Let me share a little perspective on this zapatos stuff, and I why I am such a freak about footwear for birds. The single biggest factor for my boot fetish is my Fred Flintstone feet. I was born with Cro-Magnon wide feet, and extra narrow heels. Next, add in a dose of two big toes that are pending surgery and not sexy at all: the right has a giant bunion, the left has been broken and only has dorsiflexion of 9 degrees as compared to the normal 50-90 degrees. F%@#ing dumb right? Let’s not forget the eight knee surgeries. One of which was a recent full replacement. This all translates to an extremely difficult time in finding a boot that fits, let alone preforms.
In my outdoor world I am kind of like Frodo Baggins. Always trying to find one to rule them all. The one shotgun for all birds, the one vehicle that can do it all, and for many years of failure the one boot for all terrains. In recent moons I have adopted the ideology that I need more arrows in my quiver given the diversity of landscapes I traverse. There are some mandatory features that a JW boot must possess, and then they will vary given their scope.
Fit is the foremost important factor in my kicks. If they don’t fit, you will get day ending blisters, lose toenails, and in last years case a serious bout of plantar fasciitis. Because I still have issues from a wee lad of being forced to wear onesies with footies, I prefer not to have my boots insulatedÖ.issues I know. All of my boots must be waterproof. But don’t be fooled, at some point on all boots will give up the ghost, some sooner rather than later. After the aforementioned criteria has been met, I look at stiffness, tread, and build/weight. Here is where the rabbit hole begins.
Boots range from next to nothing basketball-ish shoes with outdoor tread, to mountaineering boots destined to summit Chamonix! Within these parameters are uncountable styles, weights, and materials. For example, a pair worthwhile chukar boots should be extremely stiff. They need to be able to kick a toe in the hill while climbing, or the edge while side hilling and not over stress the leg muscles. A super stable platform for your fee with minimal boot contact to the earth. If you take these same chukar boots and try to wear them (which I have) in flat corn fields chasing roosters, or 15 mile hikes in the plains of Montana you will be a hurting unit. Here is where lightweight and an extremely flexible sole would be money. Built for speed and long distances. Tread is pretty easy, match the material and patterns to the ground. In vertical terrain filled with rock and crags sticky rubber is a must. Wherein chasing Huns in prairielands I prefer less traction and a pattern that will easily shed mud and keep the weight down. Finally, we consider the build. Leather, vs nylon, vs plastics, etc., etc. Think about how much protection your foot needs, and how much ankle support you require.
I know this seems like a lot, but who knew?!?! Due to the unfortunate shape of my feet I am constantly chasing the perfect boots. I would be stoked to have it down to two pairs to cover all of my hunting needs, but I am thinking more and more that this is a pipe dream. Let me give you an example or two. The best fitting boot I have ever owned is the Soloman Quest. My feet love them, however they are extremely flexible, and the tread is for crap. So when I wear them in the steep slopes my ankles take a beating as well as the rest of my lower legs. When I chase prairie birds and it gets a little wet they refuse to shed mud. Thus turning into mud waffles adding 4 pounds to each foot. With the softer materials and build, I will blow these out in a year. One my buddy's commented this season “What the F is up with your boots man?” Half torn off tongue, sole missing, eyelets ripped out, you get the picture. On the flip side I bought a pair of La Sportiva Trangos. Reviews were off the charts, dubbed the ultimate chukar boot. These suckers were built like tanks and felt amazing in the store. A little hill time and it was apparent the ultra stiff Herman Munster boots were unforgiving on the bunion. Fail - again.
You are probably thinking what now JW? Well, if you are blessed with great feet match you boot to the land, easy-peasy. If not, do your homework. Nothing can affect your time afield in a positive and negative way as your boots.
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