Ah, hiking boots. I’ve been thinking about these recently. In particular how my thoughts on hiking boots for travel have really evolved over the years. Or why I used to be a rubbish traveller.
For my first big backpacking trip, my ventures into Eastern Europe, I devoured all the guide books. (These were pre-internet times). And they all advised that one should wear hiking boots. So, as someone who was used to following the rules and advice in those days, I duly bought hiking boots alongside a backpack and sleeping sheet.
But looking back on it – most of the walking was city walking. Why did I need hiking boots? Truth be told, I hardly needed a backpack either.
My first trips and the out of place hiking boots
Fun was the order of the day for my earlier holidays. They were focussed on cities, pubs and nightclubs. I had a whale of a time at night clubs in places like Bratislava and Budapest. Yet when I look back at my wardrobe and footwear, I didn’t exactly dress appropriately. Now hiking boots are great for uneven terrain and rough slippy surfaces, but I wasn’t covering any of them. At this time in life, it was all about the town. I was not yet interested in nature or the countryside.
Looking back I am kinda shocked at how naive I was. Lemming like naive. Truth be told, I had no one to guide me. My family and friends weren’t travellers, so I went off the only information I could get. I bought hiking boots for the trip, wore them continuously for the trip then promptly never wore them again. They just disappeared from my wardrobe.
Getting into hiking
Fast forward 5 or so years. At some point in my 20’s, I discovered the joy of walking. And how much fun it was to just be outside. I could experience the countryside as nature intended and see the seasons evolve. I started to notice little changes that I had never noticed before. And they made me happy with life. Although actually, that might be a rose-tinted version of the story I tell myself. Memory can do that sometimes.
I believe the true version is that I had a dream of doing the Inca Trail as it looked awesome and exotic. Not to mention a feat of physical endurance and a challenge I wanted to succeed at. So I thought I’d better get in some practice in the UK. But the UK’s weathers is not really conducive to spending lots of time outdoors.
To counteract this, at this time I made a momentous purchase. My first cagoule, or waterproof jacket. And that prompted me to also buy my second pair of hiking boots. And these ones I actually used for years.
Getting into mountains
My early steps into the outdoors started an addiction. As well as pretty walks nearby, I was started to get into more challenging hikes. Adding a bit of gradient and tackling a few hills became a fun weekend out. As that Inca trail is not known to be very flat.
As any competitive addict knows, once you start on the hills, you end up on the mountains. I thought nothing of spending weekends in The Lakes, Snowdon or even the Brecon Beacons. And so to this day I still enjoy a good wander in the countryside and hike up a hill or two. And as such, always have a few pairs of muddy and well broken in hiking boots on the go.
Travel Footwear now
Which brings me to travels now. Whereas previously I wore hiking boots as I thought I should, today I wear them as I want to. I make a conscious choice in the selection and have not yet regretted it again.
My recent adventures in Georgia and Armenia were all done in hiking boots. It just seemed like the ideal choice. And similarly my Baltic adventures and Lviv trip were below zero and snowing, so obviously my winter hiking boots were the footwear of choice.
Moreover, I travel differently – country as well as city
The reasons why hiking boots seem more normal now is the increased range and variety of activities I do on holiday. I’m no longer obsessed with partying – getting up early is more important to me than staying up late. And now I spend more and more time exploring places on foot. 30k steps a day is normal when sightseeing.
And in walking around a lot, I’ve come to realise hiking boots are the best. They protect my delicate ankles really well and give great grip and traction. They are probably not going to win any fashion awards, but again I’m not exactly bothered about that either.
Additionally, as I’ve got more and more confident in my travels, I’ve been willing to go further and further from the cities. I love the countryside and getting to see rural life when travelling is so much fun and adds a different perspective. Not to mention I now look for day hikes and am confident enough to take a few risks and make up my own route with places I really want to visit.
How naive was I?
As I’ve come full circle on this item of apparel, it’s funny to see how I have changed and matured over the years. And things just become clearer.
There is no doubt, as I’ve aged I’ve been able to see things more clearly. And understand that some of my younger decisions were, shall we say it, a little circumspect. My critical thinking skills seem really bad and I seemed to just follow the guides blindly.
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Do you ever look back at things you did and feel naive?
- As you get older, do things start to make more sense?