Hiking in Switzerland
SO THAT’S WHAT MY FEET ARE SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE AFTER A HIKE!
Kevin, yesterday I took my new boots out for a four mile spin, two miles with 1000 ft of elevation gain and back down. The last time I did this hike the last half mile was very uncomfortable. This time it felt GREAT! My new boots are a huge success – thank you!! There was plenty of room for my toes on both feet going up and coming back down. The softer soles and arch support were perfect, as was the padding over the instep. There was no rubbing around my heels or toes. I felt no need for moleskin anywhere. My feel felt comfortably snug in the heel and didn’t shift around. The last couple of times out I’ve come back with sore toe pads, but not this time. (I have little cushions, like tiny bolsters, for my hammer/claw toes on my right feet that I might try out to see how they feel.) My bunions started making themselves known toward the end of the hike at the very end, but so much less than on any hike on the descent in years – worth a mention because it felt so much better!
Thank you, Kevin. It was such a pleasure to go for a hike and be able to enjoy the wildflowers and surroundings without pain in my toes. I have been quite apprehensive about my ability to do this hiking trek to Machu Picchu due to the discomfort of my feet. I’ve had visions of being unable to enjoy this trip of a lifetime or having to ride the horse and missing out on the satisfaction of scaling the passes because my feet hurt so badly. Problem solved! Now I just have to focus on getting my body in shape – just 48 training days to go!
Many, many thanks!
Update October, 2016 I LOVE MY BOOTS! They have been utterly life-changing for me, allowing me to go places and do things I was afraid were beyond me—thank you!! I’ve meant to send you this photo of me in Peru going over 15,200 ft Salkantay Pass on my 60th birthday, on the way to Machu Picchu. What a great experience—thank you for making it possible!!! Recently my boots and I went backpacking in the Ansel Adams Wilderness out of Mammoth, and witnessed breathtaking landscapes and lakes that can only be seen if you walk there.
My Feet Don’t Hurt Anymore!
I’ve always had pretty bad luck finding comfortable shoes. These last few years, it has become more difficult. I basically felt like I had a time limit as to how long I could be on my feet, after a couple hours I’d be in some discomfort, it would progress and by the end of the day my feet just plain hurt. This was especially difficult for me since I’m a landscaper, and I’m required to be on my feet all day. I started doing a few tricks, like taking my boots off in between jobs and at lunch. This was becoming unsustainable. So I started looking into it, talked to a couple podiatrists, they told me that there was nothing wrong with my feet, they were just shaped a little different. It dawned on me that shoe manufacturers make shoes to fit the average foot, and if yours happens to be a little different—you’re out of luck. So now I’m thinking, I need to get somebody who can make a boot that is engineered to fit my foot. Is that even possible?
Turns out there are a few people who do that. I poked around online, and found Kevin Leahy. Reached out to him and he talked to me about my situation and what he could do for me. Buying custom boots felt like an indulgence because it’s a big chunk of money for footwear. There was not any salesmanship on his part; he told me what I could realistically expect. It sounded likely that he could help me so I decided to go for it, rationalizing that instead of buying several pairs of boots and shoes each year and throwing most of them out because they never “broke in”, I could bite the bullet now and have one really quality pair of boots that is repairable, and would last me a long time, and I’d hopefully be comfortable in. This turned out to be a great decision! My only regret was not doing this ten years ago! I live 90 minutes from him, so I was able to do the casting of my feet, and an in person fitting. It was one trip for the casting, a second for a fitting, and another trip to pick up the boots. Everything being done within the timeframe he gave me. They say boots have to break in, and they do, but boy… these boots felt great right from the outset, he allowed plenty of toe width, but the boot fit so perfect that my foot was held solidly (in the past I’ve tried to buy other boots with wide toe widths to accommodate my foot shape, and then the boot wouldn’t fit me right in other areas and my foot would slosh around). He uses a malleable leather which feels very nice around the foot. I use Obenauf’s LP, it conditions and protects the boot and helps protect the boot from getting scratched or scuffed and it has some repairing capabilities. The boots were surprisingly light too! The craftsmanship and materials were beautiful and sturdy! He included a custom orthotic engineered to give me good arch support. This was important to me as I’d been suffering from plantar fasciitis.
Fast forward a few months. The boot is working out wonderfully. Only problem is that the orthotics are a little stiff for me, and are not helping with my plantar fasciitis. Kevin offers to make me another pair at no charge. He makes them right away and mails them out to me. These one’s are a little more cushiony, and were just what I needed. Fast forward a few more months, I love these boots. In fact, they are the only footwear I want to wear which is a bit of a problem since I don’t want to wear boots out to a nice restaurant, or to a wedding. Since things worked out so well with the boots I decided to hire Kevin to make me a walking/dress shoe! My boot lasts (forms) could also be used to make shoes, so I was able to order my shoes by phone. Everything worked out beautifully with the shoes as well. To top it all off my plantar fasciitis has finally gone away!
Ok, that was pretty long winded, but Kevin has had a big impact on my quality of life and I’m very excited to tell you about that! I am able to work now without pain, and am able to comfortably do more activities. To summarize, in my opinion Kevin is a rare craftsmen with an incredibly specialized skill set. Also, he’s not about the money. He ultimately wants to make sure his customers get what they need. His boots are not cheap compared to buying retail, but he offers something completely different, and thus, there’s no comparison. He does offer an excellent value in my opinion, and he does stand behind his work. I highly recommend him and hope he continues to provide this unique service for many years to come!
Footwear for every Occasion
Kevin is a rarity: a true master craftsman. He knows footwear, his work is meticulous, his boots and shoes are durable, he designs and fits at the smallest level of detail. Moreover, he is extremely accommodating, easy to work with, dependable, timely, and a likable person. You’re reading this, so I assume you care about what you wear on your feet; be assured Kevin cares as much as you. If you have difficulty getting a good fit with off-the-shelf footwear, or if you simply want boots of unmatched quality, Kevin is your man. You are lucky to have found him. I have purchased hiking boots, chukkas, and shoes. Highest recommendation!
Mouse Traps & Boots
If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbors, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
My boots were polished by a Bhutanese forester guide at 13,000 feet on the Druk trek in Bhutan. This was not his job, but he said he wanted to do it in tribute to the boots and how they helped him do his job, which was taking care of me. Trails in the Himalayas are much more difficult than ours in the United States—filled with stone, tree roots, steep inclines and declines, not to mention yak poop. I had dislocated my right elbow in early July and had balance problems. Despite that and my unfortunate tendency to walk toe to heel (you can see wear on the toes that document this), the tread on my boots has not failed me once. It is amazing and they are worth their weight in gold!
Tomorrow I hope they will take on a pilgrimage to a monastery built into a mountain called Tiger Nest. Thank you again for the time, skill and love that went into making them.