I lived in Vancouver my entire life and never owned a pair of hiking boots. Trail runners, yes. But it wasn’t until moving to England last year that I finally made the investment in a proper pair of walking boots. And who better to look to than the sporty and elegant Princess of Wales for some outdoor shoe inspiration?
We walk and hike a lot, but the English countryside is not kind to runners/sneakers (or, as they’re called here, trainers). Trails of any kind get far too wet and muddy with the frequent rain. Even when trails and fields are dry, let’s not forget what various farm and forest animals contribute to making country estates so green… While wellies are waterproof and sturdy, they aren’t supportive enough for long country walks and hikes in the Peak District, at a National Trust estate, or elsewhere. It turns out, walking boots are a must.
It was time to navigate UK countryside trails in comfort and practical style. So, about three weeks and several treks into being out of quarantine, I broke down and googled ‘Kate Middleton hiking boots’. I had to start somewhere — and if I’m going to look to anyone for at least the aesthetic of what I’m looking for, it’s her.
Duchess-inspired hiking boots
As you can imagine, this was a quick search. There are so many blogs and magazine articles dedicated to the Duchess of Cambridge’s* wardrobe choices. She has two go-to options: a suede pair from See by Chloe and the Berghaus Supalite II GTX. After further research, I ordered the latter from UK retailer Cotswold Outdoor.
*This blog was published prior to the September 2022 change of title to the Princess of Wales.
At £400(!), the Chloe option was way out of my budget, and suede is not practical or easy to clean. But the Berghaus boots ticked all the boxes: friendlier price (£155**), gorgeous leather, waterproof, not too clunky or heavy, great colour, and a Vibram sole (if you know, you know).
**This was about $250 CAD in June 2021. Yes, that’s still a lot of money — but I’ve never been one to buy “cheap” shoes. The #GetThrifty is that these boots will last me a long time. Cost per wear is always something I factor in with shoes. And a bonus is that the VAT tax is always included in prices. (No surprises!)
My review of the Berghaus Supalite II GTX boots
After about 15-20 wears, this is my review. These boots are super comfortable, fully waterproof, sturdy yet lightweight, and give (for me) good arch and ankle support. The sole is supportive and breathable, and the Vibram sole is everything it’s meant to be. They’ve been a worthy investment, though I did have one hiccup.
After my first wear, I genuinely thought I’d made a big purchase error. I got the worst blisters on both my Achilles points. Thankfully, it was a one-off, break-them-in situation. And also a reminder to wear bandaids with new shoes, and a clear call to get better and thicker socks — like these merino wool options.
You can take the girl out of the city…
It’s the city girl in me, but despite the purpose of the hiking boots, I was initially doing my best to keep them pristine while out and about. (Yes, I was a fairly fastidious child, and yes I know hiking isn’t a “clean” activity.) But that’s obviously hard to do when trekking across muddy terrain without tiptoeing along — which is ridiculous.
I got over it pretty quickly. But I do make sure to wipe them down and give the soles a hose-down after every outing. It’s just about accepting the reality that my boots are going to get a mud mask, no matter what. Like on our recent trek up to the gorgeous Three Shires Head waterfalls, pictured above. It had been raining the day before, so the hike up to this stunning viewpoint was full of mud and puddles.
But HRH wouldn’t care about a little mud, so why should I?