Back in 1998 I bought my first pair of real hiking boots: Asolo 535 leather boots with a Vibram sole. I paid $150, which basically cleared out this 16-year-old’s piggybank in a big way.
23 years later, they are still in my closet. I wore them the other day during a snow storm and I frequently wear them hiking here in Colorado. As someone who has spent the last 6 years reviewing products, I can tell you that’s an impressive return on investment.
In fact, if my boots were to kick the proverbial bucket this year, my cost on them would work out to $6.52 a year. Given that they’re still in excellent shape, I expect to get several more years out of them. It’s an incredible value.
Admittedly, I haven’t done a real backpacking trip in quite some time. In a real pro’s hands (feet?) these boots would have taken more abuse, so they may not have lasted as long as they did for me. But I certainly haven’t been gentle on them and they have seen more than their fair share of rough trails, deep snow, mud, sand, cacti, and beyond.
It got me to thinking whether I could make these last another 23 years. That would, of course, require the steady hand of a good boot repair shop, and I wasn’t entirely sure those existed anymore.
Lo and behold, they do exist! Like the olden days! Not in abundance, but there are a couple within a few miles of my house. I could even get to the boot shop and back without having to worry about starving on the trail or catching dysentery.
I don’t want to harp too much on the throwaway culture in which we live, but it has struck me lately that there are so many opportunities to fix things that we would otherwise throw away…and so many products are now made to do just that: get thrown away the second they are even marginally old or damaged. And don’t even get me started on how much single-use plastic we all consume daily. Talk about a completely useless product that does far more harm than good.
My old pair of boots? I want to keep them for a very long time, so I’ll pop into one of those boot repair shops soon. If anything, having my old Asolo boots around for so long is a good reminder to seek out the repairers, the re-users, the old-junkers that may look dated but have plenty of life left to give. It’s all about thinking differently about the things we own and consume.
Despite owning two-decade-old boots, this whole perspective shift is still fairly new to me, too. Maybe we can do it together.
Remember in the last newsletter when I told you I wrote a sort-of-funny thing that I wasn’t sure was actually funny? Well I finally put it on the website for all of you to read and cast your scathing critiques upon.
Keep Sad Grandpa in your thoughts.
Head over to The Practical Still YouTube page to see me babble in video form! I did a back to the bottle video about Blue Note’s 10-year Tennessee whiskey, which I said tasted like Eagle Rare in another video but really it doesn’t and I was completely wrong.
But it’s darn good…essence of Dickel, but not overwhelmingly so. Go watch me sip whiskey. It’s charming, I promise.