Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Walking shoes or boots?

I've been a little tied up since I got back to the UK, trying to organise everything ahead of my next trip... unfortunately I still haven't booked a flight and am only halfway to determining where to go - there are just so many places to choose from - eek!

So whilst I'm still taking a short commercial break from my travels I thought I'd share with you my most recently acquired travel essential item...

Yes, I finally gave in and settled on a pair of walking shoes, after relying on my beloved walking boots for so long.

Having torn the ligaments in my right ankle a few years ago, this was not an easy decision to make, and hence the period of mulling.


So, my shoes arrived, with a variety of labels which I slowly read and discarded one by one, just in case there was anything important that I should absorb.  Oddly, one of these indicated that Merrell will provide regular updates about 'what has happened' in the outside world, so perhaps this brand of footwear is as good as everyone suggests?

After almost a couple of months of wearing in, on a variety of terrains, and periods of walking, I think it is safe to say that I am now well positioned to give a balanced review.

Pros:

  • Gore-tex - guaranteed to keep you dry, assuming you don't get water in the top of the shoes?  Seemed to deal pretty well with snow falling over the top too.
  • Antimicrobial technology - against odour, staining and deterioration.  No sign of any issue here after a couple of months wear in hot and colder climates.
  • Comfortable - they moulded to my feet and seemed to help with walking properly (particularly given my weaker ankle).  
According to the instructions (?), women move differently to men, but not in the way that immediately springs to mind, rather in relation to a Q-angle (or Quadriceps' angle), which is the angle between the hip and the knee due to wider hips and a lower centre of gravity which in a nut shell, seems to mean we walk on the outside of our feet (!).  I can vouch that they did appear to help with this by stabilising and cushioning my feet. However, this all seems a little hi tech to me...

Cons:

  • Grip - I found the tread was fine whilst hiking on rougher terrain and pretty good at dealing with recent bouts of snow and ice. However, when it was wet, I did feel a little uneasy underfoot and therefore put this down to slippery soles in wet conditions rather than my clumsiness.
  • Sizing - It does seem that all the Merrell footwear that I tried on required a size bigger than I would normally wear.  This isn't really an issue as I always try before I buy, however the sizes only seem to go up to 8 for women, so think this may be a little restrictive for others?
  • Wear and tear - I am just a little uncomfortable about the reviews I've read regarding these shoes and that although they have been purchased to replace the exact same shoes, the previous pair only lasted 2/3 years - I'm not planning continuous wear but I perhaps have set the bar a little high by becoming attached to my 7+ years old hiking boots which are still going!  We will see... I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has owned a pair of Siren Sport Goretex shoes by Merrell?
Despite the ankle injury and loss of support now that I am sporting a pair of 'shoes' rather than 'boots', my ankles actually seem to have gotten used to the change very easily. However, I do recommend wearing them in on a few different terrains before going for anything that may be strenuous on your ankles.

At the end of the day, my new shoes are fit for the purpose for which I have acquired them.  Lightweight and suitable for a variety of terrains, they should be reasonably hard wearing over the next few months... wherever I end up.

I do still recommend taking Crocs as a backup when walking, if you have some... they will always come in handy ;)!


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Las Vegas highlights... you have to see it to believe it!

Safely back in the UK and nursing my wallet after almost 3 weeks of enjoying Arizona and Nevada (plus a cross over to California briefly!)... I have now updated my Travelpod with as much info from Las Vegas as I could cram in a couple of posts.


If you have been to Vegas, do check it out and let me know if I have missed anything and what your experience was like.  I'm not a gambler but absolutely loved it there, doing everything but!