I was walking lunch over to my husband at the shop today, when I suddenly heard an all-too-familiar squelching noise.
I love living in the Pacific Northwest, and I love how much it rains – but every year I’m faced with this same problem, over and over and over again.
The pair of boots I ordered not even a year ago has given up the ghost. Less than six months of total wear when you consider I had them in storage from late Spring through early Fall.
In just a few short months, I’ve chewed right through the 3/8″ rubber sole and a little flap has opened up under the ball of my left foot. Rainwater from the saturated ground is seeping in and wicking its way up my sock toward my ankle.
But hold on, back up a minute. That’s a LOT of rubber to burn through in a few short months.
Only – it’s NOT. Because this is not actually a rubber boot sole.
What this REALLY is, is a piece of TRASH that has been fashioned into something that, on the outside, LOOKS an awful lot like a rubber boot sole.
This is like one of those BIG Chocolate Easter Bunnies – you know the ones: you grasp the ears firmly to snap them off and cram them between your greedy chompers, and instead they fall apart and the little pieces start to melt all over your hand because the goddamned thing is HOLLOW.
For the last few months, I’ve been walking around on what amounts to an especially thick and rigid BALLOON.
And I’m not even surprised. This is just what I’ve come to expect. Nevermind that I paid a premium for a product whose manufacturer purports to take no small amount of pride in its durability and suitability for walking. In the end, I only had to wear through maybe 2-3 MILLIMETERS of rubber to render them un-wearable.
This is the point where people usually tell me that I should “just buy a good pair of hiking boots, they’ll last forever.”
As soon as someone puts a decent hiking sole on a boot that doesn’t look and feel about as bulky and cumbersome as the average life jacket, I’ll be the first in line to give it a go… provided I don’t have to amputate any toes to wear them. I have a hard-to-fit foot. This lends to the already-injurious nature of “ready to wear” footwear. I’ve never found a truly durable shoe that I could actually wear. The ratios of my foot anatomy are too far outside of the average; the only shoes that come close to fitting me are the ones with a lot of flex and stretch.
This pair I’ve just finished destroying are the best-fitting boots I’ve had in years. Even though my toes jam into the ends of them when I walk. Even though my heels slide around and hover uncertainly in their relatively cavernous accommodations (I apparently have a very large/wide forefoot, and a heel/ankle assembly that is heinously undersized). If ever there was a pair of boots that were THE BOOTS, it was these.
The uppers are leather. A little stretched across the ball of the foot, but otherwise in perfectly good repair. If these uppers were assembled to a real boot sole – something that could be skived down and re-soled – I would probably get another ten years out of these boots, easy. And yes – that’s accounting for the fact that they are THIN leather over a synthetic inner material. They’d still have a lot of life in them if they weren’t soleless (soulless) garbage.
Nothing about the way these boots were put together is conducive to repairing them. All that perfectly good leather and hardware is supposed to go in the trash along with everything else, and I’m supposed to shell out another $125 for a new pair… and that’s assuming they still MAKE them and I don’t have to try on another hundred pairs to find another style that fits well.
And the best thing???
This is an analogy for pretty much