It may end up as Part 1 of 50.
Sometime this spring I need new hiking boots. The pair I own now – Garmonts – are intact, but the tread is worn down. I started wearing them in September 2010. I know that because I took the previous pair on their final trip that month, and was glad I did because we ended up walking through Otter Brook in the Adirondacks with our boots on. It would have been no way to treat a new pair. That is another story, but it tells me I got 2½ years from the Garmonts.
That may not sound much for pricey boots, but I have no complaints. On top of lots of day hiking, some short backpacking trips and yard work, these boots did me the inestimable favor of staying in one piece throughout a 400-mile trek across Scotland. For much of the journey the ground was sodden and puddled, and they kept my feet in OK shape.
This is not to say the Garmonts were perfect. My feet did get wet. I did get blisters. But the thing is I just don’t know if I could have done better. And that ignorance is what I am planning to change. I am going to become an educated consumer, at least of hiking boots. Up to now, whenever I needed a new pair, I have visited my local outdoors store, taken a bit of cursory advice, and walked out with boots that looked about right and cost enough to indicate they were good quality.
So where do I start a search for the Perfect Hiking Boot, the one that will always keep my feet dry and warm, even in the sodden Highlands and on Isle Royale when summer thunderstorms turn trails into streams? (The wet line in the picture to the right is a Highland trail not a wee burn.) Likely such boots don’t exist, but I’ll start with Backpacker magazine’s 2013 Gear Guide which arrived in the mail recently, and tell you how I got on in Part 2.