November 28, 2021

Columbia Trailstorm Hikers, by Pat Cascio

I’m very picky when it comes to footwear! I stopped purchasing cheap shoes at least 35-40-years ago, always remember, you get what you pay for. I don’t purchase footwear from any discount shoe stores, nor at any of the big box stores. I’ve found it much better to save up for better shoes and boots. I want to buy something that will last me a very long, and give me the support I need.

Unlike a lot of senior citizens, I have high arches, instead of fallen arches. So, I wear prescription insoles, instead of the insoles that come with footwear, or off-the-shelf insoles. My prescription insoles cost me in the neighborhood of $450.  Yep, that’s a lot of money, no matter how you look at it. However, these insoles were molded to fit my feet precisely. I’ve had these insoles for about 30 years now and they are about at the point, where I need to replace them. I almost did a couple years back. However, the deal I made with the foot doctor changed from the time of my first visit, until I was ready to be fitted with new insoles. And, let’s just say, the price when up – a lot! Don’t take anyone at their word. Get it in writing.

Many people totally neglect their feet, and just get the cheapest shoes they can find. This is a big mistake if you ask me. First of all, you aren’t getting what you think you’re getting, when you purchase cheap footwear. You probably spend at least 14-16 hours per day on your feet, so demand the best you can get – in the end, your feet will thank you – trust me. Our feet take a pounding every single day, so why not treat them to the best you can afford? Just think about how many thousands of pounds of pressure you apply to your feet every single day, each time you put your foot on the ground.

I usually go through a pair of shoes or boots every couple of years. It depends on what time of year it is, if I’m wearing boots, hikers, or athletic footwear. Most of the winter, I wear high-top hikers – waterproof, or I might wear a pair of mud boots – waterproof – if I’m out in the boonies. During the summer months, I wear some lightweight low-cut – waterproof – athletic shoes. It is important to note that almost all of my footwear is waterproof. Why? As a rule, we get a lot of rain in Western Oregon. This past year was very different, and we were behind on the rainfall – facing another severe drought with a lot of wild and forest fires.  Still, I put my lightweight hikers away – that are not waterproof – and I’m wearing something new from Columbia clothing.

The shoes under review today are called Trailstorm, and they are 100% waterproof – not just a spray-on waterproofing, but the inner membrane is waterproof. These came from Cabela’s and they sell for $99.99 – and let me tell you, these are super lightweight athletic shoes. They come in a variety of colors – so long as you like all black…LOL! (They do make some variations with different color trim, but the ones that I purchased were all black.)

Despite their name, I consider these low-cut athletic shoes, not a low-cut hiker. And, what is important to me is that they are lightweight! In my Golden Years, I no longer want to be wearing some heavy footwear. I have a couple pair of genuine USGI desert tan boots – they are not waterproof, and they are heavy. A local discount grocery store also sells a lot of discontinued products, and they received a shipment of military footwear – brand-new – and some were desert sand-colored (“flat dark earth”) and some were dark green – USAF issue. I couldn’t pass up a good deal – got some for the whole family. They were priced at two pairs for $11.00 – now that’s a deal. Unfortunately, these boots are extremely heavy. Mine will probably stay in the box, until such a time as the world starts to come to an end, and they will be the only boots I might have. They could also be used as barter stock.

There’s not a lot of information on these Trailstorm athletic shoes, other than it says they are extra lightweight, and have an “enhanced energy return”, and long-lasting cushioning – and I can’t fault any of that. Of course, the main benefits are being lightweight and waterproof. I hate buying footwear without being able to try them on, however, these shoes are true-to-size. They fit perfectly out of the box – and as to being lightweight – man, you forget you have them on – seriously. I read the reviews on Cabela’s website from customers, and it came out to a five-star positive review.

My Practical Tests

The only way to test footwear, is to actually wear them. I checked out the shoes closely – very well-made all the way around, no flaws at all. The toe cap is rubber to help prevent scuffed-up toe of the shoe. The cushioning is great – even with my hard prescription insoles installed. The shoes are easy on/off, too – that helps a lot. After wearing these shoes for several weeks, I found I had to lace-up the shoes a little bit tighter – that’s a given on all shoes after they’ve been worn for a little while.

I’ve worn these shoes for several weeks now, daily. I will probably purchase a second pair. Seems like, whenever I find a great pair of shoes from Cabela’s – the next time I want to get them, they are discontinued  – Grrr!!!! The shoes were worn around the house, while driving, and out walking – including on some logging roads when I go target shooting. The bottom of the shoes have a very different type of tread design – very different. (See photo.). Most logging roads are covered in gravel, and I’m here to tell you, these shoes really grip the gravel while walking – I’ve never had a tread pattern like this, that grips as well as these shoes do – wow!

As of this writing (in June, 2021), we are about 7-inches of rain behind – and now that summer is here, we won’t get anything other than a couple thunderstorms until October. However, we had a good downpour and I got out there on the road and walked – the shoes just don’t slip at all – not even on wet roads. I’m a big believer in buying the best tires I can for our vehicles – and my last set of tires for my Dodge Ram pick-up were close to $1,600 for the set and while they work great on and off-road, they don’t grip the road like these shoes do.

There’s not a whole lot you can do, to actually test shoes, other than wear them, and do some walking…and I can’t find anything to fault with these shoes at all. And, while a hundred bucks for a pair of “tennis shoes” sounds like a lot of money – and it is – I have good boots that cost me upwards of $400. Like I said before you get what you pay for. If you think a pair of athletic shoes from a big box store, for ten bucks, are the equal to a well-made pair of shoes costing a hundred bucks, you’re wrong. When you wear well-made shoes, you can feel the difference within a few minutes. When comparing them to a similar “looking” pair of shoes from the big box store – you’d be wrong. There is no comparison at all.

When I was looking on the Cabela’s website, I actually found a similar pair of shoes, for about $40 more – until I read the reviews. Seems like the first pair I wanted to get was only given 3.5 stars – hmmm? And, these Trailstorm were less, but had a rock-solid 5-star review by customers. So, going on what customers said, I went with the Trailstorm – and I sure don’t regret it all. I don’t like reading the hype by what a Public Relations or Marketing person might say about their products. I like to read what real customers have to say about a product.

One last thing that I wanted to touch on is the use of prescription insoles, if you’re feet are hurting you at the end of the day, then go and see a foot doctor. It might be the shoes you are wearing, or it might be a foot problem. I take extra good care of my feet for a number of reasons. One reason is that I have Type 2 Diabetes, and with that you have to check your feet all the time, to make sure you are getting proper circulation. If you don’t, then you could quite possibly start to lose some toes and maybe a foot – not good. When I take my shoes off late in the day, and put on a pair of shorts or sweat pants and NO shoes, my feet hurt without the shoes on – I can take the prescription insoles out of my shoes, but my feet hurt quite a bit – the insoles make that big of difference to my feet.

Don’t neglect your feet. Get the best shoes you can afford to get – even if it means saving up for a few months to get them. Your feet will surely thank you!

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