A word to the wise on buying footwear. (My dumb mistake.)

A word to the wise on buying footwear. (My dumb mistake.)                

Please don’t laugh!  Well not so that  I can hear you anyway.  But this is the story of how I nearly crippled myself with the wrong footwear/boots/hiking shoes.

 …. So there I was in Melbourne with a few hours to kill so I went on the hunt for a decent pair of hiking shoes or boots as my old ones were worn out – literally I had worn holes in the soles!  Proud stuff eh.  But pride comes before a fall and this is a typical example.

So I went into a good hiking supply store in Melbourne and went about choosing a new pair of footwear.  I had decided on low rise for reasons of weight and ease of putting on and taking off so I was limiting myself in that respect (another mistake I later learned).  I went through a dozen brands, Keen, Merrell, Timberland and … oh there were so many.  But I have wide feet.  More like ducks paddles than something that belongs on a human and so it is always really difficult for me to find shoes that will fit me.

In the end I found a pair of Columbia’s that were just right.  Did the deal and paid and walked out of the store with my new hiking shoes stashed proudly under my arm.

The first trek I used them on was a 22K section of the Cape to Cape.

All went well for the first few K’s but after a while they became increasingly uncomfortable.  Now this is a tough section of the trail; it was hot; we were hiking over 600 million year old coral thrown up from the sea; along cliffs; through sand, bush and grassland.  Incredibly diverse and beautiful but the pain from my feet made it hard for me to appreciate things as much as I would normally.

By the end of the hike I was crippled.   Could barely walk!  I had suppurating sores on my heels the length of my thumb and my feet felt like they  had been through a meat grinder.

It took over a month before I could walk properly again without pain.  Six weeks before I was more or less healed.  And only last week I went out to buy a new pair of boots… having sworn my feet would never touch those dreaded things again.

So there I was again in a store trying on dozens of pairs of shoes and boots… the Keens, the Merrells, Hi-tec and brand and no-brand……

In the end it was another pair of Columbia’s that I left with but it was only when I got home that the realization really hit me.

The new Columbia’s were fine… so what was wrong with the old ones???!!!

So then I checked the size label and realized what had happened!  The ones I had trekked the Cape to Cape in were a size and a half too small!  I had tried on so many pairs of shoes in the store that (I am sure accidentally) the assistant had put the wrong pair of shoes in the box.  Instead of putting the size UK 12’s in the bag she had picked up another pair identical but a size and half smaller and that was what I walked out of the shop with and did the hike with.

In the end my mistake.  My fault….. I should have checked.  So anyway I have a great pair of Columbia hiking shoes if anyone wants them….  …. And my new boots are great!  They are the right size.

I also learned on the trail that I at least need high tops… I need that extra ankle support.  Without it I tend to roll a lot on the trail and I nearly did my ankles in a number of times.

So lesson learned:   Choose the best shoes/boots for you but make sure you are walking out the store with the ones that you selected.  Don’t be a dummy like me and find out on the trail!

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