Thursday, August 09, 2007

shoe shopping

I have been wanting a good pair of hiking shoes (not boots) for several years. Yes, years. But for various reasons I put it off or never found a pair I was willing to commit to so I made do with regular sneakers or (preferably) chacos. In fact, last summer when I went to Guatemala I never once used the old pair of sneakers I lugged around tied to my back pack that I ultimately ditched in a hotel in slimy Livingston - the same hotel where one member of our group was robbed in his room and where we found not one but TWO used needles on the beach and later discovered (after swimming) the water is used as a sewage dump. Yeah, not a fan of that town.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. With the average temperature range being somewhere between 50 and 70 degrees in Iceland in August, I realized I am going to have to pack something more than flip flops and chacos for this excursion. Rather than go to the time and effort of going to an actual store, I decided to order my shoes online. I spent a ridiculous amount of time reviewing the hundreds of size 7 hiking shoes on zappos plus all the reviews of the ones I liked, plus I looked on other websites to see what they had to say and compare the price. Ultimately I ordered three pairs to try in the comfort of my own home thinking in the event I need a tie-breaker, I could try them out for a short walk on the treadmill in the gym upstairs. As it turns out, I didn't need a tie-breaker. Here are the results of my trial:

Pair #1: Columbia Caprock
Online I think I liked the look of these shoes the best in light grey/coral. As you will see, I seem to gravitate toward gray shoes with a dab of color in the accents. First of all, my feet were not exactly happy about being shoved into a pair of wool socks and shoes in the middle of August so I worried that would skew my testing. I put these on and decided I should wear them for about thirty minutes while I did various tasks around the apartment. Before I reached my time limit, my feet were tingling and begging to be released. Clearly, these were not the shoe for me.

Pair #2: Keen Southern Traverse
I really wanted to like pair number two. The deep lichen/black plum color scheme is what I have used in half my decorating. Plus, everyone raves about how Keens are the greatest shoe to ever meet your foot.
Unfortunately, my initial meeting didn't go quite well. My left foot got a cramp in it as soon as I tried to shove my foot in. Thinking this might be leftover from the last pair's tingling, I persisted with no improvement. I walked around, did a bit of cooking and once again couldn't stand keeping them on my feet the entire 30 minutes. It wasn't that they hurt or rubbed wrong, I just didn't like how they felt. I was beginning to worry that maybe my feet have just grown so used to flip flops and sandals that they no refuse to be confined to shoes! On to pair number three.

Pair #3: Salomon Elios
Again, chose this pair based on great reviews as well as the pleasing dark cloud/cerulean/light grey color scheme.

I loved them immediately. There was no struggle to squeeze my foot in, they fit well and they made me want to go run up a mountain, or a volcano or glacier. . . These shoes were the clear winner. They felt significantly lighter on my feet and were reviewed as best hiker in an outdoor magazine. My only disappointment is that the tag shows an illustration of how to use some sort of memory tie system (which is what I have on the sock liner of my Solomon snowboarding boots) but these are just plain old laces. With my Solomon snowboard, bindings, boots and now these shoes, I am turning into a total Solomon junky!

Having made my choice, I packed the other two shoes back into their boxes and they are being whisked back to zappos for someone else to try them out. If you have not ordered shoes from zappos, I highly, highly recommend them. They have free shipping and I received this order (and almost every order I place) in less than 24 hours and returns are great, you print a return label from their website and they pay for return shipping! PLUS, and this is my favorite part, if you find the shoes for cheaper somewhere else (as I did for each of these shoes), you simply call and tell them where you found them for cheaper and they will pay you 110% of the difference. I love online shopping.

But what I ultimately learned (or more accurately, confirmed) in my little test is that I am really better suited to going barefoot or as close to barefoot as possible.


lizzie said...

i was just talking to katie on the phone and she is going to get a pedicure. i told her i needed one. and now, looking at you super-cute feet, i definitely need one. but i am afraid of the salons around here. congrats on the new hiking shoe. i need a pair of those too.

Ma said...

I like the shoes and I hope they take you to some fascinating places while walking around Iceland.

I too am better suited to going barefoot or as close to that as possible...hmmm, is that another characterization you got from me? No, I think it's just more comfortable to go without shoes.

tiff said...

Your shoes are so damn lucky.

I think the third pair screams, "I'm so ready to kick your butt, Iceland!"

Anonymous said...

Beautiful legs and shoes too. Deserves very beautiful shoes just like mine which I got from CouponAlbum site.

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