What can you get for £15 these days? In my local, you can just about get a round of beer for four with enough change for a bag of crisps. As far as outdoor kit is in the question, £15 doesn’t get you much. The best quality bit of kit you can get is either a pair of pants, socks or decent liner gloves at that price. If there’s a sale, you may get a baselayer if it’s heavily discounted.
So when I saw the Campri Snowdon boots for £17 (RRP of £39.99 – the usual Sports Direct inflated RRP), I really had to know what you could get at that price. They’re a fabric boot with a generic sole and were acquired as part of our soon to be published £100 Snowdon challenge, where we tried to get a walker kitted out for under a ton and still safely ascend to the roof of Wales.
I’ll put my cards on the table here and admit that I didn’t expect much from these. In fact, I thought they’d be so bad that I’d just have to wear something else for the walk. Fortunately, they were poor but not so poor as to be useless.
The good points first as that’ll take less time. The sole on these boots proved to be exceptionally grippy, even on wet rock, and better than some full price boots I’ve used. You could walk in confidence, knowing that you’re not going to be slipping on every rock. They’re also very comfortable considering the price, with no seams and the like poking down into your feet. This was fortunate considering how wet my feet got in them, though it was mainly down to the quality socks I was wearing that I didn’t get blisters, the boots at least didn’t make the situation worse.
You may already have guessed that these boots are not waterproof. The tongue isn’t sewn in other than to keep it in place, so water was straight in there. However, this is neither here nor there as the fabric of the boot itself is not waterproof either. To be fair, they’re not advertised as being waterproof, but I expected a bit of water resistance! I did proof them with some fabric spray after the first walk, which was after heavy rain on boggy paths, and while it would prevent the fabric from absorbing water would only delay the inevitable, and helped little with puddles as water will just enter by the side of the tongue. One positive from that is that they are very breathable!
For a few quid more you can get the waterproof version, which would be worth the small premium. I hadn’t realised they made boots that were this poor in the wet and had expected that the fabric would display a little bit more resistance. The sole we mentioned impressed with it’s grip, but provided virtually no protection if you stood on angular rocks. This caused pain a few times when I managed to get an angular rock under the arch of my foot at where I’d previously sprained it. While the rand on the front offers some protection, there’s very little protecting your foot along the sides and you may suffer a few knocks along the way.
These boots are probably what you’d expect to get for £17, and exceeded my admittedly low expectations, but to be fair they’re reasonably comfortable and the sole grips well, even if it is thin. If you’re walking on good and, crucially, dry paths then these might do if you’re starting off. I’d not expect them to last the 1500km on tough ground that I usually get from a full priced boot, with my Meindls at 1370km and going strong. I’m sure that the cost per kilometre for these will be less but you might not get more than 2-300km on proper terrain with these, but that’s like comparing a Ferrari with an old Austin Allegro with a leaky roof, where the passenger door no longer opens and the heater is stuck on scalding. I’ve already secured a replacement for them, and at £125 (£50 off!) and 1500km use that’s just over 8p per kilometre. You need these to last 212km to break even, and during that 212km these will just not perform as good as a decent boot.
If you get to do a fair bit of rough walking in these boots you’ll soon start to appreciate how important it is to invest in a proper pair of walking boots. If you’re starting out and you only walk on country lanes and well made paths, then these might prove useful, but for serious walkers these are a false economy.
[Weight to follow once they dry out!]