20 Apr 2016
This is the true story of how one pair of travel shoes got me through all of Latin America: My Nike Air Pegasus trainers.
(This is written out of sheer excitement and disbelief of how one pair of shoes can have possibly survived so much. I’ve not been paid by anyone to write this!)
Jump on my train of thought for a minute: You’re heading off on an adventure trip. You need to travel light and pack little, but make sure you’re covered for a variety of terrains. You need everything from swimwear to a windcheater, shorts to cargo pants. And very importantly, you need good footwear. Of course you’ll pack your trusty thongs (flip flops) but what do you bring to get you up those ancient Incan structures you’re excited to see, or to be your companion for a long day of discovering a new city or even keep you safe exploring a muddy volcano?
I never expected to find one pair of shoes that would cover all of the above. A visit to a Nike store in Los Angeles changed all of that. With no idea of what I should even ask for, I made a beeline for a sales assistant: “I need the best travel shoe for all of Latin America.” No pressure. I needed a shoe that could withstand tough terrains, was breathable, light, could easily mould in to my tightly packed backpack and dried quickly if it got wet. Without hesitating he pulled out two or three pairs for very detailed and different reasons, I made a choice and walked off with a widely expanded knowledge of sneakers.
Talk about a girl’s best friend! The partners in crime I purchased that day are my women’s NIKE AIR PEGASUS +28 BREATHE. They’re a running shoe, so incredibly light in weight at only 9.2 ounces or 260 grams. They’re also super flexible, which means comfortable wear and they easily squeezed into unconventional space in my backpack. In a (non complete) sentence: the best travel shoe ever!
TEST #1: The first test I put my bright coloured new Nike’s to was hiking the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico’s state of Sinaloa. The environmentally preferred rubber used on the sole is pretty tough and durable for all surfaces, providing excellent grip on the rocks and gravel. A bit further south, my Nike’s easily manoeuvred the steep stone stairs ascending the Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacan near Mexico city, thanks to the solid grip the shoes provide.
The salt desert test, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The ancient ruins test, Teotihuacan, Mexico
TEST #2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7: 11 weeks of surviving the various terrains of Mexico, I thought it was time to put them to a real test. Not only was I stomping them through the muddy jungles around central Guatemala’s Semuc Champey. No, I was submerging them entirely whilst exploring limestone caves. This wasn’t only testing my Nike’s endurance, oh no! The upstream swimming in the darkness of the caves whilst holding a candle for light was quite a test. This experience was only surpassed by climbing up a waterfall via a rope through gallons and gallons of water coming down on me. Reaching the top, our guide (a madman of a local, I might add!) instructed us to jump back down the waterfall guided only by the headlight attached to his forehead. Miraculously, both the shoes and I live to tell the tale, although the shoes seemed to recover a lot quicker than me. In fact they dried promptly due to the breathable mesh upper and even after more than an hour under water, they stayed completely in tact. No frays, no soles coming off, not a sign of wear or tear.
TEST, #8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14……75
For the next 9 months I wore my Nike Air’s almost on a daily basis, bar the occasional beach stay.
Thank heavens for the low profile cushioned heel and mid sole cushioning, which I was eternally grateful for when scaling or more importantly descending volcano Maderas on Nicaragua’s Ometepe Island. In comparison, the 5 hour uphill climb through the pathless jungle, on a 45 degree (or more) incline was a piece of cake compared to the 2 hour downhill mudslide. It’s the best workout my thighs have ever had and I’m sure my knees are forever indebted to all that cushioning on the descent.
The waterfall test, Semuc Champey, Guatemala
The volcano test, Volcano Maderas, Ometepe, Nicaragua.
The glacier test, Marcial Glacier, Ushuaia, Patagonia, Argentina
Apart from having to spend half an hour in the shower, digging deposits of volcano mud from many crevices, both the sneakers and I remain almost unscathed. Whilst the Nike’s just needed to dry off, I took 2 days to fully recover from this challenging ordeal and made myself a firm promise not to see any volcanoes for a while. Little did I know how many more mountains were awaiting my arrival….
I’m forever grateful to have had (and still have!) such a faithful travel partner in my Nike Air’s. They were witness to some off the world’s most iconic landscapes in the Andes, scaled some ancient structures with me and faithfully guided me through rivers and waterfalls, through jungles and cities, up mountains and volcanoes and even crossed a glacier with me in Patagonia. They’re not just in tact – they are completely unscathed bar a little permanently imprinted mud particles. Whilst you would need a more robust shoe to spend long periods of time in sub zero environments, or multi day treks through water and/or snow I would highly recommend this shoe to anyone heading out on a similar adventure.
What my Nike’s look like today!
The James Bond test, train graveyard near Uyuni, Bolivia
08 Sep 2016 - Travel