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New member looking for gear advice.

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New member looking for gear advice.

Postby ampman1961 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:56 pm

I am just getting back into this hobby after 30 + years. All I am looking to do is get back into shape and doing some hikes and scrambles. The Joshua Tree boulder stuff too, nothing major.
I need advice on footwear and current day gear that is considered good quality without being overly expensive. I will not be using ropes or hardware, so this will not be required...yet. :D
Shoes/boots and where to obtain them. Local outfitters in West LA? Ankle support is important to me here. Knowing what you all have found to be real as opposed to hyped BS in advertising.
I was looking at the Merrel stuff. Any good? Packs and ancillary stuff too.
I thank you in advance.
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Postby Autoxfil » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:27 pm

Here's my take on footwear:

Getting shoes and boots to fit right is a bear. The human foot varies quite a bit in shape from person to person, even between people with the same shoe size. So you have to try on several models and brands before you find that magic slipper. Take a trip to an independent dealer like Mammoth Mountaineering Supply (obviously a bit far, but it's a fun place to visit). I'm sure there are plenty of good stores near climbing areas. Ask around in the CA forum.

Fit is the most important thing. You can live without the latest Vibram sole compound or cool lacing system, but bad fit will make you miserable.

Ankle support: I think it's bunk. I used to think I needed ankle support, but I have discovered what is really important is a good heel fit. If you roll your ankle over, no amount of leather and nylon will keep it from going over and getting hurt. A heel cup that fits correctly will keep your ankle upright to begin with, even on a low-cut shoe. Also, with a higher-top, stiffer boot (AKA, one with "ankle support"), you need to match the flex of the upper with the natural flex of your foot. This adds another dimension to the fitting process and makes it even harder.

I started with hikers and have tried all sorts of boots and shoes. Right now the only reason I wear a high-top boot is for nasty muck, snow, cold, or when there's rough talus/scree slopes and it's likely I'll get banged up from sliding and falling rock. Even then, low gaiters provide decent protection.

At the moment I have:

Five Ten Guide Tennies for 3rd and 4th class routes without huge amounts of hiking (<10 miles or so). These are great, and I suggest you check out the LaSportiva Ganda (used to be called the Gandalf) and Scarpa Quest as well, since they are three very different fits.

LaSportiva Raptors. These are beefy trail-running shoes, almost a light hiker, with sticky rubber soles. These are great for East-Coast hiking, which is a mixture of dirt, mud, roots, and rocks. They scramble pretty well, but I prefer a real approach shoe for 4th class and easy 5th class. They hike very well, but I haven't done a really long trip in them yet.

Asolo Fugitives. Beefy, classic hiking boots. They edge well and so scramble OK, but are heavy and imprecise and the soles aren't grippy. I have pretty much quit using them except for cold or very muddy hikes, or for aid climbing.


I also don't like Gore-Tex in my footwear unless I know I'll be fording lots of streams or hiking the snow. If it's much above freezing I just sweat and soak them anyway, so I like leather coated with Nikwax (Guide Tennies) when it might be damp, or just mesh that dries quickly (Raptor), and I avoid stepping in deep water.
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Postby Autoxfil » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:41 pm

Oh, I also have Merrel Moabs. They are made for walking on flat, smooth trails, and I haven't been that happy with them. Construction is fine, they are just really disappointing on steeper terrain. In general Merrel seems to be a bit of a poser brand. I suggest:

LaSportiva
Scarpa
Asolo
Five Ten
Mammut

Osprey packs are great. Try their Talon series on - if they fit well, it's a very flexible pack that's light and agile for scrambling and day hiking, but can haul climbing gear and backpack as well. Once you get back into things you may want a dedicated climbing pack, but the Talon is a great starting point.

