Festival season: Citadel


Citadel is a newish one-day festival. Three years old this year and set in London, it is, on paper, a festival I would enjoy: it’s close enough to my house not to have to stay over anywhere, and it fields the sort of music that I like. However, it’s been my experience that festivals in or close to London are not as fun as those outside London. In order to live in London, people forget how to interact with each other in a civil manner, which is fine on the tube but not so fine when you’re supposed to be feeling chill listening to your favourite bands. To put in bluntly, people in London can be arseholes (and I am sure I am guilty of this at times, especially when people are STANDING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ESCALATORS. YES, IT DOES MATTER!!!), and so London-based festivals have to be pretty special to get my money.

I was tempted by Citadel this year, I really liked two of the bands — Sylvan Esso and Wild Beasts — and quite liked many of the others: Laura Marling, Nadine Shah, Foals. However, because I had seen Wild Beasts twice last year I didn’t think it was worth spending the money on seeing them again, but then I had the chance to meet an old friend there as part of her birthday celebrations (I was missing her party), so I was sold.

Being a London festival, it does mean that one has no excuse to look like you’ve just crawled out of a tent. If I owned anything sequiny I would have donned it (gonna trawl some charity shops with this in mind for next time). The weather was also being a bit of a pain: it was warm, but in that ‘going to be muggy and rain in a minute’ kind of way. I the end I wore a light dress with an awesome print, but with fish-netty leggings because it wasn’t the weather for a short skirt, and a long cardigan for layering.


I also struggled with what to wear on the feet, even though it was technically a local festival, I actually did more walking because I used public transport, so I wanted something really comfortable. The leggings made it hard to wear sandals (and also you have to be quite brave for sandals at a festival, they can be grim and I wanted my toes covered) so I went for glittery hi-tops. Glittery hi-tops are totally festival shoes.

Chuck Taylor All Star glitter: £85

This outfit worked really well on the day. I could take the cardigan off when it got really hot, I had an umbrella for when it rained (too hot for a waterproof), the dress was floaty and summery but the print hid the muck and beer spillages, and the leggings prevented my legs shocking any teenagers. There were a lot of people in festival gear — glitter-galore and flower crowns, but I can’t be bothered frankly. However, I can recommend an eye pencil for some grown-up sparkle at festivals or otherwise:

Colour Chameleon champagne diamonds £19

I’ve been wearing this Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow pencil over the summer and it’s great. Long-lasting and easy to wear, it’s got a nice starry sparkle that isn’t too over the top. I bought the champagne sparkle, which is for blue eyes, but there are other colours available. This colour does like nice with my grey–blue eyes, but it would suit most people.

So to review the festival itself, Citadel was a lot of fun, and they managed to cram a lot in. Victoria Park was a lot bigger than I had realised, but I think the organisers had tried to cram too much into the space, there wasn’t enough distance between some of the smaller stages to be out of earshot of other stages, and this was really detrimental with the spoken-word events, such as the comedy and the science talks as you just couldn’t hear them.

That said, the bands were really good. The main stage was huge and had lots of screens that were so high-definition you could read the waist size on the band members’ Levis. Wild Beasts were, of course, belting out some solid tunes, although I think they do better headlining their own smaller stage.

Wild Beasts + camera man’s arse

They were on at a bit of an awkward time and overlapped with my favourite set that night, Sylvan Esso. I don’t have any pictures of Sylvan Esso because I was dancing so much; they really seemed to be enjoying being on stage, and it whipped everyone up. People were really getting into their songs, which created such a special moment, and one that seems to be rarer as I watch live music as I get older. So in the absence of a picture I’m posting a youtube of one of my favourite songs. I don’t love the video, but this song got everyone dancing:

Margaret Glaspy also did a really good set. Short, snappy grungey New-York rock, I was surprised as I always assumed she was folky. I will definitely be checking her out in the future.

