I’m aware that walking boots have been through a significant amount of change over the last few decades. When I was a whippersnapper, walking boots were big, clumpy, uncomfortable things that let the weather in yet somehow stopped air from circulating around your toes. They needed copious layers of Dubin to keep them soft and supple, else they’d remove the skin from your ankles and pinch your toes just for a laugh. But they’d last for a hundred years or more, so there’s that.

Some time around the 80s, boot/shoe designers and footwear technologists got involved, and the walking boot went through a quiet revolution. I’ve had three pairs of walking boots in the last 20 years and I’d like to tell you about them, because this is a story about evolution.

The first pair were Caterpillar brand. They looked like a pair of these would look:

They were bigish, clumpyish, and heavyish. Nevertheless, they were a huge improvement on the walking boots of yore in as much as they were comfortable and they hardly needed any maintenance. I bought them from Salvador Artisano in Almeria, Spain. They gave me good service from beaches that were sandy and beaches that were rocky, to the high altitude, thick snow-covered mountains, and everywhere in-between. They lasted ten years but I have no idea how much mileage they gave me.

The second pair were also Caterpillar brand. They were identical to the first pair (see pros and cons above). I bought these in the UK and they also gave me good service but, once again, I have no idea how many miles we trod together. They too lasted ten years.

Six months ago I bought (I think I was the person who bought them) a pair of Keen walking boots. These were easier to put on and take off than the Caterpillar brand (they didn’t require partial unlacing to remove them), they were lighter than the Caterpillars but felt reassuringly sturdy, and were definitely more comfortable. They were also, like the Caterpillars, low maintenance and boasted being waterproof. Thanks to the magic of the Internet I can tell you that this pair of boots and I have covered 1,440.76 walking miles in the last six months. And they look like this now:

Am I being unreasonable to expect a pair of walking boots to last longer than six months before falling apart, especially as each pair of Caterpillar boots lasted ten years?

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