I am a boot murderer
December 7, 2011 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm really, really hard on shoes and boots.

Not only do I grind the heel down in a matter of months, even on heavy-duty boots, but more to the point of this question, the interior-rear of the shoe gets torn up, leaving the back of my foot grinding against the back of the shoe all day. Yes, I am putting the shoe on correctly. I suppose I may be wearing poorly sized shoes, but larger makes the problem worse, and I don't know that I could comfortably wear smaller. I'm buying the best quality I could consider affording, I generally go with Blundstones or similar for boots, and have settled on Saucony for shoes, because they're well-built enough that even when I tear them to shreds they're still pretty comfortable.

This isn't the end of the world, I'm a big tall guy with a funky gait who's on his feet all day, wear and tear is to be expected. But before I go out and drop another hundred dollars or so on a pair of boots that won't last the winter, does the hivemind have any suggestions? I'm in Toronto, if it's relevant re: the kinds of surfaces and weather I'm dealing with. Also, a dude.
posted by Simon! to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Ecco boots and shoes have lasted a long long time for me; the hard rubber soles are made from the same stuff those high-bounce toy balls are(people tell me) and they don't wear down much at all.
posted by The otter lady at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2011

I don't have any brand suggestions, but if you're putting that much wear on a pair of one hundred dollar boots, drop three hundred dollars on the next. I don't put much wear on boots, but $100 isn't going to buy much as far as build quality is concerned, regardless of what they're made for.
posted by griphus at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

I second griphus' suggestion--I've found that shoes and boots are really one of the few clothing areas where the price I pay makes a difference and I get what I pay for.* It might be time for you to "level up" on boots. Check these out.

*Unless you're doing something crazy in them like asphalt paving, wading through chemicals, etc.
posted by resurrexit at 9:11 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

$100 is pretty cheap and even someone not heavy on their shoes will go through those fast. $250 - $400 for a pair of boots that will last is worth it. In Toronto, I'd recommend Blundstone.

For shoes in general, I would look into purchasing quality leather shoes that can be resoled. I have a friend who swears by Cydwoq brand--I can't afford them myself but he has had some pairs for upwards of 10 years and just resoles them every 2 years or so for $30.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:17 AM on December 7, 2011

I love my pair of Redwing irish Setters.
posted by JimmyJames at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2011

Response by poster: You Should See The Other: As I say, I'm *already* buying Blundstones. Which is why I don't want to buy extremely expensive boots and find they fall apart as quickly as the 100-200 dollar, supposedly indestructible Blundstones. Nor do I want to buy leather shoes that can be resoled, but then tear apart the back.
posted by Simon! at 9:57 AM on December 7, 2011

Have you spoken with an orthopedist?
posted by griphus at 10:00 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you wearing the same pair of shoes everyday? I used to go through shoes like the soles were made of butter, because I only had one or two pairs that I would wear into the ground, buy another pair.. lather, rinse, repeat.

Once I had a little more money and could afford to have 10 - 15 pairs of shoes, they started lasting a heck of a lot longer. Granted some of my nicer shoes aren't in super heavy rotation, but I have one lovely pair of nice work/event shoes and another expensive pair of boots that are going on 10 years old. My Blundstones have seen heavy use, particularly in the winters, and they are 6 years old (the soles did start to fall apart last year so I should replace them this year, but they are still very wearable). Also, I don't drive and walk quite a bit, although my job is rather sedentary.

tl;dr: you need at least 3 pairs of shoes that you can rotate daily. It's better for your shoes and I've read that podiatrists recommend it as being better for your feet. In my experience, having more shoes to choose from in my daily rotation has resulted in shoes lasting far longer.
posted by kaybdc at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2011

They are kinda dorky looking, but nothing I've owned has held up as well as my MBT shoes. I ruined some Frye boots in months. Most shoes or boots look like hell 6 weeks after I get them. I wore my MBT's daily for 18 months, splashing through puddles, while setting up equipment in dirt lots, while doing commercial cleaning, and then my friend asked me how I kept them looking brand new. I don't do anything to maintain them. They are also the most comfortable shoes ever. I got the nubuck leather in black, and it still looks great.

