I’ve griped before about trying to find shoes that fit me, that are comfortable, that have ankle support, and that can hold up to not only the pounding of retail, but specifically the pounding of working retail at Home Depot.
Home Depot is hell on shoes. Those ugly commercial tiles that most stores have down do actually make a difference in how long my shoes last. Shoes that last for months and months at most places barely last 3 months at HD. That straight up concrete is hell on shoes, feet, and joints.
Doing some research and talking with long term HD employees a couple things stood out. 1: I needed at least two pairs of shoes to swap between, as in every other day swap. And 2: it might be worth checking out quality hiking shoes, several folks recommended them.
So off I went to a couple different local sporting goods stores. The next problem was that I wanted high tops without actually getting BOOTS, and I have wide feet (for my foot length) due to having spent my life on my feet.
I ended up with a pair of Ahnu Montara boots, and a high topped set of Keen shoes (I forget which style). The Keen’s came in wide (so I bought them in size 7), the Ahnu’s didn’t, but I only had to go up 1/2 size to get a decent fit (size 7.5). I figured that the width on the Keens would be the key factor, but I was wrong. The Keen’s weren’t bad shoes. But the Ahnu’s not only broke in faster (with zero hot spots or blisters despite a longer footbed), but remained more comfortable for far longer than the Keens did. And when the Keens finally died they died all at once and were hell to wear. The Ahnu’s I could have gotten away with for a bit longer if I’d had to. I got a solid year’s worth of comfortable wear out of the Ahnu’s, and a year of wear out of the Keens, though I’m hesitant to call it a solid year’s worth of comfortable.
The local Gander Mountain was closing back end of spring/beginning of summer, so I swung through there to see what they had left. A set of Ahnu Montara’s in a different color caught my eye, but they only had them in size 8. I tried them on and walked in circles for several minutes in them before deciding to buy them anyway. A set of Red Wing Irish Setter boots caught my eye, and they had them in 7.5, and they fit and weren’t uncomfortable at first try, so I grabbed them too.
That was May, if I recall right. Once again the Ahnu’s required essentially no break in period, the extra half size length of the foodbed has caused me no problems. The Red Wings did, and have remained far less comfortable than the Ahnu’s all the way across the board. The addition of cheap gel soles under my prescription insoles helped some, but not enough.
For various reasons I’ve basically not worn either pair for the last month except for a few hours here and there. Black Friday I wore the Ahnu’s for an 8hr shift. Saturday I wore the Red Wings for an 8hr shift. Friday, my feet hurt a bit, but thats normal enough after that sort of day. Saturday I came home with serious hotspots and not quite blisters, and seriously sore feet and ankles and knees.
Today I’m shopping for Ahnu Montara boots. As I’d hoped several places (including the official website) have them on very nice sale. I intend to buy at least two pairs. And hope and pray that the folks who own the brand never ever change them! The Red Wings are being relegated to wear around the house work boots.
The Ahnu Montara’s are very lightweight in comparison to every other hiking shoe and boot I tried. The soles held up very well to the abuse that is HD, though some hiking reviews say they don’t always for things like rock climbing. I can’t speak for the original insoles as I replace them with my prescription ones. The soles are soft, but not thin. They do allow you to feel everything you step on, which is a bit weird till you get used to it. On the other hand I have yet to slip on wet concrete in them, even in the year old ones!
I was not in any way paid for this review, all the shoes mentioned were bought with my own money.