The Black Friday sales were recently upon us, something which we in the UK have taken up following the example of our American cousins. I purposefully try to avoid buying anything during this period as I feel it’s simply a ploy by Corporations to create a false sense of urgency, a fear of “missing out” on a good deal, making us buy things we might not really need simply because “they’re a bargain”. Research undertaken by consumer group Which? actually notes that many items are available at cheaper prices at other points in the year, although website Trusted Reviews states that a great deal of the deals on electronics during the Black Friday period are often the best.
As it turns out however, I was actually in need of a few things; some new work shirts and a new pair of hiking shoes, my last pair having bitten the dust almost a year ago. I managed 5 shirts for £38 from the dreaded Sports Direct but took some more time to research my hiking footwear.
More often than not, I usually buy fell running sneakers (yes I’m British but say sneakers rather than trainers!) as I find them far more comfortable and less likely to chafe. I’ve read that the supposed benefit of ankle support from boots is largely overrated and I prefer something light and easy to get in and out of. I had a pair of Adidas GSG9 trail sneakers when I walked from Whitby to Scarborough in 2016 (a supposed 24.5 miles down the old closed Whitby-Scarborough railway line, referred to locally as the Cinder Track) and suffered not a single blister. They were extremely comfortable, supportive and even better, well priced; less than £50 from (yet again!) Sports Direct. The model has been retired now however and it’s replacements are significantly more expensive so I wanted to look for an alternative. I rarely get the chance to do a proper hike and spending £100 plus on a pair of sneakers is not something I’d normally do; £50 is usually my budget.
I’ve mentioned that I watch a couple of automotive YouTube channels, one of which is The Stradman. He’s a 28 year old former accountant living in Park City, Utah who now makes his money from his channel. He’s nothing like me. I do however admire his style and he often wears Vans sneakers. I’ve never bought anything made by Vans before, but saw their UltraRange sneakers which have a sole which looks like it’d provide plenty of grip and they were described as very light. I’ve recently come across Urban Hiking, which involves planning a long route around towns & cities, taking in stairways and crossing over bridges, combining hiking with exploring. I’m lucky enough to live in a town with a Medieval Castle and plenty of areas to explore so this really struck a chord with me. Having a busy work life and wanting to spend as much time with my Son Joseph as I can also precludes me from taking days away on hiking trips so it seems ideal.
Vans themselves of course had Black Friday deals, and I was pleased to find that they were selling the UltraRange at one of the best prices on the web – £63 down from £90. Still a lot for a pair of sneakers in my book but a significant saving, so I took the plunge. They arrived last week in time for a scheduled day off on Friday, and I took them for a short walk of about 6 miles or so to break them in. They’re like wearing slippers; so light and comfortable, they’re possibly the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever bought (with the possible exception of my Nike Roshe Runs). I’m not sure how good they’ll be for cross-country hikes, but for urban hiking, they’ll do nicely. With Christmas fast approaching and having a few days away from the office, I’ll try to map out a good 10 mile hike and give them a proper test. Who knows; I may even try to upload some photos in my next post!