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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Equipment checklist - Feet

The previous equipment post covered climbing gear.  I left off with a nice picture of my toes and that setup this follow-up on what protects them.  So, without further adieu, here goes...

First, the technical footwear.  From left to right, we have my overboots - made of neoprene and add insulation to my already insulated mountaineering boot (third from left).  The next item is my inner boot or boot liner that provides a nice cushion to my soon-to-be banged up feet.  I sleep in these to dry them out and keep 'em warm.  If they are too wet, I just put them in the bottom of my sleeping bag to dry out.  Wearing wet boots gives you what is often referred to as trench foot - an unpleasant decaying of your foot skin.  I highly recommend avoiding trench foot if at all possible.  My feet stink enough already; having my skin fall off will only make matter worse.  Next in line is the outer boot that easily slips over the boot liner.  These boots have a rigid sole that enable me to put my crampons on almost like ski boots clip into ski bindings.  I love these boots.  They fit me.  The last in this lineup is the full assembly.  You can see the overboot snugly placed over the outer boot that houses the inner boot.  This three layer system is guaranteed (yeah, right) to keep my feet toasty - even in the harshest environments.  Actually, the truth of the matter is that my feet run extremely warm and I doubt I will ever resort to using the overboots.  They are useful as backups.  

Next, I want to show you what I wear inside the mountaineering setup above and alternative footwear (see Figure to the right).  From top left and clockwise, I have my approach shoes.  These are good hiking shoes that allow my feet to breath while also offering me support.  I like these shoes because they have a stiff sole and can be used up to pretty good pitches without needing to swap out footwear.  Next (top right) are my down booties.  These things are heavenly.  While hanging out in my tent in storm conditions, I love putting these puppies on and letting my feet recover from the abuse they take while in my mountaineering boots (with crampons).  Nothing feels better than putting these on after a hard day.  The middle row consists (from left to right) of light to heavier socks that give me plenty of choices throughout the climb.  I prefer the light socks for almost all climbs because they allow my feet to cool off.  The higher altitude on Everest, however, mandates that I do everything in my power to keep my feet warm.  Thus, I have warmer, thicker socks to accompany the thinner ones.  On the bottom row are my trusty flip-flops.  I wear flip-flops year round and I intend to wear them for most of my trek up to basecamp.  As I noted above, my feet run warm and I want to preserve my feet and let them breath for as long as possible.  
Hotronics e4

Finally, just in case I run into problems with cold feet, I just purchased the Hotronics e4 boot warmers.  I have yet to install them but intend to do so in the next day or so...whenever I have some free time.  Many people struggle with cold feet and swear by these warmers.  Amazon has a fair number of negative reviews too so I will keep you posted on their functioning.  

Well, all done with this post.  Back to work and time to pack some more.  Next up...lower body.