Gear / Motorcycles

Blundstone 500 boots

Blundstones are a do-all boot, suitable for everyday wear and can double as light duty motorcycle gear

Blundstones are a do-all boot, suitable for everyday wear and can double as light duty motorcycle gear

I’ve been wearing a pair of Blundstone 490 ‘Chunk Sole’ boots constantly for four years now.  The Australian brand ‘Blunnies’ have been remarkably durable.  I’ve worn them as walking shoes to hoik up The Great Wall of China, rain boots while sloshing through torrential rain storms during the Targa Newfoundland endurance car rally, and as snow boots every winter.

I also wear them as a light duty motorcycle boot for short, in-city trips.  I love these boots because I’m lazy.  And at my age, I don’t need (or want) to  hear myself give that gawdawful old man ‘huhhh’ groan we involuntarily emit that signals to everybody within earshot there’s an old guy bending over to tie his shoelaces.

Technically, the Blundstones aren’t motorcycle boots.  But think about it.  What did riders wear in the days before companies like Aerostich, Alpinestar and Sidi started making ‘motorcycle’ boots?  Riders, if they were smart, likely wore work boots, cowboy boots or the still popular ‘engineer’ boot.  Thus, the Blundstone can be a serviceable motorcycle boot.

Blundstones NEVER go on sale, and I detest paying full retail for stuff.  But my trusty 490s were showing signs of wear.  After four years, the lugs in the sole were wearing down, the leather was starting to crack, and the elasticized stretch panels were fraying.  Time to shop.

At the local outdoor gear retailer and Blundstone dealer, the young. male footwear specialist asks how he can help me.

“I want to try a pair of Blundstone 500 boots, in brown, men’s American Size 10″, I say.  (Blundstone uses UK/Australian shoe sizing.)

He looks at me and sees I’m wearing an old pair of Blunnes.

“How old are those?”, he queries, in nearly an interrogational tone.

“Four years old”, I reply, a bit smugly, “and I wear them just about every day, all year round, even in the winter as snow boots.”

“Do you ever ‘treat’ them?”, he asks.  This is starting to become an interrogation.

“Yeah, I use an English brand of leather and waterproofing treatment.  Three or four times a year. And they’ve never leaked”, I say.

“Oh.  That’s good.  That’s why they’ve lasted so long and are in such good shape”, the sales associate says, sounding relieved and re-assured.  I feel like I’ve just been grilled and have ” passed” an approval process that ensures I’ll provide a good and responsible home to a new pair of Blundstones.

Blundstone 490 Chunk sole (in brown) have proven rugged and durable.  Four years of constant wear and they've still got plenty of miles left

Blundstone 490 Chunk sole (in brown) have proven rugged and durable. Four years of constant wear and they’ve still got plenty of miles left

My shoe specialist returns with the ‘stout brown’ Blunnie 500s and the Size 10 fits.  (Oddly, my 490s were a Size 9-1/2, so the fit seems to differ from one model to the next.)

Blundstone’s packaging is clever.  They provide two pairs of removable insoles.  And the accompanying literature says (more or less) that boots are supposed to fit slightly loose and two use both pairs of insoles if you need a snugger fit, use one pair of insoles if that fits (and save the extra pair as replacements), or to use no insoles if you need the room.  That sizing flexibility should ensure there are few returns due to improper fit.

Pricing.  Blundstones are expensive, and I’ve never seen them on sale.  The Blundstone 500 (their classic, original design) retail for $169.98.  But the cheapskate in me rationalizes the purchase this way.  For $170 dollars, you get (1) a pair of easy to slip, on ‘everyday’ boots, (2) a pair of light duty motorcycle boots, (3) a pair of (relatively) deep lugged winter and hiking boots, and (4) a pair of water resistant boots (even though they’re not advertized as such.)  That’s four pairs of boots that will last you at least four years.

To me, that seems like a bargain.

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