Tuesday, September 18, 2012

These Feet Were Made For Walking

I'm a walker. Though hiker sounds much cooler doesn't it? I enjoy walking and being outside as close to nature as possible. I also live car-free, so walking is something that is an everyday reality. But for me, walking is not just a matter of exercise, or about simply getting from point a to point b. No, each and every time I go for a walk, no matter how near or how far, it is an adventure. That is how I look at it, and that is why I love it so much.

I'm also a fan of travelling light. Don't enjoy carrying a heavy pack, or being overly encumbered. The lighter I travel, the more enjoyable the traveling tends to be. But at the same time I also like to be somewhat self-contained, you know, being prepared, carrying the things I need, but doing so as lightly as possible.

For this lightweight type of hiking, I've found that my favored type of walking shoe is actually a trail running shoe. I feel most comfortable in a running shoe, but a trail runner is more durable than a regular running shoe and has a better sole for off-road conditions. I also sometimes like to run a bit during walks, and even though I walk more than I run, it's nice to have a shoe that handles both activities well.

Well, I finally I bought a new pair of trail running shoes, and so I thought I'd take this opportunity to tell you about them, what they look like, what they cost, and what my overall opinion of them is.

I've been wearing the same pair of New Balance 806 trail runners for nearly six years now. Yeah, can you believe it? Well, it wasn't my only pair of shoes, but I got a lot of mileage out of them. I'm also a lightweight person, weighing less than 120 pounds, and am not hard on my shoes. Perhaps it is because of my early kung-fu training, but I am very light on my feet, and so, despite frequent use, my shoes tend to last me a long time, as does my clothing.

It's been awhile since I've shopped around for trail running shoes, and man are they ugly. I mean, it seems like running shoes these days are getting brighter, tackier, looking more and more like clown shoes each year. What is up with that?

I'm someone who prefers more earthy and neutral color tones, browns and tans and olives and blacks. While I adore the color purple, I do not want to wear purple colored running shoes, nor bright orange, or florescent pink for that matter. I want a running shoe that looks like it belongs outside, that blends in with the outdoors, that feels at home in nature, not looking like a circus freak show, or a brightly colored walking billboard with neon lights. Yeah, it's hard. Have you looked at the latest models of trail runners? It's not pretty. Well, obviously there are other factors involved, not just about appearance, but fit, price, durability, and function. How do they feel? Do they hold up well? Do they fit well? How much do they cost? But as much as those other factors are exceptionally important, if I hate the way something looks, it sort of trumps all else.

Well, to make a long story short, I finally settled on buying a pair of Montrail Fairhaven. A hybrid road/trail running shoe. They retail for $120, and I found mine on Amazon.com for $60, plus free shipping. Good deal.

My new trail running shoes. 
I took a chance, buying them without trying them on first, but it turned out well. They fit perfectly. You always want to go at least a half a size up for your hiking and running shoes, to accommodate foot swelling and thicker socks. So I usually wear a 9.5. And good to know that the Montrail Fairhavens run true to size with plenty of room in the toe box. They are actually the most comfortable, well cushioned, and superbly ventilated trail runners I've ever worn. It's like walking on air. Seriously. And my feet don't overheat or sweat in them like they did in my old pair. Plus they make me an inch taller, which is always a good thing. The longest walk I've done in them so far, is about five miles, and that was the first time I wore them, no breaking in needed, had absolutely no foot soreness in them at all. I've only run short distances in them, like under a mile, and that too was very comfortable; they're definitely an improvement from my last pair. But I do plan on doing some longer hikes in them, once it gets cooler, and I'll let you know what I think.

New shoes (left) old shoes (right)

I read good solid reviews about them all around. The only thing negative about them, is some people thought they weren't very stylish; there extremely comfortable, durable, good quality shoes, but there also kind of ugly. Well, I'm not sure I totally agree with that, there not that bad, but you know what, the more I thought about it, I thought what do you expect, it's a running shoe, have you ever seen a running shoe that wasn't kind of ugly? I mean, let's face it, I don't think we'll be seeing any running shoes winning any fashion awards any time soon. While the Fairhavens are what you might call plain looking, at least they're not overly conspicuous, or too tacky looking. In other words, they don't look like clown shoes, and that is what I like about them. And like I said, they are very comfortable.

If I had to pay full price for them, I probably wouldn't have bought them, but for 50 percent off, it was a great deal, and I expect to get at least a solid two or three years use out them. So overall, I'm very happy with these shoes, and would definitely recommend them.

*This is post 10 of 20, part of my "20 posts in 30 days" challenge.