The best way to get boots to work well is to get boots that are made for the job.
There is a multitude of fabulous boots out there, some designed for specific jobs, and others ‘all rounders’. It would take an age to go through all the pros and cons of the huge range available, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind when shopping for new boots. In this article, Georgie Bull shows how she did it!
Make sure the salesperson is listening when you tell them what you want your new boots to do. Then listen carefully to the reasons a boot is recommended – do they match your needs? Or is the salesperson telling you about their dream boot? If so, stop them and tell them again what YOU are looking for. I spent a confusing few minutes listening to how good a boot was – for rock scrambling. I woke the salesman from his beautiful daydream of lofty peaks when I asked, ‘but how are they in mud?’ Make sure the salesperson hears what YOU want.
Will the boot do the job?
If you want mid-weight, waterproof boots for the OT, don’t be talked into light-weight boots that are extremely breathable and really, really comfortable -but better suited to a short, dry, forest bush walk.
Do you need full leather, heavy duty, durable Ranger-style trekking boots, designed for long walks on moderate to rough terrain. These will conform well to your foot after you break them in, take waterproofing well, are very abrasion resistant, and can last for years if you look after them properly.
Would mid-weight Nubuk boots do the job on your two to three day walks on and off the beaten track. Nubuk boots are light, immediately comfortable, durable, water resistant and supportive.
Lighter still is suede, which is leather with the skin layer taken off. They are not abrasion resistant, and stretch a bit, as the leather is less stiff. They are water resistant and durable, but not made for heavy duty wet. Consider suede if you live in the tropics and want a boot that is flexible and breathable.
I like high cut boots with lots of lacing and some Achilles cut-out, as I only stay on the track, but my kids prefer shorter, light, boots, as they climb up every rock pile they come across.
OHB friend, Leigh, wears Tevas. The company claims : “The X-1®, Steep XCR® and the Romero® Tevas are trail running and hiking shoes for all round athletes who take roads, rivers and mountains in their stride. The entire Teva® range offers the perfect blend of cushioning, flexibility and responsiveness for the fast paced off road adventurer.”
Soles have a high-tech identity of their own, with dozens of advantages promoted. Think about how much grip you will need. My new boots have very sturdy, knobbly Vibram soles that give me fabulous grip on slippery, wet downhill roots on the OT, and that will last for ages. My kids like boots with softer soles, for grip when they rock climb, but which wear out quite quickly.
Hiking mags are full of ads singing the praises of new boot technology, expert design and innovative gadgets. Before you get totally hooked, ask lots of questions and sus out testimonials from other users on bushwalking forums, like Bushwalk Taswww.bushwalktasmania.com.
Spend some time surfing the net to read up on new features and to ferret out not-so-well known brands.
Here’s a few to start: (just check out Google, there are sellers everywhere)
Asolo – micro pulley lacing system and triple-power-structure shock-absorbing soles!
Ecolite – environmentally friendly production system.
La Sportiva – Innovation with passion!! –
Meindl – rocking sole and toe bumper
Scarpa – tried and true.
Vasque – what can I say.
Once you have found a well-fitting boot that suits your purpose you can look forward to enjoying many, many kms of tracks in them.
Do you have any experiences to share about buying boots from an “expert”?
Do you own different footwear for different trips or conditions?
We would love to hear your feedback, shoot us a “reply” below.
Image: amanky – via Flickr