This blog entry was supposed to be just about my recent shoe purchase, but at some point, I realized that there’s a story to be told and so I just sort of let it go along.
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I’ve been doing a lot of hiking and mountain climbing lately and after much consideration, I came to the decision that I needed to buy better hiking shoes.
To begin with, my beat-up Nike Air Changtse ACG hiking shoes never really got along with my feet as well as I had hoped they would when I first purchased them. Maybe it’s a bit unfair because I couldn’t help but compare it with its predecessor (similarly a Nike ACG pair), which was lighter, more flexible, had a wider base, and overall felt a lot more comfortable on my feet. I absolutely loved that pair and I often also wore it for everyday use especially after I retired it and replaced it with the present pair.
(When the old pair began to show signs of impending damage, I decided to trade it in during one of Adidas’ promos in exchange for a discount on a new shoe purchase. And while I felt sad to let go of it, I’m really happy with the discounted brand new Adidas Superstar II sneakers that I bought as part of the promo.)
Going back to my present hiking shoes, conditions are almost the exact opposite – they felt very rigid, the base is too narrow for my wide feet (and hence less stability), and they don’t allow for much air circulation. With the right feet, they might have felt perfect, but after 2 years of heavy duty usage, I’ve come to the conclusion that my feet and this pair simply aren’t a good match, trail-wise.
Be that as it may, for good or bad, my Nike Air Changtse hiking shoes has racked quite a list of mountains conquered since being purchased at around March 2010. These are:
- Mt. Pinatubo, Tarlac
- Taal Volcano, Batangas
- Mt. Pulag, Benguet
- Mt. Batulao (2x), Batangas
- Mt. Iraya, Batanes
- Mt. Malindig, Marinduque
- Mt. Iglit, Occidental Mindoro
- Mt. Cristobal, Laguna
- Mt. Arayat, Pampanga
In addition, I took them with me when I went to Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as countless other trips. So I can’t help but be fond of it somehow. Certainly a lot of memories with this pair.
Currently the beginnings of wear and tear are already showing, particularly in the way the shoecap is slowly beginning to separate from the outsole. Possibly, the very difficult Mt. Iglit climb last summer was responsible for this. The “damage” is not yet noticeable at first glance, but it just might develop into more serious damage after one more major mountain climb.
Since I had some extra cash, I thought of retiring this pair and buying a new pair of hiking shoes that would hopefully be a better fit. This wasn’t as easy a task as I thought because in the course of looking through new models of hiking shoes, I also came across various models of really nice non-hiking shoes that I began to really think hard if I really wanted to limit my options to just hiking shoes. It’s been more than 2 years since my old New Balance (NB) cross-trainers got busted beyond repair, and since that time, I’ve restricted my exercise routine to non-running activities. It would be nice to be able to jog again. So yes, cross-trainers was definitely an option.
So for around 4 days, I visited 2 malls looking for a good purchase. I was also particular about good bargains. I almost never purchase at full price and so I was on the lookout for discounts. At some point, I got so confused that I sent out a frustration tweet, shown below:
Interestingly, I only got 2 feedback on that, and both persons seemed to favor cross-trainers. Taking that as my cue, I was already willing to forget all about retiring my Air Changtse and buy a particularly great-looking pair of Nike cross-trainers. I even tweeted that I’ve already decided to buy it. However, when it was time to fit the shoes, the largest they had was just size 11, which was a tad too tight for my size 12 feet. I reluctantly had to abort the purchase.
The next day, I went to a different mall which had a lot more stores selling shoes. Quite predictably, I once again got confused with all my options. Finally I narrowed it down to 2 choices. The first option is a pair of The North Face (TNF) lightweight hiking shoes that was made to drain water quickly. It was selling at a discounted price of P3,000. (And if you know TNF, that’s a huge discount.) It fit well and was very flexible and light, almost like barefoot. The other option is a pair of New Balance MT610 trail running shoes, that was selling at P3,100. I tend to look favorably on NB because my old NB cross-trainers, before it got busted, really fit me well. And NB’s color schemes are well-designed, making them visually appealing. What I wasn’t sure of was whether its hiking shoes were just as good in quality as their regular running/cross-training line of shoes.
So once again, I took to Twitter, and got an unexpected response from Ferdz Decena, famous travel blogger. Here’s how our short Twitter conversation went:
Since the TNF pair I was eyeing wasn’t made of Gore-Tex (which would have made it much more expensive), I then set my mind on the NB MT610 pair. I was all set on buying this when another model displayed right beside it caught my eye. It was the newer and much more attractive MT810 model. This one was selling at a discounted price of P3,500.
Two things conspired to make me purchase the MT810 model: (1) Once again, the store didn’t have size 12 of the MT610 actually leaving me no choice; and (2) when I began to test fit the MT810 and walked around with it, I could not believe how soft the cushioning was. It was very comfortable, like …I don’t know… foam on goddamned steroids. It made me forget all the other shoes I considered buying. Less than a minute after the fitting, I was already lined up at the cashier to pay for the shoes.
Once I got home, I just had to take pictures of this baby:
By the way, since my Nike Air Changtse hiking shoes are now officially “retired”, I figured it has earned the right to take things easy. I now occasionally wear it at work. If before, it had to contend with all types of rough terrain, nowadays, it’s coming to terms with a much more peaceful existence with carpets and polished floors.