06 Aug A Brand-New Pair of Boots
When I told was my daughter, Estelle, about my invitation to hike the Way of St Francis of Assisi, she suggested we go and look at some boots. She knew of about the Hi-Tec factory store near to where we live. She’s into hiking too, and got herself a pair of boots from that store.
At more or less the same time, Niels sent me suggestions and specifications for the kind of footwear I should consider. He was very particular about what to get.
A Saturday soon after, Estelle and I go to the shop. I see a pair exactly of the kind suggested by Niels. It’s a pair of Hi-Tec Storm boots. With a name like “Strom,” you’d almost expect a pair of gumboots that weigh a ton. You couldn’t be more wrong. They are light and stylish.
“Do you like them,” she asks.
“Of course, I do.” At this point I’m seriously considering buying them with the money Niels sent me as an advance.
“I’ll buy them for you as an early birthday present,” she says. “Why don’t you try them on?”
Now there’s a surprise to spring on me. My birthday was still quite some time away.
I put them on. Wonderful! They’re light and comfortable. I walk a few paces. They feel strong and supportive. My feet are in love with them.
“What do you think?” she asks.
“In comparison to a pair of the best Swiss hiking boots I used when I hiked a very long time ago, they fit like a dream.”
So, feeling very chuffed, I walk out of the store with a brand-new pair of very expensive hiking boots as a present. Since it’s a factory shop, and a sale, we get them at less than half the price.
I get home and put them on. Within minutes I forget I’m wearing hiking boots. A few days later I take them out on a 3 Km test-walk. Excellent! They will definitely be good for a full 30 Km.
You may well ask why I make such a fuss about a pair of boots. It’s quite simple. Your boots can make or break a hike. I know this from personal experience. On my first ever hike (Drakensberg 1975) I paid the price for two mistakes: firstly, buying a popular and cheaper pair of boots, instead of what would’ve suited me better. The second mistake was not wearing them in before the expedition. I got them barely a day before leaving.
I’ve seen so many people make these two mistakes. On various hikes I’ve seen people sitting next to the path, sporting some very impressive blisters, sore heels and painful ankles.
Buying boots may be one of your more costly purchases, but it’s well worth the expense. It could mean the difference between enjoying your hike and taking a 25 Km stretch in your stride, to literally regretting every step you take and maybe abandoning a much-desired adventure.