Pivetta D.M.C. V
Materials: leather, vibram sole
Use: varied hikes
Break-in Period: one month
Weight: four lbs.
Price Paid: ~$50
I was lucky to be able to buy a pair of Pivetta 5s in 1978 at Paragon Sports in New York, on the basis of a review I'd read in Backpacker (now available online; search "Backpacker 1973 Pivetta Limmer"). They have fit my narrow size 8-1/2 feet perfectly, and my only regret is that I didn't get a second pair, now that they've been out of production for a long time.
The intervening years, many comfortable hiking miles, and my own neglect have all proved the superiority of their design, workmanship, and materials. I had them resoled last year by Dave Page in Seattle, and they remain my faithful companions on a variety of terrain. In contrast to modern, disposable boots made by machine from synthetics, my Pivettas have continued over three decades to be durable, comfortable, and supportive; their all-leather construction is waterproof (I treat them with Limmer boot grease) and breathes naturally.
Last summer on a trip to Intervale to have Peter Limmer check out my Limmer mid weights (the pre-Meindl era of that firm is also described in the magazine mentioned above), the master boot maker took the time to examine the fit of my Pivettas, and refused my request for an adjustment; he advised me—correctly—to alter my lacing.
My two pairs of boots complement each other perfectly—like a Maserati and a Porsche, I imagine (dream on!). I doubt whether Pivettas will ever be surpassed; they will surely be a model for all the best boots to come.
Materials: leather, vibram, steel, and soul
Use: rough trail and bushwhacking w/heavy pack
Break-in Period: 100 miles
Weight: 4 to 5 pounds
Price Paid: unknown
I bought mine in about 1973 because Colin Fletcher’s book said they were the best. Wearing Pivetta V’s in the 1970s - ‘80s was like a religious experience. You were a pilgrim seeking the soul of the wilderness and they took you there -- but sacrifice and mortification of the flesh were required from the convert. They were as heavy as a full crate of your modern boots that are just tall versions of a training shoe: if “a pound on your feet is worth five pounds on your back,” you felt like you had a full pack just wearing these around camp. And their legendary stiffness made them cast iron on a cold morning, until some warmth and movement let them reconform to your foot.
But on the trail, and especially off, they kept the pilgrim upright and protected from all harm. Talus, boulders, sharp pointy snags, creepy crawly varmints, ice -- nothing got through that one-piece upper and leather scree collar. Thousands of miles and dozens of stream fordings couldn’t separate those screwed in, Norwegian welted vibrams from the midsole and uppers. No d-rings ever pulled out, because they only had reinforced eyelets. As for stiffness, if you could get half an inch of purchase on a rock, your ankles and your stuff were safe because they would not bend.
I still have ‘em but don’t wear ‘em because I’m no longer good enough for them. Unlike me, they stay perfect -- they will never be improved upon for backpacking with a heavy load.
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