Margaret Glaspy

So in summary, Citadel was enjoyable, but it’s not one of my favourite festivals. Maybe because it’s a London thing but it feels kind of manic, like there were just too many people and pineapple workshops and not enough thought about the spacing of the music or the comfort capacity of the area. If you have to queue to get into a bar, you know something is wrong. Also, I hate a lot of corporate sponsorship at festivals. I realise that without it, the ticket prices would be a lot higher (it was close to £60 including postage and booking fees, which I think is reasonable for a day’s entertainment), but it really felt ridiculously in your face at Citadel. It just wasn’t needed to have Jagermeister branding all over the Jagermeister tent. All you could buy at the bar was Jagermeister (which smells so potently of regret) so it was bloody obvious. It didn’t feel like there was a square metre that didn’t have some corporate branding on it… not my thing. Also, the litter situation was atrocious. I know it’s a festival and people want to get drunk and not put things in the bin, but when I look back to other festivals such as Greenman and Bluedot, they are pristine: they have reusable cups and the litter-pickers work very hard.

Foals playing the headline. Litter everywhere…

Walking out to the periphery to take a photograph of the main stage when Foals were playing, the were plastic cups everywhere. It looked like a rubbish dump. I took a quick snap (above) and put my camera away, it wasn’t very inspiring.

I probably would go again, given the ease of getting there, but they would have to have some really good bands playing and the bonus of catching up with some old friends, which was by far the best part of the day.

In terms of attending with a disability, it was good. the ground is smooth and flat and there are accessible toilets if you need the extra space. It was hard going, but I limped home happy.




Adidas NMD R2 — a review

So, the 2nd version of the Adidas NMDs have been out for a while now, and given how annoying I found every aspect the NMD R1, I haven’t really been that bothered about them (my good opinion once lost is lost forever). However, that all changed when I saw this polka-dot pair on the &OtherStories website. That’s right, my good opinion can always by swayed by POLKA-DOTS:

Adidas NMD R2: £130

I love polka-dots, and I like the contrast between the retro dotty fabric and the futuristic shape of the trainers. I am all about the contrast. What I also like about these is that they’re a bit different to the endless sea of white trainers that are ubiquitous in summer; the Reebok Club Cs seems to be the white trainer of choice at the moment, but they remind me so much of my high-school PE teachers, I get a Pavlovian ‘being-picked-last-for-the-team’ anxiety when I see people wearing them and an urge to protect my face from a stray wet netball.

Reebok club C85: £64.95

I don’t really like the shape of these, and I think it is the association with PE lessons, and to be honest, if you want to go down the ‘not cool so that makes them cool’ hipster route, the best trainers are the Hi-Tec silver shadows, as issued to men and women of the British armed forces — purposefully chosen to be as functional as possible.

Hi-Tec silver shadows: £24.95

But back to the NMD R2s. There are some small differences in the styling of the NMD R2 versus the NMD R1, which I think improve the look. First of all, the plastic lace tabs have been removed, giving a more streamlined look, which I think is a good change, especially as the laces didn’t actually tighten the shoe anyway:

R2 laces (left) versus R1 laces (right)

But the most important change is that the tabs on the lateral side of the sole have been removed, which I found a little uncomfortable on the R1s, but they have left the tab on the medial side, which is great news for an overpronator like me who needs support on the inside of the ankle.

New ‘medial only’ tab design

The R1s did very little for my overpronation, so I was really looking forwards to trying the R2s out, and to my surprise I really liked them!

Box Fresh!

First of all, the knit fabric is much, MUCH, easier to stretch and so they were really easy to put on — no puffing and panting trying to squeeze it over my swollen joints like with the NMD R1, and there is no pressure across the joints:

Looking good

As for the comfort factor, this is much improved in the NMD R2 compared with the NMD R1. The outer sole is smooth but grippy, and there is nice smooth cushioning inside.


