First, the background
I’ve been running & hiking in Salomon XA Pro’s for 3 years now. When I first saw them, I thought they were the most hideous shoes on the showroom wall I was looking at, and the price! I was pretty sure I could find a decent hiking/running hybrid for less than that. Well I tried on literally every other pair, and in a fit of despair pulled out a set of them and slid them on.
It was love at first lace-up, if you can call it that. One of the things I love most about the shoes is the lacing system itself: you don’t lace them up like normal, you pull the laces – which are connected across – tight, and then slide a locking mechanism down. The excess lace tucks away into a pocket on the tongue. It’s awesome. It’s fast. It’s consistent. It doesn’t need readjustment! It’s almost flawless. If you’ve ever been camping and had cold hands and needed to tie your laes, you know the plight: it’s cold, it hurts your fingers, and you don’t have the dexterity to pull it off like you would like to. Well with the Salomons that’s not an issue any longer.
And they just felt “right” as soon as they got on my feet. None of the other shoes felt right. These were everything I could want in a shoe, and honestly? If I could wear them to work, I so would.
Second, getting the correct ones
They now make a couple of varieties; the normal ones and a Gortex-lined, waterproof variety. Well since they’re “Waterproof” and more expensive, all the local outdoor shoe places want to push them. Problem is, I don’t like the waterproof variety. They suck, and I can explain why.
Waterproof sounds good in theory, but the problem is – especially for an ankle-high shoe – if you encounter water, it’s going to get in the shoe. It’s going to go over the shoe boundary and inside. Which means that then, you’re foot’s wet, and it’s going to stay that way. So what it means is that yeah, they’re waterproof, so long as you don’t actually come across water in amounts that are worth mentioning.
Hey I like the thought too, it just doesn’t actually work.
So I prefer the regular ones. They breath really well, and drain really well, too. I use them as all-purpose shoes; they are my hiking boots/shoes, my trail running shoes, and my river shoes. Yeah, I will go straight into a river with these guys. See I know they will get wet, but I also know that they’ll dry out really fast, so I avoid the sloshy feeling of other shoes, especially “waterproof” varieties by sticking with the regular, breathable variety.
I’ve read about ONE instance where the Gortex makes sense: in sand. If you run along the beach or through fine-sand areas, the “waterproof” models will keep sand from seeping through into the shoe. And honestly I do run in a few places that I have problem with this, but I can just deal with it and hose them out when I get home; after all, they dry out fast, remember?
Third, the company
Some of you have probably heard of and used zappos.com before, so their mention isn’t news necessarily to you. I’d heard of them before too, but hadn’t used them until the day before yesterday. With just one hiccup, I can’t say I have anything but positive things to say about them.
I originally placed on order for red in 10-½. They didn’t end up having them, so they gave me a $20 credit on my next order, which I placed the next day for the same shoe in yellow or whatever color (it’s just highlights, I don’t really care. Picked red and/or yellow because those colors were on sale for an additional $20 off in the first place). But I f*cked up! I forgot to apply the coupon when I placed the new order, so I had to call them and get it straightened out.
Upon calling, I spoke with Darren. He looked up my order history, informed me of what happpened on the initial order, and then applied the $20 discount for me. THEN, he went even further and upgraded my free shipping option to OVERNIGHT shipping, still for free. So by the time all was said & done, I had my $125 Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultras for $82.60, and I have them on right now, 26 hours after I ordered them.
Needless to say, but so shall I anyhow: Kudos to zappos, and they’re highly recommended by the ‘bob.
My foot has shrunk over my life. And not just that, either. First, I now wear a 10-½ as I stated earlier. But it’s not that my foot magically got smaller, it’s that the proportions and shape have changed over my years. I used to wear a 12 or so, but was also extremely flat-footed. Like, extremely. My footprint looked like the bottom-up view of my foot. You could see everything. However, as I’ve aged, I’ve actually developed an arch. Nothing major, but anymore I’d say I have what would be considered a normal arch.
Kind of interesting, I thought. Most people go the other way in life, ending up flat-footed with age. Huh.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
First, the background