I live in hiking boots. I like the comfort and support they provide. I like lacing them up in the morning. I like the fact that I can stand for 15 hours straight and not have my back or feet hurt. For these reasons and more I've pretty much lived in a pair of Garmont Leather boots for the last 7 or so years. After many miles under them with all kinds of stories and shared experiences, they are starting to show their age. I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed, they have far exceeded my expectations of comfort and longevity. They have been great boots, I could ask nothing more of them.
Last night we stopped at REI on the way home from Fargo. It was the culmination of a few months of researching and reading about various boots and their strong and weak points. It probably won't surprise many of you that I am very picky about what I was looking for. I wanted a boot with a full leather upper. I didn't want anything with a steel shank. I wanted something that would last as long as my last pair of boots. Oh, and the kicker, I didn't want anything with Gore Tex lining. I've owned Gore Tex lined boots in the past, and I have yet to be sold on it's merits for my intended use. I have not found it to be advantageous, it seems to just make my feet hot!
With these things in mind, I found four boots in stock that had about what I am was looking for. I'd like to thank Meg for being so patient while I tried on boots with different combination of socks for close to two hours. I'm sure she now knows most of REI's layout like the the back of her hand.
My uses for my main boots have changed over the years. With warmer winters these days, I find that I often opt for my uninsulated boots with thicker socks for short trips to the woods. Room to fit larger socks with breathing and toe room was a big deal this time around. With that in mind, the boots had to be able to be tightened down with thin socks on without feeling floppy or too loose. Knowing exactly what I was looking for them to do made it a pretty easy choice in the end.
Here you go, the new pair of kicks. They are a pair of green, size 47 La Sportiva Karakorums. They are slightly beefier than my old pair of boots. The walking action is more of a roll rather than a flex. The boot is a little taller on the ankle than my Garmonts, but not restrictively so. For such a sturdy boot the were quite comfortable from the first. These are billed as a light mountaineering boot, which I have no realistic expectations of using them for. They are crampon compatible, which means I now have the option of trying out some light ice climbing with friends this winter. While they are not as sturdy as a true plastic ice boot, they will give me a chance to see if I like it or not.
It may seem a little silly to get so serious over a pair of shoes, but it makes perfect sense to me. Here's hoping in 7 years I'm as happy with this purchase as I have been with my old ones.