Well, it turns out that the instructions to care for my new pair have given me the answer: neglect, pure and simple. These wonderful German boots are still in pretty good shape, except for one little problem: the hard rubber on the front has begun to pull away from the leather. There is a reason for this, I realize. Leaving your wet boots in the trunk of the car to dry out until next week is NOT the best way to care for them. Lowa, the boot manufacturer, says this:
Good footwear deserves good care. The footwear will repay the time and effort invested by remaining comfortable, water repellent and -- above all -- regular care and attention will increase the lifespan of the product considerably. Leather is a natural material with valuable natural attributes. However, even leather is subject to a certain aging process. For this reason, regular care and maintenance is a must.For some reason, at the end of most of my hikes, my trusty shoes (which never let my feet get wet) would remain covered with mud and dirt and allowed to dry in peace. There is a specific warning against this: "Never leave footwear to dry next to a heat source, or or in the trunk of a car. Wet leather "burns" (becomes brittle and shrinks) very easily." Although I have only practiced this procedure for two years, my shoes finally began to leak. The informative person at the store told me it was possible to take them to a shoe repair shop and see if they might be able to bond the rubber to the leather once again.
But I knew that the boots had served me well, and that the fault lay not at the feet, so to speak, of the product, but at my own negligence. I decided to donate my old boots to the Salvation Army and let another person, who might not put them through quite as much stress as I do, get some wear out of them. And I will treat this new pair with much more respect and see how much longer they will last!
It's hard to believe that the shoes in the picture above are exactly the same, with only a hundred-plus hikes to separate them, a few times having been treated with water repellent stuff, and many days spent coated with all the mud and gunk from the hikes. Just a typical example: