My relationship with my current walking boots is a bit like an arranged marriage. I’d had a passionate teenage romance with magnificent calf high Diadora boots that took me on my first trek in 1975. We wore denim flares, jumpers knitted by mum and oily Japara jackets. And weren’t my boots GREAT? But I grew out of them. You change, you know?
Then I moved on to leather Diadoras ankle boots that I’d fallen in love with in my early 20’s. We covered a lot of ground together, shared many highs and lows, knew each other at our best and worst and had a love that had endured for over 20 years. Until, suddenly and unexpectedly, while waiting for a bus after a few days training walk to Changu Narayan near Kathmandu, and just three days before we were to trek the Annapurna Circuit together, my beloved Diadoras quietly died. Ke garne?*
There was not much for it except to have a short term fling, eyes wide open, with a pair of cheap, tarty Hi Techs. It was an easy relationship. No expectations of longevity. We were using each other. I knew that. They knew that. As expected, the Hi Techs did not last the distance and on day 20 of the Circuit (yes, we were doing it in reverse), they lost their souls/ soles. It was not a relationship worth pursuing.
Just before returning to Nepal in 2008, I had a few hours in Sydney to buy some new boots. It was a marriage of convenience. Their pedigree was good (Scarpa) the fixer was confident, I was vulnerable and needed a solution fast, and so it was. From the start it was hard work. Months of stuffing them with wet newspapers, layers of Dubbin, exhaustive preventative preparations. On treks I would wear them as much as possible then swap with relief into runners. But we did not give up, and eventually, after some years, the relationship was going OK. We had to learn when to give, when to shut up, how to lace, what socks to wear. And so on. But we’re making it work.
With merely the (possibly superstitious) application of a blister patch to the back of both ankles I can walk in my boots for hours, over whatever terrain is dished up to us. Me and my Scarpas. And my blister pads. Due to somewhat haphazard packing for my recent Upper Mustang trek, and to your benefit dear reader, I had not one but three different types of blister prevention:
Dr. Scholl, Band Aid and Compeed.
This was a well controlled study. A pad was applied before the day’s walking which usually entailed a little bit up, a little bit down and a little bit flat. (This was Nepal remember!) They remained on for as long as they remained on. Which in the case of Band Aid brand, was approximately twenty minutes after setting off. Pathetic. The Dr. Scholl brand was a little better and sometimes lasted the day. It was fussier to apply and resulted in more litter. The Compeed brand was far and away the Rolls Royce of blister pads. Applied easily, stored easily (those little plastic boxes can be recycled for all sorts of things later!) and lasted on my heel for a very long time. I avoided too much water on the area and given the conditions this was not a big issue. I would thoroughly recommend Compeed. Dr. Scholl if you have no choice, and don’t waste your time with the Band Aid brand. (Please note: I am not receiving any payment for this review but would be happy to accept any free samples that any Compeed executives reading this post would like to send my way!)
*You’ve heard it before and you accompany it with a resigned shrug: What to do?