A few weeks ago, Nature Shop approached us kindly asking whether we were willing to review some – or indeed any – of their gear.
What Hiking Boots We Chose
After all, easy hikers, in general (and this easy hiker in particular), do not need much in terms of equipment. A $500 Arctic Explorer jacket, for example, are best worn in their natural habitat – in the local Waitrose on a Saturday morning.
Let’s face it: all the gear you really NEED for easy hiking is a backpack and a good pair of hiking boots.
Now, the last thing in the world I would want to acquire is another backpack. I have an entire collection of unloved-but-too-new-to-throw-away backpacks stuffed into various unlikely places (including my mother’s garage).
Hiking boots, on the other hand, are a different story: no matter how good you think your boots are, you can never be sure that there is not another pair somewhere out there that is even better, one that makes you fly over those last miles of the day when you begin to feel your feet are getting heavy.
But how do you review a pair of shoes?
Well, let me put it like this. There are two things I expect my hiking boots to do for me:
Firstly, when I put them on, I need them to remind me that I am about to do something out of the ordinary, that I am about to step into a world where a lack of precaution can be costly. (A little bit of self-delusion can spice up any trip.)
Crossing the laces and threading them carefully into their lugs is therefore a bit of a ceremony, a ritual of diligent preparation.
And – number two – that’s the last thing I want to hear from the shoe all day. The best hiking boot is a boot that allows you to forget all about it the moment you set foot on the trail. If the boots draw attention to themselves, they have failed the test – much like a football referee, you might say.
I am happy to say that the pair provided by Nature Shop passed both of these tests, with flying colours even (inasmuch as a shoe can be said to pass anything “with flying colours”).
I wore my new boots on a day hike along the English south coast and, to subject them to an even tougher test the day after, on an even more arduous excursion (shopping in the West End with Mrs. Easy hiker), and they were perfect on both days.
Before our trip to England, I still had a blister from my last hike and decided, stupidly, to prick that blister on the day before our departure. On the trip to England, in my normal street shoes, I felt a little uncomfortable, but as soon as I put on my hiking boots, I was in no trouble at all.
One final word:
The shoes were delivered with a postage-paid sticker, presumably in case the shoes did not fit or we wanted to return them for any other reason. I don’t know to what extent other web-based mail order companies include such stickers as a standard service: Amazon is the only such provider I use, and they certainly do not. But I think this is an excellent idea and certainly the way for the industry to go forward.
Mrs. Easy Hiker also has something say.
Where Mr. Easy Hiker “forgot” he was wearing his Keen boots, I couldn’t help but be made aware how better these boots are than my first pair as soon as I started using it.
Well, to be fair, when I bought my first ones, skint that I was and thinking I would probably be doing just the first hike and never again, I opted for the low end (yes, the cheapest).
But of course, I grew to like hiking, though not really meaning to get a new pair until the first one gave out on its own.
What I found best with the Keen hiking boots were the roomy rounded toes, the good arc support and the cushion-y interior. They certainly did me good as my feet were quite happy (inasmuch as feet can be happy) even after a steep and strenuous day hike.
Mr. Easy Hiker and I wracked our brains for some minus-point details to say about the boots or the company. But there really weren’t any. The product was good, the price reasonable and the company’s after-sales service seem to be OK too (prompt delivery and the postage-paid return self-addressed sticker provided).
Disclosure: Nature Shop graciously provided each of us a pair of their Keen hiking boots to review, but our opinions are our own and honestly provided.