The essential gear in Landscape Photographers’ arsenal is the walking boots. Consider many things before you part with large sums of money. Based on my personal experience, I recommend investing in boots that are durable and built to last. You will save money long-term if your boots are properly cared for.
Before you buy a pair of boots, think about how you will use them. Do you plan to use the boots for navigating rough terrain or clear trails? You will traverse sodden, boggy terrain or wade through thick snow. Are you looking for four-season boots that can withstand winter’s cold? Once you have decided what boot is best for you, you can start to look at all the different models and manufacturers. Next, visit an outdoor retailer to measure your feet. I found that one of my feet was a UK size 9, while the other was a UK size 8. Both feet are large. I was also advised by the gentleman who helped me that I go half a size larger to allow for swelling as blood flows through my feet. He was spot on.
After much research and debate, I settled on two models that could withstand the Scottish landscape and protect my lower joints during extended trips: the Hanwag Alaska GTX and the Meindl Bhutan FFS (Memory Foam System). I wanted boots that could last years were easy to maintain and offered the possibility of having them resoled if needed. One fateful day, I was in a Blacks Outdoor Shop and tried on the boots. The Meindl Bhutan’s fit better to my larger feet than the Blacks. I was also unsure if the Hanwag could have a resole, so the clerk sealed the deal. I spent some time in boots, wandering around and using the staircases as mountain paths to feeling my ankles’ weight and support. I was three times lighter when I left the shop.
To condition the high-quality leather and seal the boots, I waxed them once I got home. According to my advisor, the boots can be walked in for up to 3 miles. However, I decided to wax them anyway as I had a 4-day expedition to Scotland’s far north starting the next day. It included three significant climbs and a lot of boggy terrains.
IN THE FIELD
I was able to push the Bhutani’s limits during my trip. I spent many hours in thick peat bogs around Glencoe and across Torridon climbing undefined Scottish mountains, as well as traversing terrain that would have otherwise destroyed my knees. Except for one instance where I was up to my knees deep in a bog due to a well-disguised hole that allowed water to run down my pants and into my boots through my trousers, Bhutan’s were dry and comfortable throughout the trip. This allowed me to carry on my work without any difficulty. Although the outer leather was completely saturated when I returned home, the interiors were still dry.