Penny wise and foot-foolish on river shoes
August 21, 2008
This summer I have learned that being cheap will cost you in the long run. I should have known better than to buy a cheap pair of river shoes.
About a year ago, I wrote an article gushing over a new pair of Alpine Design river shoes, which are inexpensive knock-offs of the higher-end Keen brand. A Keen Footwear representative sent an online comment, warning me that I’d regret my decision. The rep said the shoe wasn’t as high-quality as his product and wouldn’t hold up over time.
He was right. One of the Alpine Design shoes blew out last month while I was on a river trip down the Colorado River in Utah. I hadn’t even owned them for a year. I tried to super-glue the strap that broke off from the rubber sole, but to no avail. I don’t care what kind of glue it is, it doesn’t hold up in water.
Pre-Alpine Design, I had always gotten by on flip-flops, old tennis shoes, a borrowed pair of NRS booties or a ratty pair of Tevas. And every time I went rafting, I injured myself.
Part of the reason I never invested in water sandals was because I didn’t want to shell out more than $100 for the “best.” So I held off, looking at what other people had on their feet and seeing what worked for them.
I’ve seen a lot of people in Keens, a popular and expensive water shoe that looks like it would stand the abuse I would surely give it. The only problem was they cost more than $100, and I just wasn’t willing to part with that much money.
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So on my way to run the Shoshone on the Colorado last summer, I popped into Sports Authority in West Glenwood. I picked up a pair of Keen look-alikes at less than half the price ” $40.
Alpine Design is a private label manufactured specifically for Sports Authority. The Alpine Design shoe is most comparable to the Keen Newport Sandal, which retails for $95 in most stores.
Last summer, I wrote in my gear review, “Only time will tell if the Alpine Design shoe will hold up as long as the Keens do …”
Well, time has told me to stop being a cheapskate and just shell out the bucks for appropriate footwear. Guess I’ll be looking “Keen” from now on.