It’s something I’ve certainly been guilty of in the past, and I think it is in some way endemic of being a part of this great outdoor fraternity. There are so many flags to march under, from type of activity to level of achievement and dedication to said activities. It is amazing - and testament to the quality of those who inhabit this ecosystem that everyone mucks in together and get along.
That being said, there is a code to dissect where you sit amongst this symbiosis.
It’s not a bad thing, but as with all passions little celebrations of it work their way into the nooks and crannies of your self-expression. Even if ‘self-expression’ isn’t part of the thought process.
And so, to shoes. I guarantee the devout boulderer wears a different shoe to go to the cinema or pub (remember those days) than an ultra marathon runner. Similarly, a hill walker will have different ways of expressing themselves to an alpinist. The specifics of this are enough for another blog post in itself (watch this space), but you get the gist, and hopefully, you agree.
Think of it as a cave of glow worms. All the glow worms in the cave enjoy being in the cave. Why wouldn’t they? There’s loads of good glow worm-y things to do in there. However, each glow worm will react slightly differently to their immediate surroundings as they sift their world through the filters of their own interpretations and individual glow worm-y-ness. This will result in each glow worm having a different glow, yet if you bunched all the glow worms together into groups of similar glow worm-y interests, their glows would be similar, but contrast against those of a different group.
And so, from the internationally acclaimed ‘glow worm’ analogy back to me. As I feel I am part of a subsection that only recently starting to find their glow.
I’m not a super balls-to-the-walls outdoorsman, but I’m also not what I’d call ‘entry level’. My skill set is broad, but shallow. General athleticism, an even temperament, and knowledge of my limitations do the heavy lifting in my outdoor adventures. Cupboards in my home are stuffed with well-worn outdoor staples, and specific gear showing varying degrees of slight-medium use age. Much like the outdoor scene in general, it’s all rocking along in harmonious symbiosis.
But how do I express this to others and myself? I’m not technically minded enough to rock technical approach shoes, and I lack the whippet-like physique and high-functioning psychosis for running trainers. Similarly, seeing people walking about Sainsburys in b2’s gives me nightmares. I’m after something rugged yet useable. Timeless yet contemporary. Remember – we are talking about aspirations, not an honest reflection of who we are.
Step forward, the Danner Bull Run Moc Toe 6".
Near the end of the first century B.C.E, the roman architect Vitruvious identified the three elements necessary for a well-designed building; firmness, commodity, and delight. His point being that the worth of a thing can be distilled into a balance of how it looks, how it works, and how it’s made, regardless of the tides of fashion. I often think about this whenever I interact with these boots.
Even just holding them in your hands is a tactile pleasure. Straight out the box you know they are quality; sturdy but not rigid, and with an elegance born of something simple done very well. No frills, no vacuous aesthetics, just old school materials are married sensitively with contemporary technologies to make a boot that transcends labels of use or trend. I was immensely surprised to find that they kept my feet warm and comfortable at -16 for the best part of half a day with absolutely zero concessions; normal socks and jeans.
Case-in-point, the full-grain, oiled leather upper is tested for strength and durability, but is also more resistant to water and other liquid damage (as well as requiring less maintenance over time) due to incorporating oil into the tanning process. The Danner Wedge Outsole is also EH (electrical hazard) certified. Is that useful to me on a day-to-day basis? No. is it indicative of this being a considered, workhorse of a boot intended to be durable, comfy, and timelessly cool? Yes. The principles of Vitruvious are as alive in these as they are in the past 2000 years. They have great integrity and honesty.
This is carried forward once they are on your feet. The leather is tough and does require a small amount of wearing in, but I found a week or two’s light use did the trick. I’ve had hiking boots that are taking over a decade (and counting), so this is nothing.
The sole is the stand-out feature for me and is a fitting metaphor for the boot as a whole. Supple, forgiving, and supportive without being restrictive. Because I am a prima-donna, I substituted the footbed with a pair of Enertors, but this self-indulgence bordering on bourgeoise decadence. If I hadn’t thrown out the original insoles I would probably have changed them back.
I like that there is a slight front-loading of effort. It gives you an appreciation that this is the start of a long-term relationship – both parties need time to settle in in order to start bringing the best out of each other. I’ve had mine for the best part of 6 months now and the patina developing is beginning to tell our collective story. I wear them whenever possible – from supermarket runs, chopping logs to heat my home, playing with my son at the beach, and everything in between. The only thing they are missing is being christened at the pub, though thanks to awesome customer support like 365-day warranties and Recrafting services, there is plenty of time for that.
So, I set out trying to find a product to reflect my desired cultural identity. What I found is something that transcends the vacuousness of what I want and gives me what I need. I think why I like them so much is that they embody the qualities I want to cultivate within myself; simplicity, honesty, and integrity – the Vitruvian triumvirate for a modern age in desperate need of all three.
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