Today's post is inspired by a recent comment I got on another recent post relating to tips on how to find the perfect fit for your hiking boots.
The comment was more of a question with regards to what if someone's feet aren't compatible with the standard hiking boot lines available in the shops!? What can they do? Well, one option is to get hiking boots specifically made for your feet but what does that process involve? Where best should they go to get custom handmade hiking boots!?
Now this was a really good question and one, I have to be honest and say, that I had no idea how to answer! I have been lucky I guess and my feet are pretty standard shaped and sized so the wide range of standard boots available in the shops can adequately fit my needs.
To help answer the question I immediately started to do some research and found a lot of interesting places that make custom handmade hiking boots. I gave what information I had found onto the guy in a return comment but I also noted that I wanted to look into this subject in more detail as there was a lot of interesting information from my initial research.
So let's look into it in some more detail ...
Who Wants A Custom Made Pair Of Hiking Boots?
I figured I would start with the basics 🙂 Who are Custom Made hiking boots for!?
Well, anyone of course but as with anything custom made, they are, from what I have seen to date, significantly more expensive. Therefore, that probably takes a lot of people out of the mix right away as there are lot's of great hiking boot makes and models available from the various standard manufacturers and retailers.
That isn't to say that all hiking boots are cheap, no, no. But in relative terms to custom made boots, they are cheaper. We will look at price later but let's get back to who buys custom made hiking boots.
Well, the gentleman who made the comment, on the post referenced above, is indicative of the first group of people I think are interested in getting custom made hiking boots. From his comments, he said he has issues with finding a good fitting boot as he has very unusually shaped and sized feet i.e. he said they were very wide and very flat. He added that he never had any joy with regards to getting good fitting hiking boots, from the options available in the shops, over the years and so wanted to go down the road of custom made hiking boots.
So this is the first group of people who I think are interested in having custom made hiking boots. People who out of necessity, need to get very unique specifications or orthotic additions to enable them to be comfortable out on the trail.
When I first thought on this I kind of presumed that this would be the main grouping of people who would want custom made boots. However, on reflection I revised it somewhat ...
I got to thinking,
'Well, who wouldn't want a pair of custom made hiking boots!?'
I sure would! As with anything that is marketed on personalized design and quality, price is the main barrier for many folks but not, of course, for all. I would never have thought about hiking boots as a luxury item but why the heck not. After reviewing some of the quality of what's on offer, as well as the price, they are in effect a luxury item. Albeit that they're used for practical purposes.
Think about it though. You get a pair of hiking boots uniquely hand crafted to the exact nuance of your feet. That is a truly unique one of a kind deal! It is no wonder it is pricey but I can see why. I play guitar and if you get a personalized guitar made for you, you pay for it but you're getting one of a kind. It's the same across the board across a whole range of items from cars to clothes.
Anyways, this is the second main grouping of people who I think are interested in custom made boots. People who like top notch unique quality and can afford it. These people are also likely to be avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
How Much is a Pair of Custom Made Hiking Boots?
This will vary of course from one producer to another but when you stack it up, a really good pair of standard hiking boots will be anywhere between $200.00 - $400.00 (US). There are of course good quality options cheaper than $200.00 but you can easily spend this range of money on a top notch pair of boots from some of the quality brand names.
So, if we factor in the process of getting a custom made hiking boot designed to the exact specifications of your very own tootsies, you can surely expect to be paying more than that for some of the best hand crafted hiking boots available. And you would be right 😉
From my research I see custom made boots ranging from $650.00 - $1100.00 (US) give or take a hundred or so (accurate at time of publishing). So, as you can see they're definitely not cheap but as with anything in life, you get what you pay for. I can't personally speak to having a pair of custom made boots but I assume you're getting something of really sweet design and maximum comfort. A personal work of art for your feet on the trail shall we say 🙂
How Does the Customization Process Work?
When I first started looking into this, I started to wonder how something as specialized as custom made hiking boots could have enough business to keep it going as I assumed that people would have to come into the shop for a personalized fitting.
In big cities you have the numbers to support luxury goods or goods designed to meet specific sizing difficulties but when I thought about hiking boots, I guessed there seemed that there might be a slight contradiction to the norm here. That's because I would have associated something as specialized as custom hiking boots needing to be close to the source of it's users. Therefore, close to the great outdoors or in the country some place, not in your local shopping mall or downtown city street. That was just an assumption though.
However, after some initial investigation, it turned out that you don't have to really be all that concerned where you locate your custom made store as, in many cases, you don't need to come in for a fitting after all!
While coming in for a fitting, if possible, I'm sure is a great idea, most of the custom made hiking boot providers I found start by either providing you with the tools and instructions to measure your own feet or by sending you some kind of 'fitting kit'. These can vary but overall they instruct you on what to do to measure your own feet and then you send that detail back and they're good to start the crafting process.
I assume, but can't say for sure, that there will be a bit of back and forward with the boots as they are made i.e. if you get them sent to you and you try them on but would like a little adjustment or two, this is likely no problem and you just specify what you want done and return them till you're satisfied.
As you're paying for a pair of custom made hiking boots, I would expect the customer service to be of a very high standard and the companies should do their best to satisfy your needs or deal with any concerns you may have. After all, the custom made business is obviously built on reputation so it's not in anyone's interest to have a dissatisfied customer. This is verified somewhat by the many varying and positive testimonials from satisfied customers you can read on the various suppliers sites.
It is worth noting a kind of caveat emptor (buyer beware) statement here though in some cases. When you commit and give the go ahead to the customization process, there is a point from where once passed you can't back out! I think this is fair enough as you can't expect a lot of work to be done on your unique boots to then only get the option to turn them down at the end of the process! Wouldn't be good for cash flow for the cobbler methinks 😉
How Long Does It Take?
I think this also may vary a bit from each supplier and may be influenced by how far away you are. You could be sending information and boots back and forth by courier or post in some cases and you may need to make arrangements to travel to the store for some fittings.
From looking at some suppliers there seems to be quite a backlog and when you start the process you are in effect only getting your place in the queue! I think though you're probably looking at in and around an average of 6-12 weeks from start to end assuming you do your bits and pieces in a timely manner of course.
Other Points Of Note
Aside from the obvious comfort and quality you're likely to get from a custom made pair of hiking boots, it is worth noting that due to the high quality of the boots you could be making a quality long term investment. It is likely that you can get your custom made boots redone as you use them e.g. get them resoled. Therefore, it is likely the life of your boots will extend on for many years to come.
So enough talk about the matter ... if you want to get a pair of custom made hiking boots, check out the links of custom made companies below. They will give you an idea of what you can expect. As you can see, it's a pretty special and unique process:
Buying a pair of custom made hiking boots is an investment in quality, comfort and longevity. I think there can be no doubt about that. Who you choose to make your custom made boots is a truly personal choice. I guess it's not really that different from who the A-list celebrity gets to make their gown for Oscar night, a similar principle at least.
It's also a significant cash investment so I recommend you take the time to check out the different custom made suppliers until you find the one that ticks all your boxes and feels right for you.
What I hope I have provided here is some information to help get you started in the process. Whether you have non-standard shaped or sized feet and standard hiking boots just don't cut it for you or, you just feel like treating yourself ( You do deserve it after all 😉 ), getting a pair of custom made hiking boots is a viable and exciting option.
Do you have custom handmade hiking boots? What's your experience with them been? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!