem at the other end of the scale, Size 2. Kids shoes tend to be cheaper construction and usually not a good solution. Any advice?

Michelle
Dec 28, 2011

check out Zamberlan boots...made in Italy...I LOVE them! I have a narrower foot and I won't buy anything else. I can't speak for the men's products...but the women's are great!!

Phoenix
Dec 27, 2011

Fill volume as needed with Superfeet insole or one of a similar caliber. Use lacing techniques to close volume and hold tension where needed. Focus on locking yourself in the back half of the shoe/boot and not sliding forward with plenty of toe room. Use a slope at the store to test this. Finally use an outfitter that will take your shoes/boots back if it doesn't work out.

Realbuff
Dec 27, 2011

Kayland boots have a size 13 1/2. Don't know about width. The boots are very good quality.

David Snodgrass
Dec 27, 2011

I wear a 12 Narrow and I bought the New Balance Men's MW978 Walking Shoe, which has Gore-Tex. I have to wear a thicker than normal sock but they work well for me. They have them at Amazon in up to a 15 narrow for $96 (normally $155).

tim
Dec 25, 2011

I have the same problem. I am a 12.5 A width. REI fixed me up with 13 Lowa, and Sure Feet insole. With thicker wool socks, my feet are happy. Hiked the Grand Canyon with these....a very punishing blister fest in the wrong boots. Not a blister or toenail lost.

Donald N Wright
Dec 20, 2011

I understand. I am a 14 1/2 foot, wear a 15 shoe and a 16 hiking boot. The Keen's are way too wide, but REI fitted me with Lowa 16's which are not as wide.

Karen
Dec 20, 2011

You might consider adding an additional insole which can take up some space inside, and if you trim it right, it should allow you to cinch the laces.

Matt
Dec 13, 2011

I have two tents made by the same manufacturer; one 10 years old, the other 3. Both have a weird, chemical smell to them. I suspect the waterproof coating is breaking down, though there is no peeling, yet. Is there a way to slow this down or stop it? Thanks

tob
Dec 13, 2011

Agree with Kristin; the Breeze GTZ in 14N is the most comfortable boot I've tried. If you want something all leather, Vasque has other narrow models as does Lowa and even New Balance (the 1500?, I also like). Also, Asolo and Scarpa are fairly narrow and European sizing may yield an effective 13.5. Extra footbeds under Superfeet also help with fit.

sierracanon
Dec 13, 2011

I'm difficult to fit also, but usually wear at 14. I have long, narrow feet, long toes, but a wide forefoot (bunions). The Breeze LT's work really well for me, and I have them in both the low and mid-cut versions.

Scott
Dec 12, 2011

You might give a call to the guys at the Masterfit U http://www.masterfituniversity.com/ and see if they can direct you to a trained boot fitter in your area. Most of the time a good boot fitter can fix ya up. (I went through a partial training at the outdoor retailer show in Utah a few years back)

DOSS
Dec 12, 2011

I have the same issue you do and I have found if you find a good shoe fitter you can get the 14's to fit well. It usually involves adding more footbed to the footbed (spacers between the sole and your insole, kinda like insoles but without the give) and some of the microwave formed insoles.

DOSS with a 13.5 Narrow pancake foot :)

steve
Dec 12, 2011

not a real solution for summer use but have you tried plastic boots and get the toe section heated and blown out to create the extra toe space needed ( works a treat on ski boots and no reason it would not work for plastic walking boots as long as you can find ones suitable for having it done).

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How do I remove pine sap from my down sleeping bag (and other gear for that matter)?
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I love hiking and camping, but not alone. I'm one of those people who think about running away when I hear one stick break in the woods. Is there any way I could mentally prepare myself for sleeping alone in the wilderness?
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Hey Kristin, I'm a navigation newbie. Basically, I just head to the trailhead, look at the map there, and go. Is there essential, basic navigation equipment that I should have at all times, even on a dayhike?
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Dear Kristin,
Time and miles have taken their toll on the knees with one total knee replacement recently. I am getting back to limited hiking and some of the folks I pass on the trail are very high on the use of trekking poles. I would value your advice as to tips on how to adjust them to the proper length and techniques for most advantageous use of the poles to both reduce stress on the knees and ensure stability (twisting artificial knees is very painful!). I sure hope these poles are a benefit and not just an equipment fad?
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Kristin,
My wife and I are becoming more serious backpackers and l am shopping around to replace the tent that I've been using since childhood.  Could you explain what “minimum weight,” “packaged weight,” and similar terms mean? Thanks, Rick

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I know I'm supposed to use a bear canister all the time in bear country but they can be bulky. If I'm going on an overnight trip, do I really need one? And if I do, is there a sealable bag option that might work?
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What's the best way to keep pack contents dry. Pack covers and pack liners have failed repeatedly. Should I just rely on zip lock bags?
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Baselayers. I need a good one. I know wool is great but frankly, I itch and get pretty hot when I'm mid hike. Any suggestions?
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How do I get the campfire stench out of my gear? I tried washing it but no-go.
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What can I feed my dog throughout the day while we are hiking to keep his energy up?