I would say the fit is true-to-size, verging on small, I am a UK6.5 (or I take a 7 if there is no half-size),  the EUR40 in this (which is normally classed as a UK7) is a UK6.5 and they fit perfectly. They are very roomy across the toes, so great if you have joint problems there. Like the R1s, you cannot alter the width of the shoes with the laces, so if you have very narrow feet, you may find them too wide.

So, how are they with the overpronation? The lack of supportive tabs on the lateral side works so much better for me than the R1s. They are not very rigid and so I don’t think you can describe them as preventing overpronation, and there is no support under the arch; however, they are supportive enough on the medial side to encourage proper joint placement, and the encouragement is often all I need, and indeed my leg positioning was better with these shoes.

Medial support

So, in short, I was impressed with the NMD R2, I think the changes they have made have really improved the shoe and made it worth the price. They’re a nice-looking shoe, and something a bit different to the retro shape of trainer I normally wear. I feel like I could wear these for sport, or (more likely) for brunch with a skirt, so they’re hard-working too; the R2s get the shoeslifeblog seal of approval.

Viva espadrilla

Nothing says summer like the plaited jute sole of an espadrille shoe (mainly because they do not cope well with rain). There seems to be a lot of espadrille shoes around this summer, maybe shoe manufacturers know it’s going to be a hot one (we can hope). Unfortunately, these shoes, although pretty and flat, are not ideal for people with arthritis. The jute sole tends to be inflexible, which is fine if there is some cushioning there, but the sole also tends to be firm and not bouncy, giving little cushioning to the joints.

For this reason, I’ve shied away from espadrilles in the past, although I did succumb to this pair of Louboutin leopard espadrilles, which I wear for summer parties when I know there will be a lot of lounging with a cocktail and little walking about. They are beautiful and elevate any outfit, but they’re not particularly comfortable (does anyone find Louboutins comfortable? That’s a genuine question, so many people I talk to have sold theirs because they’re so uncomfortable):


But recently, I read about the company Air and Grace, a company that strives to make beautiful but comfortable shoes. This quote is from the founder, Claire Burrows:

“Great shoes make us feel amazing. But in common with most women I know, I’ve found the shoes I love haven’t always loved me back. My wardrobe is full of beautiful shoes I hardly ever wear. Sound familiar?”

Yes! It sounds so familiar! (I shouted at my computer screen). So, Air and Grace make shoes with memory foam cushioning inside, and the first thing I wanted to try were their trainers, which all look fantastic, especially these leopard print:

Air and Grace copeland: £149

and these:

Air and Grace copeland: £149

However, as they aren’t the cheapest of trainers (but by no means ridiculously expensive) I had to wait until pay-day to get them, and as I waited, they brought out a range of espadrilles, which I immediately set my heart on:

Air and Grace hula: £89
Air and Grace hula: £89

Leopard print with neon tassels! It’s like someone looked inside my head and designed the shoe from what they saw. However, given that I already have leopard-print espadrilles, I went for the red. Red is summery, and exciting, and I love wearing red shoes.

When they came, I was super excited to try them on, and they are SO comfortable! They’re like walking on little pillows but they’re not too soft that they’re unsupportive. The leather is also really soft, and the area in the foot-box is well proportioned: there’s room so that it doesn’t squish my feet, but they’re not so roomy that I feel they’re going to fall off (I have narrow feet, and have this problem). The tassels are perfect too. They just make a plain shoe have that wow factor. I can’t recommend them enough.

Hurry up summer!

I also noticed that Clarks have also produced espadrilles this season, in a lovely bright yellow (as well as a nice cream-coloured lace):

Clarks clovelly sun: £40

The Clarks shoes also boast “Cushion Soft™ foam insoles”, and being substantially cheaper, I thought I should give them a go.

