Subject: Re: Waterproof hiking boots
Bonjour Ziners,

In the last few years we've done quite a lot of walking in France (Chemin St Jacques, which passes very close to the Dordogne) and also like a lot of other people the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain - so here are a few observations/recommendations based on hard-earned and painful experience.

-If it's really really wet there is no such thing as a waterproof boot, however something with a Gortex (or similar) membrane inside it will keep a reasonable amount of water out.

-Ths stronger and (generally) water-resistant the boot, the heavier it is and the longer it takes to dry out, and of course the lighter the boot the quicker your feet generally get wet but the quicker the boot dries afterwards! Life is a series of compromises from head to toe!

- As for slippery soles I think that basically the tread may not have much to do with it - some of them look really impressive but the price of the boot does seem to make a difference. Nevertheless some surfaces are just made to drag you down - and the older you get the more it hurts when you fall!

- We have found that walking poles help immensely, in helping to stop you slip, especially going downhill which is generally the riskiest time and also they definitely help by giving you what feels like an extra pair of limbs. Not only will you walk faster and easier but your legs will be less tired at the end of the day. You need two poles not just one.

- Gaiters help keep the water and mud out. The big ones look a bit heavy and over-macho to me. We use what are called sock protectors in Australia. Just cotton but quite effective - very light with an elastic top.

- Get a longish Gortex parka (not cheap but light and really waterproof) which will cover your derriere. If you wear shorts (and a pair of waterproof trousers over your boots if it's raining hard) you won't suffer too much.

- Personally I've suffered more from blistered rather than wet feet and I think most walkers do. The answer, as you probably know, is COMPEED - wonderful stuff.

Sorry Didi, I haven't recommended any particuar make of boot but as you can see I think some other things are equally important and if you get a reasonably expensive, mid weight pair with a Gortex membrane it probably doesn't matter much what make they are. And don't forget the poles and the Compeed!

Happy walking - or "Buen Camino" as they say in Spain..

Michael Sydney, Australia