Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Walking on Tenerife – Those Boots Were Made For Walking

My favourite boots are a pair of old Camel boots that I've probably worn about twenty times. I was completely seduced by an advert in a travel magazine which basically showed a foot resting on a log in a clearing in the jungle. On the foot was a gleaming Camel boot which looked about as at home in that exotic setting as a piece of leather, not actually on an animal, could be. I couldn't resist them.

Their first outing was to Kenya where they seemed just the ticket for exploring Tsavo East on foot. The reality though was that, as walking boots go, they turned out to be a complete bust. They might have looked the part, but just walking from the safari lodge bar to a table overlooking a watering hole with a G&T (don't actually drink the stuff, but it did seem appropriate) to enjoy sunset was enough to bring up a blister. In the end I carried them around Kenya instead of them carrying me.

Since then I've learned to choose my footwear carefully when it comes to buying shoes for practical reasons; something that when you're tackling Tenerife's diverse range of landscapes is a far more sensible approach.

Footwear for Walking on Tenerife

My number one walking boots for donkey's years have been a trusty pair of brasher's, similar to their current Hillmaster boot. I brought them from Britain with me and they've proved equal to the task of tackling all of Tenerife's terrains from the sliding volcanic scree on the way to the summit of Mount Teide to pine covered forest floors in the forests of the Orotava Valley and icy slopes in Las Cañadas del Teide.

These sort of sturdy boots are good all rounders for exploring the island on foot. But mine can feel quite heavy in the summer months when the temperature rises off the scale and boots like the brasher can make my feet feel as though they're a wee bit overdressed.
So when the temperatures rise, and the terrain permits, I tend to switch to a walking sandal. For a long time I wore a pair of Merrells when walking in summer months (between May and the end October) in areas where the ascents weren't too steep or slippery (good for coastal walks). They struggled a bit with some of the terrain, especially in the upper La Orotava Valley where a bit of dry floor ski-ing can add some excitement to trails when the forest floor is thick with pine needles. It was on one such walk that one of them fell apart mid-walk (to be fair I'd had them for a few years and they'd seen some action).
I couldn't find a suitable replacement until I spotted what looked like an almost identical pair of sandals in my local supermarket at a fraction of the price. To be honest I didn't expect much of them and tried them out on a short coastal walk around Las Ramblas in Los Realejos to see how they'd hold up. It turned out they felt no different from my old Merrells and two years later they're still going strong. They were an incredible bargain considering they cost me €2.99.

Recently I added another addition to my walking footwear stable, a pair of Quechua lightweight walking shoes. I could feel my feet sigh with joy as I tried them out for the first time on a trek last week. The temperature was hovering around 30 degrees and the terrain was more uneven than I'd expected with a couple of steep ascent/descents but the shoes stuck to the path as though they had solvent on them. After 15 kilometres my feet and the shoes were still best of mates.

The only downside was that they were so comfortable that at the end of the walk I was denied that delicious pleasure of peeling off my boots and walking socks and slipping them into an airy pair of sandals to let them breathe a sigh of relief.

It was only their first outing, they'll get the second tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to see how they hold up over the long term.

They won't be sturdy enough for the most serious walks like climbing Teide, or even the muddy Anaga paths after the winter rains, but it looks as though the brashers are going to get a well earned rest over the summer.


Dennis said...

I've been looking at options for footwear for walking/hiking so I found this article very useful. I now feel that to begin with I can use a pair of Merrells that I already have, they actually look like they were made for walking.

Martin said...

I had a pair of those Camel Boots when I was a student in the 90's. They were the nuts. What size are your boots? Do you want to sell them...? Seriously, if they're not too knacked - and after 20 wears they shouldn't be, I'll buy them off you if they're the right size...

Martin said...

I had a pair of those camel boots when I was a student in the 90's. Loved 'em...what size are they...?...fancy selling them...?


Real Tenerife said...

Hi Martin,

Response was a bit slow as we've moved the site over to
The pic of the boots are as they are now. They're in mint condition and are size 9 (43). But sorry, they're not for sale.
Loved them when I bought them and still do - even if they don't get out much. They're just classic :)
Nice to meet a fellow Camel fan.

Martin said...

Hi RT,

That's fair enough - can't say I blame you - I would never have got rid of mine but my old dear threw them out during one of her periodic clear-outs when I returned home after uni. Still haven't forgiven her and that was 1997...

As a student you walk everywhere all the time and by the end of my first year I was fed up with the hassle and cost of buying new shoes so often.

So I went into Birmingham over the summer to look for a pair of boots that would do the job. £125 later I came out of Rackhams with my camels.

If I remember rightly my pair gave me blisters when I first bought them too but once they were broken in they were just great. They did me the rest of my time at uni without skipping a beat - and the more beat up they got the better they looked and felt.

Size 9 would be perfect for me so if you ever change your mind...

Hope this doesn't sound too weird but could you post/email me a few more pictures of them please; I've been looking for 'just the right pair' of boots to replace them for about ten years now and nothing I've been able to find matches up to them in my minds eye - and there are very few pictures of them on the net (it was how I found your blog) so having a few more pictures of them from various angles would really help...


ps I've got a pair of brashers too - hillmaster classics with the air8 tag on the laces - and for hillwalking they're awesome, whether it's the south downs or the wilds of snowdonia..

Real Tenerife said...

Yeah, it probably does border on sounding weird... to a non-Camel owner :)
I'll set up a photo shoot with the boots when I get the time.

Kriuks Handcrafted Footwear said...

In the whole wast internet you blog has the only picture of those great boots. (although there are some blurry clips in youtube).
I am a shoemaker and one of my clients is asking for replicas of Camel boots.
So I am wondering if you could take some more pictures of your boots and share them with needy?