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Thread: Going plastic?

  1. #1
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Default Going plastic?

    Well my Kennetreks went from broken in to broken down on this last trip out so they are facing a future of day hikes and moose hunting rather than scree scrambling and sheep packing. I have been kicking over the plastic boot option and after spending some time in the field with a couple guys running them I think I am going to make the leap. Anyone else considering going plastic?

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    I'm considering going to plastics as well, but for different reasons (medical). I've tried them on in the past but couldn't find one that fit as I have very wide feet, EEEE+. I've heard that you can get custom inserts so I might try that route. Anyone know of plastics that come in wide sizes?

    One of my friends has used them in the past (10 years ago) and he use to complain about them chewing his feet up and being hard on his knees, one would think they've come a ways in technology and design so they're a little more forgiving on flat to hilly country.

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    Member Kotton's Avatar
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    From what ive seen of them this season I want some,after my goat hunt I'm putting the leathers up for the mountains and at least give em a try.

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    Here's my long winded take on plastics and what I've learned. I've tried to include good and bad, not really bad, just different.


    I went with plastics a few years back, used em on a couple trips and then used a pair of leathers again on a Brooks Range walkin. I wish I'd had my plastics that trip.

    Like anything else they have their trade-offs. Since they are so stiff laterally they have a tendency to push your lower leg more left and right on terrain like round river rock. They can do the same in other types of solid rocky terrain, but I find all it does is slow me down a little, not enough to make me "slow", but probably enough to make me pay attention to where/how I am stepping. Which can be a good thing. Some say this is, or can be hard on knees, I suppose it could be but it hasn't hurt my 51 year old knees any and I have had one meniscus surgery. But, the stiff lateral support is also allows for excellent edging, both with the side and toes of the boots, makes a huge difference for me with weak ankles. Especially with a heavy load. This can be a life saver in steep rock where you need to get a rock climbing type of a foothold. Plastics also have a stiff sole for and aft. My Civettas have some rocker but not a lot. This makes it a little more awkward for walking on hard, flatter terrain but again, I think it just slows me down a little but not enough to where I feel slow.

    This stiffness is where the main compromise comes in.... A little slower, different than walking in a leather boot with a 3/4 shank or full shank with lots of rocker on easy terrain. But, the stifness is what makes them great in the rough terrain where you need it, this is what we want them for! Coming down loose shale/rock/mud/dirt with 100+lb pack it's like having a chained up 4x4. Much better control for me. Same in steep soft mushy grass, better edge grip for sure. It's a compromise I'm willing to make. No prob.

    With Barneys Glacier Socks you have an excellent setup for crossing rivers. They are cut big enough where they fit over your liners on your feet and then you stuff your foot in the shell. You end up with the great support of your plastic boots but you are wearing hippers.

    After a few days in wet weather any leather boot will soften up and loose support. Plastics won't.

    Most plastic boot liners double as nice camp shoes. My Lowa Civetta are designed this way, the liners have a nice rubber sole and are like wearing moccasins. Since the liners pull out of plastics it's easy to dry them when soaked with sweat or if you go over the top and get them wet. Also you can keep the liners in the tent or put em on and wear em in your bag and don't have to deal with cold wet boots in the morning. Especially nice if the temp drops below freeing in the vestibule at night!

    You have to check out various makes and find ones that fit your feet. You fit them like you do a downhill ski boot. You need to fit your foot to the shell. Pull the liner out, put your foot in and see how it feels. You should not have any pressure points from the shell, you shouldn't be swimming in the shell either though. For my feet, the Koflach's (before they sold out) were to narrow in the toe and to wide in the heal area.

    With plastics there is no break in period. Plastic doesn't stretch. The liners will pack out a little, that's why it's important to fit for the shell. If the shell is too big but the liners are nice and cushy, after the liners pack out your boots will be loose or you'll discover pressure points that were hidden by the cushy liner. If plastics fit right you won't get a blister or have any bad pressure points. I have never had a blister with mine. The first time wearing my plastics I went on a 1.5 hr training hike in the heat with an 85lb pack. No probs. I get lots of blisters with leathers until they are so broke in they are almost worn out. It's just my wierd foot problems I have.

    Plastics do transfer energy/pressure to other area of your feet. Part of my training is getting my feet trained in them. I feel "surface pressure", for lack of a better term, around my ankles and up a little.

    Mine are noisy, they squeak and creak. Maybe some salve or grease could help.

    Some have said that if a sheep hunter shows up in the ER with a broken tib/fib it's because of plastic boots. I don't know anything about that but I have my doubts.

    My Lowa Civettas are heavier than leathers. I don't know that they make me any more tired but they are heavier. I suppose it can make a difference over 50 miles. They say heavy boots can wear you out quicker. Other makes might not be as heavy. Maybe my next pair/brand will be lighter.

    The shells in the Koflachs have a full rubber bellows that goes to the very top of the boot which is great. The Lowa Civettas (not the Civetta Extreme) bellows doesn't go all the way to the top, I'm not too happy about that but they fit me so I got em.

    I've learned to NOT over tighten the laces on the shells. If I get them too tight I can feel more pressure on my ankles and know it at the end of the day. It's not problematic, more annoying than anything. On flat hard ground you can practically leave the cuffs untightened, it gives a little more ankle flex and makes it a little easier to walk, helps with lateral flex as well. I suppose different brands/boots have their characteristics in this regard. It's something a guy can figure out.

    I think that's enough for now and hope it helps some of you. I know one thing, when it's time to replace my Civettas (which may be next year), I'm getting another pair of plastics. No more leather for me on sheep hunts.

  5. #5
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    Well these days its hard to tell the difference. I wouldnt use solid plastics. And I wouldnt use only leather, they get wet and dont dry and lose their support. But most boots now are combo. They have plastic bases, supports and breathable synthetic parts also. Then use you just try on as many as you can until you fit your foot. I am now hunting in some Montrails cause they really fit my feet. But they are a little heavy. I had some earlier boots that were leather plastic hybrids from montrail and I still use them for pleasure hiking in the Summer. I would definitely look for all synthetic, but not all hard plastic so you have some air flow!
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

  6. #6
    Member Milo's Avatar
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    Guys either love them or hate them. I tried to love them, but learned to hate them. I tried on lots of pairs and got them fitted by professionals (Barneys, AMH, REI). Not for me. One hunt and you'll know how you feel about 'em.
    Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

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    Member akjeff's Avatar
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    I found that plastics either fit or not. No in-between no wiggle room either. I have wide feet and the plastic boots I had did not fit and my first long distance trip was grueling. I ended up going to a ski shop and having them fitted by using a heat gun and a ski boot stretcher. This helped tremendously, but was not enough. I used them a little while longer but gave up. So it's leather for me.

  8. #8
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    you can rent them from a place in anchorage...might be a good option before you think of buying a pair...
    the kenetrek mountain guide boot have caught my attention, kinda a mid like the scarpa liskams to the plastics..but again. my wide feet have be still buying alaskan meindels from cabela's....
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

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    Anyone try the Scarpa Mont Blancs? Pricey but sure are purdy.

    http://www.rei.com/product/798038/sc...ing-boots-mens

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