If you’ve been following the Backpacking Project posts, you recall I discovered last week that the boots I’d purchased in 2010 for hiking no longer fit. Well, the backpacking community came through for me again.

Among the many friends I’ve made online since starting the Backpacking Project is John, who is planning an AT through hike in 2015. He told me he had Vasque boots that were too large for him, and he didn’t wear them anymore. In previous conversations we’d already discovered common links – we both love our Brooks Cascadias trail runners and Osprey Atmos packs, and we are both weight loss success stories – and it turns out we have the same shoe size. Friday morning thanks to John and the US Postal Service I received the boots, and I wore them to work that day to break them in.

The boots are the Vasque Breeze 2.0 with Gore-Tex. John was off on the size, which Vasque claims is US 14. The European measure they give, 48, indicates a size of about 13.5 US. I now use orthotic insoles that take up about half a shoe size in room. This puts the boots at about a 13, which is the size of my cycling shoes, my Brooks Cascadia and other athletic shoes, and most of my casual and dress shoes. The Asolo boots are a 12.

The fit isn’t as tight as my Asolo boots. Even in 2010 when my feet were smaller the Asolo were tight. The Vasque are larger, and I don’t feel squeezed in them. I realize hiking boots are supposed to be snug fitting so your feet don’t move around in them, but I think the little extra room in the Vasque will be beneficial. After exertion or a long day I have swelling up to a half shoe size in my nerve damaged right foot, so much so that I sometimes will have my shoe off under my desk at work.

Here is a side by side by side comparison – Asolo, Vasque Breeze, and the foot of a formerly sedentary man etc etc etc. I won’t be wearing those socks on the hike. I’m sending the Asolo boots to John, who will try them out.

Meanwhile, I’ve hit it off so well with John that he’s going to lead me on my third backpacking trip, an overnight on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia in July or August. They say to know a man you have to walk a mile in his shoes. Well, I’m doing just that…..