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jared_j

La Sportiva Makalus, Blisters, and "Breaking In"

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I am taking a glacier climbing course starting very soon. I purchased some La Sportiva Makalus from Marmot Mtn in Bellevue, and I have been on 5 hikes of 3-5 hours each in them (mostly Mt. Si) over the last few weeks, once per week. These are the first mountaineering boots that I've had any experience with.

 

The clerks at the store were helpful, and led me to believe I got the proper - sized boot. There is some roon in the toe box, they fit snugly around my foot and ankle.

 

That said, on each hike in them, I've developed blisters on the 'back' of my heel. The sole is stiff, and my heel slides up slightly inside the boot as I step (since the sole does not flex). I have tried several sock/liner combinations, such as Smartwool Mountaineering-thickness socks coupled with Smartwool liner socks, but gotten blisters each time.

 

If they were snug enough such that my heel did not move at all as I stepped (and the sole did not flex), then my intuition is that they'd be ridiculously awkward to walk in.

 

How do I know if the boots are too big? Will there be some point at which the sole of these boots will flex at the ball of my foot and this will no longer be an issue? Any advice for this noob to mountaineering boots is welcome. Thanks!

 

 

 

Edited by jared_j

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I am taking a glacier climbing course starting very soon. I purchased some La Sportiva Makalus from Marmot Mtn in Bellevue, and I have been on 5 hikes of 3-5 hours each in them (mostly Mt. Si) over the last few weeks, once per week. These are the first mountaineering boots that I've had any experience with.

 

The clerks at the store were helpful, and led me to believe I got the proper - sized boot. There is some roon in the toe box, they fit snugly around my foot and ankle.

 

That said, on each hike in them, I've developed blisters on the 'back' of my heel. The sole is stiff, and my heel slides up slightly inside the boot as I step (since the sole does not flex). I have tried several sock/liner combinations, such as Smartwool Mountaineering-thickness socks coupled with Smartwool liner socks, but gotten blisters each time.

 

If they were snug enough such that my heel did not move at all as I stepped (and the sole did not flex), then my intuition is that they'd be ridiculously awkward to walk in.

 

How do I know if the boots are too big? Will there be some point at which the sole of these boots will flex at the ball of my foot and this will no longer be an issue? Any advice for this noob to mountaineering boots is welcome. Thanks!

 

 

 

do you wear a light base layer (or whatever they are called) sock under the smart wool (or whatever you have)?? this makes the friciton between the socks and leaver your heal out of it. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. i can not tell you how many paris of hiking boots i have been through because none of them are perfect.

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wear another pair of socks so your heel doesn't slide.

 

don't trust your intuition here, cause your intuition is wrong. you dont want the boot to flex at the ball of your foot with crampons on. you want it to stay rigid. these boots will never flex that's what the shank is there for. so your goal is to stop your foot from sliding inside your boot.

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one piece of duct tape over each spot before you hike... should be golden.... or you can use those fancy bandaid/blistery things... Before... not after.

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one piece of duct tape over each spot before you hike... should be golden.... or you can use those fancy bandaid/blistery things... Before... not after.

mole skin....

 

athletic tape works too and is easier to take off.

 

get used to pain... thats what climbing mountains is all about. or so i understand ;)

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IN addition to using a liner sock and a thicker sock, I suggest you try altering the mechanics of your walk. With a stiff boot, whether it's leather or plastic, there's obviously no flex so effectively you have to walk flat footed. It's awkward at first, but eventually you'll get used to it, and never have blister issues. This technique was taught to me on a NOLS Cascade mountaineering course more than 10 years ago, and it still serves me well.

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IN addition to using a liner sock and a thicker sock, I suggest you try altering the mechanics of your walk. With a stiff boot, whether it's leather or plastic, there's obviously no flex so effectively you have to walk flat footed. It's awkward at first, but eventually you'll get used to it, and never have blister issues. This technique was taught to me on a NOLS Cascade mountaineering course more than 10 years ago, and it still serves me well.

 

I was thinking that too. you have to learn how to stomp kinda.

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I gave this a shot at Mt. Si yesterday, thinking that if I just didn't need to bend my foot at the ball (the way we normally do when we walk) then everything would just be dandy.

 

I couldn't do it effectively walking on dirt uphill at Mt. Si yesterday; perhaps it'll just take practice. Thanks to everyone for all of the suggestions!

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ON the uphill, try walking a little duck footed; your feet should be pointing outward rather than straight ahead. The steeper the trail the farther out your feet would point. BTW, this odd walking technique will really help when you start wearing crampons.

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Try a heel lifter...small insert that lifts up the heel. Snug fit, no heel lifting, no blister. Or you could just try tightening your boots tight enough so your heel doesn't lift. Your boots should be tied almost so tight that they hurt - once you start walking, they'll loosen up a bit and be perfect.

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There are lacing techniques you could try to lock your heel down. Google it.

That being said, I only know of one person who loved their Makalus, and didn't get terrible blisters from them.

La Sportiva Glaciers are more forgiving, IMO.

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My boots fit well, but I occasionally use duct tape to prevent blisters. I've also used it on my toes when I drop a lot of elevation with a heavy pack. No more black toenails!

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At the beginning of climbing season, when I don't want to risk a blister in my medium weight mountaineering boots, I use "Band-Aid Blister Block". These little adhesive pads fit very well and definitely prevent those heel blisters. The question of what type of socks to use is not as clear-cut as people say. I find that the slippery liner socks actually promote heel slipping and blisters. I wear only a pair of medium-weight merino wool hiking socks. After a few climbs or hikes the heels get used to the boots, (and new boots break in). Makalus are not all that stiff, they will start to flex. You can try forcing the to flex a bit at home to speed up the break in time.

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All, the evil Makalus. Mine finally broke in after about 2 years. I always taped the heels preventatively before heading out, usually with a dab of tincture of benzoin on the skin first so the tape/blister pad stuff would stick. Give that a go, along with the sock suggestions.

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