When they came, they do have a cushioned insole, most noticeably in a little pocket in the heel, it looked big but I couldn’t feel it when they were on:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey were soft and comfortable, but nowhere near as squishy as the Air and Grace shoes. There is a big difference in the sole depth:

The Clarks soles (top) are rather thin in comparison to the Air and Grace espadrilles (bottom)

In terms of fit, the Clarks espadrilles are quite large, and a bit too wide for me. If you have wide feet, they may be a better choice (the leather was equally very soft), but you can see the difference in fit between the two here:

The Clarks shoe is a bit too baggy, you can see the leather gaping

So for me, Air and Grace espadrilles win hands down and are worth the extra money (also, tassels); however, if you especially swollen joints of wide feet, the Clarks espadrilles may be a better choice.

In any case, I am looking forward to getting more Air and Grace shoes. They also do brogues, and I am really liking the silver. Hopefully they will bring out more colours soon:

Air and Grave loveable: £139

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (part 2)

So, finally, I managed to set aside enough time and money to go out and buy some snow boots after deciding that, although brilliant on lighter terrain, the Clarks Tri Arc might not be tough enough to cope with tough icy, muddy, craggy dog walks (I haven’t actually tested this hypothesis, however, they might be amazing, but I didn’t want to risk £100 on shoes I had doubts on. If Clarks want to send me a pair to try out I would be happy…)

So I decided to stick with dedicated tried-and-tested snow boots. Over the last couple of years, many blogs and instagram accounts have been turning to Sorel for their snow-boot needs, and I can see why, they do look cool yet really tough. So, ever in the interests of discovering new footwear I decided to try them out.

First of all, I was a bit disappointed by the range of footwear they have on offer for actual serious walking. If you go to their website, it looks like a plethora of snow boots are winging their way on to your screen. However, not that many of these are waterproof (I’m not sure who these are for… people who want to look like they go outside without actually doing it?), but happily Sorel give you filters that allow you to pick the boots that would suit your needs best. Given that we never get heavy snow in the UK, I first set the filters for ‘heavy rain’, something we know very well. However, when I looked at the boots in more detail, I wasn’t that impressed with the sole.

Sorel Carnival: £100

It would certainly be fine for when it’s pouring in the city, and the concourse of your train station turns into an ice-rink, but the grip on these looks worse than the rejected Clarks Tri Arcs. I don’t think they’d last up to going out onto wet rocky slopes, and I walk in the tameness of the North Downs; I couldn’t imagine these on something unforgiving like shale.

So, the only boots I thought had the sort of grip that matched my old snow boots were the Sorel Caribou:

Sorel Caribou: £130

The Caribou are recommended for heavy snow, which I guess can be translated as heavy mud. They’re clearly a boot that means business — the sole is impressive with lots of rubbery nodules, so I can’t believe it’s the only boot that Sorel make with this sole.

Super bumpy

I’ve been a bit busy as of late, so I didn’t have time to make a big journey to a Sorel stockist in central London, so I decided (as it was only one pair of boots) to order them online. In the end, because I had to wait for pay-day, the women’s boots had sold out in my size; fortunately, I am large of foot so I could order a men’s size 6 (which translates as a women’s 7 or EUR40).

I was very excited when they came as they are clearly a boot that meant business: they are BIG boots — so big I thought that they would never fit, but they did!

I didn’t have any snow so I improvised with my duvet

As I wasn’t sure whether I would keep them, I could only wear them around the house, but I could tell the soles are super-grippy. They’re also really warm, and they look great. However, they are also really heavy, there’s a lot of insulation, but I could tell from just walking up the stairs that these boots would be a drag over a proper walk, they were making my joints ache just inside the house. They are also too high for my needs; I think they really would be great in heavy snow, if I just really needed to survive getting from A to B, but they are too much if you wanted to be outside for a long period of time as the length up the leg is too restrictive over my arthritic joints.

Walking in a winter wonderland

I do think these boots would be good if you lived anywhere with clay soil, that turns into a water-logged bog in the winter, and I did consider keeping these boots for when I visit my parents as short boots don’t work on the farmland and I have to wear wellies; however that would be ridiculously decadent, and I wouldn’t then be able to buy boots I need to wear every day. I sent them back.

