Gecko ForestExplorers
Only after the last tree has been cut down;
Only after the last fish has been caught;
Only after the last river has been poisoned;
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- Cree Indian Prophecy

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Outdoor And Footwear

© Forest Ang may look smart...but are they comfortable?......

I learnt the hard way. There are many tips on outdoor footwear. Most are very informative and helpful. They are for the majority outdoor persons. Little is mentioned for the minority.

Let me share my tips. I was a Trainer in a footwear industry for several years and an avid adventurers and I am sure I know what I am talking. That’s for my resume.

My Experiences

Designers design shoes for trend and fashion. Not much R&D is done. I know how designers copied and modified the design of other manufacturers. One day I was given a pair to test the outsoles for use in hiking. I was given a plastic outsole! Imagine the problems I had when I hike on boulders – yes, I slipped and fell.

During the early day of my hiking experience, I was attracted by the many branded popular footwear – good tractions, breathable leathers, lightweight, Gore-Tex, durable and so on. I got a popular brand with “mountaineering” specifications – good for high altitude just for my Sikkim’s adventures. I don’t know what went wrong but the breathable leather boot just trapped my sweating feet. My feet were freezing-icy-cold with the icy sweat.

Gunung Tahan at 2186m is the highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia. It is 55 km from Kuala Tahan through virgin rainforest and numerous river crossings. Hiking on wet shoes are not comfortable – soaked and stressed on our feet eventually caused blisters and pains. Our porter with at least 20kg of load was with our group. He worn slippers. Yes, slippers on jungle track, also river crossings, boulder crossings and steep rock climbing. He completed the climb.

As a lead trekker, I always carry a first aid kit. And one of my equipment is the clobbers’ tool. I cannot have individual with shoes’ problem to slow down the hike and thus I need to help on shoes repair work. And the interesting tales were that most shoes I repaired were branded and fashionable.


You have read some of my experiences above. Now I would like to share my understanding.

First, the brand. Good hiking shoes can be any brand. My friend used a cheap trainer to climb the mountains of Sikkim but I used a branded hiking boots. I suffered from blisters and freezing feet but none for him.

Second, the comfort. Wear what you are comfortable with. Even a slipper – if that is your comfort zone. But then for safety reason, you are advice to wear a covered shoes rather than an exposed slipper.

Hints for Using Comfortable Shoes For Hiking In Tropical Rainforest

1. Only wear comfortable shoes for hiking.
2. Don't under estimate cheap shoes they do provide comfort to your feet.
3. Choose shoes with broad front if you have broad feet (and vice versa).
4. Use additional insole for better cushion.

What I Wear

For my forest exploring trips: I wear unbranded but comfortable to me with ankle protection.

Unbranded but Comfortable for Exploring

For my hiking trip on known trails: I wear a very cheap plastic cum rubber shoes – waterproof, durable and do-not-get-wet shoes.

rubber shoes
Rubber Shoes - US$1.50

Does price indicate quality? Yes, maybe. Quality material and workmanship.
Does price indicate comfortable wearing? No, not necessary. Cheap shoes can be more comfortable for some.

They said, "You can tell a person by the shoes they wear". Who cares - if you are in a jungle with broken shoes! Survival and pain are the main issue. In case you are tempted by the latest fashion, which you may look smart and elegant...but are they comfortable? Do you want to hurt your feet?

Forest Ang
23 Oct 07


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