I bought Quechua’s Forclaz 500 trekking shoes before my Winter Trip to Ladakh, since I wanted a comfortable and protective shoe, which could provide good grip on wet and slippery surfaces eg. frozen lakes and rivers. Because my Woodland Trekking shoes have the tendency to behave like roller skates, when presented with even a hint of slipperiness!
At around Rs. 3500, Quechua Forclaz 500 were neither prohibitively expensive, nor cheap and based on the feedback I got from fellow travelers, I was pretty confident that they would be the right shoes for my trip, especially since couple of my friends mentioned, that they were somewhat warm as well.
My attempt to buy Forclaz 500 online through an online shopping site provided to be futile and just as well, since I had ordered the same size (no. 7) as my Woodlands and later it turned out that only UK size 9.5 of Quechua Forclaz 500 fits comfortably in my feet!
So in a way I am really thankful to the online shopping site which failed to deliver the shoe in time and saved me from wasting my money on a shoe too small!
Coming back to the Forclaz 500, since I only managed to buy them a day before my scheduled departure to Ladakh, I really didn’t have time to break them in and I was worried, that donning these shoes throughout the trip would prove to be a painful affair; thankfully I was wrong!
Forclaz 500 proved to be quite comfortable, even though on the very first day of our sojourn in Leh, we hiked up couple of kilometers to the Shanti Stupa and then took longer trail back to the guest house.
Add to that, my feet had remained relatively warm, as our plane had touched down in the morning at Leh, with the outside temperature being -16.5 Degree Celsius! However, when we went to Leh Palace late in the evening and stayed outside to capture the Leh town at night, my feet did get slightly cold. But then again, with temperature probably hovering at around -15 or so and furious winds, that was something bound to happen and was only repeated a few other time, especially once when I stood still on top of a frozen river.
Though I must also point out that throughout the trip I only wore single pair of cotton socks underneath my shoes and never put on another pair on top of them or for that matter, used the warm socks I was carrying. So if you are going to wear double layers of socks or the warm ones, then the Forclaz 500 should be even warmer.
Even though we weren’t really experienced in walking on frozen lakes, grip offered by the Forclaz 500 was reassuring enough for us to venture out freely with our cameras in hand. In fact, I don’t really remember any instance, where my Forclaz 500 lost their grip, be it while climbing up and down narrow and somewhat steep paths or while walking on ice.
Of course one does needs to place the feet flat on the ice, in order for the shoes to maintain grip, otherwise they will lose grip.
Biggest problem I faced with the shoes was the fact that they are actually UK size 9.5 on the outside, so on the stairs they are much longer than my normal shoes and thus I do need to be a little careful with feet placement. Add to that, tying the laces till the top is an exercise itself, though I guess, not all that different from any high ankle shoes.
Additionally, they do not feel all that comfortable while riding motorcycle and their rather large outer size only results in missed shifts. So at least for riding, I guess I would mainly be using my Woodlands.
Overall, I cannot help but say, that I am fully satisfied with Quechua Forclaz 500 shoes and really glad that I bought them, instead of buying something cheap and regretting later.