It has been quite a while since I have posted to the blog. That makes me sad. Life get's busy for many of us around this time of year.
It has also been unusually cold in Manitoba this year, so that has not helped much. As most regular readers know, I am very fond of getting into the great outdoors, and photographing nature. I regularly take a break from outdoor photography when the mercury dips below -15 C or so. My hands get numb, my feet start to burn, and the frost starts to BITE. I have had frost bite several times in a life lived in Manitoba.
You don't know what cold is unless you have fallen through the ice up to your arm pits in water in the middle of a -30 C blizzard. That was the coldest I have ever been. I have however had frostbite bad enough to lose the skin on my feet multiple times.
I have taken the paranoid approach lately. I am a little more careful. I do long to get outdoors in the Winter though. People who live here like to joke about how much they love summer, all two months of it. There have been some years where that doesn't seem like much of an exaggeration. The average Winter temperature in Winnipeg, where I live is -23 C. That is around -9 F for my American friends. The coldest windchill temperature ever recorded in Winnipeg was -57.1 C (-70.78 F) in 1996. It's not the coldest place on Earth, not by a long shot, but sometimes it feels that way.
So, this year, I have taken the plunge back into the frosty outdoors thanks in large part to Steger Mukluks and these bad boys:
They are a little pricey, $239.95 American. In Canada, it cost me $307.26 including shipping. Add about another $50 Canadian for Customs. I really hope they are worth it! If my feet stay warm and dry for the season it definitely will be. Anything else will just be a bonus. I'll get to that in a bit.
I am planning on updating you guys with a product review at the end of the season after I have put them through their paces. I started breaking them in today with 2 different tasks, totally un-related to photography.
The first was a minor standing test. I needed to replace the block heater cord on my car, and that meant standing in one place, somewhat in-actively for a while. The time it took to fix the cord was drawn out, as fiddling with small screws and hand tools with bare hands in today's -26 C (-9.4 F) meant painfully stiff, long drawn out movements. But my feet were toasty warm! And I didn't even wear socks!
The next task I set out to do was take Charlee to the dog park. This was a whole different ball of wax. She was very happy to be there! She gets a little neglected in the cold weather for the aforementioned reasons. I know she was getting a bit of the cabin fever, and so was I! We walked at a brisk pace. The first thing I noticed was how quiet they were! For the first time ever, my dog's footsteps were actually louder than my own! I got a kick out of that. This could definitely make stalking animals interesting, but I will more than likely be wearing snowshoes, and the advantage will be lost. This is a good thing for hunters of the meat eating kind, as well as the photographer kind.
I wear a 13 double wide CamuksExtreme, and they fit my snowshoe bindings, so that is a definite bonus. The second thing I noticed was how in touch with the trail my feet were. I could feel every nook and cranny through the soft soles. That is probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I love it. I frequently take short hikes through the bush in bare feet. If I had more time I would do it more often. I love feeling the connection to the ground. This is the Winter analog I suppose. Incidentally the soft soles also make driving a lot easier than my old winter boots.
The next thing I found was that the treads lived up to the hype. From what I understand the soles of the Mukluks are made from moose hide, and then dipped in some strange rubberized concoction that is super soft and flexible, yet durable once it hardens on the mukluk. It also has an aggressive tread pattern. It made climbing and descending a cinch. This was most apparent on the down slope of the toboggan run just before we arrived back at the car. The snow was compressed to sheer hard pack, and polished to a glossy sheen, and the camuks gripped like a champ. I am curious how well they would do in warmer conditions with a little surface water. We'll have to wait for warmer weather for that answer.
Lastly, the camuks are extremely lightweight. This was not much of a factor, as my trip was quick, and relatively short distance. But it was apparent never the less.
So, over all my first impressions are quite hopeful. I'll post again later, with regard to durability, and new usage conditions.
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