Boots are, for the most part, a very subjective thing for the wearer.
What’s beautiful and stylish for one person is the next person’s… Jedward. Some people like fabric uppers whereas others like to slip their plates of meat into what started life as a bovine’s bum.
For many years, ever since becoming the proud owner of a pair of leather Barbour boots which were huge lead-lined behemoths that made me feel like I was wading through treacle, I’ve been a fan of the fabric variety of boots.
But things seem to have changed a bit since those days and CÀRN could be the company to convert me.
These Storm Chasers are reasonably light – less than half the weight of those Barbours, and pretty anonymous with it, which is no bad thing in my eyes.
The uppers are nubuck leather, which is leather leather but with a soft, brushed texture more akin to velvet (although not as cheesy) than the sticky, sweaty leather your settee would have been made from in the ‘80s. Although not a soft leather in terms of thickness, it’s still pretty pliable and doesn’t take much – if any – breaking in. The uppers, which are topped-off with a nice snug cuff around the ankle, are tough, durable and reasonably easy to clean. And the ‘eVent’ waterproof fabric lining beneath the leather means you can dunk them in a bucket of water and scrub them with a toothbrush if you’re that way inclined. Or just turn the hose on them, like I’ve been known to do from time to time.
It’s this lining and leather combo which gives me the most trouble though. As indicated on CÀRN’s eBay page here the lining wicks moisture away from the foot but the outer doesn’t. This could potentially cause issues further down the line in warmer weather because moisture would take some time to leave the boot, if it gets out at all. Only time will tell.
The most eye-catching element of the Storm Chasers is a chunky rubber moulded heel plate which cradles your heel and gives your foot more stability, much like a stiff chassis gives a car more feel and rigidity. It’s not an earth-shattering feature but the boots certainly feel ‘solid’ at the back end. This is complemented by a thick rubber toe guard which comes up and over the toes and stretches around the sides of the foot, giving the boot much more durability.
So-called ‘locking’ eyelets for the round laces (I don’t like round laces because I find they slip) keep everything in place when the boots are all tied up, but I found them a bit fiddly and tight, gripping the laces like a vice and meaning you have to concentrate when doing the boots up. It’s a minor niggle though, so that doesn’t bother me too much.
The very first time I wore these was for a short walk to an event at a local stately home which featured a little bit of rocky stuff, some flat muddy paths and common-or-garden pavement. Cutting a long story short Mrs Muz and I got completely and hopelessly lost in the woods on the way home however, so that original one mile/20 minutes accidentally turned into about six miles/two hours including at least one two-mile circuit around a hill. At 11pm, in the pitch black, with only this to light the way.
This terrifying and random route in the arse end of nowhere took us along thick wet clay paths, up steep rocky inclines and across all manner of slippery off-road, leaf-strewn terrain, and the Storm Chasers – straight from the box – performed perfectly throughout. The thick rubber sole, designed exclusively for CÀRN, worked brilliantly and I don’t remember losing grip once regardless of the depth of clag we were struggling through.
My feet were generally aching a little bit towards the end, although I’m sure this was down to the fact that I was just wearing normal thin socks which were completely unsuitable for such an epic trek. I had no sore bits though because the inside of these boots are slipper-like and super comfy.
So distracted was I with the fit and quality of the boots that it took me some hours after returning home to realise that Mrs Muz wasn’t with me and I’d last seen her going for a wee in the woods.
Never mind – I’ll put some posters on lampposts tomorrow or the day after if she doesn’t turn up.
SUMMARY: Nice, comfortable boots which you can just put on and go. The lack of breathability is a concern though, but other than that they’re ideal for all kinds of walking.
Price: £112 (RRP)
More info: carn-uk.co.uk