In gear

I might be in love. Seriously. With a pair of boots. We’re only about 120 miles into the relationship, but I’m starting to think long term. Like maybe I should buy an identical backup pair, just in case. Here’s the subject of my adoration:

Hanwag Tatra Lady GTX boots

I think the Hanwag Tatra boots are the 8th pair of backpacking boots I’ve owned. Ever since my very first pair of hiking boots, a pair of Raichle boots I purchased at EMS in 1992, I’ve been on a quest for better fitting boots. I have a ritual: Every time I’m in an outdoor shop that carries a boot new to me, I try it on, whether I need new boots or not. By the way, this doesn’t actually happen very often. In case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t a whole lot of women’s boots actually available in a variety of sizes in the outdoor shops. Anyway, last Fall, when we were tourist-ing in Boulder, after ordering the Hawk in Denver, I spotted some Hanwag boots in the Fjall Raven store. At the time, I was hiking and backpacking mostly in a pair of Salewa boots. So long as I was diligent about wearing wool sock liners and patient with an elaborate lacing ritual that included several surgeon’s knots, they were OK. OK, as in, the resulting blisters were not debilitating. Anyway, the Hanwag boots felt unusually good when I laced them up. I have weird wedge shaped feet. My narrow heels and bony ankles are complicated by an assortment of unfortunate callouses and widely splayed toes. I was a bit concerned that the Tatras were a little too narrow in the front, but out of the box, they felt better than any other boot I’ve tried. So, even though I technically didn’t “need” boots, I slapped down the plastic and took them home. And I’m so happy I did! The soles are nice and sticky on rock, and stiff enough not to cause a lot a foot fatigue on uneven terrain. They’re not super tall, but I’ll take the trade off for the lighter weight. Oh, also, I haven’t had a single hiking blister in a year! This pretty much falls into the category of “Miracle”. My only complaint is that there are no loops on the boot tongues to run the laces through, so the tongues tend to rotate around my ankles, but that’s not too big a deal.

Here’s to a new era of hiking with intact feet, no skin grafts necessary! Hopefully this will no longer be a common sight on backcountry trips:

Asolo shredded feet, November, 2006

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