For the last five-and-a-half years, my constant companions in the hills have been these brown leather Raichle walking books. The world's attention was focussed on the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany, when I first climbed into these boots and battled great gusts of wind on the three Munros in the centre of the Fannich range near Ullapool. Since those first days on the likes of Sgurr nan Clach Geala, these boots have tramped countless Cairngorm miles, traversed acres of heather in the Tarf and Tilt, been scoured and scuffed with Skye gabbro, scrambled in Glen Coe. trekked out to lonely Ben Alder, stayed in hostels, tents and hotels, and borne the weight of babies in backpacks to far-flung corners of Scotland.
Now, sadly these boots are dying. The sole units on both boots are starting to disintegrate. Every time I use them, another chunk of Vibram seems to peel off, and another piece of leather separates from rubber.These have been wonderfully comfortable, versatile boots, but I do feel a little aggrieved that I have only got five years out of them. My previous Raichle boots (massive, indestructible 4season "Blaven" boots) lasted over a decade of very heavy use, and I had expected similar durability. I am told that as Raichle headed towards being bought out by Mammut, they produced a run of bad boots, and that their new ones are more like the quality of the old Raichle. We shall see!
Here below - a photo of my boots in happier times. This was taken on the summit of Carn a Chlamain above Glen Tilt, May 2008.