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libspero

Walking Boots

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Following in the footsteps of a recent thread here there seem to be several keen outdoors men.

I have been recommended Berghaus by a friend.

The last pair of boot I bought were a cheap pair of Karrimor, which have been great and very comfortable (once worn in).. but after only two years of probably less than 250 miles use one has developed a squeak/squelch and the other has completely split at the back.

DSC_0194.jpgDSC_0197.jpg

I'm looking for a replacement and I'm prepared to spend a bit more for quality this time. I'm stuck between the Berghaus Hillmaster II and Fellmaster boots.

I like the fact that the Fellmaster has the rubber toe cap and is lighter.. but I wonder whether it is up to the heavy mileage and abuse.

$_35.JPGberghaus-hillmaster-ii-gtx-ladies-tech-b

Reviews comparing the two seem to be very few and far between.. if anyone has any experience/advice I'd be interested to know if I'm on the right track.

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Berghaus always had a good reputation.

Looking at your choices, personally I'd choose the boot on the left for its sole. But I wouldn't choose either as I prefer a one piece leather upper.

My pick of brands, Scarpa or Altberg, the latter come in a much better range of sizes, Scarpa seem to have 'lost a little' over the last decade.

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You need to try them on (even if it's only walking around in the shop with them, which obviously isn't the best test ever). The odds are that one of them will be a better fit to your shape of feet than the other.

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You need to try them on (even if it's only walking around in the shop with them, which obviously isn't the best test ever). The odds are that one of them will be a better fit to your shape of feet than the other.

Yep. Comfort matters.

What kind of usage to you anticipate? In UK conditions, all you need is comfort and adequate grip in mud. But if you want to tackle meaningful mountains you'll want something that can take a walking crampon, which is likely to imply a compromise on weight and comfort. I actually have two pairs of boots: one for UK and most of the time elsewhere, the other (Italian) for mountain conditions.

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I have gone off Berghaus as I believe that they are now owned by Sports Direct. Whether they are or not is moot though as I no longer am impressed by their quality.

But I think, generally, that all the brands have gone downhill since the most production was moved to China for many brands.

What I have concluded is that you have to find an individual pair of boots that is a good quality. What I mean is that there seems to be a great difference in the quality control of boots nowadays - probably because different people in each factory are better than others at making the same boots.

I wear size 12s and I have come to the conclusion that the small hands of Chinese workers just can't manipulate the big heavy shoes/boots as, quite often, the soles are poorly attached to the rest of the boot. I have a pair of Scarpa IIs - similar to the leather Berghaus you have shown - but the soles had tiny pin hole gaps between the rubber and leather. So not waterproof. I ended up buying rubber glue and using a matchstick to fill the holes to create a waterproof seal - something that I have had to do with several different brands in reent years.

I had a good look at photos of both boots on Amazon. I am NOT impressed with the way that sole of the Fellmaster looks with either how the sole is glued on or how the rubber toe cap is glued on. Looks quite poor to me IMPO. The Hillmaster looks to have a much better seal of the sole to the boot although, re my thoughts above, there are tiny gaps that I would personally want to seal with rubber glue... and should you be doing that with £100 plus pairs of boots?

So, as I say, I think it is about finding the best looking and fitting pair in a shop or taking a chance of ordering online but being prepared to send several pairs of boots back.

Grisports - have a look on Amazon - seem to have a good reputation.

The boots that I hear great things about are probably the cheapest and that is the Mountain Warehouse range although, personally, I do not feel that the soles are deep enough. I like a good thick/deep rubber sole which raises the boot off the ground before you get to the leather bit. I have looked at loads of the MW leather boots in their shops and never once seen a single gap between the rubber sole and leather.

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Hmmm? Do you have a reference for that?

Sports Direct's website lists a bunch of "our brands". Berghaus is not among them, so that looks like a false alarm. On the other hand, disappointed to see Karrimor (an old favourite) there.

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Berghaus always had a good reputation.

Looking at your choices, personally I'd choose the boot on the left for its sole. But I wouldn't choose either as I prefer a one piece leather upper.

My pick of brands, Scarpa or Altberg, the latter come in a much better range of sizes, Scarpa seem to have 'lost a little' over the last decade.

I'm not limited to Berghaus, they just came recommended.

I'll bear your suggestion of a full leather upper in mind. I thought these essentially did have that. I'll take a look at Altberg as well.

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You need to try them on (even if it's only walking around in the shop with them, which obviously isn't the best test ever). The odds are that one of them will be a better fit to your shape of feet than the other.

I will go somewhere to try them on and buy them.

I have wide (and slightly flat) feet, but most boots are available in a wide fit. My concern about relying on this is that most boots are made to be comfortable in the shop ( for example Berghaus have memory foam inners so they are a perfect fit out of the box). I would rather have a pair that I know will feel good after I've worn them in regardless of initial comfort. This is obviously hard to test in the shop so I'm relying a bit on advice and previous experience.

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I'm not limited to Berghaus, they just came recommended.

I'll bear your suggestion of a full leather upper in mind. I thought these essentially did have that. I'll take a look at Altberg as well.