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Can a water purifier purify pee?
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Alas, pain in my shoulders and hips is destroying my ability to camp. I can no longer sleep on the ground, even with a thin mattress underneath. What is the best, most cushioned, and lightweight pad that might help solve this problem?
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I commute by bicycle to work 15 miles one way. Where can I find a backpack for clothing and hydration that is visible to vehicles?
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Is it really necessary to have big hiking boots with really sturdy ankle support? I've always used trail runners on multi-day trips without a problem.
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Times are rough, and I don't have the spare cash to blow on top-dollar gear for every essential. If I have to skimp on one, which one should I cut corners: tent, sleeping bag, pack, or boots?
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What would you suggest for a windproof lighter that is simple and dependable?
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I am going to summit Kilimanjaro, but I only have summer weight sleeping bags good to 40 degrees. Given the high cost of lightweight, warm bags and that I don't winter camp, would it be effective to double bag a couple of my summer bags?
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How should a shell fit? I can't decide between a large or an extra large. Is it best to have ample layering room or should it be tight and form fitting? I can't decide whether to go up or down.
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Does Talc powder block the GoreTex Membrane of my boots? And what is the best odor killers for GoreTex Boots?

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Do campfires deter bears?

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I have been backpacking for 15 years and I have not been able to find a way to stop black toenails. I have changed my lacing especially going downhill, always trim toenails and had several different types of boots. Help!
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On a recent backpacking trip, the sole of one of my hiking boots came loose. I was able to use a tent cord to tie it on and hike back to the trailhead. How do you repair loose soles on hiking boots?
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I'm an extremely heavy sweater no matter what the weather. Should I really trust my hi-tech clothing to be absolutely dried by my body heat? Or is it better to carry extra clothing to change? I can't imagine risking the chance of sleeping damp.
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What is the best way to clean my down bag? Should it be dry-cleaned or can I just throw it in the wash?
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I have been backpacking for a little over a year and would like to try some cold weather backpacking. I am wondering how to keep warm in the tent at night. Is there a such thing as a backpacker tent heater? Any suggestions are appreciated.
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How do you remove poison oak or ivy sap from boots?

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I am tired of iodine for water purification and I am considering a filter (like the Hyperflow), but I see that it doesn't filter viruses. If I only backpack in America, do I have to get a filter with a purifier, or will a filter for bacteria only suffice? Going to Big Bend in 3 weeks and I'm clueless...
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Kristin, I was wondering about your thoughts on waterproofing your own
clothes, particularly pants. I have never used any sprayon or wash in
waterproofing product. Would something like that work to waterproof your
pants or would that be a waste of time?


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Is steel better than aluminum when choosing crampons?
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When camping in subzero temperatures whats the best way to keep my food warm long enough to eat it and whats a good way to clean the pot once the food has frozen itself to the sides?
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My favorite trail is snowed over now but I still want to get out there. Should I use snowshoes or crampons? Or is there something in between?


