Contributors to this thread:
Getting feet in shape
Leaving on a Sheep Hunt in two weeks and have done all the usual prep - lost 25+ pounds, hit the gym religiously, watch my diet, and now I’m fine-tuning. Have seen a lot of discussions on workouts but virtually nothing on foot preparation which I find at least equally as important. I practically live in my hunting boots for about a month prior to the hunt, starting with just wearing them around, hikes up gentle grades, and building up to long treks up steep grades, rough-rocky terrain and side-hilling. I also use foot anti-perspirant, Leukotape, and Lathrop & Sons custom footbeds, and Graingers boot wax. That mountain will be brutal on my feet and keeping them healthy can make or break a hunt.
Sounds like you've been doing the right thing. I would recommend good wool socks and make sure you hike some steep grade with side hilling . You might also want to bring a little duct tape just in case you get a blister on the back of your heel. Good luck!
I have about ten miles on my boots and have been limited due to a strained MCL. Two weeks to go for me as well. At least my boots will be “fresh”. Good luck on your hunt.
Planter fasciitis just about took my hunting season out last year, start about this time of the year when playing soccer with my granddaughter and woke up with sever pain in the foot which took abut 4 months to get it normal. There would have been no way that I could hunt rugged ground, it will ruin your hunt. The foot dr. told me it has a lot to do with the shoes that are made, do not buy cheap shoes for every day wear , they only last for a short time for support. Highly recommend proper insole support, custom made if you can afford it.
I've been pounding the sheep hills pretty hard the past month. My feet have actually been taking the pounding pretty well. It's obviously good if your feet and ankles are somewhat used to rough, rocky terrain but it's just as important to have good protection.
Obviously having boots that fit like a glove are ideal. I've also found that it's important to have a solid foot bed that cuts into slopes and the uppers are stiff so they don't allow twisting. I use medium height/weight hikers. I really like lighter weight boots because I cover lots of country. You probably want to know that your boots fit well and work exceptionally well on steep sidehills prior to your trip!
Just as important as boots are insoles and socks. I gut the insoles that come with boots. My feet prefer super padding for the constant pounding of rock but also support so my feet don't slip. I use fairly thin socks that have extra padding in the soles, toes, and upper shoe lace areas. It obviously is important to have socks that dry quickly. I sometimes take off my boots and take the insoles out of my boots to allow them and my socks to dry when I'll be sitting and glassing for expended periods. I usually buy 1 size larger boot to fit thicker insoles plus padded socks. It's nice having extra room to wear thicker socks when it's colder. You can always cinch up your boots tighter when wearing thin socks but just asking for probs if boots are too tight! I prefer boots with lacing mechanisms (like Lowas) that really lock your feet into place. I always make sure to trim my toe nails. If they are too long they can cause problems. Nothing feels better on the feet than a short dip in a cold stream! I've heard it's also good to elevate your feet after a long day of hiking.
I've been doing a ton of side hilling lately myself in preparation of a 8/11 sheep hunt, and have come to the realization that the boots I was going to take on this hunt aren't going to work as my feet roll over in them side hilling. I love the boots (Crispi Nevadas), but they aren't going to work for me in sheep country. Back to my old faithful sheep boots, the Lowa Bighorns. I was hoping to save a few oz. by going with a lighter boot, but not gonna happen.
I don’t know how you lace up your boots but it can make a big difference. Tight laces that don’t slip up are key. I’ll get a pic of how I do mine later today.
Bring something with you to protect against blisters if you start to get one. Like Moleskin Plus Padding etc.
Anyone want to recommend a good boot insole? The "ball" of my right foot has a burning from time to time. I figure it's from my 20+ years of standing on concrete with crappy shoes/boots. I don't think it will stop me as of now, but also don't want the irritation to hold me back at some point while on the mountain. I do use top quality merino wool socks too.
Lathrop and Sons insoles are pretty hard to beat but I am not sure if there are any out there that can specifically address the ball of your right foot.
You mean this? I use this as a blister preventative - apply it to smoothly cover the back of my heels an any other heavy contact points I’m feeling. Stuff is amazing and super adhesive. The key is to use it before getting blisters or hotspots, or over moleskin afterward.
As Nick Said - Lathrop & Sons makes the best custom footbed that I’ve ever found. Been using them for years and they’ve made quite a difference. Also bought several pairs of their boots over the years and they do a great job of ensuring a proper fit. They’ve served me well on many a Mountain Hunt and will be wearing their semi-custom Mountain Hunter boots on my trip next month.
