The AKU lesson.

My favorite pair of boots of all time were a pair of AKUs. I got them in 1992, on sale, at a store I was working at while in college (MainPeak Australia, still a great store!).

I loved them because they fit my feet.

This is a deceptively simple concept, but it turns out that is the number one, best, most important reason to buy a pair of boots. They felt GREAT the minute I put them on. Thank goodness they were also on sale.

The other reason I loved them was because my boyfriend at the time got some that matched. We looked so cool, or I thought we did. Turns out that is probably the number one, worst, reason to buy anything.

As time went by, and I wore them on bush-walks and beach hikes in the south- and north-west of Australia (my stomping grounds at the time), the boots molded to fit my feet even better, and their other strengths began to show.

I came to appreciate the GoreTex lining, the Vibram soles, the double stitching in all the places that matter.

They were so versatile - they could go ANYWHERE. In the 20 years that I used them, I hiked in snow, sand, water, on rock, in the desert. They stayed dry, managed my foot temperature well and were always ready to go. The best hiking partners a girl could wish for.

I came to appreciate that they laced up quite high.  The top of the boot came to about 2 inches above my ankle. Even when I was tired, I could feel the support and leverage that comes from having a boot that securely laces above the ankle. In my early twenties I had zero appreciation for how this might extend my hiking days, and years. Many mountains and thousands of hiked miles later, I get it!

I had to retire those old boots recently. My dog had chewed the top ankle support (in 2002...). I left them a moldy basement two winters ago, and the suede outer became a new shade of green, but I kept wearing them! The final straw was that the Vibram soles became so hard that they hardly flexed at all, and I began to slip when heading down the sometimes slippery rock I hike regularly in the hills of Maine.

This year I spent the summer wearing my son's cheap Timberlands (bought at Reny's department store), which are remarkably comfortable - with great ankle support and soft sticky soles. They won't do much for me come winter, though.


I am on the lookout for a new pair to replace the AKU's... I am ready for this search to take a while... but those boots taught me a lot about what to look for.


The boyfriend can choose his own...