Hiking around South America - what shoes should I be wearing?
July 4, 2009 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Travelling in the Amazon rainforest (hot and wet), Patagonia (cold and wet) and everything in between during September to November ... what shoes to wear?

I'm backpacking through South America for three months starting in September and am trying to work out what footwear I should bring.

I will be spending time in the Amazon (walking in the rainforest and kayaking on the Amazon) where it will be hot, humid and wet and I've heard that trail shoes are good options here due to plenty of ventilation and drainage. I will also be spending time walking around Patagonia where it will be cold and wet. For cold and wet locations I've read that you want waterproof shoes (ie Goretex), but for warm/hot climates, that Goretex is terrible because it can't breathe enough and you will end up with really sweaty feet.

I won't be doing any heavy duty hiking, but will be doing a lot of walking. So, assuming I don't want to take 2 sets of shoes, what should I do/what options have I got?
posted by tobtoh to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Three tools: Gore-tex, merino, and down.

For your footwear you could always bring along a pair of gortex socks. I used them in the military for the exact reasons you listed above, loved them so much I bought them when I left.

Merino wool works well in both hot and cold weather, handles moisture well and doesn't carry a stink like synthetics. I'm a huge fan of the Icebreaker line of clothing, try something in the 150-200 weight. Layers are key, a light merino shirt will work well in the amazon, and layered with something something like a thin down jacket will work well in the North.

A gore-tex shell jacket with a hood can serve as a raincoat in the south (make sure it has zippable vents) and will act as an outer shell in the north.

I bought a thin down jacket last year, thinking I'd only use it in the winter, I've been using it year round, either to keep me warm in the cold mountain nights, or as a pillow and insurance jacket. You won't have any use for it in the Amazon (aside as a pillow stuffer), but it weighs nothing, packs down to nothing and will keep you toasty in the Patagonia.
posted by furtive at 12:08 PM on July 4, 2009

Oh, if it wasn't clear, I meant a un-insulated gore-tex shell.
posted by furtive at 10:27 PM on July 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Furtive - some good tips there - particularly the goretex socks. I'm guessing that will let me go with shoes that are vented without worrying too much about getting them cold and wet in Patagonia (assuming I have the goretex socks).

How essential is the down jacket? From what I've read, a base layer + mid layer + 100% windblocket jacket is warm enough for temperatures just below freezing. So would a down jacket be essential? or just a nice backup to have?

(I live in Australia and it seldom gets below 5 deg C (41F) in Melbourne so it's hard to gauge how much clothing I require for really cold climates)
posted by tobtoh at 7:53 AM on July 5, 2009

The down is mostly nice to have, depending on your budget.
posted by furtive at 9:39 PM on July 10, 2009

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