I’ve used this boot thing method and has made s big difference with my kenetrek mountain extremes
Wow! Thanks for the lacing tip — I’ve always used a series of half-hitches to better secure the open eyelets, but a surgeon’s knot would certainly be more secure under climbing pressure. I’ll give that a whirl on this trip.
I'm going to recommend simulating your hunt conditions, You have just enough time to toughen up!
You need to take a garden hose to your boots with your average every day cotton socks and make sure they are filled up and " Squishing with water" then hit your favorite training hike.
You should find out where the blisters and hot spots are.
That way you can Leuko Tape those newly calloused spots prior to hiking in for your hunt.
Prett sure TBM had a training method for feet. Something ‘bout a belt sander? Can’t remember
Nice! I recall TBM mentioned something to do with hot coals, porcupine quills dipped in corn mash, and spiders?
Sounds like you’re on the right path. Best training is to beat the hell out of those doggies and develop tough feet.
Yes, yes, yes. Wear your boots. Wear them to work and church and to the grocery store.
If you wait for your hunt and you have to push it, you’re going to lose something if you haven’t broken your feet into your boots. Breaking your boots in is easy.
I wear my boots part of every day starting in June. It makes such a difference. And I wear last year’s boots till I’m wearing this year’s boots.
You’ll wear the Hell out of your boots and they won’t last as long, but you’ll go farther in the mountains.
11 days till the bush flight. Aching feet are the last thing on my mind.
This may not be the popular opinion, but sharpen your mind more than any other body part. I’m not a fat Albert type, but I’m certainly not a Greek statue either... too many guys get wrapped up in prepping physically for a hunt IMO. Being in better shape will never hurt, but if you have the never quit mindset with the right fitting gear/boots, you can get it done.
I say that living in a city where I can hike 2k vertical feet 10 minutes from work to the trail head. It’s fun in the summer, but after my first 3-4 sheep hunts I’ve realized it’s more about where/how you go as much as how “ready” you are.
P.S. Leukotape is your friend. Use early, use often.
Sage advice and ideas on here about foot prep and care!
Good point Trevor...
Living in "flatlander" country in Minnesota, I feel fortunate to have eight sheep hunts (and upcoming AK goat hunt) under my belt.
Everyday on the mountain, when I wake up (or when conditions turn to shit and the pain is very real), I tell myself...
"Today is the day I'm going to kill my ram!" (and I was right 4 out of 56 days:))
Positive mental mindset, our most valuable asset!!!
May be too late but custom orthotics are money well spent. I had plantar fasciitis from running, cleared up quickly after orthotics.
If you have planter fasciitus watch some of those custom foot support co.they will sell you something you can get for a 1/4 of the price.Most of the feet Drs. should be able to make you supports.Shots were the only way for me to get rid of mine
Luekotape is the greatest invention since boobs
Zack...You spelled "boots" wrong. ;)
I haven’t ever had blisters myself but I just talked who won the Army’s Best Ranger Competition and he said that he ran barefoot to toughen up his feet.
Just recently returned from a lot of miles in the Sheep Mountains - side-hilling, rock slides, plenty of steep up-down on loose stuff — a big shout out for Lathrop & Sons boots and footbeds combined with Luekotape. My feet remained sound for the entire trip, one less challenge to overcome - there are already enough on any sheep hunt.
Aside from obvious boot comfort I’d start working your Achilles. Stair step on the balls of your feet To give that tendon some attention.
Kota, you think cripsi soles are too narrow? I noticed that about my thors. Basically a stability compromise for weight savings.
I actually think the soles are a little “soft” and not stiff enough for me on the Nevada. The Briksdal is better in that regard.
All good advice above. I am very focused on keeping my feet dry once I'm in the field. Moisture is the blister maker and every chance I get I pull my boots and socks off and let everything dry out. This makes a huge difference in preventing blisters and soggy skin that is prone to tears and blisters. I've also found that re-lacing my boots after about 20 minutes of hiking makes a big difference. Your feet change shape and re-lacing is key for a good fit. Good luck on the hunt!
I didn’t check to see if anyone else has recommended this, but IME going barefoot in really hot sand will cure your athlete’s foot and blister-proof you very effectively....
Just don’t overdo it or cut yourself in the process.
I also found a foot anti-perspirant called Carme that worked pretty well and cut down on foot moisture during this trip.
How did the hunt go other than the feet?