Incidentally, I did find the ‘Princess Leia on Hoth’ boots on the Sorel website:

Sorel Cozy Cate: £110

They’re waterproof and look like a fantastic, warm alternative to wellies. They’re on my ‘decadent’ wish list, but first, the search for the perfect winter walking boots continues…



Adidas NMD (for the urban nomad): a review

Edit: This is a review of the NMD R1, for the 2017 review of the NMD R2, click here

I am not sure about how anybody else finds it, but the minute I feel I am getting marketed at (rather than to) I immediately get turned off. I am not one of these people who despises advertising in all its forms and lives in an unbranded yurt; everyone is influenced by advertising, the media, social media, friends, and I do want to buy stuff so I am quite glad that someone is shouting, hey! Look over here! We have what you need, and we do it in a way that you like. However, the marketing campaign for the new Adidas NMD has been so rubbish that I didn’t really feel any excitement towards them, which is why I’ve only just got round to trying on these trainers despite being aware of their existence for several months now.

Adidas NMD: £100

When they first came out I noticed the NMDs were being marketed as shoes for ‘Urban Nomads’, I wasn’t even fazed by this choice selection of marketing-speak, everyone needs to push their product, but these seemed to be a trainer designed for people who walk round cities a lot and need cushioning and support but also want to look good. Well, that includes me, and I decided to check them out. I actually went to the Adidas shop near Carnaby Street at the time of their release, but owing to a severe case of really-needing-a-coffee-and-not-being-bothered-to-try-shoes-on (I really needed that coffee) I only had a look at them, noting they were super light and seemed like they could be a good trainer for people with arthritis.

Then, a few days later, I picked up this issue of NME (yes, it’s not what it was, it’s not cool, but I still like it (and it’s free!)), and I just got a bit confused:

Oh no, my music magazine has been hacked by a trainer company

So… Generation Nomad (or, Adidas as its also known) ‘hacked’ NME. As far as I was aware, hacking was gaining unauthorised access to data, whereas the NME–Adidas combo seems to think hacking can be defined as printing on glossy paper with lots of adverts of ‘urban nomads’. It’s just weird to pretend it was some sort of hostile take over. I just don’t understand it, and I wonder how many Apprentice-style marketing executives it took to come up with this, I imagine the conversation went something along the lines of:

“We need to market these NMD trainers as being edgy!”

“You mean Urban”

“Yeah! Urban and edgy, because they’re for Nomads, which are cool”

“NMD sounds like NME… is the NME still cool?”

“Yeah! Must be!”

“Yeah, let’s pay for loads of advert space! They’re desperate, they’ll do anything for money”

“Paper is a bit low quality though, isn’t it, it feels cheap”

“Yeah, cheap is not our brand”

“I know! We can buy loads of advert space and make them print on nice paper, and all the cool kids will start wearing our trainers”

“Is buying advert space cool?”

“Good point, let’s just do it and say we ‘hacked’ it. Hacking is cool.”

“Genius, let’s open the champagne and caviar”

Now, I know I am not the target market, but I hate being treated as if I am stupid (I don’t blame NME, they really are desperate for cash). And, the hacking weirdness aside, to be honest, the adverts didn’t do that much for me. The NME has a young readership, but they also know that there’s an older generation who grew up with it too (like me), and they do try not to alienate these readers too much, and I respect it for that. 

Hmmmm, needs more concrete

I think the NMD adverts missed the mark. I don’t want to look like a kid wearing trainers in an ugly carpark, I’m in my 30s. Going for an aperol spritz at the Southbank Centre is about as ‘hanging round an ugly carpark’ as I can deal with.

Aperol spritz? Brutalist architecture? Jolly good

So, I basically decided I wasn’t in a rush to try these trainers out. In the end, however, I thought it would be a good idea to try them on eventually, as they might well have been revolutionary, so I ordered a pair in purple, which set me back £100. Not overly expensive, I pay that for my approach shoes, but I expect a £100 pair of trainers to be good.

