The days when I would ‘train’ by deliberately walking with a heavy rucsac are long past. Now I am keen to go with lightweight gear, particularly footwear, to minimise the impact on my knees (and more).
With the potential for Spring around the corner – our snowdrops are already showing plenty of enthusiasm – it is time to dust off summer boots and shoes, maybe even sneaking out in them when the conditions are right.
I am a stickler for getting the lightest footwear possible. Thankfully my old 2+ kilogram leather boots have long since died, and I now choose from far lighter items. Even my La Sportiva mountain boots, bought for rock and ice in the Pyrenees, weight in at a mere 1566 grams, and my sandals are a whole kilogram less (at 642 g).
Why this obsession with weight? For a start, all other things being equal, every kilogram that you carry in the weight of your footwear costs the equivalent of 5 kilograms of weight carried on your back, in terms of energy requirement. (This is drawn from work carried out by several groups, including a study by the appropriately-named Dr Steve Legge!) But it is really worse than that, because stiff, high, heavy boots make you walk less efficiently, and I know will put extra strain on my creaky old knees.
If you don’t believe me, find a relatively short but fairly steep route, and walk it first in winter boots, then in lightweight summer footwear. Even though you will be ascending for the second time, it will feel so much easier in the lightweight boots.
Just for interest, this morning I weighed my most frequently used boots. In summer I prefer sandals (which are also the only ones with truly variable insulation), at 642 g for the pair. My Merrell Moab Mid summer boots are a surprising 1039 g, above which I have a some North Face winter walking boots at 1201 g. A pair of Karrimor Ksb Tour II eVent all-rounders are 1416 g, and my North Face mud- and slush-pluggers weigh 1325 g.
I am so looking forward to walking in sandals again.