Thursday, April 12

My Name is Bootsie?

Yesterday was a day away from work and a return to Barkers in Ringwood. The aim - to finally select an alternative to my trusty Brasher boots, a stalwart choice over many years and miles. But the latter part of 2006 had me considering something more appropriate to my current boot demands, especially a more durable life, and a firmer lower leg support for carrying weight on backpacking trips.

Mr B's emporium offer one of the most comprehensive boot fitting services that I've come across during many years of visiting and purchasing said items. So I'd especially chosen the quieter mid week period to get the choice and fitting just right.

We're not talking finger down the back of the boot here, but complete foot measurement, advice on pronation and fitment in my own walking socks, and in my case, a new pair of Superfeet.

Which is why a spectator looking out from Ringwood Fire Station, opposite the shop, may have been somewhat mystified to see my semi-regular emergence onto the street and into the distance, only to then turn around and return. Perhaps a specialist for Alzheimer customers? Then again perhaps not as closer inspection revealed this wearer to have on two radically differing boot styles, at the same time.

From a short list of four choices, all based on fitment and planned use, in the end it came down to Meindl Lhotse, and AKU, an unfamiliar brand to me, but quite widely known I gather.

The latter looked more of a fabric boot at first glance, but its a great lightweight 3 season gore tex boot which I was assured could cope with any foul use that my Lakeland trips would care to throw at me. These sorely tempted me especially as a couple of my test trips down the street had me almost breaking into a trot they felt so light and comfortable.

But in the end the Meindl won out. To me they felt stiffer and easier to maintain in a presentable condition, with the more traditional nubuck leather finish. A very close choice though.

And later a test over a 45 min mixed farmland route. The new boots feel different, as they should after feet used to years enwrapped in Brashers, but comfortable which is the aim after all.

I've still got a hankering for the AKUs as well though, but that's just plain greedy. Isn't it?

Before I finally escaped the shop, I had to have a quick recheck on the backpacks on display, especially the Gregory Z55, which is hovering around the top of my pick list at present. But only if I can justify any eventual expenditure and support some perceived benefits over my current pack.

But that's a trip for another day taking my current pack along for a comparative fitting, and possibly put another scare into the debit card.


I just missed you by a day, I was at Barkers on Thursday. Seeing a room full of Gregory, Osprey and Golite rucksacks did demand a thorough examination, but I managed to resist and just bought the new Paramo Fuera Peak windproof jacket. Having long complained that Paramo didn't do a full zip version of the Fuera smock, it seemed only fair to buy one when they did.

When I first got my AKUs, I also kept breaking into a trot, which is not something I normally do. I've got some low ones with no membrane, and mid height with XCR.

glad the AKU thing wasn't just me then
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