Buy Once, Cry Once

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Brrrrr. Much of the nation finds itself in the throes of a deep arctic freeze. The local forecast is warning of low daytime temps in the -20’s.  Along with that, the first significant snowfall, atypically delayed, has finally descended upon our parts in Minnesota. Perfect timing.  As I had the day off, I could attend to the business of cleaning out the driveway in the daylight.

Its times like these that I reach for my Sorel boots. The pair in the picture above have been with me for well over 20 years. I distinctly remember buying them for my one and only trip to Lambeau Field. It was a rare Sunday night game in December pitting the Packers against the Vikings, and one of the coldest ever December home games. Standing on concrete for several hours in that cold required an upgrade in the boots I had at the time.

Sorels are a high quality product. And you pay for it. In something as important as winter footwear however, its wise to pony up. I don’t recall specifically how much they set me back. But I know I bought them believing that they would last me most of my life. They have stood up well so far.  And they have performed as expected. I have no reason to believe they won’t be with me another 20 years.

Today was a rare occasion to really put them to the test. With the dastardly cold settling in, I decided to see what it would be like to have to work out in the elements.


There was a little bit of firewood yet to be split. It didn’t really need to be split today of all days, but why not? In a grid down environment, there would be little, if any, gas to power a splitter with. So with ax, maul and wedge in hand, it was off to the woodpile. Yes, it was cold. But its not bad once you get worked up. I spent approximately half an hour at it, but could have gone longer if I absolutely had to. Skin exposure in these temps is nothing to take lightly though, even without much wind. And the extremities weren’t super happy, so it was time to end the experiment.

The boots held up their part of the bargain. My toes did get a little cold toward the end. But that was my fault for not taking the time to put on proper socks to begin with. They would have been fine otherwise.

On the other hand, if I had donned my cheaper secondary pair of boots, they would have been doomed.  This set I typically keep in my car’s winter bag for temporary, emergency purposes. They are warm enough for normal short term conditions, but as you can see, they have cracked at the crease points. I wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes outside today at -12 degrees. Not comfortably anyway. They are less than 8 year old boots.

In the EP community, the saying is “two is one, and one is none”. So it’s smart to have backups even if you can’t justify spending for top quality on both sets all the time.  But there is also another adage; “buy once, cry once”.  Self explanatory.

I recommend shedding some tears the first time around.


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