Garath W. Henry

Winter Footwear (in the midwest.)

In Boots on November 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Now that winter is almost here I took out a pair of well worn boots, which have served me well for many years now.  As I looked at the boots it very quickly became apparent to me that the will not make it though another winter here in Chicago, and I am going to have to start looking for a new pair of boots.  Finding a new pair of boots is going to be hard.  I don’t have a boat load of money to spend, and I’m really difficult to please.  Nonetheless I’m going to try to write a few posts as I go through my search.  The logical place to start is what sort of qualities I would like a pair of boots to have.

Here in Chicago winter is bitch, and wearing shoes is risky.  At times shoes are not really even an realistic option, so during the winter I like to have a good pair of multipurpose boots that I can ware both indoors and out doors.  I also like them to be a pair of boots that I can wear with jeans or other “street” clothing, and at least a few of my dress pants.

What do I look for when I’m searching for these boots?

1. The footwear has to be reasonably water prof.  There will be lots of snow, slush, and puddles of very cold water on the ground many of the places that you go.

I tend to prefer a higher boot than many people, because if the top of the boot is off the ground chances are that less snow will sneak in through the top of the boot.  Here is a good example of something that I might like…

GBX boots (about $80.00)

2. The footwear has to be warm.  I’m not talking about able to keep my feet warm as I hike through Antarctica for a week warm.  (You should have a pair of those too, for when you need to do some hard core snow shoveling or whatever, but I don’t think those will be the kind of boots you wear when attempting to look slick).   I’m talking about a pair of boots that will keep your feet warm enough as you wait for the train, move from pub to pub, get to class, or walk a few blocks.

Now this is probably obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway: The key to keeping your feet warm is keeping them dry!  Thus if a pair of boots looks good, and feels like they will keep you warm, make sure they can keep snow / slush / water out.  Because no matter how good they look, they will not keep you warm if they don’t keep you dry.  That is why I focused on waterproofness first and warmness second.

3. Durability.  The boots should be able to last for more than one season.

Again this might seem like a no brainer, but I’ve seen so many people buy a new pair of boots ever winter… Maybe buying “disposable” stuff has just become part of our culture, I don’t know, but I prefer to buy something that will last.  Some people have told me that they want the latest style each season, which sort of makes sense if you have the money for that sort of thing, but I find that a classic look is always “in” when it comes to boots.

In addition to this a good pair of boots that you have broken in feel much better than a new pair of boots that you have not broken in.

Here in Chicago they have been known to salt the hell out of the streets, so the boots need to be able to stand up to that, at least a bit.  (I don’t like spending the time, energy, and money tracking down a good pair of boots each year, so I do try and take care of them.)

4. Make sure you have a belt to go with the boots.  There is a rule that your belt should match your shoes.  The rule still applies when you are wearing boots.  I know lots of people don’t follow this rule, which is wired because it is so easy to follow.

They don’t need to be a perfect match or anything.  Just when you wear brown shoes or boots wear a brown belt, not a black one.  It’s that simple.

If your boots match your gloves and other accessories that is even better, but the belt is the most important thing.  Why?  Because you will be wearing the belt and the shoes or boots both inside and out side, while gloves and scarfs you can take off when your indoors.

5. The sole CAN’T be flat, like the soles on many dress shoes.  For non-winter boots a flat sole would be fine, but in the winter the last thing that I want is to end up taking a spill into some dirty street slush that ruins my clothing and my day.

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