Black Creek Outfitters Guru Session – Footwear

On August 13th Black Creek Outfitters hosted a Guru Session led by Evan Fullford. The subject matter was “Selecting the Best Footwear for a Long Distance Hike”. A strong proponent of minimalist hiking, Evan went from sandals to shoes to boots. In spite of the title focusing on long distance hiking, Evan fielded questions relative to a variety of trail time from a simple run to a through hike.

An unexpected benefit of the session was Evan explaining the importance of arch support and how people strike the ground. Use a skeletal foot he detailed how shoes can assist impact points.

The Guru discussions occur every Wednesday evening, with pauses in the series based on availability as well as breaks for planning and actual outdoor adventuring. If you are in the Jacksonville area and would like a session dedicated to a specific topic you can reach out to me or ask for Jack when you visit the store.

If you see anything which you feel is incorrect I always appreciate feedback on how to improve upon, or further elaborate, the information conveyed.

  • Boots, hiking shoes, trail running shoes and sandals
  • First example was the Keen (the one I own)
  • Salomon Tech Amphibian
  • Evan pointed out the weight difference and concern over rocks and sticks
  • Obviously good for warmer weather or if you know you’ll be spending time in water
  • A shoe will need to dry
  • Compared the hiking and trail running shoes
  • Trail running shoes are much more flexible
  • Example was the Salomon S-lab
  • Trail hiking shoes maintain rigidity for true hiking stability
  • Trail running shoes are usually lighter
  • More tread on a trail running shoe due to faster travel, and more resistance
  • Trail hiking shoes tend to have a thicker sole
  • Trail running shoes can be geared for the type of strike (heel or forefront)
  • When walking you tend to heel strike
  • Boot example was Lowa and Vasque
  • Heavier hikers or heavier packs may require boots for better support
  • Evan reminded us that concern over ankle support tends to be over stated, noting that hiking in shoes will strengthen the ankle
  • However if you have weak ankles there is no reason to go without support
  • Evan noted the difference between water resistance and water repellant. Unless there are no access points for the water the interior will get wet regardless of the coating.
  • Be mindful that all leather vs. leather/mesh with Gore-Tex might give you the same degree of water protection.
  • Big negative with Gore-Tex: the interior will take longer to dry
  • If you can carry the weight, carry the sandals with you for water crossings. Personal preference.
  • Do not wear cotton socks when hiking. If they get wet they hold the water, and your shoes/boots will take longer to dry.
  • Leather, however, is more durable.
  • Evan shared his Salomon love: better arch support, lighter and simply better construction.
  • Discussed the importance of knowing about arch support.
  • Defined pronating and supinating
  • Naturally your foot doesn’t need arch support, per Evan’s sources. This is something being debated by physicians.
  • Those who support minimalist shoes note we’ve simply become accustomed to arches.
  • Street running will kill the tread of a trail shoe. A street shoe does not have the best foot plate for trail comfort.
  • For hiking, your shoe should not fit like a glove. Compensate for swelling.
  • Also, when on trail you tend to consume more salt and you’ll retain water.
  • When hiking downhill you don’t want your toe slamming against the front of the shoe.
  • Go a half size above your normal, but consider it more different sizing.
  • Discussed different insoles. Superfeet was our example. Make sure it suits your shoe.
  • Some inserts can tear Gore-Tex.
  • Your ideal hiking shoe bends where your foot is supposed to bend. Sounds obvious, but folks forget.
  • Your price range for shoes/boots/sandals is $75 to $160 based on general public. These are still good quality, but as with anything you can get higher quality at a higher price. Fully understand the environment they’ll be used in. No reason to overpay because you’re romanced by features and technology you don’t need.

Black Creek Outfitters Guru Session – Pitching a Tent

On August 7th Black Creek Outfitters hosted a Guru Session led by Jack Stucki. The subject matter was “Pitching a Tent”. A strong proponent of minimalist hiking, Jack focused less on tent manufacturers and more on proper selection and use based on the type of hiker one is. He did offer some great advice on how to handle foul weather and dark conditions. As usual he also shared some entertaining stories which enhance the education element.

Minimalist hiking is not cheap, but if you plan and save you will find the money you spend is priceless when it comes to the weight you’ll save. Before making any purchase do your research. Go to your local outfitter and let them take you through the variety of gear at your disposal.

The Guru discussions occur every Wednesday evening, with pauses in the series based on availability as well as breaks for planning and actual outdoor adventuring. If you are in the Jacksonville area and would like a session dedicated to a specific topic you can reach out to me or ask for Jack when you visit the store.

