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Buying hardwearing boots/shoes?

"Chat" because, while environmentally related this isn't a central issue.

Does anyone have any tips about how to buy boots/shoes that can take a reasonable amount of walking? I probably walk maybe 5 miles a day doing various things (having decided not to have a car) every day, and it seems to be getting more and more difficult to buy shoes that are designed to last a reasonable amount of time (6 months ish). What's really annoying is that it's not like they completely wear out, it's a "weakest link" thing: either the soles develop a huge split within a month or so while the "tread" pattern still looks really almost uneroded by walking, or the heel area is actually a hollow latticework of rubber which again collapses even while again the exterior sole is pretty much new looking. No matter what goes wrong, all the other bits of the boot/shoe are still presentable bordering on looking new. I've tried both relatively cheap shoes and relatively expensive walking shoes: the big difference seems to be expensive walking shoes are more comfortable while they last, but still some component fails within a couple of months. I'm starting to feel really a bit guilty that I throw away a pair of boots about every 2 months, but I haven't found any tricks for finding more robust footwear. (My grandfather once mentioned he wore hobnail boots back in the 40s, where you actually had to put metal studs into the exterior sole because otherwise that was the thing that would otherwise go away first. They probably weren't comfortable, but I wish he was still alive so I could ask him more about it.)

I don't suppose anyone has any tips about how they buy shoes/boots that last a while?

Comments

  • 1.

    I never had trouble with my hiking boots, which are rather expensive. My current pair lasts already much more than 5 years, but it's hard to estimate their equivalent lifetime at 8 km/day as I don't use them continuously. I guess the surface may matter too, grassland, asphalt, rock faces... These boots are also relatively stiff, for urban use I'd recommended a more supple shoe. On the other hand, I've got running shoes that certainly lasted 2000 km or even much more (first running, then walking, after the sole has lost its damping properties).

    I suppose that when it's just the sole, it may be an option to resole them. So far I've only had my climbing shoes resoled a 30 EUR/pair (which in this case is not really optimal because the sole of these shoes must fit perfectly for technical use and they easily start to smell) so I'm rather convinced a "shoemaker" can also resole boots. But then the rest of the shoe has to be expensive enough, of course.

    Actually, is a bike not an option? Tires, brakes and chains erode too, but at least a bike is designed you can change those links ;-)

    Comment Source:I never had trouble with my hiking boots, which are rather expensive. My current pair lasts already much more than 5 years, but it's hard to estimate their equivalent lifetime at 8 km/day as I don't use them continuously. I guess the surface may matter too, grassland, asphalt, rock faces... These boots are also relatively stiff, for urban use I'd recommended a more supple shoe. On the other hand, I've got running shoes that certainly lasted 2000 km or even much more (first running, then walking, after the sole has lost its damping properties). I suppose that when it's just the sole, it may be an option to resole them. So far I've only had my climbing shoes resoled a 30 EUR/pair (which in this case is not really optimal because the sole of these shoes must fit perfectly for technical use and they easily start to smell) so I'm rather convinced a "shoemaker" can also resole boots. But then the rest of the shoe has to be expensive enough, of course. Actually, is a bike not an option? Tires, brakes and chains erode too, but at least a bike is designed you can change those links ;-)
  • 2.

    Thanks for the info. Part of the issue is that I it's not the "outer surface" of the sole that goes, it's always something non-repairable (either a big crack right across the sole or the internal rubber latticework). I don't actually think 4 miles (generally done in 4-6 segments: I estimate I spend about an hour a day in total doing brisk walking) is that much historically; I only mention it because I know many people with cars for whom 0.5 miles a day is an upper bound :-)

    A bike wouldn't help that much in that, as I say, it's more like 0.75 to 1 mile segments at intervals throughout the day.

    It's not really a problem other than I feel guilty that I seem to go through so many pairs of shoes in a year.

    Comment Source:Thanks for the info. Part of the issue is that I it's not the "outer surface" of the sole that goes, it's always something non-repairable (either a big crack right across the sole or the internal rubber latticework). I don't actually think 4 miles (generally done in 4-6 segments: I estimate I spend about an hour a day in total doing brisk walking) is that much historically; I only mention it because I know many people with cars for whom 0.5 miles a day is an upper bound :-) A bike wouldn't help that much in that, as I say, it's more like 0.75 to 1 mile segments at intervals throughout the day. It's not really a problem other than I feel guilty that I seem to go through so many pairs of shoes in a year.
  • 3.
    edited February 2013

    Hi! I'm into all sorts of non-standard sports and sports related things. Shoes are important to me. I'll share my information since it's not standard and you might like it.

    Before going into some non-standard stuff, a solution to your question I think is the following. If you really want a strong shoe, you might want to take a look at Allen Edmonds. Their made from a single piece of leather, and if the soles ever show serious wear, mail them back and they'll refurbish them! These things are built to look like professional working shoes, but they are really sports shoes.

