Disclaimer: Shirley Miller has been a long-time customer. She joined the team later by becoming SOM Super Editor. There is no one like her to give honest, straightforward, direct opinion or comment on what we do. She is the perfect critic because of her natural high standards. Her review on what became her favorite hiking shoes and on the durability and comfort of SOM Footwear is from her honest heart and soul.
Fed up with poor quality shoes
Yes, I now have five pairs of SOM shoes. I started with the company’s very first model, the CAM-L, way back in 2014. I have to admit that the aesthetics of that early design weren’t particularly appealing but, apart from wanting a good pair of shoes for hiking, I also wanted to support a new, ethical, customer- and quality-focused Colorado shoe company - and I was fed up with cheap, poor quality shoes from China.
Hiking with our dog in the rough country
I take our dog out for a walk every day. We go to the public lands outside of town and hike along dirt tracks, up creek beds, and across rough terrain, often climbing up (and down!) rocky canyon walls. A couple of times a month we take a picnic and go out for the day, looking at old mine sites, abandoned vehicles, petroglyphs, spectacular views, and whatever else of interest that we can find out there in the big outdoors. I also wear my SOMs when we go to the city, as they are the most comfortable shoes I have for a whole day of being on my feet.
Getting used to zero drop: ditching my hiking boots
It took me a while to get used to the zero drop of the SOMs, and I didn’t wear my CAM-Ls very much at all for about the first year of owning them: I only used them for occasional walks around town. I was still wearing my Asolo boots for hiking but, after developing a black toenail, I decided to switch to the SOMs - and they soon became my regular hiking wear. So much lighter than the boots, very comfortable, and my toes had room to move! My black toenail cleared up, never to return.
When I needed to have the CAM-Ls re-soled in Sep 2018, I bought my second pair, the Navy Blue Classic. The change in the design was a vast improvement and, of course, they immediately became my favorite! I kept the re-soled CAM-Ls as a spare but, as it turned out, I haven’t used them since and, despite the constant wear over the course of nearly three years, they still, apart from a few scuff marks on the toes, look like new: a testament to the quality of the materials used, the design, and the construction.
Husband finally joined the SOM family!
When SOM Footwear came out with a completely new model, the Trailhead, I decided it was time to buy another pair. This was in October 2019. My husband came with me to the factory outlet store, and he surprised me by buying a pair for himself! I’d been telling him for years that he should give SOMs a try, and I was right – he loves them, and wears them on all of our hikes. He has a weak ankle from an old injury, and has found that wearing his SOMs has helped to strengthen it.
Oh no! My favorites are retiring!
After the Trailhead, I acquired a pair of the Camo Navy. Then, in May 2020 my Navy Blue Classics needed to be re-soled and, being my favorites, I asked about buying another pair. It was then that I learned that the canvas shoes were being retired and – oh no! - my size was sold out! In the canvas range there were still some burgundy Ambition available, so I bought a pair of those instead.
I confess that I have been stockpiling SOM shoes recently, to the point where I own pairs that I haven’t even worn yet! I don’t ever want to find myself without, and I want my favorites to last for as long as possible. With re-soling, I think I’m good for quite a few years, but if I like the look of any new models that come out… who knows!
SOMs don’t hold onto mud: easy clean
Another thing I appreciate is the time and effort saved on cleaning. With my hiking boots, I would have to sit down outside to brush mud off, and then use a knife to remove small stones and mud from the soles before giving them a brush, a final clean, and a polish. SOMs don’t hold onto mud (which is a bonus in itself) but when they do get dirty I just wipe them with a damp cloth and, if needed, I can throw them into the washing machine – job done! My Navy Blues have been washed quite a few times, and the color of the canvas has faded a little with wear and washing, but the shoes are still in perfect condition. There are no holes, no thin or frayed areas, and all of the stitching is intact.
The initial cost may be higher than foreign-made shoes, but I want to support ‘Made in USA’, and the superior quality of SOM shoes and the excellent customer service make the investment worthwhile.