Monday, 10 June 2013

"......To all the boots I've worn before...."

Here is my gallery of tramping boots/shoes I have worn and destroyed, I will add to this as time goes on! I will include before and after shots, and make some comment on quality etc.

Hi Tec Bryce, light hiking boot  (2012-2015) (Retired)

I brought a pair of these last year, I didn't have the cash to buy a more rugged pair of boots because of all of the other tramping gear I needed. They have worked well and have seen me through all of my trips over Spring/Summer/Autumn 2012-13. I didn't expect them to last but I have been pleasantly surprised with how well they have stood up.  The uppers are still fine,  they have just starting to show signs of wear.

I think they are good value for the $140 asking price. I will continue to use them for formed tracks i.e. those on the Port Hills.

Hi Tec Bryce, 2012

Wearing my Hi Tecs up the East Hawdon Valley, 2013

July 2014:I have been using these boots for my fitness walking for about the last year, they are still holding out fine, I estimate I will need to dispose of them later this year as they have started to wear down on the sole.

Kathmandu Barigan, medium boot (2013-2015) (Retired)
I have recently acquired a pair of these boots for the very reasonable price of $100, they are  a replacement for the Hi-Tec boots I have been using. I know Kathmandu does not have great name when it comes to durability, even if they only last a season they will have repaid my investment. Significantly they have a hard Vibram sole and are much stiffer than the Hi Tec's. 
Kathmandu Barigan, 2013

July 2014: I used these boot for all of the 2013/14 tramping season and found them very comfortable. Unfortunately they are starting to delaminate (a common problem), I have glued them up and will use them for day walks on the Port Hills etc. I should get a least another years use out of them on these shorter trips. They lasted as my primary boots for a year so they were worth the $100 I paid for them.

Asolo 535 TPS, medium boot (Sold)

I brought myself a pair of Asolo 535 boots for the rocky gravel bashing trips I sometimes go on. These boot are from a good quality European maker, they have a much stiffer sole and the ubiqitious Vibram sole on them. I'm in the process of wearing them in as we speak. Obviously, because they are made in Europe the price is steeper, $500 for this type and brand.

Asolo 535, 2013

July 2014: I have now sold these boots as they were slightly too small for my feet. They are excellent boots so I will potentially buy a larger size some time in the future.

La Sportiva Valojet, medium boot (2014 - ) (Current Boots)

I've recently brought myself a new pair of leather boots for the coming Summer tramping season. I have been wearing a pair of Kathmandu boots but as is the case with their gear they have started to fall to bits. These boots are Italian, La Sportiva Valojets, a medium weight leather boot with a Goretex liner, with a good quality Vibram sole. These ones were $350 on sale, normally $600.
La Sportiva Valojet, 2014

The Valojet's going strong on the QCT, 2016
Update 2016: I have been using these very successfully for several years now and they are awesome. Comfortable right out of the box, quality materials and great workmanship are worth paying for in my opinion. The soles are still fine, the only damage is a rip in the rubber rand I got on the third trip wearing these boots (barbed wire fence...). 
La Sportiva boots are fantastic, I would buy these again!

Asics Mens Gel Sonoma 4E, Trail Shoes (2015- )

These are my current general purpose trail shoes, I am onto my second pair of these. I use these for general fitness walking as well as trips along the Port Hills and on day trips when the weather is fine. I wouldn't use these for a long hike like the Te Araroa, although they might make fair work of even that trail.

Asics Men's Gel Sonoma 4E Trail Shoes

My first pair lasted for about 14 months before they started to fall to bits. For $150 that is pretty good going when you consider that I use them for at least one 10-15 km walk every second weekend. I suppose I could go for a $300 pair of Asolo/Salewa/North Face/Innov8 trail walking shoes but why, these work just fine. 
Sole on Sonoma Trail shoes

I brought them from Rebel Sport, they are still available at the time of writing (September 2016).

When my second pair wear out I will definitely buy these again if they are still available. 

Hi-Tec Trail Blazer Outdoors Shoes (2015- ) (Retired)

I was using a pair of these before i switched to the Asics shown above.  I mainly purchased them because they were cheap ($130 NZD) at a time when I could not afford better quality footwear.

Hi-Tec Trail Blazer Trail shoe

Wearing the Blazers on a section of the Christchurch 360 Trail

 These shoes were good for the first 4 months and then they started to disintegrate. First the inner soles wore through so I replaced with after market versions. Next the stitching started to unravel, this was repaired. I finally retired them when the sole delaminated, I have glued the sole back on but they cannot be trusted over a long distance. 

Hi Tec shoes are fine for around town but i just don't think they are rugged enough for trail use. 

I use these around the garden now.

East Hawdon River: Arthurs Pass NP: 22-23 Feb 2013

In February I went for an overnight trip up to East Hawdon Biv, a tributary of the Hawdon river. The first part of the trip is the easy 4 WD track going up the Hawdon valley. Once you reach the East Hawdon confluence the real fun begins. There is no official track up the East Hawdon, the route is in the riverbed and short sections of bush track laid by people associated with the Permolat group. Permolat is a group of trampers who maintain seldom visited tracks and huts in the South Island, as DOC does not have the resources to do so. So, this route is beautiful but bloody rugged!!!!!!

The Hawdon and East Hawdon area

As with all trips here you start at the Hawdon shelter, make sure you sign the intentions book before you go, and for gods sake sign out when you are finished. Don't linger or the sandflies will carry you off!
I'm not have been warned!

Hawdon shelter
Once over the Hawdon river and Sudden Valley stream look for the old 4 W/D track for the fastest travel up valley. It really is worthwhile to find this track as it will save you a good 30 minutes.

Hawdon valley, 4 WD track

You eventually pass through a patch of re-gen bush just before the Hawdon-East Hawdon river confluence.

Hawdon valley, just before confluence

 Officially there is no track, this is a route so you set your own course. The route follows the river bed from this point, there are some short sections of track mostly on the true right of the valley, keep an eye out for these as they make the travelling easier. Thanks permolat!
View up East Branch Hawdon river, rocky!
After the first shingle flat the valley narrows, you will need to find the best line up the valley, probably impossible if there has been any rain. There are several points where you MUST cross the river, they were all easy crossings on this day. I ended up crossing the river 17 times going up, a lot less coming back as I found all the short sections of track.
 Believe me, I wasn't crossing the river just for fun but because I needed to!

East Hawdon gorge

It is a very beautiful valley, quiet and tranquil, I only saw one hunter the whole day, although there was another woman working her way up the valley ahead of me. I never actually saw her, only her boot prints here and there.

Beautiful East Hawdon
The valley is alternate shingle flats and gorge areas, with the occasional rock clamber, it is rugged but not too technical.

Because i missed some of the track sections I ended up climbing over some rocky areas i could have bypassed. The tracks seem to have been cut from the top of the valley down, so are more visible when going down valley. Look for the tracks!

Boulders, oh joy!
This large shingle flat is just beyond the halfway point, it is the widest part of the valley.
River flat, half way point

Half way point, East Hawdon

Break time, and boy did I need it by here as it was about 25 degrees on the day. There is a nice river terrace behind me which would make a good camping spot if you only wanted a taste of this valley.


This is a scree slope which reaches from the top of the mountain range all the way down to the river, don't stop here as there is absolutely no cover if a rock decides to come down. I took this photo while moving!

Don't stop here!

This point is about 1 km from the bivy, there is just the one last gorge area before you reach it.

East Hawdon near biv

Look for the sidle track on the true right, it completely avoids this whole rock clamber.

Gorge, sidle track to true right of valley

View down valley from near biv
Eventually you will reach the East Hawdon Biv, which is a fine example of the new style 2 bunk bivs that DOC are now building.

East Hawdon Biv

Interior, typical 2 person biv
Plenty of space for 2-3 if someone is willing to sleep on the floor, basic but very serviceable.

East Hawdon biv, quite tidy.

View out of the window


I spent a very quiet night by myself at the biv, I heard several kiwi during the night, one quite close to the biv so there must be more than 1 or 2 in the area. Also saw a herd of 4-6 deer on the opposite slope of the valley, they moved back and forth grazing for about an hour in the afternoon.

River terrace next to biv, looking up valley

The next day was another beautiful one, I rose early and set off down the valley to the car. It was a glorious morning and I made excellent time as I discovered all of the sidle tracks I missed on the previous day.

Savannah Range, head of East Hawdon
There is a sidle track to the true right of this gorge that runs through the forest down valley for about 1 km from here, it is worth following it to speed your journey home. 

Gorge from above, track to right of picture
Eventually you reach the last gorge in the valley, from here there is just the slog down the last shingle flat and then the trusty Hawdon 4 W/D track.

Heading into gorge area at valley end

The trusty 4 WD track

Hawdon river looking towards the Pyramid
I really enjoyed this trip, the valley is beautiful, the route rugged without being dangerous, the biv is excellent. I would totally recommend it for a small group or individual, provided you realise that this is a route, not a track.  I would not go here if it is raining as I can see that several river crossings would be difficult if not dangerous with any significant amount of rain.

 Also I would wear tramping boots as walking over these rocks will give you sore feet unless you have good  boots on. I had my light Hi-Tecs on and my feet were feeling the pain by the end of the second day.

I will be back again, this is a great location!