Long Term, Hard Use FootWear

Today we have a guest post from sporadic contributor and quasi-Looserounds member  “CJ”, about his favorite topic. 

 

Prepping – Some thoughts… A lot of gun enthusiasts seem to justify their hobby as some sort of preparation for armageddon. Sure, when the aliens invade I won’t deny the usefulness of an arsenal. But let’s not deny the usefulness of other items. Food storage is commonly thought of. Less commonly thought of is footwear. Unlike other looserounds contributors, I didn’t grow up around firearms. My parents’ household to this day is a “gun free zone,” complete with the usual objections to self defense. But I did grow up hiking, camping, and backpacking. I may have as many years of experience being serious about footwear as Shawn has being serious about the 1911.
Footwear cannot be neglected. Anyone who is a fan of the Walking Dead (I’m assuming the majority of Looserounds’ readership) should realize how much walking people are forced to do in a zombie attack. In our normal daily lives we take these things for granted. In an apocalyptic scenario, we may need to walk long distances regularly and we will need to avoid injuries (sprains/blisters/etc) while doing so. Our feet, like a good 1911, should be something we can rely on. I want to share some of my thoughts and experiences in this area and will limit the discussion today to boots.
First, let’s realize that we aren’t going to become like the Confederate soldiers who marched long distances barefoot overnight. If you’re the type of person who has managed to build up a quarter inch of leathery callous on your feet, you’re probably already barefoot and you probably don’t have internet access and probably aren’t reading this. Two of the three people who have done this are somewhere in the Amazon rainforest and the other guy is a Kenyan persistence hunter. That just simply isn’t realistic right now for us today. We need footwear that won’t fail us today, but more importantly won’t fail us tomorrow when we might not be able to buy new shoes.
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The first pair of shoes/boots I want to introduce is the Salomon Quest 4D GTX. Let me first say that these are the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn, right out of the box. They require zero “break in.” I recommend them for daily wear, but they will not last and you should not count on them as a long term solution. The boots pictured here have about a year’s worth of wear, there is a hole in the sole, and they’ve been glued back together twice. Next, I want to introduce their polar opposite.
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The Raichle Montagna. In this picture there are 3 pairs. Two of them are new and the one on the right has 3 times as much wear as the Solomon boots above. They really are indestructable. But they’re heavy, hard to break-in, and very hard to find today. This is closer to what I’m talking about. You may not like them at first, but long after the Salomons are gone they’ll still be fine. This matters if civilization ends tomorrow. In fact, I’ve stockpiled these for just such an event. Some minor discomfort caused by their admittedly heavy weight is not going to injure you, and provided you have a pair that is broken in, the benefits are very clear. And if they aren’t broken in, soak them in baseball glove conditioner and just wear them every other day until they mold to your foot. Alternate with something else to avoid injury. They’re priceless.
Similar boots have also been made by Lowa, Scarpa, and Vasque. In fact, the Vasque Montana is almost a direct copy. Vasque is a great company that made my first pair of hiking boots (the Sundowner II). I wore these on roughly 30 serious backpacking trips over approximately 10 years and about half the time during the week to work/school. I still have them somewhere. Today I wear a pair of Vasque St Elias boots (hown in the 3rd picture) every day. These have the same wear as the Solomons above, but they’re still in great shape. They’re a good compromise between comfort and ruggedness. I would also trust them over the long run (pun intended). Shawn tends to favor Merrell boots, and I’ve tried them as well, but I put them in the same category as Salomon. They’re certainly comfortable and that is valuable. But this comes at a cost–light/flexible construction. I personally don’t trust them for anything other than work. Without a decent pair of boots, you need to realize that you will quickly be reduced to trying to cut sandals from used tires.
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