Travel 101: These Feet Are Made for Walking


Stephen F. Dennstedt

Five years of travelling has changed my philosophy a bit about footwear. My primary footwear included my very expensive Alden “Indiana Jones” handmade leather boots and a pair of Keen Sandals. My first pair of Keens blew up in Mexico when the sole separated from the mid-sole. I bought a second pair in Quito, Ecuador just before leaving for the Galapagos Islands and they’ve held up fine so far (I’ve had my second pair for about 1½ years). My much abused Aldens have reached their end: the inner leather lining is deteriorating and the Vibram sole is separating big time.

So how has my philosophy changed? For one thing I don’t need sturdy ankle support anymore because I’m not backpacking heavy loads over long distances on rough trails. At seventy years old I’m just getting too damn old for that nonsense. So I’m replacing my venerable Alden boots with Keen’s Targhee II waterproof trail shoes (just received them from REI today). Much lighter in weight, waterproof interior, quick dry exterior, shallow lug sole (as opposed to Alden’s deep lug Vibram sole) to prevent mud buildup and they’re much, much cheaper.

My Alden boots have been GREAT (and stylish) and allowed me to trek through Cuba, Mexico, Central America and South America. They’ve been in jungles, rainforests, mountains, deserts, beaches and islands (Amazon, Andes, Atacama, Samara and Galapagos). They’ve been to 5-Star restaurants; the opera, theater and symphonies. Any number of shoeshine boys have polished them for 50¢ to a buck in almost any Latin American country you can name. It’s with a great sense of guilt that I now consign them to the dumpster. May you RIP my loyal soles. Here’s another related post on my footwear.


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