TRAILBLAZER Comfort: Appalachian Trail tested, approved
After logging more than 600 miles on a pair of TRAILBLAZER insoles, Adam Ryan also known as Grizzle Gear, shared this review. We've been in touch with Adam for the last couple hundred miles of the Appalachian Trail and even managed to get a quick Q&A in with him between segments of the trail. Read on.
How did you get into thru-hiking?
In 2015 I was visiting Pennsylvania and went for a day hike on the Appalachian trail with a friend. He started talking about doing a possible thru-hike and my interest perked. I had been saving money for a vacation and a thru-hike seemed like a great way to make the most of the money I had saved. At the time I wasn't even aware that the Appalachian trail extended from Georgia to Maine. I knew next to nothing about hiking. Shortly after that day, I started purchasing gear and bought a flight to Atlanta. I had no clue what I was getting myself into and how much I'd love it.
How many miles do you think you've logged?
Since 2015, I've hiked 4750 Miles of trail. Over the course of 2015-16, I completed the Appalachian Trail. In 2017, I hiked 650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. I'm currently in New Hampshire and 1900 miles into a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. This will be my second time completing it.
You mentioned that you are legally blind. How does this affect your hiking?
I have permanent damage to both my Optic Nerves. It occurred about 7 years ago as a result of an infection and an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. I have less than 5 % of my visual field remaining. It's like having tunnel vision. Everything in my periphery is a whitewash. It can make hiking difficult. I've walked into downed trees, made wrong turns, and missed shelter signs because of my vision. I constantly have cuts on my head from walking into stuff and have done a LOT of extra miles from walking off course. I've been like this for about 7 years now so I've gotten pretty used to it. Most people don't even know about my sight issues unless I tell them. I do pretty well these days.
How did you discover Superfeet?
When I first started hiking, I was experiencing a lot of pain in my Achilles tendon and heels. I came across Superfeet at an outfitter in North Carolina and decided to give them a shot. Within days of switching insoles, the pain subsided and I became a customer for life. I started out using the Superfeet Greens but have recently switched to the Trailblazer comforts. I love them because the extra support in the arch and deep heel cup help prevent my foot from sliding in my shoe, and they also greatly reduce the amount of impact I feel in my heel/Achilles area after a long day of hiking. They just make my feet feel better.
What should people know about Superfeet?
I used to think it was crazy to have to buy insoles after purchasing a $100+ pair of shoes. Those expensive shoes all come with 1/8" or less foam insoles that provide little to no arch support after just several days. While Superfeet recommends getting 500-600 miles of use per pair, I've gotten as many as 800 miles out of a pair. They are extremely durable insoles and the support doesn't wear out like it does on cheaper insoles.
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