Sunday, October 12, 2014

Not boots

When I started out van dwelling a little over a year ago, I loaded up some of my sneakers and a pair of rarely worn medium height Hi-Tec boots. When I put on those boots this past winter I remembered why I hadn't worn them much before. They didn't fit correctly. The toe box was too small. The sides of my little toes and the tops of my big toes rubbed. The boots ended up in a donation bin. With luck, someone else is happy with them now.

While I was building out the Rolling Steel Tent, and for the first few months on the road, my every-day shoes were some old Nike ACG running shoes. There was little tread left. There were paint and adhesive spills on them. I tossed them when the soles started to come off.

I found some cheap, fake Keens at Rack Room Shoes. (I saw an identical pair, with a different brand name, at Bass Pro Shops. Some off-shore factory must have had a your-name-here deal going.) They fit great! Nice roomy toe boxes. They became my new everyday shoes. But $27 shoes aren't necessarily the best made. The soles have worn down surprisingly quickly and parts have started to come unstitched. I still wear them time to time, especially in hot springs—which might be hastening their demise.

This eleven-year-old pair of Nike ACG shoes became my everyday shoes when I put the faux Keens in semiretirement. I had bought them in 2003 while freelancing in Southern California and are probably the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. I placed them on standby duty last month after the soles started separating and had gotten so thin I could feel individual pebbles. They'll be good for some sort of sloppy, muddy conditions.

Meanwhile, these Asics have been acting as my "dress shoes" for those times I don't want to look so much like a desert rat. And, besides, lime! Though I had worn Nike's for decades because of the way they fit me, Asics fit just as perfectly.

These Nikes took their turn as my daily shoes. Then, as you can see, the sole immediately started to peel off.

I started thinking, "You know, maybe running shoes aren't the best thing to be wearing all the time. I should probably get some proper hiking shoes. Low tops, because I can't stand shoes rubbing my ankles."

So I went on a quest. I drove to Las Cruces yesterday. First stop, Dick's Sporting Goods. There was a big selection, but the first problem was a shortage of size 11 shoes. Plenty of 10.5s and 11.5s, but not 11s. Either there are a lot of size 11 guys in Las Cruces buying up shoes, or there are so few size 11 men in the area that stores don't bother stocking that size.

The second problem was the old toe box thing, and the fact my feet aren't perfectly symmetrical. The top of my right big toe kept rubbing—with Keens, Merrels, Solomons, Timberlands, Hi-Tecs... Some had internal seams that rubbed the sides and/or tops of my feet.

So it was off to Big 5. All their hiking shoes were suspiciously cheap—$15 to $29. I know what happens with cheap shoes. Besides, there was no sign of a clerk in the shoe department. Bye-bye.

But, surprise, there was a Rack Room Shoes in the same strip mall. I didn't know they had stores in the west. I tried on all the hiking shoes they had. None fit properly. I even tried some steel-toed work shoes (hey, at least the thick soles would last, right?). No luck. No happiness.

But, over among the running shoes, these off-road Asics were calling my name.

They fit beautifully. No rubbing anywhere. It was a sign. And the orange-and-black would be appropriate for Halloween.

I'll still keep search for hiking shoes. Maybe in Phoenix, where there's a Cabela's and a Bass Pro Shop. Or maybe I just need to become a cowboy boot guy. It's a good look with cargo shorts.


  1. Wow! You had all those shoes in your van? Hmmm. Wonder how many I have? I know I have more than I normally do right now so I may be speaking out of turn.

  2. Try Marshalls or Tj Maxx, lots of good athletic shoes. I enjoy your blog and pictures! Happy travels!!

  3. I have two pairs of shoes I wear regularly and set right by the opening of the van door. I also carry two seasonal shoes - beach flip flops (without the middle thingy to rub between ones toes) and boots (which I've not worn yet since I began vandwelling May '13). Lastly, I have a pair of jellies I use when going to public showers. I may give those to good will though and use the none flip flop, flip flops for the shower purpose too. Say, you could photograph shoes for magazines. Nice pics!

    1. I used to art direct advertising for Vans Shoes and for Rack Room Shoes, so I've had experience photo shoots for footwear. I can see where my shoe photos aren't very good. But thanks.

  4. Ozark Sam Thanks for the information. I needed some walking shoes but did not want to pay $100 or buy the Walmart ones. I ordered some Asics for $39

  5. i'm a runner 7 day a week, all year. i live in indiana. nice weather. i like it though. i'm a master plumber, licensed electrician and a drain cleaner. 69. i have been wearing good running shoes since 1988. i buy 2 pairs at a time. wear them to run for a year. alternate days with shoes.

    after a year i wear them to work. please use your imagination as to what that means. every drain they go in the washer. every. most last longer than another year. do NOT dry them in the dryer. they will be kids shoes if you do that. air dry.

    i buy my shoes at a full service, full price shoe store. i notice that you don't. full service stores will not have junk. nor golf or stuff for that matter. i use sorbothane or spencos insoles. there are other good ones, that is just what they sell where i trade. they last several years. i take mine with me to try on shoes. save the cheap pieces of crap to put in the shes when i recycle.

    i don't have cheap feet. a good pair of shoes is going to be north of a hundred bucks + insoles. i have duck feet. my guess that you do too. some of mine are 2e, most 4e. if you squeak go to roadrunnersports.

    learn something every day. they have a size 11 6e. 6e. i've never seen a 6e in runnies. i guess one would need square feet. lol. i don't get a spif for this. i had to wear special shoes when i was a kid. i ain't forget. my feet weren't right. actually the rest of me wasn't right either but they didn't make a shoe that big.

    ice cream raz