Tuesday, December 30, 2008

These Boots (were made for walkin')

                                          (not really my foot)
Check this out.

Two years ago I invested in a fabulous pair of Vasque hiking boots, official Ranger trail boots. They're great boots, really expensive, with a really long (really long) break-in period.

Finally, about a year ago, they got comfortable and and were fantastic on the trail.

Here's the O. Henry part of the story.

About a year ago I developed arthritis in the big toe joint of my right foot, within six months I was no longer to get my right boot on or off comfortably.  Eventually I couldn't get it on or off at all.

Now, how's a Park Ranger, who really enjoys hiking, supposed to hit the trail in street shoes? That's just plain bad form!

Today, I got my boots back.

I decided to make a study of the way my foot enters and leaves the boot, and then alter the boot to accommodate the lack of flexibility in my paw.

Here's the shoe making elf in action:

I realized that my foot needed to enter the boot from the rear rather than the top, in the manner of a slipper, so the first step was to open up the seams and cut an entry down the back.

That was a piece of cake, no more whining and grimacing.

Then, with my handy stitching awl, I had to bind up the raw edges.

A line of stitches (white) marks the door "hinge".  The retaining loop was stitched into place...

and the straps measured, cut, and stained.

Holes for the stitching were punched and the first strap stitched into place.  This is the strap that'll close the back of the boot.

This antique harness buckle was stitched to the other, larger, strap, the one that wraps around the ankle and snugs up the whole kit&kaboodle.

The result?  somewhere between Doc Marten and Doctor (Ranger) Frankenstein,

but it fits great and feels fantastic!

See you on the trail (or in the leather craft shop),


postscript (two days later)

All systems groovy!


Anonymous said...

Mannie, I completely understand your desire to modify the boots. My ankle never properly healed from a linear fracture in my 20s. But my profession at the time had a "boots on the ground" requirement. Over time I determined the most comfortable boots I had were the simple plain old Army issue jungle boots (with the steel plate in the sole.) I'm sure the fine folks at Nike go into shock when I speak of my "comfortable Army boots!" - Craig.

Mannie Gentile said...


I know exactly what you're talking about. I wore jungle boots when I was in the Navy (1970-74).

Many of us wore jungle boots onboard the ships I was on. We picked this up from the old salts. Destroyers do so much rockin' and rollin' that the extra ankle support plus the light weight of the jungle boots made it easier to keep your feet in rough seas and provided a lot more ankle support for a lifestyle that was constantly in motion (in all directions).

Thanks for stopping by, and happy new year.


Anonymous said...

Mannie, you need to get your modification patented. Orthopedists will clamour for your insight.
Happy New Year!!!

Anonymous said...

So you mean this year my boots will become comfortable? Boy if only the Park Service would get Timberlands. Comfort right from the get go. Nothing beat my no shine desert boots though; like jungle boots but even better. (All you need to make them look spiffy again was a rock!)