Hiking boots for warm climate
February 19, 2018 7:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm searching for (women's) hiking boots that will keep my feet cool and aren't overly structured, but won't let in a ton of fine dirt & sand.

I live in southern California and do most of my hiking in warm climates. Terrain is a mixture- dirt, mildly rocky, and some sand.

A few years ago I bought Keen’s women’s Marshall hiking boots (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LH3MJZS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1&psc=1).

They are super comfortable and my feet don’t get overly sweaty in them (very important for me). The problem is that the mesh sides tend to let in fine dirt and sand. My socks after every hike are filthy, which isn’t a huge problem, but on a recent hike in Joshua Tree, I had to stop every mile or so and dump sand out, which sucked.

Can anyone recommend something similar, but that won’t let in so much dirt & sand? I don’t need a ton of arch support or anything like that, and I have a heavier duty pair of over the ankle waterproof boots for more challenging terrain.
posted by aviatrix to Shopping (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
One option might be a set of gators - perfect to keep sand and crap outta your boots.

Examples from REI
posted by parki at 7:14 PM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

How about embracing the sand and wearing hiking shoes like Tevas?
posted by defreckled at 7:29 PM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I recently bought a pair of Keen Moab 2's for day use. While I don't trek about in Californian arroyos or anything like that, I do live in a similar environment, and I do a fair bit of walking in all sorts of places, and I've yet to have any incursions. They are waterproof so I have to assume some level of dust-proofness. They are also quite cool compared to a pair of Oboz Sawtooths that I used to wear, and are like fifty times more comfy.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:34 PM on February 19, 2018

While I haven't worn some of the newest ones available, La Sportiva (like the Raptor) can have a mesh like covering that isn't too fine. I've tried on the Moab 2 (which is made by Merrell, not Keen) but personally thought they were pretty heavy though you may not. (Also Moab in that case does not indicate desert but Mother-of-all-boots - it's a style Merrell has been making for awhile). I am a huge fan of Merrells overall, though, as well as a big fan of minimalist shoes, and last year I wore their Sugarbush boots in the desert A LOT, surprising myself. Although they're leather, it's really lightweight leather, and with the right lightweight wool socks my feet kept pretty cool. And the boots themselves were super light but tough. (You wouldn't need the waterproof version.) However, they are over the ankle, so unfortunately not what you asked for - just a suggestion to consider if you don't get anything else that satisfies.

But mostly came by to suggest gaiters as an alternative, but if you buy them, be sure to buy desert gaiters. Most gaiters offered by places like REI are more for damp/muddy/more mountainous conditions, and will keep your feet very hot in the conditions you're asking about. You will also want gaiters that cover your shoe all the way to the toe box, and most mountain gaiters won't do that, either - although they will stop debris from entering the top of your shoe, they will not stop that fine sand/clay particle size that can almost be a flour like consistency from entering through the mesh. However, I only suggest them if you don't mind too much about looks. A review of the top brands of the type of gaiters you need is here. Note: those in the review specifically need to be attached to the shoe with velcro. Yeah. But not all of them if you look around.

If the sand isn't too fine, and most of it's entering through the top, then a regular pair of gaiters *will* work - but make sure you get them in the most lightweight material possible. Also personally I wouldn't wear Tevas in the desert due to how hot sand can be as well as problems with spiky vegetation , and also I tend to get a lot of sand/small pebbles rolling underneath my feet & the shoe, but YMMV.
posted by barchan at 7:53 PM on February 19, 2018

I've worked the past three summer seasons in my vasque breeze's on the beach all day, er'yday, and except for sand that gets in through the top (like when I'm crawling around), they do a great job of keeping sand out of my feet. I think some sand must get in and live in some layer of the shoes through the mesh, because I can still shake them months after I've been in sand, and somehow sand comes out.

Oh whoops now I see you want less-structured shoes. I do think the vasque breeze is relatively light, but maybe try another vasque brand show. I just cant attest to other models.
posted by Drosera at 8:08 PM on February 19, 2018

I work outdoors and frequently find myself purchasing gear with specific needs in mind. OutdoorGearLab is a good source for comparison shopping. I've never noticed any bias, and they buy all the gear they review. (I see a lot of outdoor blogs that post unfailingly positive reviews of comped gear.) Here are their reviews of women's hiking boots.
posted by compartment at 10:00 PM on February 19, 2018

Check out Salomon. I wear a pair of the Women’s Ellipse GTX daily, they’re a lightweight waterproof hiking shoe, and the most comfortable I’ve ever worn straight out of the box. I found them on some top hiking shoes list and bought them on Amazon.
posted by impishoptimist at 6:16 AM on February 20, 2018

This may sound *really* weird, but I like summer hiking in cotton tabi boots. They keep my feet cool and are protective but allow total range of motion. I have literally hiked through sand dunes and not gotten sand in these shoes.
posted by ananci at 10:55 AM on February 20, 2018

I've noticed that canvas, unlike mesh, doesn't let sand in. So like ananci I suggest searching for something cotton (if I could afford it I'd experiment with these).
posted by mirileh at 11:24 AM on February 20, 2018

I'm also in a warm weather area, and I don't have specific shoe recommendations other than to say that every pair of Goretex shoes I've tried is horrifyingly hot on my feet. My vote for heavy sand would be desert gaiters, possibly that cover the whole foot, trail runners and an extra pair of socks.
posted by cnc at 4:43 PM on February 20, 2018

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