I was answering to a post at Glocktalk the other day and was reminded again of the importance of good footwear.
I brought the issue up because a certain survival expert, supposedly giving advice on surviving hell and various disasters recommended going around barefoot so as to have a better connection with mother Earth.
Not wanting to go much into connections with mother earth and such, I do want to mention how important it is to have adequate, or even more than adequate footwear.
I wont insult you guys by explaining the importance of actually HAVING footwear to begin with, and what a terrible idea it is to go barefoot both in the wild and in the city.
Many backpackers consider your boots to be the single most important part of your equipment and I can’t disagree with that.
Even during wars generals at various times during history have considered trench feet the hardest enemy they had to fight.
Some of the poorest people in my country that live in the northern provinces, whenever they get the chance to ask for something on TV, they usually ask for two things the most, clothing and shoes for the children and themselves. Then yes, powdered milk, flour, rice, sugar, and other supplies if the crops where bad or they were hit by floods, but usually shoes is right there in the top three.
Guess those Collas and other real native Americans don’t appreciate the connection with mother earth.
Now, when everything works great you can get away with trendy super slim line footwear that provides no protection at all, but that’s not the best alternative in my opinion.
The survival minded person is someone that can think of possible worst cases scenarios without going nuts, just making it part of the decisions he makes.
I’ve always liked trekking shoes, and light trail shoes for urban use.
At least around here sidewalks are often broken and in need of repair, so you do step on less than ideal ground very often.
In nice cities in USA and Spain this isn’t common. Sidewalks are usually clean and well taken care of.
Here they’re not and as silly as it may sound it can cause accidents if you’re not used to it. Sounds silly but it does happen. You get used to walking in better kept surfaces and I suppose you don’t lift your feet as much as you should.
This happened to my mother a few years ago walking down Florida, the nice commercial street in the down town capital district.
We were talking about something and suddenly she disappeared!
I looked down and there she was. She had fallen because of a broken and raised tile in the sidewalk. She hit it with one of those chunks of wood that are supposed to be shoes, wooden sandals that I guess were fashionable back then.
She had been living in Spain for many years already so I guess she was used to those perfectly cared for sidewalks.
Anyway I helped her up and her face was leaking blood from mouth, nose and a couple cuts here and there. What a mess for such a silly accident.
We went into a coffee shop nearby and the waiter helped us, gave her some ice. Do you know what he said? That it happens all the time. People fall in that same spot and get hurt. He even knew of people sewing the city for the poorly kept sidewalk, so I guess it wasn’t that much of a freak accident.
Back to the importance of good shoes.
Just think about natural or man made disasters, think about climbing through rubble and debris, stepping on mud, chunks of concrete and broken glass. Maybe you never though of that but that will turn regular dressing footwear into shreds in no time. Most women footwear don’t provide any protection at all.
I had a little revelation once while traveling in the sardine can known as the Roca train during rush hour. Its’ simply impossible to avoid dozen of people stepping on your toes. That’s when I started looking for trekking shoes that included industrial protection steel toes.
I ended up with ankle high Ombu boots. They are made of black leather and have a very thick working sole, along with steel toe protection and electric hazard sole. They also look very much like regular trekking boots.
Here they are.
IN USA and Europe you have much more alternatives. I’ve seen some nice ones made by Timberland and Caterpillar that look great.
Caterpillar Men's Diffuse Hiker Steel Toe Oxford
Preferably get something in leather that protects your feet from glass, rocks and debris.
One of the things that happen fairly often here is that trains and subs break for whatever reason, mostly poor maintenance.
People have to get out and walk on the train tracks to the next station. These are full of trash, broken bottles and of course the rocks themselves that can be found in the tracks.
The subway tunnels have the additional treat of having cat sized rats running around, carrying a potpourri of diseases, including Hantavirus.
If you are forced to walk through one of these tunnels back to the station, adequate footwear and a flashlight are a true blessing.
Even though they usually open by themselves, a small prybar or tough multitool could be needed to open the doors if they get stuck.