When the rubber meets the road

I wonder how often that title phrase is used literally? Probably as often as the word “literally” is used literally. Anyway, cue the choir of angels, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

L.L. Bean stocks a variety of brands: their own brand, alongside Keen, Merrell, Oboz, Salomon, Teva, and others. My three criteria going in were mid-height, waterproof, and comfortable. I was partial to the Salomons, but they didn’t have clown shoe sizes (12+) in stock. So I asked to try on the Merrells, which is the brand Ma decided on for her Wainwright footwear, as well as the Oboz, which are apparently the latest fancy award-winning boots.

I happened to be wearing my Wrightsock double-layer crew hiking socks while traveling up the coast that day. Perfect! I got my foot half into a Merrell before aborting, asking if perhaps they had a half-size bigger? “Sir, that’s the size 8 you pulled off the display rack.” Carry on, then. The size 12 boots were decidedly roomier than the 8, but still a snug fit.

The Oboz were stiff. I climbed up and down the stairs and circumnavigated the store. They were like wearing alpine ski boots. I don’t care how many awards they won, the Oboz would need about 192 miles of breaking in. Meanwhile the Merrells, especially by comparison, felt like putting on a pair of slippers. I was comforted in the knowledge that Merrell doesn’t make size 12.5, so the snug size 12 Merrell Moab Mid GORE-TEX won the day.

I hope to road test these boots over the coming weekend in California. Stay tuned!

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