I have worn the same pair of boots almost every day since I was 20 years old. I will be 35 in a few months. As with most “extreme” stats, a pair of boots that are over 13 years old will exceed normal expected values out of water; very close to being able to retire in five years… or having more than 2 page views per blog visit
I don’t know how many reheelings (solar only the heel) I’ve done them. I lost count about 8. I know the entire sole was replaced once because I found a great shoemaker in the city I live in. Vibram Skywalk. Get nothing less.
the boots are Grunten of Hanwag. They come in male and female. If you live in Europe, you are in luck. You can get them in most of Europe. I paid 1299 kroner for mine when I bought them in the mid 90’s. Today they are 1799 kroner. I would consider them a pretty good inflation hedge. Better than TIPS! Better than the bag, it seems depending on the month you ask
I am seriously considering buying another 2 pairs. That should cover me for life. Hanwag sells these boots as the only pair of hiking boots you’ll ever need. I figure since I wear them every day I’ll probably need more than a couple in my lifetime, but otherwise pretty close.
I have taken them to many places. From the top of Mount Fuji to the Nevada desert and the train stations of Europe. They are light enough to walk on, yet strong enough to “climb” light rock. Right in the sweet spot in terms of walking. I wish they made them in black. This would make it possible to “pass” through dress shoes in a (very) tight spot. It would also make it easier to find shoe polish in the right color. Matching the current color is almost impossible!
I’ve also lost count of how much I’ve walked in them with my daily walking trips and whatnot. Typically, a pair of running shoes is expected to last 1,000 km. Modern hiking boots are good for around 1500km before the lining starts to crack. These have traveled at least 10,000 km.
They are full grain leather boots with double stitching and Norwegian edging. This means that given a good coating of shoe polish and leather grease, they are just as waterproof as modern tex-lined boots. The sole is actually stitched, so in theory the entire sole could be replaced. Also, unlike glued soles or modern boots, where the upper is a stitched mix of nubuck and nylon, good boots have few seams, where water can enter when pulled apart.
In fact, a few years ago I had worn them so much that part of the heel lining had worn away. No problem, I had a shoemaker sew some leather into which he rescued them from an early grave. Hey, they were only about 10 years old at the time.
Over the years, I’ve been keeping an eye on Hanwag. Around the turn of the millennium, it seemed they were reducing the Norwegian welts. However, it appears to have made something of a comeback.
I don’t think you can get Hanwag in the US. However, you can get a pair that looks equivalent: desert merrell. They cost just over $250, but are probably worth it. They also solve the color problem. Given the choice, I’d still go with the Hanwags given their slightly more versatile use. The Merrells accept crampons, which should mean they’re a bit stiffer. The Hanwags don’t. If anyone has some Merrells, I’d like to hear your thoughts on how they are on asphalt. We are thinking of getting some for DW.
A note about buying boots: Boot sizes are slightly different than shoe sizes. What you should do is put on your hiking socks. I vastly prefer the two-sock system to the technical fuss that has become popular in the last 10 years. The inner sock will be a thin sock that transports sweat. The outer sock is a seamless, absorbent wool sock. Now, put on your socks (or sock) and lace up the boot halfway. Push your foot forward into the boot. You should now be able to push one index finger down behind your heel and the heel of the boot. It should fit comfortably with no wiggle room. If you can’t fit a toe in, the boot is too small and you’ll get blisters on your toes. If you can move it, it’s too big and you’ll get heel blisters. The reason is that when you walk a lot, the foot flattens/swells etc. and you want to make room for that. The socks will also swell.
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Originally posted on Aug 15, 2010 at 11:16:34.
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