Wednesday, July 4, 2007

To Boot or Not To Boot


Trekking boots.
The most important piece of equipment for a hiker is a sturdy footwear. A reasonably good pair of hiking boots can be purchased new for anywhere from RM100 to RM200. More is probably unnecessary (except for fashion and glam !) and less isn't likely to buy you a good product.
But if you're on a tight budget, of course you can look at second-hand or "bundle" stores for hiking boots. Sometimes if you are lucky, you may get one which is still new. But if you do this, make sure that your footwear is in good condition before testing it on the trail.

Good hiking boots will have strong tread, tight, secure laces, and reasonably waterproof construction. If you don't have good tread, you won't be able to navigate muddy or steep terrain well, and you put yourself at the risk of injury.
If you don't have good laces, then you won't be able to keep the boots on your feet, and you'll face problems like the hassle of retying your laces every few steps or the possibility of tripping and hurting yourself (and other trekking mates too !)
And if it's not waterproof, you won't be able to navigate water on the trail comfortably, which you'll almost certainly encounter at most destinations especially in our Malaysian jungle terrain !
Don't be shy to ask appropriate questions to the salesperson and make sure your new boots are extremely comfortable before you make the purchase and leave the store. A little bit of foresight now will save you countless problems down the line.
Remember : while on the trail, your feet are your most valuable possession, so take care of them !

What about other shoes ?
If you can't afford hiking boots, or if you simply don't want to use them for whatever reason - tennis shoes can also serve you well if they're in good condition. Again, make sure you have good tread, good laces, and a design that'll keep out as much water as possible.
And whatever footwear you choose, try to make the time to "break them in" appropriately before you start your trek. Trekking with a brand new shoe is a no-no ! New shoes are often stiff and tight in places, but after a few hours of walking, you'll definitely feel the difference between a "broken-in" pair of shoes and a "fresh-out-of-the-box" pair ...
Happy trekking !

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