Shopping: Time to put a spring in your step

I Want To Own ... The Latest Trainers
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Indy Lifestyle Online
If you close your eyes then I'm sure you can still picture them. What they looked like when they came out of the box. And how they died. The heels of your first pair of cool trainers were so worn down that half of your socks were threadbare before you chucked them. Either that or the junction between upper and inner sole burst open like a cracked-leather chrysalis every time you took a stride.

My own personal memory is of playing football on a concrete tennis court covered in snow, one baggy white Puma on my left foot and a pert, black, Adidas Mamba on my right. Salvaging the working halves of credible label trainers was the only option when the alternative was to be cast into peer hell in a pair of cheap, comfortable non-label imitations. No, the cheap ones were just not as good, mum.

On astro turf

Name: Tiempo Pro 4 Turf

Price: pounds 39.99

Stockist: 0800 056 1640

Description: The solid, dependable workhorses of Nike's footie fleet with full-grain leather uppers, padded collar and durable rubber soles. They're comfortable, understated and offer decent traction on astro turf.

Style: KKKK

Anything else worth considering?

Nike Ultracell (pounds 29.99, 0800 056 1640) if you want to look like the world's greatest striker. They look like they're made of the same, bright blue synthetic kangaroo skin (the breathable KNG-100) with polyurethane (PU) that was bestowed upon the Ronaldo-endorsed Nike Mercurial football boots last year, although this is a standard synthetic-leather product. (This season Ultracell will also be available in black.) If you prefer Beckham's boots (tyre-tread rubber for added swerve), then choose Adidas Touch Team (pounds 59.99, 0161 419 2839), based on the ubiquitous Predator football boots.

In country

Name: Merrell Jungle Runner

Price: pounds 64.99

Stockist: 0117 963 6363

Description: Merrell hiking boots were originally based around a cowboy boot last, although the Jungle Runner looks like a climbing shoe which has been genetically spliced with a Michelin tyre and a squid. The ankle- hugging uppers are made of supple red nubuck/split leather with a padded bellow tongue. The EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) sole, which is compression moulded to the contours of the instep, is rubber with octopus-like suction pads. It also looks like it was designed around a foot rather than designed with a foot squeezed into it afterwards.

Style: KKKK

Anything else worth considering?

Timberland's Gorge MPO (pounds 65, 0345 669 988) for excursions above the tree line. It has a nubuck leather upper with breathable mesh panels in stylish colour combinations (the stone/orange combination is the best), arch support and a moisture-licking climate-control lining. The sole has a big, protective rubber outsole coupled to a lightweight EVA compression- moulded midsole for superior comfort and shock absorption, which should dissipate the energy from any swift manoeuvre (such as leaping backwards to avoid a runaway trolley in Homebase).

On the skateboard

Name: Vans Unkel

Price: pounds 49.99

Stockist: 0181-877 9907

Description: Vans suede skateboarding shoes have surpassed the canvas Converse Chuck Taylor All-stars basketball shoe as the all-American sneaker wear. Both are hardworking, basic flat shoes, that place little emphasis on inner sole technology or arch support - in fact, they both epitomise why your mum wanted you to wear proper fitting shoes from Clarks. The Unkel adheres to Vans' traditional two-tone upper, waffle-soled style. We like them in black and charcoal, but the navy/grey combination is equally restrained.

Style: KKKK

Anything else worth considering?

If you want something which looks more scientific, the DC Legacy (pounds 84.99, 0181-427 2812) - in subtle greys with bright orange, navy or lime details - look like America's military intelligence was put to work on their construction, and the result is a strong, supportive, comfortable shoe with a high-density, foam-padded collar and a polyurethane arch support. If you prefer something more basic, then the retro, all-black or all-white Adidas Stan Smith leather tennis shoes (pounds 40, 0161 419 2839) are what to be seen skating around town in this year.

On asphalt

Name: Adidas KB8 II

Price: pounds 80

Stockist: 0161 419 2839

Description: A case of once bitten, twice sky high. Having already missed out on conquering the American market with Michael Jordan - who apparently said he'd prefer to go with the three stripes if they could match Nike's offer - Adidas have pinned their colours to the LA Lakers number 8, Kobe Bryant, hence the acronym for these basketball boots. The ankle-hugging, foot-cradling, space-age KB8 II uses all Adidas's latest technology, from the light but lumpy adiPRENE shock-absorbing sole to the Torsion Extension which offers stability while maximising flexibility. Where it's not overwhelmed by the ridged, moulded soul, the mesh upper is a shimmering silvery black.

Style: KKK

Anything else worth considering?

Nike Air Terra Ketchikan (pounds 89.99, 0800 056 1640), if horizontal spring, not vertical elevation, is the key. This outdoor, hard-wearing running shoe, combines a high traction, air-suctioned sole with a Gore-Tex waterproof upper.

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