A pair of boots ready for longer walks?2nd July 2008
When I buy a pair of walking boots, a number of months elapse before I take them out on a full day’s walking. While trail shoes might suffice for a lot of my trips, I tend to prefer boots for their better ability to keep out mud and water. With boots, there’s always the risk of ending up with the “stiff and stout” variety because so many are like that. In fact, conventional wisdom is that strong supportive footwear is what is needed for traversing hill country and mentioning the idea of using flexible footwear could result in a tide of disapproval heading in your direction. Solid ankle support and stiff footbeds are very much part of this usual line of thought.
While my Scarpas very much fit in with the above convention, I am inclined to wonder I need quite as much ankle support as they provide. Their predecessors were similar in this regard and their ankle cuffs gave me grief on a walk in North Wales one evening, an experience that taught me a lot; a back up pair of Columbia trail shoes were extricated from my rucksack so that relief could be provided. I usually don’t seem to have trouble with how boots fit my feet but its my experience with ankle cuffs that taught me that a good run in period is in order and that’s what I have been doing with my Scarpas since the longer evenings came upon us. The boots seem to doing OK but I am not planning to use them on all day walks straight away but am pondering taking them on half day hikes instead; taking them out in the Derbyshire Dales has come to mind. Whatever happens, I shall be keeping an eye on those ankle cuffs as well as doing more work on my lacing so that my feet are held in them that bit more securely.
Even with all this preparation of the Scarpas for use as my main pair of walking boots, I am beginning to think ahead to the future and what I really need in a pair of walking boots. An ability to take the rough stuff and keeping out water, mud and such like is all very fine but fit has to be a major consideration. This is why I am challenging the idea of high and somewhat less flexible ankle cuffs. It might be that I include that need on my list should I need a new pair of boots in the future. Another notion is percolating into my mind too: having different boots for different types of walking. The Scarpas could remain in use for rougher terrain while a lighter pair of boots, that are quicker to break in, would do a trek along good tracks and paths, keeping feet dry along the way. Along with the fit and comfort side of things, there are other advantages to having two pairs of boots such as spreading the wear across both, making them last longer, and having a dry pair ready after the other has been used on a hike through waterlogged terrain. With all the other demands on my income, I am not planning to rush out and buy anything just yet but there is enough going for the idea that it might take hold sometime.