Lovely new shoes feeling

Quick look in the box, and it’s all very nice. Who doesn’t love new shoes? The fabric was a peachy soft suede and looked good. And as I said above they are really light for their size, which is always good as I’m trying to avoid heavy shoes as much as possible at the moment, I’ve noticed it just adds unnecessary strain on my joints, especially if my feet are in a state of semi-rest (for example, when I am driving). However, the praise stops there.

The first thing, they are a massive faff to put on! There is no tongue to the trainers, it is just one solid construction, a bit like the embellished trainers, but it lacks enough stretch to be put on with ease.

Much grunting later, I got them on…

I only have swelling in my ankle, but if you have any foot problems, I think you would find just getting the shoes on very tricky. I had to really use the tab to pull them on my feet. This is just not what you want when you have arthritis: just getting dressed can be enough hassle without adding extra challenge.

I put on some shoes. Um, yay?

When they were on, I did like the way they looked. The laces are pretty superfluous, but I like superfluous things sometimes, so didn’t hold it against them. What I did hold against them was the fact they just weren’t very comfortable. The heel, weirdly, felt too firm underfoot and, also weirdly, there was no support under the arch so my bad ankle wanted to overpronate.

Definitely some overpronation going on with the potato-ankle

I didn’t think that the NMDs were terrible, they were fine. However I didn’t think they were better than many other trainers: they look good, they have an interesting design, but they didn’t feel amazingly better and, for £100, I would want these to do something a little more. It’s not that I particularly dislike Adidas either, I love Gazelles. I had a pair of Gazelles when I was 17 that were made from deep-blue corduroy (that’s how I roll) that I loved beyond all reason, and Gazelles have a special place in my heart. But for £90, you can custom design your own pair of Gazelles, which I think is better value than the basic NMD.

To make sure I was being fair I did a side-by-side try on with a pair of New Balance 420, which are a nice light trainer. I like the retro look that they have. They don’t have much arch support or do much for my overpronation either, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t ever try to do urban nomading in them.

New Balance 420 Baby Blue: £65

To be honest, they didn’t feel that different, the NMDs do have more support in the heel, so perhaps I would notice the benefit if I had been walking for miles, but if I knew I were going to do that sort of distance, I would probably wear approach shoes (or Golden Goose trainers if I wanted to look like I was making an effort). The most notable difference I could see is that the NMDs cost an extra £35…  I sent the NMDs back.

So, basically, if you want a pair of trainers for general use, and you really like the look of the NMDs they are not a bad trainer (provided you can get them on). However if you are buying with walking benefits in mind, I wouldn’t rate them too highly as you would be better off, in my opinion, in something with better support under the arch.

The search for the perfect trainer continues…

Approach the Approach Shoes

Approach shoes (so called as they are worn to approach some massive rock you need different shoes to climb) are the most boring shoes I own, they’re not fashionable at the moment (the fashion trainer du jour seems to be plain white and flat like Adidas Stan Smiths), and I don’t really like writing about them. However, they are also the most useful shoes I own and, as I needed a new pair, I thought I would write a review.

I have a dog, and in the spring to autumn months I wear approach shoes to walk him, and I can cover a few miles without problems. I also wear them if I am having any trouble with my leg as they are easy to wear, and deal best when my ankle is irritated. That said, I wouldn’t wear them to work unless I were on crutches, because I like to look either professional or interesting and these shoes do neither of those. I wouldn’t wear them to go out either, because I like to look my best, maybe this is vanity, but there is nothing wrong with that. They were for a long time the only shoes I could wear because when my arthritis was at its worst, I had a leg brace, and that would only fit in these sorts of shoes. Additionally, if you’re wearing a leg brace, you’re desperate, and I needed all the help walking I could get.

