As a kid, I was constantly on the go outdoors and when winter showed up, I got cold feet. That didn’t mean I stopped hunting, ice-fishing, going on winter hikes in the Boy Scouts or other activities. It meant my feet were constantly cold. My best guard against the cold was whatever boots I owned and used for hunting were given a quick coating of waterproofing grease and then I put on as many pairs of sox as I could wear and still get my toes inside.
The waterproofing worked only as long as I didn’t get the boots wet and the socks only served to cramp my circulation and make the situation worse. But, not knowing any better, I thought it was normal. And I thought that way for a long, long time.
It was a cold, gray day on Lake Michigan and I was hunting diver ducks with a friend of mine near Whiting, Indiana. I bundled against the cold and in a few minutes, my feet felt as though they were frozen solid. “Normal,” I thought, then it dawned on me. Maybe it wasn’t normal....
At home, that afternoon, I looked in my Outdoor Writer’s Association of America directory and found Rocky Boots was a corporate member of the group and they afforded us members a discount from the retail prices we’d pay at a store. I contacted the rep for Rocky and in a few days I had a new catalog and ordering instructions.
At the time, Rocky listed their winter boots by how low a temperature they’d protect. The top of the line boot was listed at minus 40 degrees. I put a pair of those on the order blank. But there was another pair (listed at only minus 20) which featured GoreTex waterproofing and were slip-ons. “How convenient,” I thought, while imagining wearing them for quick errands–so I added them to the order as well.
That was probably 15 years ago or more.
I received both pairs and the slip-ons became a favorite winter boot for me. I wore them for quick errands, on the ice, while plowing snow, hunting, spring coho fishing, on my trapline and never once, never ever, not one single time did I experience cold feet while wearing them.
The other pair sat on a shelf.
Nothing lasts forever, and late last winter, the soles on the slip-ons wore through and disintegrated. It was a sad day they went into the refuse barrel.
When planning my trip to Marquette, Michigan recently, I thought of the “other” pair of boots I’d purchased way back when. Could I find them? Would they fit comfortably (I’d never worn them), were they excessively heavy–airline weight restrictions, you know?
I found them. They fit well enough with a thin pair of socks and were surprisingly light.
Best of all, continuing the tradition started with the slip-ons, my feet were never cold. One morning while ice fishing the rest of our group started comparing how cold their feet were getting. Reports went from “pretty cold” to “frozen solid.” I almost felt embarrassed to admit I had toasty toes.I wish I still had the slip-on model–but when I’m worried about extreme cold and keeping my feet warm, I’m glad I still have a pair of boots which will do the job!