I've always gone hiking in sneakers before, but my mother was kind
enough to bring a pair of
Chochorua Trail Hiker Boots (ordered from
Amazon for US$90)
home with her from New York, just in time for my solo trek to Dayara
Bugyal last December.
A quick summary: full-grain leather uppers with sealed, waterproof seams
and a Gore-Tex membrane. Rubber outsole with "strategically placed" lugs
and heel protection. High ankle with padded collar and tongue. Removable
EVA insole. The pair weighs 1kg. (I picked this model after doing a lot
of reading; it offered the best balance between my budget what I needed,
and it was significantly less horrendous-looking than many other boots.)
In the last three months, I have worn my boots on one non-trivial trek
in the Himalayas, on day-hikes, while driving, on a long-distance bus
ride (or three), in swamps, on sand, on scree, and once or twice, even
as formal wear. They have kept my feet comfortable and dry throughout.
I have escaped the twisted ankles and knees that used to accompany me
everywhere on hikes, and while that is mostly because I've been more
careful, the boots also deserve some credit.
I've never worn hiking boots before, so I have nothing to compare this
pair to. They do fit better than I had any right to expect for having
ordered them without trying them on first. With socks on, I can tell
that regular size 14 would have been too narrow for me. They're light
enough that I don't notice the weight, but sturdy enough to provide a
stable footing even when I'm carrying a load. Remarkably, despite my
wearing them for several hours at a time in hot weather, they kept my
feet from sweating and smelling bad, for which I was truly grateful at
the end of a long day.
My toes felt a little crushed while carrying a 20kg rucksack down a
steep trail, but then the boots are rated for day-hikes, and I had no
problem walking downhill without a load. (Even with a load, I didn't
develop any blisters or hot spots, which is just sheer luck in terms
of fitting.) I do wish the laces were more durable, though. I have to
adjust them for tightness every now and then, and although I use a
lacing method, the laces are fraying near the top-most lugs.
I'm a little puzzled by the name. Timberland calls it Chochorua, Amazon
calls it the Chocurua, and as far as I can tell, it's named after
in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
I like my new boots, never mind what they're named.