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Shoe climax

Monday, 6 March, 2006

I bought the boots I’ve been wearing to work in Fall 2004. I don’t know how long they’re supposed to last but I can assume I’ve gotten my money’s worth. Despite the ESD soles the boots are were classified as “technical day hiking boot”. Well, let’s hear them tell it.

Extremely versatile hiking boots that can support moderate loads (up to 25 lbs.) and are more flexible for easier walking and break-in. The New Balance motion control technology – Rollbar – has been combined with a polyurethane midsole platform to provide uncommon stability in a lighter weight boot. The waterproof construction provides enough protection to keep your feet comfortable.

Unlike most promotional copy this statement has proven to be essentially true even if I am not convinced that a 1 lb., 4 oz. boot is “lightweight”. Oh, and “Rollbar” should have a &trade next to it. When new they are waterproof. I know this because the second night I wore them to work, I stepped out of the truck into four inches of standing water and my feet, and even more importantly my socks, remained dry. When in condition the Dunham 6630s proved to be the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned, even if they look like something from the Star Trek props department.

So convinced was your humble reporter of this fact, he neglected, perhaps dreaded, replacing them even beyond the time their key features, “stability” and “motion control“, had worn away. Only the ensuing pain of the absence of these features drove the wearer to explore other options following the end of the 6630s run.

The replacement model, the 6631, was short lived and after three years the line ended. This is unusual for New Balance, now the parent of Dunham, who have running-shoe lines which date back to the era of Jim Fixx. A post-game analysis of the 6630 reveals through wear patterns the high-cut body provides no more support than a traditional basketball shoe even if the boot allegedly had an alternate purpose. Interestingly the boot was designed around the “Dunham Specific Hiking Last” which made the boot much more compliant even at the end of the day. This last appears to have been retired.

It is supposed to be an advance in the body. However, the new boot returns to the infamous, now called “Waffle Stomper”, last which made Dunham the choice of hikers along the Appalachian Trail and New England long before being absorbed into New Balance. This model acquires a number, 624, which aligns the nomenclature to the New Balance numbering system.

I happen to know of at least one letter written hoping that the 6630 or its successor would be made available with a steel toe.

The Dunham outdoor lifestyle collection is designed for the individual who requires steel toe footwear on the job and wants the styling of a luxury hiking shoe. Packed with proven cushioning and stability technologies, this shoe offers the perfect blend of steel toe performance and athletic shoe comfort.

Such boots are on my feet right now. Even Dunham hikers should be broken in. Especially when they weigh in at 1 lb, 11 oz. They are so heavy, it’s difficult to stop walking while wearing them.

I have no small issue with the description “the styling of a luxury hiking shoe”. It’s like speaking of the exotic lines of a corrugated cardboard box. As long as you’re wearing long pants, or if you happen to be Herman Munster, they look fine.


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