After my serial buying technique failed to yield any fruit, Ambrose suggested that I try working in parallel instead, by buying both of the next two boots I was considering at the same time. This was helpful, because I couldn’t really decide between them. 

One was the Softstar Switchback, from Softstar Shoes out of Oregon. These boots sounded amazing on “paper”, but they are only water resistant, not waterproof, which is something that I am looking for. The other was Lems Waterproof Boulder Boots out of Colorado. I was less sure of their width, but hopeful. 

Despite prominent notices of shipping delays, the Lems arrived first. Possibly because the Softstars are handmade (by elves, I think), and so they take a bit more time to ship. I didn’t try the Lems on the day they arrived. I was nervous, hesitant, after so many disappointments. 

I finally got around to putting on my preferred backpacking socks (Vermont Darn Tough), and getting ready to slide my feet in. First, I had to loosen the laces and pull out the packaging. And then, I tried them on. I started with the left foot, even though that foot almost always works. It’s just smaller. So, no surprise when that felt fine. But when I slid my right foot in, I was at a loss for words. 

My little toe wasn’t rubbing up against the side of the shoe! Not even a little bit! I wiggled my toes and still had no impingement to that poor, long suffering baby toe. I didn’t care that the ankles were stiff – they’re made of leather and they’ll get softer. No, the only thing that mattered was that I wasn’t going to start my hike knowing that it was only a matter of time before the toes began to throb. 

The Softstars are still on order. I figure if I can find not one, but two pairs of boots that fit, I should hold onto both. I’m sure they’ll both have their strengths for different uses. Heck, I’m wearing the Lems to work for a while to wear in the leather around the ankles. I haven’t hiked in them yet, but for now I’m celebrating that they fit and getting used to wearing hiking boots with zero drop. 

Plus, I now know there is at least one shoe store that creates footwear that fits my feet without compromise. I’ll be looking to get some shoes just for going to work from either Lems or Softstar, depending on how the Switchback boots do. And I’ll need a pair of sandals! Suddenly shoe shopping isn’t as bad as it used to be. 

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