    If you're walking lots, like me, I'd recommend light hiking shoes! These are made for walking. I walk a lot too, about 4 hours of walking a week - for health reasons I walk home from work on the evenings I don't do sport.

    If you want to get an outstanding pair of light walking shoes that have cutting edge technology, you might check out "merrell vibram" which is a partner ship between those two companies.

    Here is an out of the box idea: maybe you're using your shoes wrong! Humans are not designed to hit the ground heel-then-toe. If you did this in the wild, you'd die and your genetics would never have been passed on. People started to be able to run like this with the advent of modern footwear. Also, even in men's cowboy boots, people up the heel for appearance reasons. This actually sends a shock wave up through your knees and the rest of your body. It's not natural, and it is something that feels natural when wearing most modern shoes.

    The healthy way to walk and to run is more of a flat controlled foot placement, and some people even tend to put their toes down a fit first when running.

    As everyone now is talking about, Vibram technology is replacing traditional approaches to shoes for many reasons related to posture, as I mentioned above. My step is much more controlled now, having changed almost completely to these thin soled shoes about 5 years ago. They do seem to last a long time, but not forever. I have worn holes in the bottoms of Vibrams before, but this took a LOT of walking!

    It does take work to change to these shoes, but you will notice a difference. Probably would impact the life-span of your shoes. Cheers and maybe this is interesting! perhaps at the least different than what you might have been thinking!

    Comment Source:Hi! I'm into all sorts of non-standard sports and sports related things. Shoes are important to me. I'll share my information since it's not standard and you might like it. Before going into some non-standard stuff, a solution to your question I think is the following. If you really want a strong shoe, you might want to take a look at Allen Edmonds. Their made from a single piece of leather, and if the soles ever show serious wear, mail them back and they'll refurbish them! These things are built to look like professional working shoes, but they are really sports shoes. If you're walking lots, like me, I'd recommend light hiking shoes! These are made for walking. I walk a lot too, about 4 hours of walking a week - for health reasons I walk home from work on the evenings I don't do sport. If you want to get an outstanding pair of light walking shoes that have cutting edge technology, you might check out "merrell vibram" which is a partner ship between those two companies. Here is an out of the box idea: maybe you're using your shoes wrong! Humans are not designed to hit the ground heel-then-toe. If you did this in the wild, you'd die and your genetics would never have been passed on. People started to be able to run like this with the advent of modern footwear. Also, even in men's cowboy boots, people up the heel for appearance reasons. This actually sends a shock wave up through your knees and the rest of your body. It's not natural, and it is something that feels natural when wearing most modern shoes. The healthy way to walk and to run is more of a flat controlled foot placement, and some people even tend to put their toes down a fit first when running. As everyone now is talking about, Vibram technology is replacing traditional approaches to shoes for many reasons related to posture, as I mentioned above. My step is much more controlled now, having changed almost completely to these thin soled shoes about 5 years ago. They do seem to last a long time, but not forever. I have worn holes in the bottoms of Vibrams before, but this took a LOT of walking! It does take work to change to these shoes, but you will notice a difference. Probably would impact the life-span of your shoes. Cheers and maybe this is interesting! perhaps at the least different than what you might have been thinking!
  • 4.
    These boots aren't made for walking
    They're just made to look cool
    One of these days these boots are gonna
    Be sold to a fool
    A million fools
    

    Nothing personal, it just came into my head and I didn't know what else to do with it except post it.

    I have a serious pair of walking boots (leather uppers, Vibram soles, £150-200, overkill for Cambridgeshire) and they last well, I think I've owned 3 pairs in 25 years, one got resoled. The lighter, cheaper fabric-and-goretex types are not nearly as durable.

    Comment Source:~~~~ These boots aren't made for walking They're just made to look cool One of these days these boots are gonna Be sold to a fool A million fools ~~~~ Nothing personal, it just came into my head and I didn't know what else to do with it except post it. I have a serious pair of walking boots (leather uppers, Vibram soles, £150-200, overkill for Cambridgeshire) and they last well, I think I've owned 3 pairs in 25 years, one got resoled. The lighter, cheaper fabric-and-goretex types are not nearly as durable.
  • 5.
    edited February 2013

    I love Rockport shoes. They last a long time for me; the heel gradually wears down until they're lopsided.

    It would be nice to have an Azimuth article on shoes. It would shock some people, but it's an important practical topic that's quite deep! I nominate Jacob for writing it.

    Comment Source:I love [Rockport](http://www.rockport.com/mens-shoes/categories/mens-footwear-categories,default,sc.html) shoes. They last a long time for me; the heel gradually wears down until they're lopsided. It would be nice to have an Azimuth article on shoes. It would shock some people, but it's an important practical topic that's quite deep! I nominate Jacob for writing it. <img src = "http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/emoticons/tongue2.gif" alt = ""/>
  • 6.

    Vibram soles and double-welting have always served me well.

    Comment Source:Vibram soles and double-welting have always served me well.
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