Packing Lite: The Right Shoes

2. Footwear.

Whether it’s a 2/3 week holiday, or a South American extravaganza for 5 months, you should pay a lot of attention to the footwear you choose, and of course ladies, how many you take!  We like walking in any case, so always have walking shoes and boots in the house, but we had to make some serious decisions when we looked at what footwear we were going to take with us.  Arlene loves dancing Argentine Tango, so would not only like to partake while we are in that country but would love to do it in a pair of her own dance shoes. That’d be awesome, but they’re not really the thing we want to hump round an entire continent, and certainly not on a trek to Machu Picchu! I suppose they may come in handy for a sort of ritual Moon Dance on the top of a mountain or something.

We cut things to the bone, and after talking about it decided to just take two pairs with us. For the serious walking and trekking the trails, we chose boots, why? Ankle support. Now I’ve nothing against walking shoes, but when you don’t know what you are going to be up against, something with good ankle support is a must. Thinking of a worst case scenario, I’d rather have a twisted ankle supported by a good boot than the extra pain and hassle trying to support a twisted ankle up a mountain that’s only got a shoe on it!

Previous knowledge and experience come to the fore when choosing your boots, if you haven’t got that, you really need to talk to someone who has. Footwear, especially something like walking/hiking boots, is something you definitely don’t want to get wrong!  I’ve lost count of the miles I’ve covered over the years.  That’s a lie really as I never counted in the first place, but it’s a lot!  The general pair of walking boots I use at the moment I purchased from Decathlon, and to be fair have been a great pair with good hard wearing soles, so much so that they have done many trips in the Welsh mountains with hardly a sign of wear at all. We’re traveling, so lightness is imperative as we will be humping these on our backs a lot of the time when not using them to their full potential.  Lightness should not be linked to cheapness though. Yes, you could probably get a cheap pair of walking boots which are quite light in weight and on your pocket, but would you want them to give up the ghost a month into your trip? I think you’d be extremely peeved!  As there is no Decathlon or similar near us, we live in Eastbourne, we did a bit of research on ‘The Net’, great place isn’t it and then went on the hunt in the shops available to us in our locale.

The folks who work in our Millets shop in Eastbourne are fantastic, and we are always welcomed warmly whenever we have visited, and visit we have, over the past many months.  They leave you alone if they know you’re OK just browsing, get stuff out and explain its finer points to you, and if they don’t sell what you are actually after give advice on where to maybe get it in stead.  After picking up every possible pair of boots that fell into our search category and giving them a mental weigh, hey hey, we decided to go for the Berghaus Explorer Trail Light. These come in at 0.5kg per boot and you don’t even know you’re wearing them.  Another good thing about these boots is they come in half sizes.  Not being funny and I know most of us have odd size feet, I take a 9 in some footwear and a 10 in others, but a 9 ½ in the Berghaus was spot on.

When buying boots, or for that matter any traveling footwear, get it early and give it a good testing. There are many problems you could face, and Arlene came across one.  The boots were fitted correctly allowing for a good pair of walking socks and a little extra room to allow for foot swell during prolonged use, but she found them hurting her ankles during test walks.  Arlene, not to be beaten, and having invested a good sum of money in these boots,  went on the internet (as recommended by my sister) and found some very enlightening videos about different methods for lacing and tying boots and shoes.  After trying out a couple, she found one that made an uncomfortable pair of boots feel completely different, just from tying the laces in a different fashion.  You learn something new every day!

For the second pair of footwear, we decided on taking a pair of walking shoes/cross trainers.  I chose a pair of Karrimor Summit waterproof walking shoe/trainer type things.  I already have a couple of the non-waterproof ones in use and find them extremely comfortable, just right for the markets and exploring towns/villages.  Arlene went for a pair of Karrimor Cross Trainers in bright pink, well at least I shouldn’t loose her in a crowd.  We bought both these at Sports Direct at a very reasonable price.

Apart from those, a pair of flip flops or similar for use around bathrooms, etc.  should see us alright and can be cheaply replaced during our trip if necessary.