My advice for buying them - try some on in a store, see which style you think is least dorky looking. Then go to their web page and click through to their official online retailers, and see who's got a sale going on. My understanding is that there are a lot of counterfeits online, which is why I only use the retailers they recommend. I was able to find them online for about $100, although at the mall they run ~$250 (US)
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:36 AM on December 7, 2011

kaybdc: "Are you wearing the same pair of shoes everyday? I used to go through shoes like the soles were made of butter, because I only had one or two pairs that I would wear into the ground, buy another pair.. lather, rinse, repeat.

Once I had a little more money and could afford to have 10 - 15 pairs of shoes

This is silly. If 1 pair = 1 year, then 10-15 pairs = 10-15 years. Great, except not only are you spending $1000-$3000 now, you're also stuck with shoes that were in style in 1995 in 2010! And you have no closet space for anything else other than your "Sex & the City"-caliber shoe collection.

I'd go with the other advice above about kicking it up from $100 (which is about as cheap as boots gets these days, isn't it?) to the $300 level for your boots. And if not, then hey, $100 every year or $300 every 3 years is pretty similar, but you get to have in style shoes all the time.

(yeah yeah, men's shoes are classic, you can get ones that don't go out of style etc)
posted by Grither at 10:41 AM on December 7, 2011

Doc Martens that are guaranteed for life? They're not waterproof, though.
posted by workerant at 11:07 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Blundstones, at least the slip-on kind that I have, seem like they're probably prone to wearing out quickly inside the heel, because they tend to fit more loosely than a well-laced pair of traditional boots.

So I'd try something with full laces, and make sure you're wearing a sock that has an outer surface with some friction, so that it's not sliding against the interior of the boot. You want the material of the boot to move with your foot, not have your foot moving around inside the boot.

As for the heel wear issue, I tend to do the same thing to boots and shoes and I don't think there's any real solution. My advice is to get really good boots (and dress shoes) with nailed-on heels, rather than one-piece molded soles. That way when the heels start to wear, you can take them to a shoemaker and have the heel replaced. I have this done about once a year on my daily-wear dress shoes and it's not terribly expensive -- about $15-25 each at my local guy. Boots are a bit more, and depending on where you live it might be more due to labor costs, but it's still a fraction of the price of a new pair.

Unfortunately, cheap shoes / boots with one-piece molded heels and soles are pretty much junk once you've worn the heel away; the upper might be fine, but it's apparently not easy or cost effective to completely remove it from the sole and resew it (I asked, because I had a pair of rubber-soled Bostonians that I was irrationally fond of). In contrast, more traditionally manufactured boots and shoes can be repaired: both the sole and heel are meant to be periodically replaced as they wear out much more quickly than the upper.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:10 AM on December 7, 2011

I can't speak to shoes, but I love me my Danner boots. I bought the Rainforest boots. They don't look super pretty, but I've had them for 11 years now, after killing a pair of boots every year before. I've had to get them recrafted once, which cost another $150, but that was about five years in. The only thing they won't replace with recrafting is the leather itself, so if you take good care of it, they will last ages. The ones I got have extra insulation, because I like that, but that means that I can't wear them for about 5 months of the year. On the other hand, I never have cold feet.
posted by Hactar at 11:13 AM on December 7, 2011

Have you tried double socks? Will likely wear the socks out sooner, but might save on interior wear.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:44 AM on December 7, 2011

You mention the back of your heel grinding against the inside of the boot all day--is this physically uncomfortable or you just don't like the look of the leather/whatever showing through the torn fabric liner? Could be a lacing/fit issue, but I have lots of shoes that happens to and if it's not a source of discomfort or even noticeable, I don't worry about it. I imagine it's probably quite common.
posted by resurrexit at 12:22 PM on December 7, 2011

Grither: there is some truth to kaybdc's advice. If you wear the same pair of shoes twice in a row, they will still be still a little damp (from your feet and/or whatever water they might've encountered out in the world the day before) when you put them on the second time. If you keep this up and they stay damp continuously, the shoes will break down much faster than if it had been allowed some time to dry.

