* Prices may differ from that shown
It is with extreme reluctance that I venture into a shoe shop, so when I do I want to buy a product that will last me a good long time. I tend therefore to go for high quality footwear to maximise the gap between expeditions.
About a year ago I was forced to conclude that a trip to the dreaded shoeshop was necessary as my feet got wet whenever it rained, and the local Clarks was the chosen venue. I have fairly ordinary feet - size 9, a bit wider than average perhaps, and with a slightly larger left foot. I am therefore in the happy cadre of shoppers who don't find it difficult to get something to fit, and can thus concentrate on comfort and fit.
I eventually settled on this pair, after trying on 3 or 4. They are a darkish brown in colour, with a 5 hole lacing arrangement, including a tongue with a tunnel in it to help keep this in position - quite a good idea. The leather upper is quite soft, and has moulded itself to the shape of my feet, so they ar pretty comfortable. Unlike other shoes I've worn, I don't get blisters or painfully rubbed bits of my feet even after walking around in them all day.
The sole is made of some sort of rubbery plastic, and has a reasonable grip on it, helpful for the occasional slippery conditions I encounter. It isn't totally rigid, which I like, because it will flex a bit as you walk and thus the feel is quite natural. The sole is about 1cm thick in total, and appears to have several layers to it.
The style is fairly plain, which I prefer. There is some stitching to make a pattern, and some holes to let the air circulate. The overall effect is quiet pleasing, it's quite understated but still noticeable. The inside of the shoes are reasonably well padded, with a thick padded insole which has lasted well, and cloth covering the walls.
Keeping them clean is easy enough, a quick wipe to remove any mud, and a bit of polish every so often and they retain their shinyness. Good enough for a recent successful job interview anyway!
Most importantly, they have so far proved quite robust. I don't use them in extreme conditions, but for ordinary use around town they are fine, and quite capable of keeping my feet dry. Nor has any of the stitching shown any signs of coming apart, and the sole has remained firmly attached to the upper.
I don't remember exactly how much I paid - about £45 I think, quite possibly in a sale. A price well worth paying to avoid having to go shoe shopping for another year!