May 27, 2012
It’s a rest day for training and although my feet are feeling a bit better this morning, a trip to the REI shoe section is high on my agenda.
Back in the store, I’m overwhelmed by all of the options and afraid of making the wrong decision again. One thing I like about REI is that the employees there actually know their stuff, so I decide to just spew my story and ask for help. I’m not sure what’s wrong with the Vasque boots – they’re heavier than my old ones, and stiffer. Maybe that’s the problem? REI Guy listens politely and disappears into the back room. He emerges with a stack of boxes. Most are a bit lighter than the Vasque boots, not as “hard-core” but boots that should still be able to do 15 miles a day with a 20 lb pack without a problem.
The first pair is still way too heavy and stiff. They fit just like the Vasque, so I set them in the ‘no’ pile.
The second pair is heavy, but a bit more comfortable and not as stiff. They go in the ‘maybe’ stack.
The third pair is torture from the very first second, laces digging into my foot no matter how I tie them. ‘No’ stack, it is.
The fourth pair is…purple??? Huh?? Did I wander out of REI and into Macy’s? I’m skeptical. I put them on. Holy comfort, Batman! These feel like my old, comfy, retired pair. They seem to mold to my foot and scream, “I can walk for DAYS!” I have never heard of the brand – these are Ahnu Montaras. They are eVent rather than Gore-Tex, which I have never tried. I whip out my phone and do a quick Google search for reviews. Hmm. People like them. I walk around a bit. I try standing on the incline simulator – toes don’t bump the front. So far, so good. But they’re PURPLE. They are also clearly not as hard-core as the Vasque boots. They have fabric where I want to see leather, and stitching where I want to see rivets. Still…they’re SO comfortable.
I stew for a while and then decide that even if they only last through this trip, comfort is more important than durability. If my feet feel like they did last night at the end of a day in the Himalayas, I’m in trouble. I don’t even want to imagine 19 whole days of that kind of foot pain. If these boots keep my feet comfy but fall apart right after the trip, so be it.
Purple, it is.
I ask if they come in any other color, and REI Guy says no. At home, I learn this is not true. I could order them online from other retailers in a nice Coffee Bean or Dark Gray. I’m a little annoyed about that white lie, which is not befitting someone who works at REI, and I consider returning them and buying a normal color elsewhere…but the purple ones are here and they’re starting to grow on me. They’ll match my purple trekking poles, and go nicely with my ice blue down jacket. I think I’ll keep them.
As a bonus, I ask about REI’s return policy on the way out. I knew it was liberal, but I still fully expected that the Vasque hiking boots that had been worn for two months would be an exception. Surprise!! Not even a flinch. He tells me to bring them back for a full refund. No hassles. No questions. He even gives me another 20% off the new pair, since I used my annual 20% member coupon on the pair that didn’t work out. I think I’ll keep the old ones until I’m sure these will work, then I’ll clean them up and back they’ll go. I guess that’s just another reason to keep the purple and buy at REI rather than online – if these don’t work, I can still try another pair. Good to know!
I’m wearing them around the house tonight – so far, so good! Aren’t they pretty?