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Former Salomon employee Jean Hacquart recently hiked the length of New Zealand from the northernmost point of the North Island to the southernmost point of the South Island. Then he bicycled back from south to north. In total, it was a 6,000-km journey. An experienced backpacker, Jean is sharing his advice on how to do your own thru-hike in a series of posts here on Salomon.com.

November 29, 2018
Hamilton, New Zealand’s North Island
Since the beginning of my trip on November 7th in Cape Reinga, I’ve hiked precisely 758 kilometers. During those three weeks, I’ve begun to appreciate the incredible variety of terrain New Zealand has to offer. In just a few minutes you can jump from endless beaches along the blue and grey ocean to muddy, green forests. I also discovered road walking due to the trail construction itself and some closed areas along the trail caused by a tree disease. My alpine body wasn’t used to the pavement at first, but soon enough I saw myself as a new Forrest Gump, except that my beard is not long enough yet and nobody was running behind me while I strolled the open road.

Nevertheless, you can imagine that my whole body has been put to test, and my feet even more. So here are a few tips I’d like to share with you on choosing your footwear for a long hike.

CHOOSING YOUR FOOTWEAR

When I’m hiking, and especially over a long distance, I’m not looking to be as precise as when I’m running in the mountains. I need more comfort. That is to say: more room, mainly in the toe area. Plus most people tend to have swollen feet after hiking for several days in a row. So my advice here is to always take at least an extra shoe size.

The second important topic is lightness. I don’t know if the common saying “100 grams saved for your shoes equals 500 grams in your backpack” is exactly true, but it should definitely be a priority to lighten your footwear. You’ll be less tired and you’ll be able to walk longer.

Finally, no matter what you do, your feet will get wet. Two weeks ago, I was hiking through a forest and I was a bit lost, looking for a trail that was supposed to be next to a river. Then I realized that the river was actually the trail. You can imagine that my feet got a bit wet after that. It would not have mattered what kind of footwear I was wearing. Nevertheless, if you have quick-drying shoes, it’s not a big deal. That’s why I never have waterproof shoes; they take are longer to dry. Don’t get me wrong, shoes with membrane are great in plenty of situations (like day hikes), but not when you’re backpacking for several days in a row.

If you’re curious, I’m currently using Salomon Sense Pro 3 and Salomon Sense Ride for the North Island. Usually a pair of shoes lasts me about 1,000 km.