A few weeks back I had put a call out to some fellow lady travelers, looking for a waterproof boot suitable for walking and light hiking. My goal was to wind up with something that would be functional, preferably in black or another neutral color. Basically I wanted something that didn't look overly athletic, but would hold up in rain or rocky conditions; and something that might blend in if I went to a bar. I generally don't give much though to styling myself before going out for the day (while traveling), and on multiple occasions have found myself on a pub crawl or other event looking around a crowd of other travelers- realizing how vastly under-dressed I am. I don't care too much, though I am pretty aware of it; so I wanted for my shoe purchase to be well thought-out.
The best recommendation I received was to check out the selection at REI. If you're from outside the US, REI is an extremely reputable outdoor/travel supply company (similar to MEC in Canada). I was helped by a very knowledgeable gentleman who walked me through a few different types of shoes; and I spent what must have been an hour just walking around the store "test driving" each pair. I didn't much like the first three I tried, and was very relieved when I slipped on the Kodiak Surrey II.
...well "slipped on" may be romanticizing a bit- it was more like: tried, failed, loosened laces, shoved foot in. Putting them on was a bit of a struggle to begin with, but ultimately decided to purchase because they had the best foot-feel (did I just invent another term??) of the four pairs I sampled.
Sidenote: REI had a really great membership program. It's $20 for a lifetime membership- and I was told by the cashier that fee gets donated to a local charity or initiative (though I was unable to find information on the REI site to corroborate). Furthermore, REI has a great return policy in general, but with the membership you don't need to have the receipt to return or exchange (because purchases are tracked with the membership number, making verification easier). Lastly, REI hosts "garage sales" where members can snag some great deals on gently used and returned items (I'll be going to my first garage sale in a couple of weeks!)
I wore them around the house for a few hours, nervous that I had made the wrong selection. There was a portion of the tongue on the right boot that kinda jabbed into my foot a little, but after wearing them around and fiddling with the laces a bit, it wasn't quite as noticeable. "Test-drove" them to work to get in one last wear in prior to committing to bringing these roughly 2.5lb foot-guardians on my trip.
To answer your burning question... yes; they made the final packing-list cut. Sorta. Even though I was planning to bring them along, considering their weight, packing was not an option- so I wore them. Not only did I wear them on the flight, but I also wore them:
- walking around Edinburgh
- hiking Arthur's seat
- on a train to Leeds
- walking around Leeds
- on a train to London
- walking from Kings Cross to Camden Market..... and all over London
I wore them in cold and rain and cold/rain. I wore them though puddles and up hills and walking through a lovely park and even out to dinner (because I'm fancy like that).
t h e v e r d i c t
These boots are the best $170 I've spent in a long time. I work for a non-profit in an expensive city; I scrutinize all potential purchases.... and I cannot help but to pat myself on the back for making such a smart, adult investment in these boots. They functioned beyond my expectations: they kept my feet warm and dry-- and by 'dry' I mean safe from the rain of the UK, but also that they kept my feet from getting clammy after wearing them for a long time (oh hey now, don't be grossed out, you know exactly what I'm talking about!). The toe bed is wide enough that when you're walking downhill you don't feel like your toes are being jammed to the front of the shoe, and the fact that it is a well-structured boot means that your foot and ankle are secure if you're on loose gravel or walking on a slippery sidewalk.
The traction while climbing the 250m Arthur's Seat (Edinburgh) was really helpful, and their 2.5lbs didn't wind up feeling like I was walking around with cement blocks on my feet. I also got a lot of compliments on how they looked! They were also pretty easy to clean.
I would recommend this shoe to anyone and everyone!
The issues I had with the tongue and the shoes being difficult to put on was rectified by wearing them in a little bit. The tongue still pokes into my right foot a little bit, bu not in a meaningful way (like once I stop thinking about it, I don't notice it for the rest of the day).
I don't know if I would have had the courage to purchase at that price point if REI didn't have their extremely open return policy. Like I said, I don't have a whole lot of disposable income and knowing that I wouldn't be stuck with a $150+ product that I might hate was very reassuring.
If you're looking into getting a new shoe (or outdoor/travel product in general), I highly recommend walking into the nearest REI and talking to their staff. Sam at the REI in Boston was super helpful and helped me settle on this badass pair of footwear. I also checked out their backpack section and was able to try on a few bags AND then have weights to simulate a full/heavy bag so you can see how it really feels). Swoon.
- Have you ever had reservations about an expensive product that wound up blowing your mind?
- What is your go-too trip footwear?
- Do you own any of the Kodiak products? (These boots maybe a gateway-purchase for me and looking for recs!)
Nothing here is sponsored and no compensation is being received. I just wanted to share these great Kodiak boots and my new-found love of REI!