Monday, May 18, 2009

In pursuit of great caving shoes, Part 1

Long ago, I learned to cave in a pair of well-worn Doc Marten boots. Stylish and comfortable, they offered enough flexibility and grip for me to move easily in this new-to-me underground sport.

With the opportunity to cave again many years later, I invested in a pair of Hi-Tech boots from REI's outlet online, after a few desperate attempts to find cheap, yet sturdy, boots at my local Wal-Mart. My women's size 8 puts me below the bottom rung of men's work boots available at Wallyworld, and their women's department would lead one to believe that women do not hold tough jobs in this world beyond nursing! Boooo.

Ultimately the Hi-Tech boots have served me well, but it's time for a new pair. So, my fiancé found a pair of combat-SWAT-training Converse high-top sneakerish shoes for me. If police officers are using these in tough situations, surely they would be great for caving, right?

They looked good at home…the tread looked ok and deep enough for cave conditions, but I was unable to test them until we got into a very wet Ellison's cave on Saturday. They were a nightmare! I was slipping on the trail before we got into the cave, and continued to slip at every opportunity once inside. Thankfully Ellison's was the perfect testing spot, with no precarious positions to speak of...just a few rocks to bang into.

Needless to say, I give them an F for caving.

Pros: 75% off of 75$ = super cheap.

Cons: the lace setup was poorly structured for the shoe to evenly cushion my foot, leaving me with a tight, thin grab around my ankle (Ouch!) but still no ankle support; the performance on wet surfaces would have put me in danger in any other cave.

Overall: Next!

To be continued…