Hence, while 10-15 pairs of shoes is probably more than strictly necessary, your shoes/boots that last for time T when worn every day *will* last considerably longer than T*N (where N is the number of pairs in rotation) if you put a few more pairs into rotation.

So Simon!, it may be worthwhile to put another couple of pairs into your footwear rotation if you tend to wear the same pair most every day. Even if they're the same model, it is good for your boots for them to have at least a day in between wearings to dry out.
posted by Scientist at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2011

It sounds like your shoes are not falling apart so much as experiencing accelerated wear, and your gait may be responsible. If this is true, a more expensive shoe may not be the answer.

Most any shoe that has wear on the sole can have its life extended by a good cobbler, as long as it's done before there's too much damage. Caught early, it's usually less expensive a repair, too, than a full re-sole or rebuild.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2011

I used to destroy my shoes as a teenager. I got orthotics for a few years, and I'm now much better. It might be worth seeing a podiatrist.
posted by kjs4 at 3:07 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Shoes that cost $100 will last only so long. Shoes that cost $200 will last twice as long. $300 shoes will last you a lifetime.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:27 PM on December 7, 2011

My sister used to wear out her shoes something awful and now she wears custom orthotics. Look into it. As for durability, my fiance wears Chippewa (steel toe) work boots which are on the higher end of your price range but but have really held up well in tough conditions.
posted by pintapicasso at 5:02 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

The jungle where I study monkeys is famous for shredding boots, partially because we walk for hours each day and partially because of the high levels of moisture and the rivers we have to wade through in the rainy season. I've seen or personally destroyed all sorts of famous brands of boots. The only ones that last, in my experience, are ASOLO and Vasque. I had a pair of Vasques that survived lava flows in Hawaii, wading through tropical rivers, and 5 years of abuse until they were stolen. My friend who swears by his ASOLOs and has had them for years occasionally sends them in to be resoled. It's much cheaper than purchasing a new pair of boots and his are very comfortably broken.

When you purchase boots/shoes, either those or other brands, go to REI. They have an excellent internet selection and they ship to Canada, but the internet tells me that Mountain Equipment Co-op is the Canadian version of REI. I know for certain that REI has a lifetime return policy and you don't need a receipt as long as you purchased them with your member number. A friend of mine returned a pair of boots there that were 10 years old. I've personally returned a pair of boots that I absolutely shredded in three months, even though I didn't get back to the States until over a year after I bought them. If you have a friend in the States near the store, you can also have your friend return the items in store for you as long as they have your membership ID number. I usually get store credit back because I love buying things from them, but they offer cash back/credit refund.

Looking through REI.com, I see lots of casual men's shoes that look as though they would do well walking around town and in the office. They do have Blundstone, but the reviews are poor and state that the newest ones are made in China and nowhere near the quality of the old ones.

If you are constantly getting your shoes wet, then dry them out between uses. I normally have at least two pairs of shoes that I rotate between during the rainy season. Buy a shoe dryer if they aren't waterproof and you're constantly soaking them. But, with my leather, waterproof ASOLOs, I don't get moisture inside my shoes unless I'm actually wading through rivers.

Lastly, if it's the interior rear that's the bulk of the problem and the rest of the shoe remains fine, try using a shoe insert like this.
posted by avagoyle at 6:38 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

- what kind of socks are you wearing? you may need burlier socks to fit inside your shoes.

- if you walk a lot or otherwise thrash your bootheels, just get them replaced, man. i have a 7 year old pair of fryes that i have walked zillions of miles in and those are on heel pair 5 or 6 i think. 20 bucks. reheel them shoes.

- while you're out getting your shoes reheeled, talk to your cobbler about the material around the ankle wearing through. you may be able to get that area patched.

- depending on what you're doing for work you may have to resign yourself to violating boots like it's no tomorrow. when i was doing tunnel work it was expected that one would obliterate one's rubber boots and also wear through a pair of (Cat, Danner, whatever) work boots in about a year, just because of the general filth, degradation, moisture, chemical weirdness, and so on.
posted by beefetish at 12:58 PM on December 9, 2011

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