These high-quality hikers are a godsend | AspenTimes.com

These high-quality hikers are a godsend

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My ninth-grade wrestling coach once told me that I looked like “a crow in heat” while I was in my upright stance.It was a pretty accurate observations (although as a self-conscious 14-year-old I wasn’t thrilled to hear it). My knees knock, I am pigeon-toed, my ankles are weak, and my arches have always been collapsed.

I walk like a drunken android when I’m stone-cold sober and when I’ve been drinking … well, never mind.So for hiking, I have always sought a good sturdy boot, something that provides plenty of support and can fit an orthotic insert. I’ve gone through several pairs over the years – some of them great, some not so hot. I never thought hiking shoes would do the trick. But with that segment of the market exploding in recent years I decided to give a pair of high-quality shoes a try, especially since many of my hikes are in the three- to five-hour range. Who needs a big klunky boot when you want to beat feet?

The Titanium hiking shoe by Columbia has been a godsend. It looks like a glorified tennis shoe but it’s so much more. It’s got a thick Vibram sole to absorb the pounding of a tough hike. Its Gore-Tex material is comfortable, breathable and, most important, waterproof. My feet stayed dry despite hiking recently in the first snow of the season on the other side of Independence Pass.Best of all, I was able to get a snug fit immediately, and one that didn’t change after the shoes were “broken in.” In three medium-sized hikes, around eight miles each, I never blistered and never got that scrunched-toe pain on steep downhill stretches.

I am particularly anxious to try out the Titaniums on desert hikes this fall, hikes that can turn the interior of my old high-top boots to blast furnace levels. I’m betting the Titaniums keep my feet cooler. My old boots won’t be abandoned to the closet, but they won’t see the light of day quite so often.Columbia footwear is available at a variety of fine shops around the valley. The Titanium was on sale for $90 when I found it.