How $57 Hiking Boots Cost Me $623

Spending money hurts. When you see a pair of hiking boots on clearance for $57, good fortune must be smiling down on you.

They’re not the perfect fit, those boots are $300-something. At roughly ⅓ of your rent, that’s too painful to consider.

Buying the $57 boots is the financially sensible decision. That’s what I did.

They were mostly good. Anything under 3 miles was great. Up to 6 miles meant blisters. But $8 on a pack of Moleskine is an excellent thing to have in your first aid kit anyway.

$65 hiking boots is still a steal.

Then, a month or so back, I hiked Turtlehead Peak. That’s officially 6 miles with a 2,000-foot elevation gain. Not bad. Some people (crazy people) run that sort of thing regularly.

The Devil Is In The Details

Shortly before attempting this beautiful, and 100% recommended, hike, the internet taught me that there is a correct way to trim your toenails.

Turns out that rounded toenails are more prone to ingrowns, particularly when short. Between yoga and running, I keep mine as short as I can reasonably manage.

(here comes the “but”)

But, the correct way to trim your toenails is to square the ends. Go figure. As I age, and things about my body stop working as well as when I was 16. Therefore trimming my toenails properly is probably a smart decision.

The Terrible Combo

Now, what do you get when you have square toenails, covered with rock hard nail polish, stuffed in hiking boots that mostly fit, then take an 8-mile hike up and down a mountain? (I say 8 miles instead of 6 because I tend to take the “scenic route” on poorly marked trails.)

Bubbles. You get bubbles.

Bet you didn’t know that you could bubble your nails. It’s like having a blister between layers of the nail. It doesn’t hurt. It’s just rather concerning.

I didn’t know at the time it was between layers, I thought the nail had separated from the bed. That’s also a thing. I filed it back a tiny bit to see what was going on, and it was a nail blister (bubble.) Bubble sounds nicer than blister.

The bubble began spreading from the left half of my nail across the right.

When you don’t know what to do, the internet is there to help.

The internet seemed to conclude that yes, I could go to the doctor. But doctors tend to tell me the following three things, “walk it off,” “sleep it off,” or “you’re fine, don’t worry about it.”

The stronger recommended alternative, which helped me conclude that other people distrust doctors too, is to head over to your local nail salon. They are wizards who can fix everything.

It’s my second ever foot thing in a nail salon. I have a group of ladies wandering over to look at my toe. You could see the “Holy whatsits, Batman! What on earth did she do?” through their carefully masked expressions.

The top layer of toenail was missing at this point because I forgot to bandaid it when I went to sleep, and it ripped off. Fun, right?

They all independently concluded that the only thing to be done was to glue the rest of the nail down to the thin nail layer still attached, then glue an acrylic on top of that.

I’d always sworn that I’d never get acrylics, they’re scarier than things that go bump in the night.

But, there’s no help for it now. I’ll have a single acrylic toenail until the whole blasted thing grows out.

It feels weird. It’s like the more extreme version of gel nail polish. When I paint my own nails, which I do to protect them from all of the abuse I put my hands through, I can feel the layers hardening on top of the nail. It feels like armor, almost.

The feeling of the acrylic is like someone glued a wooden toenail on. I can feel the weight, the rigidity.

Then there are the additional care routines.

I never much worried about my feet before. They got washed in the shower, toenails trimmed and painted to keep them from bending and doing weird stuff with the exercise I put them through.

Now, I have nail oil. That’s a thing. It seems you’re supposed to oil around your nails to keep the acrylic in good condition. Otherwise, terrible things like lifting, nail damage, and fungus can happen if you don’t care for it properly. Ew.

I’ve found that the figure-four chair pose is ideal for applying lotion to my feetsies at night. Apparently, that’s another thing you’re supposed to do.

Then the cost…

Now, it was $50 (including tip) to get my toenails done. I’ll have to do that every 3ish weeks until the whole nail grows out. Sharon (my hero) told me that it could take 8 months to a year.

Optimistically, 8 months of keeping my toenail glued together will run me $550.

That’s a fine pair of hiking boots right there.

Next, the moleskin for preventing blisters was around $8. That’s $558.

Then the nail oil, another $8. That’s $566.

Plus, the original cost of the hiking boots — $57.

Total? $623. An additional $323 over the better fitting pair of hiking boots. That’s a stand mixer or a couple shares of an index fund.

But the idiotic thing?

I should have already learned this lesson.

Back when working retail, dress code required dress shoes. Upon testing how much I’d get yelled at in different outfits, a low heel was optimal for being yelled at the least. (Pro tip: don’t work at stores with a 1.7-star yelp rating, no matter how bad the economy is.)

I’d buy the $20 pair of low heels at Payless. They’d last 2–3 months. I purchased a $100 pair at Zappos that were more comfortable and lasted a year and a half of walking/standing on cement floors 6 days a week. (My fitness tracker at the time told me I’d walk about 6 miles a day while at work.)

I really should have known better on the hiking boots.

Take Away

There are things you can go cheap on.

  • Notebooks and doodle paper
  • Sweatbands
  • Yard shoes for slipping on to go out with the dog
  • Candlesticks
  • Those $1 bagged spices instead of the $7 jars
  • Books at a 2nd hand store vs. new

Then there are things you can’t.

  • Shoes
  • Kitchen knives (remember sharper is safer)
  • Dry erase markers (why don’t the cheap ones erase well!?)

It’s just one of those things where smart spending is not the same as not frivolous spending. Particularly as I’m discovering the older I get, spending money where it matters is absolutely worth it.

Don’t be stupid like me. Fork out the money for better footwear.

Ghostwriter and blogger for businesses all over the world.

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