Altra trail runners for the Kepler & Rakiura?
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I recently started wearing Altra trail runners (Olympus model) for short trail walks around Melbourne and love the wide toe box. I’m wondering if they would be OK for the Kepler/Rakiura which I’ll be starting in a week? For the other Great Walks I’ve done (and long hikes in Australia) I’ve always used boots (full leather Hi Tecs or Vasque Breeze synthetic & leather). However, with plantar fasciitis giving me sore heels, the orthotic arch support inserts I’ve started using two days ago make my Vasques a bit short! So instead of spending Aus $260 to $360 on a bigger pair of Vasques, I am considering using the Altras. I could also buy the Altra Lone Peak boot instead which is waterproof. Would appreciate any advice.
Kepler should be fine. People run it in a day, so lighter footwear is do-able if you're happy with that carrying a load. You won't get wet feet unless it rains or you choose to go into the river or lakes. I've seen "The Great Walks" called "The Great Gravel Walks", for good reason. They're basically paved & maintained by rock aggregate. Cushy socks might be a plus.
depends if you're used to carrying loads in them, theres a steep descent on the kepler, you need to have good ankle srenght if you're using shoes carrying a load on that track.. easy to roll an ankle
Thanks for the replies. I’ll be carrying a normal pack for 3 nights/ 4 days. With 1.4 kg less than I would need in Aust due to not needing a tent or sleeping mat! Ankles could be an issue, though I will be walking with poles so that might help.
Sticks are a big plus. If you're going anti-clockwise on the Kepler, Day 2 is a lot of uphill gradient. Then you have the sharpish descent off the Tops down to Iris Burn Hut on a valley floor. A lot of formed steps before a zig-zag track burns off the the remaining height. Smooth sailing from there on in. Need to ask someone about Stewart Island. I believe the mud is legendary ?.
I would imagine the Rakiura Tk to be reasonably unmuddy as it is a Great Walk? Though I could be wrong!
I've done both the Kepler and Rakiura in trail runners, both tracks are relatively easy in my opinion. The Rakiura has many kilometers of elevated boardwalk that avoids much of the mud the rest of Stewart Island is known for, but mud isn't a reason to wear boots in my view regardless. The type of shoes is far less relevant than your pack weight, physical conditioning and experience. Shoes are fine if you're used to them. It's a common misconception that boots offer more ankle support - I've never seen evidence to support that opinion nor have I experienced it personally. The Kepler has the steep drop into the Iris Burn, I would personally rather go up that than go down it again, but that's just preference. Great Walks have very well maintained conditions, although the Rakiura Track gets much less use than the Kepler so conditions will reflect that. I loved the Rakiura Track, very nice walk, easy and underrated.
Thanks for that info. I have also ordered the Alta lone peak high cut trail runners to try on. These have ankle support so I may end up taking these instead if there is enough cushioning. (Though was waiting for them to come down in price a bit.) Otherwise will go with the ones I have. Have never carried a multi day pack with them, but got to start somewhere. Altra is now selling a new hiking boot - but they won’t be shipping to Australia unfortunately...
Here’s my experience with the Altra Olympus trail runners on the Kepler and Rakiura Tracks in Feb 2020: Walked the Kepler 2-5 Feb. in that very bad weather Fiordland had (where a state of emergency was declared in Milford, people couldn’t get in or out of Te Anau and Howden Hut got put out of action!) I was wearing waterproof socks and had switched the inner soles for ones with arch support. Good points: My feet weren’t sore at the end of the day because of the wide mesh toe box and great cushioning - and no plantar fasciitis symptoms either (and from Luxmore to Iris Burn Hut the weather was so bad that I didn’t take any breaks). Lacing: It was hard to lace the shoes tight enough to stop my toes sliding forward on the descents and the bamboo waterproof socks were a bit ‘slippy’ inside the shoe when it was filled with water from paths that had become running streams. I think I need a foam backer sheet under the laces to help with this. Ankle support: On the Kepler, I had some issues with my ankles due to the lack of ankle support - pulled muscles on the inside towards the arch’s of both feet. (I taped my ankles on the Rakiura a couple of days later and should have done so on day 2-3 of the Kepler.) Could also be related to not taking breaks due to the weather on the Kepler. Socks With the waterproof socks (Aus$44 from Wildfire) my feet stayed dry on the first day, but toes of the liner sock got damp on the second day (there was driving rain hitting like bullets from the wind speed between Luxmore and the the tree line to Iris Burn hut) and third day when a lot of the path had turned to streams. There seems to be a pinhole (fault?) at the front of each sock that let a little water in. But overall, a success - feet were warm too. Mud There were a lot of water filled muddy ruts on the Rakiura Track between the two huts and it would have been a lot faster to have been wearing my normal waterproof ankle height boots instead of the trail runners which caused me to pick my way a lot more. (Not sure if the mud will completely come out of the mesh uppers). Overall A positive experience using the Altra trail runners. However, I solved one issue (foot pain) but had another (ankles) so definitely not for tramping with significantly uneven or shifting rocks unless you have strong ankles.
run the shoes under a hose or tap with the water going straight into the shoe with the toe pointing down to help wash the mud out with footwear i check to see how easily the sole twists lengthwise. that helps in support for your feet. if it twists easily your feet are going to take a lot more strain esp with an overnight pack on...
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