Mountain boots from a bygone age – Le Trappeur

July 4, 2017

These are my first and only pair of mountain boots. They have been recrafted at least twice. I climbed four out of the seven mythical peaks wearing them. Conquered two out of the four. Came very close to summiting the rest, but was beaten down by the foul weather.

These days boots like these are simply too heavy and labor extensive and probably too expensive to manufacture any longer. Even in my time, they cost a bomb and only reason why I could get my grubby hands on a pair of La Trappeurs was simply because I was a sports equipment sponsored mountain climber.

Boots like these were made in the mid eighties – way before high tech space age materials such as Gore-Tex, Thinsulate 3M, carbon fiber, exotic rubber along with Super light waterproof materials found their way into mountain boots. Today it would be inconceivable for any climber to wear this pair of antiques up anything resembling an ant hill let alone a mountain. But in my time, this was the equivalent of Rolex when it came to serious mountain gear.

La Trappeur boots all feature a single hide design that gives them a very distinctive shape – this is largely of a function in an age when every serious climber worth his salt was expected to know at least twenty ways to lace his boots to accommodate terrain and weather conditions. Hence the arrangement of the lacing lugs start at the toes and feature plenty of points to accommodate a wide range of tie off’s to facilitate ascend to descent in rocky conditions to even fitting crampons for icy conditions. Unlike modern climbing boots where fit is solely based on last design. The fit for La Trappeur boots is entirely based on the proficiency of the climber to dial in the necessary adjustments with only lacing….that’s to say if you don’t know how to lace technically…it’s impossible to wear them even to walk around in the mall.

One reason why I have been reluctant to wear them is because climbing boots of that era are usually one and half size larger due to the need to wear two pair of socks – one thin and the other very thick wool socks lined with raw sheep suede to keep the feet warm and to prevent blisters from forming.

The last thing I need heat build up in my boots when I work in the field. Not when I am in the tropics. However it seems like too excellent a pair of boots to just sit and gather dust on the shelf on the account of that one drawback – so lately I have been pairing them with modern space age thick socks* that can breathe and even wick sweat to keep cool despite having to wear Super thick socks. Result: surprisingly not hot at all…just like they used to feel very stiff and supportive – as that is the nature of boots of that era where the entire ankle and feet is literally clamped like a whale bone corset to make it possible for climbers to carry a sixty kilogram backpack uphill safely without the ankle buckling….I may get them recrafted when I next visit the city with lighter and less rigid sole for general hiking. That should shave off some of weight and make more flexy.

I expect to get very good mileage out of these babies in the years to come. With proper care. They can easily last an entire lifetime and save me lots of money while keeping my feet safe.

*

I wear thin cotton dress shoe socks over this other thicker performance socks that seem to provide a snug fit with my mountain books. It seems to perform OK. Not hot at all. My only gripe is these socks are so very expensive for reasons that I cannot seem to understand for the life of me. So I really only have two pairs that I have to take extreme good care of. But if you’re on your feet the whole day as much as I. It may be something worth investing in.

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