Gear

If The Shoe Fits: A Hiker’s Dream Boot

Lowa Renegade GTXBy Kelsey A. Liebenson-Morse

“It had only to do with what it felt like to be wild. With what it was like to walk for miles for no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.”  Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

As per usual, I am the last to read the “it” book. I’ve been hearing about Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild for a year now, and finally got it together and put it on hold at the library. I wasn’t disappointed. Strayed is incredibly brave, incredibly candid and incredibly funny — all at the same time.  Reading her memoir, I was immediately on her team, thinking “why shouldn’t a novice hiker take on the notorious Pacific Crest Trail alone?” Strayed certainly does not glamorize her experience, and there are moments when we truly fear for her life, her safety, and her sanity.

The memoir opens with Strayed watching one boot tumble down a ravine, and this scene is expanded upon further in the memoir. Strayed ends up walking a full day in makeshift duck tape sandals. Arguably the biggest of her trials along the trail are her boots, the fact that they are badly fitted (too small) causes her extreme amounts of agony, lost toenails, blisters, you name it. Meanwhile, she battles the elements, animals, and other humans. But all troubles seem to pale in comparison to the excruciating physical pain caused by an ill-fitting pair of hiking boots.

Warning: reading Wild will give you severe hiking fever. Currently living on Long Island, I am virtually powerless to hike, but have started the very preliminary bones of an attempt to hike the Appalachian Trial. As everyone says, to be a successful long distance hiker, one must be prepared. And being prepared, it seems, starts with the boot. In the market for the perfect footwear myself, I dived into the vast world of hiking boots – and came up with two pieces of conclusive information. The first being, lighter is better, and the second being, waterproofing is an absolute must. Being a woman, I focused on women’s boots. Luckily, when it comes to hiking boots, one can throw delusions of fashion out the window before even looking. There are multiple factors to consider in choosing the perfect boot among these being: durability, comfort, support, and traction. Hikers must take into account the terrain, the climate and, of course, the distance intended to cover. For my dream hike on the Appalachian Trail I would purchase a pair of “Lowa Renegade GTX – Mid.

These boots made an appearance on nearly every search and every review seems to promise that this is it — the perfect pair.  And available in ELEVEN different colors, to boot!  As ‘best uses’ for the Lowa boots, one site suggests, “day-hiking, backpacking [and] just about anything you need a hiking boot for.” It would seem that the one downside of this boot is that the sole wears out quickly. Otherwise, the Lowa Renegade claims to have fantastic toe protection, lightweight, while also being extremely comfortable.  The boots range from $200-$220, but seeing as I would be wearing these boots every day for approximately four months, I think the money would be well spent.  The unique construction of the boot, the “PU Monowrap Frame” is what makes this the boot that will get you to your destination comfortably, boasting support that reaches up on the sides while also coming in laterally. Picturing myself scrambling up and down rocks, the thought of a supported foot becomes increasingly important.  Cheryl Strayed had her boots fitted at REI, and this obviously did not fare well for her, as some salesperson allowed her to leave the premise with the wrong size boot! Whether you are planning a small day hike, an overnight, or a few months of the trail, make sure the shoe fits! Whether my dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail will come true is yet to be determined, but rest assured I would be starting out on the right foot!