I have been a bit fickle with my choice of camino hiking boots. I have needed a new pair for each of my three caminos, and whilst they have all been ok, I have not wanted to buy the same model again. The first two pairs – Marmot and Merrell Moab ventilators, wore right down on the soles although the uppers remained in perfect condition. The third pair, Merrell Azura, were definitely not up to the task of walking over 1,300 kms and were completely worn out with holes in the uppers by the time I reached Finisterre.
Meanwhile I had been recommended by someone who reads my blog (thanks Martin) to try the Ecco brand of boots in the ‘Biom Terrain’ style, made from Yak leather, which is stronger and lighter than cow hide. I tried them on in store but they weren’t very comfortable, perhaps a bit tight, although my feet are far from wide.
I did however feel much more comfortable in a different style, the Xpedition III which I finally purchased from Amazon Spain at a significant reduction from the Ecco website price of £155. Still, a considerable investment and I wasn’t actually over the moon with them. My foot is very comfortable in them, but the tongue is very bulky and digs into my ankle – I had to make an adjustment in order to wear them for any distance. It is impossible to know these things until you get them home and try them out, which is why some stores offer to exchange boots even after they have been worn. So I made the most of my new boots and wore them for a dozen or more long walks, not entirely happy with them, but fairly confident that ‘they would do’.
Then, on my last visit to the UK I took my customary trip to the local TK Maxx store. People either love or hate TK Maxx – a bit like Marmite. I am in the first category and have bagged some amazing bargains over the years. It is possible to seek out excellent quality items amongst the dross and usually at a very good price. I am always drawn to the footwear section where I have found some real beauties over the years (very many years!), but I have to say their selection of shoes has been most disappointing in recent years.
On this occasion however, something was calling to me – I could feel the pull from across the store. As I got closer to the racks of wildly varying styles of shoes, I could see right in the middle of the top shelf of the women’s size 7’s…a pair of Ecco Biom Terrain boots, just demanding that I pick them up and try them on. It was a Cinderella moment. They felt completely different to the pair I had tried previously, plenty of room inside and really comfortable and with a very neat unobtrusive tongue. I looked around the other shelves out of curiosity and found not one other pair – this was the only pair in the store and they were in my size and they were comfortable. I turned them upside down expecting to see my name written on the soles – it was obviously meant to be – a match made in heaven. And the best thing? The price! £49 – list price £170.
Oh, and by the way, I later discovered why they are more comfortable than the previous pair I tried. When I looked closely at the tags I noticed they were men’s boots and much roomier than the same size for women. I suppose I should have remembered that I am wearing men’s boots when I made such fun of David for wearing my knickers!