By the end of a long day on the trail, my feet are worked: clammy, bruised, and in all likelihood blistered. My socks are downright grody. My shoes morph into objects of loathing. They don't smell too great, either.
In this condition, I set up camp. I cook dinner. All the while, my feet are stewing, nearly screaming at me. I might as well be standing on a bed of hot coals and thumbtacks.
There's a lot to love about backpacking, but the abuse inflicted on one's feet does not make the list.
So, at the end of 2019, when I was gearing up to hike the Appalachian Trail, I started thinking about how to reduce some of that suffering.
Having adventured outdoors for a quarter century, I knew that traveling light was a priority. But traveling stupid-light had less appeal, because it often meant suffering more. I wanted, simply, to maximize my comfort while minimizing the weight on my back.