19 forum posts
So, I've come to a crossroad in my backpacking and hiking "career" and need new sturdy boots for backpacking. Many of you older hikers may have experienced the same things. I'm 55 years old, 180 lb and been at it since I was 10 off and on. I normally carry around a 40 lb pack. (Gotta love all the lightweight gear these days.)
All my old boots are now dead. <sniff sniff> Swiss made Vasques (my favorites) and old Red Wings. They are now well beyond resoling with the uppers all torn up. Production of boots has now changed from smaller companies/domestic production in American and Europe, with many of those smaller companies being gobbled up by corporate giants who sub out their production to China and other cheaper labor areas. This has not fared well for boot quality IMO. Further, the recent trend has went away from proven leather designs to less expensive synthetic designs. This appears to be a mistake IMO as well. In the past 5 years, I've grown frustrated trying several brands of "imports", including 3-4 pairs of higher end ($200 and up) synthetic material boots... guess you can call them "Sneakerboots". You may be a fan of these sneakerboots, but in my experience they are pathetic and die quickly under load in rocky conditions. They give up their waterproofness fast and have to be retreated very often and just don't give good ankle support compared to a classic leather boot. Yes, you have to break in a stiff leather boot, but after that, they are the best. (I'm not from the instant gratification generation, so immediate break-in in not a big deal to me.) Yes, you have to treat your leather boots too to keep the waterproofness, but it is MUCH easier to do than with synthetic boots. Therefore, I'm going back to old school leather boots baby! I'm done with sneakerboots. I'm also done with boots from companies that subcontract their boot production to Pac-Rim. DONE. D-U-N! Vasque (who has the best fitting last for my foot) has unfortunately went the way of Chinese production and their new boots are only a mere shadow of what their original boot quality was. Too bad. A sad sad day.
So moving forward, I'm looking to some of you older experienced guys or gals that have went through the slow foot widening and other foot issues that come with the glory of the aging process. Maybe you've been down this road and could recommend a couple brands of boots to look at. I know it comes down to fit and I may have to resort to the order and ship back multiple times to find the right boot to start with. Price is NOT the issue. This is about getting a quality full LEATHER boot (no textile even in the tongue) with is waterproof and that fits well with a company that supports their product.
My needs - Wide fore foot needed ("E"-ish width required). I have something called Morton's Neuroma in my right foot, so a tight ball and toe box area is OUT. My heel width is normal and I have a "low volume" foot with a low arch, meaning my foot is not thick from top to bottom in the arch area. (Usually a good foot bed takes up extra volume without compromising fit) Plus I have quite long toes, putting my arch back maybe 5mm toward the heel more than the average Joe for the same shoe size. (size 10 for the record) And I have a couple torn ligaments in my ankles from skiing accidents. That's some specific info, I know. But I do know my feet after 45 years of hiking since I was a young boy scout and now wrestling foot issues in the last 10-15 years
So far, I'm considering Danner and Zamberlan. Those are American and Italian companies with in-house production still in their home countries. At least those two are left that I know of. I used to like La Sportiva, but my feet are now too wide for them.
Any other contenders that anyone else knows of that makes at least an E width boot?
And before you say; Well, company X boots that I have are great, but they are made in China, but you should look at them anyway... This is me going "LA LA LA" running away with my fingers in my ears lifting my knees high as I go. I'm done with corporate giant companies and their cheapening tactics. So don't waste your typing if you are about to suggest a brand that does not have some in-house production if that what you are about to suggest.