My leg brace! technically it was easier to walk, but it made actually leaving the house much harder

I think, now, there is a greater range of shoes that can handle a brace, and when I find ones I will flag them up for any brace wearers. Unfortunately, I threw my leg brace away when I didn’t need it as a symbolic freedom gesture, so I can’t physically take it to the shops and try it.

So why are these shoes so good?

First of all they help to stop overpronation, an excessive inward roll of the foot, which I had developed in order to compensate for the lack of mobility in my ankle joint. Overpronation is not good for the rest of the joints, and actually made the pain worse so I needed that support around the ankle and under the arch.

Second, they have a rocker sole (also called rolling sole), whereby the curve of the sole helps the body move over the toes when you walk. This means your ankles don’t have to do that work.

Behold the power of my little finger

Third, the heel height is about 1 inch, which, according to my podiatrist, is the right height to keep my ankle aligned properly. Counterintuitively perhaps, shoes with completely flat heels, such as ballet pumps, seem to put a lot of pressure on the joint, and I cannot walk in them.

Last, the soles are really strong and grippy. This isn’t only important for when I am walking in the countryside where there are slopes; my potato ankle is not stable, and if my good foot slips (on wet metal grids for example) I am hitting the concrete.

The problem with this type of shoe, however, is the weight of all that sturdiness, it can tire your legs out and, if you don’t need the support, a running shoe would probably suit you better. They are also incredibly expensive, and it is unfair but a fact of life that if you have any kind of special requirements, cheap shoes just don’t cut the mustard. I think these shoes are worth spending money on, as they are my go-to when I am sore and my feet need love, but I am aware that is not everyone’s priority. If you look after them, however, they do last for years of daily wear.

So which ones are the best? Annoyingly, it depends on your feet, and the best thing to do is go to an outdoors shop, like Coltswolds Outdoors or Blacks, and try them all on. They have two basic styles, those modelled on walking boots and those more like trainers. I prefer the latter, and I also like waterproof Gore-tex shoes as I have to walk the dog on wet grass sometimes (I can’t do wellies… or wet feet). Gore-tex shoes are a lot more expensive, so you will be able to find cheaper, non-waterproof versions. The main thing is how the brands compare, and these are the ones I tried.

Salomon Escambia GTX

RRP £110

This has had some good reviews online, but they were my least favourite of the ones I tried on. They were a little ‘boxy’ compared to the others, feeling more like a walking boot, and had less roll.

The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX

RRP £110

These were much better looking than the Salomon and also had a really nice roll to the sole. North Face shoes were the narrowest I tried on, so you may struggle if your feet are wide, or swollen or you wear orthotics. If you have narrow feet, however, they are probably the best bet, though you may need to go up a size, and if you don’t need such a roll in the sole, the North Face Hedgehog Fastpack Lite GTX might be even better.

Meindl Respond Lady XCR

RRP £120

The Meindl Respond was the widest shoe I tried on, too wide for me, but great if you have a brace or insoles. It rolled nicely onto the toes, but the width made them look quite boxy.

Merrell Siren Sport GTX

RRP £120

As you can tell from the picture above I already have a pair of these, and they’re the pair that fit me best. They’re not too narrow and not too wide and I like that they adjust down to the toe. I also like that the look is a little more ‘trainer’ than some of the other approach shoes that have more of a rugged look. I always feel a bit of a fraud in anything too mountainy as it’s not like I’ll be trotting up one any time soon.

Scarpa Oxygen GTX

RRP £150

This was the most expensive shoe, and probably the most ‘street’ looking of the shoes I tried. It was quite narrow and the roll wasn’t as pronounced as some of the other though, but it apparently it has a special ventilation system that pumps air around the shoe (I didn’t get particularly heated in the shop, but it may be worth trying if you find you get hot, bothered feet).

In the end, I got another pair of the Merrell Sirens (if it isn’t broke and all that), albeit in a slightly different colour and my dog seems to approve (or rather, doesn’t actually care at all).

Stopping means food, right?

Next time: shoes you actually want to go out in!