Take a Hike by Cold Splinters: ‘80s Boots

March 24, 2010

To add a little more adventure to our week, we’ve invited Jeff Thrope of Cold Splinters to treat us to a taste of the great outdoors every Wednesday. Check out his new column, and then do yourself and your computer a favor, and go sit under a tree.

For the past few years, I've been writing (aka copying and pasting other people's writing, music, pictures, thoughts etc) a weblog called Cold Splinters. The theme is sometimes categorized as "vintage outdoors" which, as much as I hate to admit it, is probably a pretty decent description. I post old camping pictures, some songs to enjoy while driving to a hike and anything else that might tickle the fancy of someone who would rather be setting up a tent than sitting at their computer. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time looking through old magazines and researching the lives of yesteryear's campers. All that old gear is getting more and more difficult to find now, and more importantly, expensive if you're looking for something good. So as a result, when I'm out doing whatever is I do in the woods, I'm usually covered in the stuff that's being sold right now in the REIs and EMSs of the world. Maybe our kids will drool over the 2009 Arc'teryx catalog someday. Can you imagine? It's got to happen, right? When Yvon was driving down to South America in the late '60s, did he know how cool he'd look to the generations to come? Probably, yes, that's a bad example, but you get my point. And I'm usually fine with the stuff that companies are making these days, because when you're hiking, fashion couldn't be less important. I'd rather be dry than have water leaking through a Wilderness Experience jacket that I bought on eBay because I could afford it with that gaping hole in the back. At least I think I would...

The only piece of gear/clothing etc that I wish looked a little bit more like the gear/clothing of the past is my boots. There are a few out there that might make 'em pretty (Vasque, why did you make little changes to the Sundowner to cut the cost?), but after living through the times of the Nike ACG, Vasque Clarion, and Hi-Tec Multi-Color boot, I'm not satisfied. Most of us like to disregard the things that were happening in the '80s and '90s, but that's when I grew up. The boots pictured above are a pair of Vasques Clarions from the 1980s. With all the vintage inspired clothes out there, did we all forget about this style? Am I the only that remembers? Cares? Likes them? The answer is no, because after strolling the floor at OR this January, I was stopped on numerous occasions by strangers who told me how much they enjoyed my shoes. And they couldn't have been more sincere. So I ask you, North Face, Vasque, Hi-Tec, Columbia, Merrell (all of you used to make a pair just like the Clarions) why don't you make a boot like this anymore? Is it because they wouldn't be as functional for hiking by today's standards? Then let's remedy that! I'm sure we can find a way.

"We" you ask? Let me explain.

Designers, marketing executives, social networking interns, or whoever it is that makes the decisions at the companies that produce outdoor gear, let's talk. Hell, I already know a lot of you. You're lovely people. But for those of you who I have yet to meet, and there are many, I've logged a ridiculous amount of time researching this boot, imaging what my ideal companions would look like if I were to design a pair. There are countless companies out there that make a limited run of a specialized piece of clothing. It's the thing to do nowadays! And this would be no different. I'm not asking you to reinvent the wheel here. But Yvon, if you're reading this and are not too busy filming your next AmEx commercial, let's talk. I'll help you design a hell of a boot. Even if we make 100 of them, you'll have 100 new customers.

Take a Hike by Cold Splinters: ‘80s Boots