Monday, November 4, 2013

walking shoes

After much scurrying around, it became pretty obvious that we couldn't do anything remotely helpful to the process of moving to Finland in Edmonton, so we had to take an impromptu trip to Ottawa. We were there for a night and a day, and dummy here forgot the memory card for her camera, so I don't have many pictures of the trip. You're not missing much, though, as most of it was spent at the Finnish embassy or in taxis or in the House of Commons where pictures are not allowed anyway. (We super lucked out as it was in session that day and we had the opportunity to see the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition go at it over the most recent Canadian scandal. I won't bore you with details, but it was really exciting to be right there!)

Anyway, the Ottawa trip was pretty much the last straw for me. As someone who's always relied on thrift store shoes (I know. I should probably stay away from thrift shoes as I stay away from thrift underwear), I found myself pretty much out of shoe choices when deciding what to wear. Since the trip was so short, I had to pack ultra-light (and by that I mean, no suitcase) so my choices were made based on whether I wanted to lug a heavy bag across my shoulder all day or not. That meant I could only take one pair of shoes and they had to be on my feet. (Imagine how annoyed I was to find I was lugging around my big camera for absolutely no reason!)

Quite obviously, this was the second trip where I've been laid up with blisters, sore ankles and toes, and a limp exactly one hour after walking in shoes that were only meant to skip across a store for 20 minutes and then come off. Actually, I really couldn't have chosen the worst pair for this particular trip, either, as that pair is almost not even acceptable for skipping across a store for 20 minutes. Did they go with the clothes I'd be wearing the whole time? Sure! But they are practically like walking barefooted (little pebbles were my worst nightmare).

So that's it for me. I'll forego the shoes that work with everything, that are super cheap (the ones I wore to Ottawa still have the price tag on them -- $3.99), that are even super cute in support of comfort and all-day walkability. Nothing ruins a trip more than when your feet are aching and you still have to push yourself to walk another 2-3 hours. And nothing's worse than returning home and having to hobble around the house in loose socks, soft slippers, keeping your legs elevated for a day or more. So after what I would call an extensive search online (because I had to read through a multitude of comments), these are the brands and shoes that stood out the most to me.

Walking Shoes

{1} Clark's Wave.Trek: This shoe is first on my list since it's garnered the most positive reviews and the most mentions wherever I read about walking shoes. The Wave.Trek is designed with a rocker sole that conserves energy, absorbs shock, and cushions the joints which is probably perfect for walking over cobblestoned streets (of which I've been encountering a lot). I also like that it's waterproof as we found ourselves in cold, drizzly weather in Ottawa and literally had no where to go (unless we wanted to eat lunch again). The negative reviews center mainly on fit so I would definitely want to try these on and walk about the store a bit. My own negative is that I don't like how they look from the side (I don't like how the sole looks) and I wish there were more colour choices, but when I think about that, then walk to get a glass of water right now, I think, "Stop being so damned fussy!"

{2} New Balance 980 and New Balance 895 V2: The New Balance brand came up an awful lot in every comment section I read through, though I'm not yet decided on which type I like best. I love that the 980 is leather (I always seem to have a problem with my toe working its way through a fabric upper and leather is a really nice option in winter climates), and I like that the rubber is really subdued (meaning it doesn't have all the knobs and cleats and bumps sport shoes are all designed with) which makes it a little more of a stylish option. The few reviews I found on it were all positive, I just wish there were more reviews. The 895, however, has a lot of great reviews plus it's lightweight with a heel pillow and REVlite cushioning. It's also got more interesting colour options. I think I'd like to try them both on for a side-by-side comparison, though it might be smart to have two pairs in your suitcase to switch out during a trip. I find my feet get less tired if I change up my shoes every once in a while. And if the 980s are a little heavier, the 895s could go in the carry-on and the 980s could be your plane shoes (you don't have to remove your shoes through security anymore, thank god).

{3}  Merrell's Ascend Glove: Boasting that it's cushioned, lightweight, and durable makes this shoe sound perfect for travel. Not to mention the many times I came across the Merrell brand name during my searches. Breathable, washable, and good for long runs and treks over tough terrain, plus it looks like a fashionable sporty sneaker and comes in some pretty kicky colours (I'm starting to realize that if you're going to go with sporty sneaker, you might as well choose out-of-the-box colours so it looks like you were going more fashion than comfort the whole time, right?).

{4} Rockport TruWalkZero Pod Lace-up: These are lightweight, mimic the natural motion of walking, and have shock absorption that reduces foot and leg fatigue. As with the others, I chose them because the name kept coming up and I also liked the look of them. The sole itself looks tough and durable (read: thick) and the fact that it doesn't completely overwhelm the style makes all the difference. The colour choices are pretty nice, too. I think they would even look ok with a longer skirt, I mean, if you had to.

And I'm not the only one obsessed with sneakers right now! Check out this post by Miss Moss to find some kicky sneaks. What I like out of her choices are the Asics X Liberty London printed pair -- So sweet! And I surprised myself because I actually really dig the Nike Air Max bright yellow and beige pair. When I see them on someone, they look more like kicky loafers than chunky running shoes. What's really interesting is that the New Balance 980s show up on her list, too. They might be rising to the top of my pile!

Also, after walking on the extremely slippery streets of my neighbourhood (ONE snowfall. ONE. And I can't even walk out there), I've narrowed down on some winter walking shoes. I'm liking the Teva Forge Pro Winter Mid Insulated waterproof hiking boot and the Merrell Arctic Fox. Finland's a winter country as well, so I'll definitely need a good boot there, too (though we've talked to someone who lived in Finland and is now living in Edmonton, and she pretty much laughed her face off about how poorly Edmonton handles winter snow. I guess what we consider winter snow removal is almost a joke compared to what happens over there -- i.e. we're crap at it -- no surprise there.)

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