Mouse Traps & Boots

If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbors, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

IMG_2423

 
What Kevin Leahy does is make a better hiking boot. And he did “build” his house in the woods.
After thirty years of searching for over-the-ankle boots which fit my foot problems, my husband and I decided to invest in custom boots before a planned trek in Bhutan this autumn. My foot complexities include calluses, bunions, ankle bone spurs, wide across the metatarsals and narrow through the ankle plus plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia.
I was very scared to spend money way beyond our usual budget. I now think we got more than what we paid for.
 
 We were drawn to Kevin’s training—making orthotics and working with prosthetics on the one hand, apprenticed to a master Austrian hiking boot maker on the other. Also the fact that he lives near Santa Cruz, offered a free introductory appointment, and was close enough to where we live in the Bay Area that we could go down for a personal fitting. We were sold very quickly by Kevin’s clearly competent, workmanlike demeanor and skill. I’m not sure how this is relevant, but it also mattered to us that we were paying someone to blend art and science…and that he is clearly a truly decent person.  We liked him.
 
And we love the boots. I never understood what “fits like a glove” meant before. They are beautiful and they fit! And they have great traction.
 
I turned out to have some problem with the insoles because of a sensitivity to cork which I had failed to mention. Kevin made me a pair of orthotics without cork at no additional cost and had them in the mail within two days.
 
If we win the lottery, or even a windfall, I’m getting a pair of boots for my husband and walking shoes for me.
 
—Carol S.
UPDATE:
 IMG_2925
Dear Kevin,
My boots were polished by a Bhutanese forester guide at 13,000 feet on the Druk trek in Bhutan. This was not his job, but he said he wanted to do it in tribute to the boots and how they helped him do his job, which was taking care of me. Trails in the Himalayas are much more difficult than ours in the United States—filled with stone, tree roots, steep inclines and declines, not to mention yak poop. I had dislocated my right elbow in early July and had balance problems. Despite that and my unfortunate tendency to walk toe to heel (you can see wear on the toes that document this), the tread on my boots has not failed me once. It IMG_3250is amazing and they are worth their weight in gold!
Tomorrow I hope they will take on a pilgrimage to a monastery built into a mountain called Tiger Nest. Thank you again for the time, skill and love that went into making them.
Warm regards,
Carol