With years of experience as a backcountry guide, boot comfort is something I do not take lightly. After hearing a friend rave about Kevin’s custom hiking boots, I decided to try a pair of his boots for myself. Still new after only three trial runs, the boots are already proving to be a wise investment.
For comparison sake, I intentionally wore one boot of my store-rack pair (Vasque brand boots with a similar design), and one boot made by Kevin for a jaunt last evening. Aside from the fact that the boot from Kevin is simply a more attractive design, the level of comfort and functionality surpassed my Vasque boot.
The first thing I noticed was the difference in roominess for my toes. My fairly wide feet have generally fit snugly in my Vasque boots, but well enough for me to not even think about it. The boot from Kevin, the exact width match for my foot, opened my eyes to new levels of boot comfort! Interestingly, I found that the extra spread for my wide feet better engaged my feet and provided better traction.
The arch support, also customized to my feet, played a part in this new level of traction as well. There is simply no comparison here between the two boots. Having an arch support that directly aligns each foot individually provides outstanding comfort – a direct engagement between foot, boot and earth – that cannot be matched with a generic fit.
Custom arches translate into enhanced gait mechanics as well. When extending my foot forward in normal gait, heel on the ground, my generic boot slightly forces my toes higher, out of normal alignment. The boot from Kevin allows my foot to extend normally in that process, closer to barefoot walking, and provides a more efficient step. This difference certainly surprised me as I’d never really thought to notice before!
Finally, when I returned home and took the boots off, and looked at them side by side, the difference in material mass caught my eye. Kevin’s construction of the boot slims down the use of materials, therefore inherently adding efficiency with less weight. My Vasques not only use more padding to compensate for a generic fit, but also more sole where I don’t need it.
All in all, I am convinced that the boots Kevin made for me are exactly what I bargained for – an experience of superb comfort and function well worth the expense. With their uncommon balance of design, true comfort and fit enhancing functional qualities, I expect to be wearing them for years to come.