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I will be travelling for five months and am in need of a good pair of shoes. The terrain I will cross will be canadian urban village snow, city, forests, and desert.

A friend recommended the La Sportiva Ghanda, however an expert opinion would be nice, preferably, I am looking for a shoe and not a boot.

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If it was southeastern Iowa urban village I might know, but sorry, don't know anything about Canadian urban villages. –  Olin Lathrop Dec 26 '12 at 1:41
    
Olin- you made my day:-) –  Rory Alsop Dec 26 '12 at 10:10
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The Ganda is a climbing approach shoe, so I actually wouldn't go for it (you'll be paying a premium for features you won't use... Plus it's got breathing holes that will let in snow/water.) Assuming you're in Canada now, why not go to MEC and check out their shoes and ask the shoe section guys? It sounds like you want a combination of style, comfort, grip, and waterproofness/water-resistance. Maybe check out their outdoor lifestyle shoes. –  Nisan.H Dec 27 '12 at 1:40
    
I've been using a climbing approach shoe as my go to walking/hiking shoe as of late. They are light, have a good grip on rock but a terrible grip on snow. None of them are waterproof though, and have limited ankle support so if you've got a heave pack or weak ankles I wouldn't recommend them. –  furtive Dec 27 '12 at 23:38
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1 Answer

I wear and love Keen's. My wife and I discovered them last year. Before that, we were pretty big into Merrell's.

I grew up in the back woods of Northern Ontario and pretty much spent my time outdoors hiking, camping, canoeing, backpacking, swimming, etc. Given that is the terrain you are talking about (think boreal), I would totally go with Keen's.

When you are going to be spending a lot of time hiking in a pair of boots, here are the things that I am particularly interested in.

  1. First and foremost is build quality. If you are going to be investing in a great pair of outdoor shoes, don't skimp. You only have one pair of feet.

  2. Second is weight. You think you're a champ right now, but when you've been hiking all day, nothing stinks worse than extra weight on your feet. Finding a balance between durable build quality and weight can be tricky business.

  3. Coverage. Let's face it. Where I grew up in Northern Ontario (north of Sault Ste. Marie) the mosquito might as well be the provincial bird. Between them and black flies, you definitely want to be covered up. Bug bites on your feet are second only to around or inside of your ears. Make sure your gear protects you as best as it can from bugs.

  4. Good in water. Make sure you get shoes that are good at wicking out moisture to help keep your feet dry. The weight thing plays in here too in the event that you need to swim in your shoes.

  5. Arch and ankle support. Pay for it. Your feet and ankles will thank you.

  6. Weather appropriate. Few things are more miserable than not being appropriately dressed for the weather. Remember, no one cares how you look if you are dead in the bush. Fashion plays second fiddle to functionality. If you are going to be doing this in the winter, don't wear shoes. Get a pair of good boots like Sorels. I wore Alpha Pacs all growing up and love the heck out of them. If you are going in the fall or spring, make sure your footwear is waterproof and rides a reasonable distance up your calf.

All my American friends from college had this idea that Canadians were somehow made for inclement weather. Truth is, when you are doing things outdoors you need to dress for the weather. Hope that helps.

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Hey, us American's aren't that dumb. We also know all Canadians wear plaid flannel shirts, carry large axes, end sentences with "aye", and are named "Nanook". –  Olin Lathrop Dec 29 '12 at 15:20
    
...and we know to be nice to them or they'll stop sending us backbacon, eh? :) –  Don Branson Dec 29 '12 at 20:33
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