I have used the same pair of boots almost every day since my early 20s. I’ll be 35 in a few months. Like with most “extreme” stats, a pair of boots which are 13+ years old blow the normal expectation values out of the water; much like being able to retire in five years… or having more than 2 page views per blog visit 😀

I don’t know how many reheelings (resoling the heel only) I have had done on them. I lost count around 8. I know the full sole has been replaced once because I found an excellent cobbler in the city I live in. Vibram Skywalk. Don’t get anything less.

The boots are Hanwag’s Grunten. They come in men’s and women’s. If you live in Europe, you are in luck. You can get them over most of Europe. I paid 1299 kroner for mine when I bought them in the mid-late 1990s. Today they cost 1799 kroner. I would consider them a fairly good inflation hedge. Better than TIPS! Better than the stock market, it seems depending on which month you ask 😉

I am seriously considering buying another 2 pairs. That should cover me for life. Hanwag sells these boots as the only pair of hiking boots you’ll ever need. I figure that since I use them every day, I’ll probably need more than one pair during my lifetime, but otherwise, pretty close.

I have taken these to many places. From the top of Mt. Fuji to Nevada’s desert to the train stations of Europe. They are light enough to hike in but tough enough for light rock “climbing”. Right in the sweet spot in terms of walking. I only wish they’d make them in black. This would make it possible to “pass” for dress shoes in a (very) tight spot. It would also make it easier to find shoe polish in the right color. Matching the current color is near impossible!

I have also lost track of how far I have walked in them with my walking commutes and all that. Normally a pair of running shoes would be expected to last 1000 km. Modern hiking boots are good for about 1500 km before the liner will begin to crack. These have gone at least 10,000 km.

They are double stitched full grain leather boots with a Norwegian welt. This means that if get a good coat of shoe polish and leather fat on them, they are as waterproof as modern boots with a tex-liner. The sole is actually sewn on so in theory, the entire sole could be replaced. Furthermore, unlike glued soles or modern boots, where the upper are a stitched mish-mash of nubuck and nylon, good boots have few seams, where water can get in, when the work apart.

Actually, a few years ago I had used them so much that I had worn down some of the liner at the heel. No problem, I had a cobbler stitch some leather on which rescued them from an early grave—hey, they were only about 10 years old at the time.

Over the years, I have been keeping my eye on Hanwag. Around the turn of the millennium it looked like they were scaling back on the Norwegian welts. However, it seems to have made somewhat of a comeback.

I don’t think you can get Hanwag in the US. However, you can get a pair which look equivalent: Merrell Wilderness. They cost somewhere north of $250 but they’re probably worth it. They also solve the color problem. Given a choice, I’d still take the Hanwag’s given their slightly more versatile usage. The Merrell’s accept crampons which should mean they are slightly stiffer. The Hanwag’s do not. If anyone own’s some Merrell’s I’d like to hear your take on how they are on asphalt. We’re thinking of getting some for DW.



A note on buying boots: Sizing boots is slightly different than sizing shoes. What you should do is to wear your hiking socks. I vastly prefer the two sock system over the technical brouhaha that has become popular over the past 10 years. The inner sock will be a thin highly sweat transporting sock. The outer sock is an absorbing wool sock with no seams. Now, get your socks (or sock) on and lace the boot halfway up. Push the foot forward in the boot. Now you should be able to shove an index finger down behind your heel and the heel of the boot. It should fit snugly without wiggle-room. If you can’t get a finger in, the boot is too small and you’ll get blisters on your toes. If you can wiggle, it’s too large and you’ll get blisters on your heel.The reason is that when you walk far, your foot flattens/swell, etc. and you want to leave room for that. The socks will swell too.

Originally posted 2010-08-15 11:16:34.