It’s quite obvious that my genes developed something significantly different to the average foot, evolution endowing me with a pair of size 9’s that blister at the very thought of footwear.
Currently in search of the Holy Grail of trekking boots, I’ve recently been trying a pair of Karrimor KSB Trek-Lite II Event. Advertised as waterproof (no sniggering at the back please), I can summarize my experience of these boots by saying simply that they display all the water resistant properties of a tea bag.
Now I can hear all you seasoned professionals out there wailing at me for having so much hope in the faded glory that was Karrimor. But in my defence I’m not label proud if something fits and doesn’t require a fork lift to move it, and I’ve found only four boot brands over the years that actually fit my odd feet. Cost has been no yardstick, those four being Meindl, Lowa, Hi-Tec and Karrrimor.
Indeed I backpacked LEJOG in 1985 in a pair of Hi-Tec Trail. And the most comfortable pair of boots I ever owned ? A pair of Karrimor KSB 3 back in the late 80’S.
I imagine boots manufacturers each having a foot last locked away in a vault somewhere around which every boot they develop is modelled. And in the case of Karrimor it’s probably one that was whittled meticulously out of a single piece of lignum vitae by an old cobbler in Mordor…perhaps using Marco Polo as the foot model. Who ever the model was, he was quite obviously a distant relative of mine because Karrimor boots just fit me like a glove and have never given me so much as a single blister.
So it’s with some sadness that I have to report that trying this pair of KSB’s was like being reunited with a dearly loved and long lost relative, only to find that they’ve squandered the family silver.
Now I’m not going to review these boots here, I lack the required technical skills and vocabulary. Safe to say that they have been used for the last four weekends on walks of about 15 miles each, and on every occasion they have not so much as wetted out as positively welcomed water in with open arms. I swear if I look and listen closely I can see beads of water rising up the boot and being mercilessly sucked in. Indeed on my last walk over Ickonshaw moor my feet became so sore from the soaking that I had to take solice in the Wuthering Heights Inn for a pint of Farmers Blonde.
They also have another potentially hazardous trait discovered while descending a cobbled lane whistling the Hovis advert. The sole appears to have been coated with something with all the stickyness of Teflon. My elbow taking the full brunt of a very undignified butt landing.
The final disappointment however was in my near failure to obtain a refund from either the on-line retailer or Karrimor, who both appeared to try and neatly sidestep the thorny issue of customer satisfaction.
Karrimor, who I can only presume have taken the lead from white goods manufacturers, actually require you to register your guarantee for it to be effective. Come on Sports Direct, this it a pair of boots not a Teasmade.
The on-line retailer eventually offered a full refund after I employed my best ‘I am astonished’ complaining voice, and advised that Advertising Standards may have an entirely different view of the term ‘Waterproof’.
I am certain that somewhere amongst the vast Karrimor array of footwear is one that is, perhaps quite accidentally, brilliant. And I am determined to find them to please my feet. In the meantime a plea to Sports Direct. You have in your procession a once iconic brand of footwear that caress my feet like a gentle babbling brook; could you please let the designers go that last mile and ensure that they don’t wet my feet in the same fashion.
If not, any chance of buying that foot last ?