What kind of hiking boots do you like?

It’s the second-most asked question to The Trailmaster. (First is: What’s your favorite hike?)

Until last month, though, I had never been asked: “How many hiking boots have you worn out?”

Let me explain. I contributed write-ups of some of my favorite new trails to a special walking-hiking issue of Los Angeles Magazine. Instead of the usual pedestrian bios of contributors, the mag has a really cool little feature called “Off the Record: 6 Things We’re Not Supposed to Tell You about this Issue.” The entries all begin with a number.

Editors thought Los Angeles Magazine readers just had to know how many boots I’ve worn-out during my 30-year career as a hiking expert. I guesstimated about 4 pairs a year xs 30 or about 120 pair=240 boots. Here’s the blurb:

240 hiking boots Amount of footwear worn out by JOHN MCKINNEY, aka The Trailmaster, in his decades of writing about trails (“10 Great Walks,” page 83). The author of Southern California: A Day Hiker’s Guide favors low-cut lightweight boots but never hiking sandals, even on the beach. “I keep my toes covered,” he says.
–Los Angeles Magazine, June 2011.

The “240” number might be a bit conservative because I wear a range of footwear from lightweight trail running shoes on up to heavy cold weather boots. I wear hiking boots around the city and even have a “nice” pair of hiking boots that I wear with slacks and a sports coat for meetings and public speaking events.

And of course I wouldn’t think of making a TV appearance or being photographed without my hiking boots.

Consider how many of our fellow hikers wear their boots–on the trail and off. I’ve noticed a lot of gals and guys wearing lightweight hiking boots around town. Hiking boots are often the favored footwear for many people who are self-employed or work in offices that are okay with casual dress.

Beyond being practical and comfortable, hiking boots are tangible reminders of pleasant times on the trail and offer the promise of great hikes to come.