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I'm an amateur hiker/backpacker and I'm wondering how much gear I should pack. I don't want to bring too little, and I don't want to be overexerting myself with too much. What's in the ideal pack?
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What are the best products for re-waterproofing Gore-Tex rain jackets?
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Is it safe or advisable to use Febreeze or other "fabric refreshers" on my down sleeping bag?
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Dear Kristin, I just started hiking through mountain trails in the last year or so. I'm ready to take on full weekend backpacking trips. My main concern is food. What are some important tools to take along for good food prep?
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Dear Kristin,
How do I prevent chafing? I have been on many long distance hikes in the last year and seem plagued by raw spots. I have tried talc, shaving and even gone commando to the summit of the South Sister. What's the deal and what really works?
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Should I be worried about hiking in bear country when menstruating?
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Dear Kristin
I've never really understood the principles of layering. For cold weather treks, should my baselayer be cotton or wool? What about my midlayer? Wool? Fleece? What are the basics of layering for any occasion?
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Dear Kristin, How can you carry on trekking poles when flying a commercial airline?
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I take long dayhikes (20-30 miles) and am looking for an emergency shelter to use in case I don't make it out before nightfall. I don't want to carry a tent. I have been considering a bivy sack - something just to keep me warm and dry. Will a waterproof bivy sack on its own be sufficient in case of rain?
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Is it okay to keep your backpack in your tent at night? There seems to be two opposing camps (no pun intended, or maybe it was)on this issue.
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I wear size 11 EE boots. I have tried to get hiking boots via mail order without success because they are always far narrower than marked. Do you know of a boot maker who makes really wide boots that are true to size? Thanks.
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Canister backpacking stoves are becoming so popular, but I have a concern about them that I can't find much info about. Are the canisters refillable or recyclable? Or are we just creating more waste when we purchase these stoves in the quest of lightness?
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Is there a multipurpose helmet out there I can use for skiing, climbing etc. or should I just plan on getting one for each season/sport?
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I'm confused about the capacity figures that backpack manufacturers claim. With daypacks it seems that the figures advertised are always about 20 percent higher than what the pack actually holds. What gives?
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Is it true that mummy bags should not be stored in a stuff sack, but rather hung in closet between trips? Seems like a waste of space.
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When camping in frigid temperatures, what's the best way to keep my food warm long enough to eat it? And how can I clean my pot once the food has frozen itself to the sides?
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Dear Kristin,
I plan on backpacking Europe for about a month. What is the most suitable backpack for me to use?
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I do a bit of camping on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I am looking for a 3-person tent that can withstand the howls and gusts of the winds without collapsing or flapping so loud it keeps me awake. No $3,000 tents please.
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What is the best way to wash my fleece so that I get longer use out of it?
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I just returned from a trip to the High Sierra and found a 1/2 inch tear in the bottom of my Big Agnes tent. The fabric is silicone treated nylon. How do I fix it?
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My wife and I have decided we want to hit the trail and take some overnight and weekend trips.

The trouble is, I'm a big guy: 6 feet tall and 325 lbs. Big. Since no amount of vertical stripes and black cloth can conceal that fact, I'm not going to wait for the flab to fall off so I can enjoy nature, so I've already begun to accumulate equipment. Unfortunately, I've come to an impasse; that being the distance between the clips on the hipbelt of every pack I've tried. My question is, are there any companies that make packs for bigger guys, and a 54" waist? I'll avoid going for a Krispy Kreme while I await your suggestions.


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In your video on Camp Stoves, why do you keep one of the gas canisters in a pan of water?
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I bought a pair of Swiss Gear poles from Wal-Mart for $17.00 just to see if I liked using them and have been very satisfied. I learned I do like using the poles and I've seen much more expensive ones in my local outdoor shop. What's the difference? Should I step up and buy the pricier ones? Thanks
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The plastic buckle on my pack's hip-belt slips. Is there a way to make it stay in place, or a better buckle? I have to cinch the belt really tight to keep it on my hips, but in 20 minutes or less, I'm adjusting it again.
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Dear Kristin,
I've been told that when using a down sleeping bag, sleeping in the buff will keep you warmer than sleeping in clothing. Is this true? (I've yet to do my own experimenting, as I like to wear long underwear to bed in order to keep my bag cleaner.)
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We're an experienced group of backpackers/fly fishermen here in Colorado. We will be camping in tundra this summer and we were wondering about our food bags. Since there are no trees to hang the food, what are our options? Thank you.
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Some friends and I are planning to backpack the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail over spring break. We are all Eagle Scouts, but we have concerns about travel speed. We have 106 miles planned and are trying to figure out a good distance to travel each day. We are novice backpackers and one member of the party is rather out of shape. What is your mileage recommendation?
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Dear Kristin, I want to start going ultralight. I've looked at tarps and bivy sacks but what do you think about hammocks? They look nice, but do they really work?
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What is the best way to get rid of leftover white gas, before I get on the plane to fly home?
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Do you have any suggestions on camp shoes? After backpacking all day in my hiking boots I don't really feel like wearing them around anymore.
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What causes–and how do you prevent–air bubbles from showing up in liquid filled compasses? Just about every liquid filled compass I have used usually gets a small air bubble in it.
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Over the years I've hoarded a lot of dehydrated food. Does this stuff ever go bad?
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I'm looking at down jackets. Some labels say 650-fill, some say 700-fill–what does it mean? Is it a unit of density of the down material or is it the quality of the down material or is it something else? How does it relate to the degree of insulation of a jacket or a sleeping bag, for that matter?
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Dear Kristin, I am getting ready to buy a new tent and I've heard that bears are attracted to brightly colored tents, but that they ignore dull colors. Does it really matter whether the tent is bright or subdued?
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Dear Kristin,
After reading many of your ultralight articles, I am seriously going to give it a try, starting with my kitchen gear. How good are the alcohol stoves at high elevations and/or any elevation?
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What's the best way to re-attach seam seal tape that is pulling away from waterproof fabric items such as a waterproof stuff sack or tent fly?
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Down versus synthetic sleeping bags: What's the deal?
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