The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Out with the old…

I’ve mentioned before that I have a ridiculously large collection of outdoor shoes (mumble-mumble-18-pairs-perhaps-mumble)*. It’s not so much that I keep buying new shoes (although that clearly is happening; you don’t get 18 pairs any other way), it’s more that I can’t part with the old ones. I did throw one pair away about 3 years ago, and have given one pair away, but otherwise my collection of outdoor shoes has been steadily growing over the last decade.

The main problem is that every time a pair gets to a certain mileage I take them out of the category of ‘good for a long walk’ and put them into the category of ‘still good for a few local walks’, but with so many pairs now in that category it takes an awful lot of local walks truly to wear out any of them.

Finally, I have managed it. In fact, I would have binned these in June, except that I decided that I wanted to get 700 miles out of them. They have now achieved that feat (with decreasing comfort over the last 50 miles). In fact, if you add in the unrecorded mileage (like detours to the shops and back on long walks and knocking around at home) they’re well beyond 700 miles.

The pair that are now headed to the bin are one of my pairs of Salomon XA Pro. They’re the pair in which I set out from Kent last year and they’re right up there as one of my top 2 favourite pairs of walking shoes (it’s a close contest between Terrocs and XA Pros). Exceptionally comfy (at least when my Achilles isn’t feeling disgruntled) and given that I only paid £60 for them, a bit of a bargain. If only they had a better tread pattern.


They don’t look too bad for the mileage. There’s a small hole in the upper of the right shoe and on the inside of the ball the tread has worn away to absolutely nothing. They’ve not been good on wet stone for the last few months!

I do still have another two pairs of XA Pros, although it won’t be dreadfully long before they’re on their way out too.

The collection hasn’t reduced from the demise of the XA Pros. Another pair of shoes was added to my collection this week:

IMG_1655 Vibram Five Fingers

I’ve wanted a pair for ages. Soon they will have their first outing.

(*I’m not going to go and check right now, but a quick mental inventory suggests that I currently have four pairs of Terrocs on the go. That’s not reasonable is it?)


  1. Vibrams! I love mine. However, be prepared for some very odd looks from people when they see you walking down the street!

  2. Interesting - similar to the Saucony Hattori apart from the toes. Perhaps?

  3. Hmm, I thought they looked, er, interesting, but I haven't been persuaded to try them on. I'll be interested to read how you've got on with them!

  4. It's the thought of trying them on that make my toes curl...

    Someone else's sweaty 'orrible feet in the toes that I am about to slip my toes into...

    Doesn't bear thinking about...

  5. Ease into them gradually by the way - your feet need time to get strong and biomechanically to adjust. BArefoot is what we were designed for and these allow the foot to work as it should but your muscles in the calf and arch will feel it. I use mine for sprints in the park and love the feeling but you do need to adapt.

    There is a nice free booklet on barefoot walking here which has some good tips on style - shorter steps, lead with the torso etc. Much is about running but the start is walking....

  6. I tell you what Gayle, those Saloman’s are brilliant. The uppers are just fantastic. Mine still look like new and i have had them for about 5 yrs.
    I didn’t find the sole was great for hiking but you have find them ok.
    If the sole was better i think they would be one of the best shoes out.

    I think your new ones are very expensive.

    Word: cou schoo, spooky.

  7. Chris - thanks for the advice. I did feel a little self-conscious as I wore mine out and about today, but so far nobody has pointed or laughed. Maybe that was because I drew attention away from my feet by wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket - but that's the subject for a different post!

  8. Martin - Similar to the Sauconys, I think, in that they're both designed to be minimalist 'bare-foot' shoes (surely an oxymoron?!). My Five Fingers weigh in at just a smidge over 250g for the pair, so would be a good choice for camp shoes - except that the faff of trying to post your toes into the right holes wouldn't really work as well as crocs for those middle-of-the-night trips out of the tent.

  9. Louise - I shall report back in due course.

    Alan - If it makes your toes curl then they wouldn't be for you at all. You really need your toes uncurled to slot them into those toe holes... ;-)

  10. Alan R - If the XA Pros had a decent tread pattern then out of all of the shoes I've tried to date they would probably be my top-favourite. As it goes, I find the Terrocs more secure on more challenging terrain. The big downside of the Terrocs is the lack of durability for such a high price.

    And talking of price, the cost of the Five Fingers was made a little more palatable by getting them reduced to £84 as well as benefitting from a 'buy one get one half price' deal (so, £63 a pair including postage). That does, of course, mean that Mick & I are 'his and hers' matching again (except that his are a rather more eye-catching orange colour...).

  11. The Hattoris are 250g, so very similar, but a lot cheaper, and the toes snuggle together to keep warm. Do you need special socks for the Vibrams? One of my criteria was for the shoes to be comfy in a range of foot coverings from skin to X-socks (not that I ever remove the skin, of course, not much of it anyway).
    Crocs are definitely better for night excursions, but I'll have to get used to doing those in the Hattoris next week.

  12. Oh, a vision of Mick playing a 'relaxing' game of table tennis in orange Five Fingers just popped into my head. Excellent.

  13. Here's what I do to extract every last mile out of my trail shoes. Shoogoo - brilliant stuff. I put it mainly on the heels as and when required. It will also plug leaks in waterproof boots. I bought two tubes recently at

  14. What a familiar story, especially categorising for local walks etc.

    Sounds like you have an addiction for footwear like I have for rucksacks. I am embarrassed to count how many I have, and it would be quite a task as they are stowed away in various difficult to get locations in the house, garage, and undercroft.

  15. Hy litehiker,

    Thank you very much for the tip of the Shoogoo. Ive just ordered some from amazon and i shall try it out on my boots as soon as i get it.

  16. Martin - you certainly wouldn't be able to wear normal socks with the Five Fingers! As it goes, I didn't buy them for 'camp shoes' or for any reasons backpacking related, so weight and practicality weren't part of the selection criteria. My entire motive in buying them was that I've been lusting after a pair for ages and I've been working more hours than I should have been lately - so it was an entirely frivilous purchase.

  17. Louise - A pair of orange Five Fingers appearing above the top of the table tennis table would, indeed, have been even funnier than the Crocs incident!

  18. Geoff - good tip, thank you! The Terrocs, in particular, I find wear away a couple of lugs just behind the flex point. It would be good if Shoo Goo could extend the life of that area of the sole.

    I think that the XA Pros are probably beyond economical repair, though.

  19. Conrad - Thanks to Ebay I've managed to keep my backpack collection down to a sensible number (six backpacks and a 'waist pack' is a sensible number, isn't it?!). Shoes prove to be more difficult for me to keep under control.