  • Our tent for this evening is the MSR Experience Series Hubba. Best names ever. Check out their site:
  • Know your trek. Car camping vs. section/through hiking. Jack’s focus is minimalist hiking, hence a minimalist style tent. Costs more, but if you’re packing it you’re getting value through less weight.
  • Todays tents are silicone impregnated nylon, significantly lighter than the days of military grade pop up tents.
  • Tents have gone from sleeves to ringlets to clips
  • Increased ground claws will allow for more space. Design idea.
  • When rain comes, find a place to wait out the weather. Taking a tent down in the rain is less a problem.
  • Suggestion: pack tent assembled so when the rain comes you have a quick setup. This is specific to fly only. Full tent enclosure is a different story.
  • Inventory your tent and perform multiple pitch and take down excercises. Be efficient before trail.
  • Prepare for the unexpected to a greater degree…do it in the dark. Don’t expect a light source.
  • Jack and his daughter set used the week before trail to practice setting up the tent twice a day.
  • “Fast fly” is the term used for pre setup.
  • Big Agnes and Marmot have this capability.
  • A bug bivy sack is an alternative to a tent if the weather is warm and you know you’ll have coverage if needed.
  • Jack warned of hiking the AT that Lyme Disease is a danger between the months of mid-June through mid-September, going from VA to VT. Make sure you have a tent with coverage for weather and insects.
  • Jack noted that buying a minimalist pack before buying the gear might not be the best idea. Minimalist packs are meant to carry minimalist gear. Whatever tent you buy consider how you’re going to carry it.
  • Set the tent up in the store before purchasing it. Completely understand the pieces and space. Where will you put your wet gear and your pack? It comes down to personal preference.
  • If you ask Jack, the best tent begins and ends with Big Agnes.

Black Creek Outfitters Guru Session: Outdoor Gear

Jack Stucki led a great discussion on new gear coming into Black Creek Outfitters. He also fielded questions on general gear options based on conditions, time on trail and durability. These are bullet item highlights of the discussion.

The Guru Discussions occur every Wednesday evening, with pauses in the series based on availability as well as breaks for planning and actual outdoor adventuring. If you are in the Jacksonville area and would like a session dedicated to a specific topic you can reach out to me or ask for Jack when you visit the store.


  • Footwear is the most important when it comes to fit.
  • People who wear boots tend to be older folk (Jacks notes on trail he sees people his age in boots.)
  • 40 lbs or more, consider a boot (though Jack considers 40 lbs a reason to question how the hiker has packed.)
  • Boots are good for ankle support along with snow conditions. Most boots will be water proof. Hard to find ones which aren’t. Warmth and structure are your gains.
  • Jack noted day hikes in low top shoes didn’t impact his ankles or knees so he knew the problem was weight. (Lowa boot was the session example)
  • Salomon X D is the recommended low top show.
  • They need no break-in (I can attest to that).
  • Vibram is the standard for sole, however Salomon does not use Vibram.
  • They’d prefer to not use Goretex but their contract with REI requires it.
  • Jack showed how the Salomon has a high degree of tortional rigidity: as much as the boot.
  • Climashield is Salomon’s proprietary waterproofing.
  • If Goretex gets wet on the inside, it takes a while to dry. Note that.
  • Jack has over 1,000 miles on his Salomon shoes. Salomon doesn’t promise they’ll last that long.
  • Hiker, trekker and PHD. Those are your Smartwool options. Your version is based on your environment.
  • FITS makes a light, medium and rugged sock. The mill that makes FITS used to make Smartwool. When Smartwool went to China, the mill made FITS.
  • You can’t go wrong with FITS or Smartwool.
  • But Darn Tough may be the best sock out there.
  • Jack sharing Outdoor Research Backcountry Boardshorts. Great, light weight hiking short. Feather light with some give.
  • Jack is wearing Vissla on the Wonderland Trail. Super light weight with great stretch, and quick drying.
  • 150 weight Merino wool icebreaker shirt is his go to shirt. No SPF.
  • The shirt has a tag with a number. Go to the site. Put in the number. You’ll get the location and sheep that shirt came from.
  • ExOfficio 91% polyester shirt is also a solid option. But polyester is petroleum based, if you are concerned.
  • 200 weight Merino wool Icebreaker 3/4 zip is a solid long sleeve base layer.
  • 200 weight Merino wool Icebreaker “long johns” pants are the complete package.
  • Comparing fleece anything to the Arc’Teryx Atom jacket. Spend the extra money and go with the Atom.
  • OR rain gear from 2 weeks ago was our example of the rain proof outer layer.
  • Looking at OR Versaliner gloves. Cool zipper for glove rain cover.