There are other good pack companies as well. I like Black Diamond's packs, and Gregory and Deuter have good offerings as well. Just make sure you get a pack designed for your needs, and not one with too many bells and whistles for ice climbing, thru-hiking, etc.
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Postby Hyadventure » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:47 pm

Just go to REI and ask for and approach shoe. Approach shoe's have sticky climbing rubber and are great of scrambling and rocky trails. I like 5.10's; thy the camp 's or the Exum.
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5.10 outlet

Postby BigFDeal » Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:17 am

On a trip out to J Tree you can stop by the 5.10 outlet in Redlands. They are only open on Fridays 1-6pm, but you can get great deals on great shoes. They even have some packs for sale. It is only 5 minutes off of the 10 freeway. http://fiveten.com/dealers/five-ten-outlet Best of luck!
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Re: 5.10 outlet

Postby ampman1961 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:59 pm

BigFDeal wrote:On a trip out to J Tree you can stop by the 5.10 outlet in Redlands. They are only open on Fridays 1-6pm, but you can get great deals on great shoes. They even have some packs for sale. It is only 5 minutes off of the 10 freeway. http://fiveten.com/dealers/five-ten-outlet Best of luck!

That's funny, I was just in Redlands this past weekend playing a gig.
I will check them out and thanks to all for the advice. The last time I bought any serious
footwear, was my Vasque Climbers back in the mid 70's. Shows how dated I am.
Back then, I thought I was a badass sportin those clodhoppers. :lol:
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Postby dswink » Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:09 pm

I second Autoxfil's comments on shoe fit being critical. Shoe manufacturers use different lasts (models of the foot that the shoe is built to fit) so different shoe models can fit very differently even in the same size. Look for a snug heel cup, room to wiggle your toes, and test to make sure your toes don't jam into the front of the shoes going down hill. When you find the right shoe for you, stick with it.

I highly recommend quality insoles like Superfeet. They dramatically improve fit for me and reduce foot fatigue on long hikes. Insole upgrades are expensive but they last me through several pairs of shoes.

I use sticky approach shoes for scrambles and climbing approach/descents. La Sportiva Exum Pros fit my feet perfectly and don't wear too fast.

For regular hiking, I use Lowa Tempests. They are heavy but very tough and stable for the high mileage I put on them.

Ankle weakness is a serious problem for new hikers. I agree with Autoxfil (again) that high boots don't really help. Developing ankle strength with balance boards like Bongo or Indo boards can improve your safety and enjoyment while preparing you for later forays into rock climbing, snoeshoeing and cramponing. These days I occasionally turn an ankle while hiking but I am able to catch myself and keep hiking without injury.

Look for good wicking socks made of polyester and/or wool. Cotton is an invitation to blisters.

Some formerly expensive outdoor products are now available at big box department stores for cheap. I love Walmart's polyester tees for $7 and polyester wicking socks 3 pair for $4.

Gregory and Osprey packs are very good but Cilogear is best for very light, strong, simple packs. My Cilogear 30L is my fav day pack/cragging pack. cilogear.com Check reviews on climbing sites.

A last thought; the really expensive purchase is buying the wrong gear. Shop and choose carefully but often the best buy will be relatively high priced.
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Postby ampman1961 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:16 pm

Fletch wrote:
ampman1961 wrote:Local outfitters in West LA?


West LA is going to be tough to buy gear too...

The REI in Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach caters mostly to the soccer mom demographics (strollers, beach tents, bike racks, running gear, etc)... not better or worse, just different. When you get into climbing, most of the folks there will start to drift off... nothing against REI (I love REI), but it does cater to the local market very well...

Adventure 16 is a good place to try (on Pico) but I wont go back there since I feel I was "sold" (long story). I had some very good experiences there though before said incident, especially with their footwear guys. They actually are very good. Just stay away from the high price ticket items under the glass (if you know what I mean).

I buy a lot of gear over the internet (backcountry.com, steepandcheap.com, rei.com, etc, lots of good places to go and they usually accept returns, so if something isn't right, just send it back).

Good luck!

Fletch.
Thanks for the advice...dig your avatar! :lol:
I'll go see what Adventure 16 has, just to browse. My approach to this is simple, not to spend unnecessary amounts of money. I will never be that "Golf Guy" who shows up at the local Municipal course decked out in the latest top flight gear only to implode and shoot a 105 through 9 holes, all the while handing out free advice on others swing habits.
I am interested in getting good equipment that performs. The over hyped stuff is always a turn off, because the marketing behind it is so obvious and insulting.
Thanks again people.
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Postby Denjem » Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:14 am

Good gear cost's. Just remember while you are "Looking", the next time you go to "Look" at something, that your local gear shop might not be there. And Fletch, what's your beef with A16?
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