Boot weight and ankle support

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Re: Boot weight and ankle support

Postby trogman » Jul 10, 2014 10:22 am

Chads93GT wrote:
trogman wrote:Reminds me of a caver who posted on FB recently, saying that he sees no need for cavers to wear knee pads. His contention was that doing so makes your knees tender and soft, and if you go without knee pads they will eventually toughen up and you'll have no need for protection. Yeah, right! I think I'll just keep right on using my knee pads, thank you!

Trogman :helmet:


You mean the guy I immediately responded to how I was in awe of his self proclaimed hardass-ness?


:laughing: Yep, that's the one. As I recall, he was thoroughly excoriated by several other cavers as well. Not so much because he proclaimed he didn't need kneepads, but because he seemed to be deriding those who did use them. I always say, to each their own. If it works for you, fine. But don't belittle or ridicule me because I do it a little differently. It shouldn't matter as long as I don't endanger myself or someone else.

Good discussion topic, since footwear is (for me) one of the most important articles of attire. If my feet ain't happy, I ain't happy!

Trogman :helmet:
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Re: Boot weight and ankle support

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jul 10, 2014 11:21 am

Chads93GT wrote:but if you have clay mud banks everywhere, the tread is ALL that matters. Tread patterns, I have learned, are the difference between being sure footed on clay slopes, and being on your ass all day.


Yep. Climbing a steep, exposed claybank can be very scary or impossible without good treads.
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Re: Boot weight and ankle support

Postby LukeM » Jul 10, 2014 11:41 am

It was interesting that Wellies have been brought up. More and more cavers have converted to these over the years, but I've never heard much about their lack of ankle support, which is certainly true. I agree with Chad that tread is the most critical thing when caving. I've seen very capable beginner cavers reduced to being almost useless in a cave by wearing crappy sneakers. As long as you're sure footed your risk of ankle injuries are much lower.

I have found myself drifting more and more in the "minimalist" shoe direction over the years. I used to take it as common sense that for biking and backpacking you use heavy, thick soled, high-top boots. Then I met my wife. She wears thin-soled, cheapo, barely-any-material shoes everywhere - and I mean everywhere. Backpacking, working on her feet all day... everything. When the trail is in relatively good condition she'll even backpack barefoot. At first I thought she was crazy to do that, but then I started to admire the simplicity of relying on what you have naturally to get the job done.

The conclusion I've come to is that it's mostly down to how much weight you carry on your frame and conditioning. Conditioning includes both muscle/ligament strengthening and the muscle memory required to not do stupid things with your feet. Some of us have several decades worth of ingrained muscle memory to work against. Certainly genetics play a part, but through 99% of our genetic past we got by fine without the "SUVs" of footwear so I'm sure we're still capable of it with the right prep work.

I've worked my way from hiking boots, to light hikers, to "barefoot" trail running shoes and sandals for my backpacking and hiking with no injuries so far. My calves and ankles are a lot stronger for it, and I say this as someone who was a skateboarder for many years and had more than my share of ankle and foot injuries. At the end of the day it really is a "to each his own" or "whatever works" thing.
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Re: Boot weight and ankle support

Postby Oddball » Aug 14, 2014 12:53 pm

Even though I have a bad ankle, I still always wear a pair of Merriel ?sp? hiking/climbing shoes (I forget the model). light weight, great grip, great breathing room. But the last point is in the last advantage. As most of the "non supportive space" is a foam(for comfort) on the inside and a mesh on the outside you do not need to either empty your boots after a water crossing or lug aroung 10 pounds of water. This is a problem I ran into many times.
Now if there was a boot that was lightweight, flexible, had good grip, drain water readily, and had ankle support I may save up for a pair of them.
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Re: Boot weight and ankle support

Postby potholer » Sep 25, 2014 9:23 pm

By some combination of luck, anatomy and exposure to risk, I've managed to avoid ankle injuries, despite some 'I don't know how I got away with that' incidents where I got the feeling that I only avoided damage by some brief severe mispositioning being not quite long enough for things to actually start tearing. There seem to be some things one can do for a fraction of a second without injury which would be bad news if sustained for longer.

When doing an advanced first aid course where virtually everyone else was from mountain rescue rather than cave rescue, I'm not sure who was more surprised when they all assumed that if I'd never had a fracture, I must have at least had one good ankle injury and I almost felt embarrassed to say I hadn't.

As far as wellies go for caving, I've pretty much always used them, and I get the feeling that underground it's a case of swings and roundabouts.

Sure, they may have limited ankle support, but I dare say I adapt my movements accordingly to some extent.
On the other hand, because the foot is free to move somewhat, it's possible to smear a wellie sole fairly flat on a wall while pressure-traversing along a rift while the feet are less splayed/twisted outwards than might be the case with more rigid boots, and ankles may be at lower risk of damage in the case of a slight shift in boot position.
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