What’s on My Feet?

Thinking about Shoes

I used to laugh at the Carrie Bradshaws and the Imelda Marcuses of the world. I had never really been that into shoes. I had a few pair–one or two for dress up, one or two for day to day, and a pair of tennis shoes (aka sneaker, athletic shoes, kicks.)

So when I realized that all I ever think about any more is shoes, I had to do a double take.

Who had I become?

Actually, I don’t really think about shoes. I think about my feet. If my feet aren’t happy, I’m miserable. My feet make me money. When I can’t walk, I’m not making money.

But Not Just any Shoes

In my career as an urban hiker and walking traveler, I’ve given a lot of thought to my feet. And thus, my shoes. As my mileage has increased, my shoes have changed. I have gotten serious about my shoes.

First I started with a pair of Jeep J-41s. I had gone to my local Off Broadway shoes and picked them up for about $35. They were cute, looked okay with shorts or pants, and passed the test for comfort. I wore them all around Israel, where we walked 5-6 miles a day, 1/2 miles at a time, and were on the bus the rest of the time.

Then, the Treadmill

When I got back from Israel, I wasn’t quite the walker I am today. Treadmills still hollered out for me, and my outside walking wasn’t much. So I got myself a pair of Altras off of Amazon. I promise you that if I’d seen these in person, I wouldn’t have purchased them because I think they’re ugly. But they are comfortable. They’ve got a concave soul, so you rock forward when walking in them.

They were cuter on Amazon.

But they are comfortable, and when on a treadmill, they do a good job. But for outdoor walking, no thanks.

Outdoors I Went

I soon found myself wanting to be outdoors more. Why not, Colorado is certainly the outdoor state. So I dropped in at REI, where they sold me a pair of Merrell Capras. They tried to get me to buy a membership, and at the time, I said no. I’d never be back in REI again, so why spend the $20 on a membership?

I liked the Capras so much, I blogged about them. They lasted one winter.

A Workhorse of a Shoe

By this point, I had transitioned from a 3-4 days/week walker to every day. And outside. I needed something a bit sturdier, and so I went back to REI. I think I tried on every pair in the store. Three hours of shoe shopping. I purchased my first pair of Keen Targhees. Six months later, my second and an REI membership. Another six months later, my third.

I bragged about the Targhees and recommended them to everyone.

I think half of Denver’s walking population now owns a pair of Targhees.

Targhee also comes in a sandal. Kinda. Keen makes an ugly, brown Arroyo sandal (please, more colors!) that has some good arch support (that sadly, REI doesn’t carry in my local store.) I wore those all over Europe with my kid, covering 6-8 miles a day. I ended up throwing them out in the Dublin airport security on my way home because I had worn them out. And they stunk. Here’s my good-bye picture.

Like a skunk.

I need another pair.

Feet Change

But something happened with my last Targhees. I don’t know if my foot has changed or the fact that I’m doing about 6 miles, on average, a day, but the Targhees don’t work for me anymore. So I called Keen and discussed my shoes. I even talked to the local sales rep, who gave me a pair of Uneeks (which are fun for around town and short jaunts.)

They listened.

And listened some more.

They suggested I try the Oakridge. Sadly, my local REI doesn’t carry them (I’ll work on that! They have them for men, though.) I ordered directly from Keen. And like the Altras above, I had to avert my eyes from their ugliness when I put them on.

Magic.

Yet, if you’ve ever tried Keens on, you know that they generally always feel like magic. The test would be after a 5-mile walk. And then a 6. And then an 8. After 8 (or when the terrain is rocky or rooted) I throw on my 8-year old Salomon boots.

summerofwalking eatwalklearn

Thus, to answer the question, “What’s on my feet?” Keen Oakridges, usually. And my whole body is happy.

See you on the trail

~Chris

PS What are you wearing? Why?


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