by Todd Walker
A boot full of blood. Tenons and bones severed. A tourniquet to stop arterial bleeding.
After watching the video footage of the ax striking my foot, all of the above should have happened but didn’t. I kept working on the log cabin. In fact, a whole month passed before a coworker noticed and asked how I sliced my boot.
“Your boot. How’d you cut it?”
I really had no idea. I would have remembered almost lopping my foot off. No recollection of me bent down like a toddler filling his diaper, mouth gaping in terror, in search of blood. I racked my memory.
An axman should remember and learn from close calls. I dug into old video footage and found the ax-boot encounter.
In all my years of swinging axes, I’ve never been bit seriously. Blood has dripped from minor nicks while handling an ax or in the sharpening process. But never in full swing.
At the 1:22 mark in the video below, you’ll see how I violated the Frontal Zone Rule by dangling my foot over the log like bait over the rail of a deep-sea fishing boat.
Did Danner Defy Physics?
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Forces occur in pairs. Each force is of equal strength but in opposite direction. Even though the two forces are equal, this does not mean that they will cancel each other and stop movement.
Nothing defies the physical laws of nature except comic book superheroes. My Explorer boots reached Superman status after stopping a speeding ax.
Dan, a buddy of mine, said I should bronze the boots and place them on my mantle as a family heirloom. He has a good point. Even with the ax gash, I still wear them to school everyday to teach traditional outdoor skills. On weekends building my log cabin, they remain watertight and too comfortable not to wear.
American Made Craftsmanship
I keep my working axes honed and shaving-sharp. The ax strike separated the inside edge of my boot sole, surgically splitting one stitch, and slicing the leather upper. I really expected the adjacent stitching to begin to fail. Two and a half months of daily wear since the ax-ident and not a stitch has unravelled. These Superman boots are built to last. Thanks to Danner’s superior, Made in America craftsmanship, my foot is not a nub!
Buy Once, Cry Once
“Price is what you pay and value is what you get.”
~ Warren Buffet
Buying high quality boots is like old-fashioned window shopping. The item catches your eye. You really want it. Then you see the price tag. There’s no way you can pay that price. But you still go out of your way to walk past that window daily to get another look and dream of owning the thing.
Your desire hasn’t changed, you’re just not willing to pay the price.
Price is painful once but value lasts long-term. You see, I wanted a pair of high-quality, American-made boots, that could be resoled after many years of tramping in the woods. Even after the ax sliced my boot, not one tear rolled down my face. My foot is worth more than the price of these fine boots! I’m a lifetime customer now. If Danner can’t re-craft the sliced leather upper, I’ll continue to wear them as a sober reminder while swinging axes.
Fit, Finish, Break-In
Opening the box and holding these brand new boots made me smile. The seams were double-stitched with precision. One feature I like about these Explorers is the minimum amount of seams in the boot. This can only reduce the chances of leakage or snags when tramping through rough terrain and bogs. Even the laces are made of quality material.
The Vibram sole grips wet and dry soil like a mama hugging her son returning from war. The wide rubber sole adds stability and amazing traction. I typically trim pine bark off the top of logs where I’ll place my feet when under bucking with my double bit ax. This step is not needed since I bought the Explorers. The aggressive treads hold my feet in place securely on the bark. The only surface I’ve found they don’t grip is freshly peeled inner pine bark (see above blooper video). A man would need hobnail boots to stand on this slick stuff!
I kept an old pair of boots in my truck the first week I wore my Explorers. Never needed to use the spares. No hot spots on my heels or other suspected pressure points I would normally feel from snug fitting leather boots. I played around with the lacing to fine tune the fit over that first week. The full-grain leather upper began mating to my feet like the soft breath of wool socks on a winter day. These rugged boots love my feet and punish rocks and roots – even axes.
If you want a boot that can handle the rigors of building an off-grid log cabin, rugged backwoods adventures, and still look good at the office, pay the price and get yourself a pair of Explorers. If you want lightweight, synthetic, Vegan friendly, foreign-made footwear, look elsewhere. Danner Explorer full-grain leather boots are handcrafted from top to bottom in Portland, Oregon (Made in USA).
One of my grandsons will receive my Superman boots when I’m gone with the story of how they saved my foot that hot July day in Georgia.
Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,
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my Daddy taught me long ago, a ‘mistake’ survived is easily turned to the good by realizing it’s a lesson to be learned from, and then LEARNING! THANKS for sharing your lessons!
(and the timing of this one is great: I just declined a ‘moderately difficult’ group hike because i don’t have the right foot gear. NOW I know where to find the good boots!)