It looks like the bellows and tongue are stitched in, so more leaky. Altberg are UK and come in a huge range of size fittings, which I like. At one time you wouldn't have dragged me away from Scarpa. Scarpa are still good, but not what they were. I feel Altberg have taken the top spot.

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Yep. Comfort matters.

What kind of usage to you anticipate?

Almost exclusively UK, but for a mixture of long treks and just short walks. I'm looking for a good supportive hard wearing boot but as light weight and nimble as reasonably possible within that criteria. If I can avoid hoofing around 2kgs of boots I'd prefer it.

No rock climbing or "extreme" usage anticipated.

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I'm not limited to Berghaus, they just came recommended.

I'll bear your suggestion of a full leather upper in mind. I thought these essentially did have that. I'll take a look at Altberg as well.

The next pair I buy will be a single piece of leather as the seams - where two pieces of leather join - are often the places where you find gaps allowing water in.

My priority is waterproof and comfort. I would rather buy a cheaper pair that has both these, even though it might not last as long as the more expensive pairs, and simply replace more often.

I mentioned Sports Direct above - a store that I loathe - but a friend bought a pair of single piece leather boots, with a vibram sole, for about £35 in a sale and they are fab. I kept going back again and again to look at them.

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I will go somewhere to try them on and buy them.

I have wide (and slightly flat) feet, but most boots are available in a wide fit. My concern about relying on this is that most boots are made to be comfortable in the shop ( for example Berghaus have memory foam inners so they are a perfect fit out of the box). I would rather have a pair that I know will feel good after I've worn them in regardless of initial comfort. This is obviously hard to test in the shop so I'm relying a bit on advice and previous experience.

I have wide feet and the Scarpas that I have were the first boots that I tried on that I almost let out a sign of relief at them not being tight in the width.

Don't forget - if you are buying shoes/boots only try them on in the afternoon as your feet will expand during the morning. Don't wear a pair of tight, narrow shoes all morning and then go try on shoes/boots. Let your feet naturally expand for several hours first.

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It looks like the bellows and tongue are stitched in, so more leaky. Altberg are UK and come in a huge range of size fittings, which I like. At one time you wouldn't have dragged me away from Scarpa. Scarpa are still good, but not what they were. I feel Altberg have taken the top spot.

I got my Scarpas for, IIRC, £60 in a sale as they only had one size left - mine. But I would never have paid the £150 odd that they wanted full price.

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How do you guys test the fit for new boots?

I would usually expect a new pair to be tight when I try them on, on the basis that as they are worn in they will stretch a bit. Do you do this or just go for something that feels 'right' when you first try it on?

In a similar vein, do you wear walking or double socks when you try them on in the shop?

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I just go for whatever feels comfotable in the shop, on the principal of "whatever else can I do?" The shop's usually had a pair of socks to stick on to try them with.

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I just go for whatever feels comfotable in the shop, on the principal of "whatever else can I do?" The shop's usually had a pair of socks to stick on to try them with.

If they've still been a good fit 2 years down the line then that answers my question :)

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Well in my case I'm not the best judge because blisters aren't that uncommon for me (although it would be reasonable to blame not getting out anywhere near often enough for my feet to toughen up enough).

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How do you guys test the fit for new boots?

I would usually expect a new pair to be tight when I try them on, on the basis that as they are worn in they will stretch a bit. Do you do this or just go for something that feels 'right' when you first try it on?

In a similar vein, do you wear walking or double socks when you try them on in the shop?

If boots are tight in the shop they will get tighter walking IMPO as your feet expand from the heat of walking. When trying on boots/shoes I always have this in mind.

I was taught long ago - and you can see this on several of the boot-maker websites - that you can make slightly larger boots fit by wearing additional socks but you cannot make boots that are too tight bigger.

A good walking shop will advise you on this. The one near me, which charges more than the bulk retailers, has staff who specialise in fitting walking boots/shoes, ski boots and they know what they are doing. If in doubt, find such people local to you.

I believe, as I wrote in the previous thread, in always wearing at least 2 pairs of socks. This means that they rub against each other and the boot rather than the boot rubbing against your skin and creating blisters. It is not uncommon for me to wear 2 or 3 pairs of medium / thin thickness socks for this purpose. Hence, when trying on boots, I take these along and try the boots on whilst wearing 2 pairs of socks, then 3 pairs of socks. I would never wear just one pair of socks.

I am not a fan of walking boots as most contain wool of some kind and I appear to have problems with wool. I much prefer cotton socks - they wear out quicker but I find them more comfortable, less irritating and I find that cotton breathes very well whether it is inside a leather boot or some kind of fabric or goretex boot.

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Well in my case I'm not the best judge because blisters aren't that uncommon for me (although it would be reasonable to blame not getting out anywhere near often enough for my feet to toughen up enough).

Me either, I was fortunate that I changed jobs two years ago and had about a month over the summer between jobs where I managed to get out walking nearly every day. This year will be tricky with kid two due very soon, but having felt a lot more healthy after that stint I want to make an active effort to do more again in future.

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