1. It seems to be a reference to the ridiculously thick boot soles with deep treads, and particularly the spare-tire-style placement of the extra pair on his backpack. (The boots themselves look huge too, but that could be explained by him having big feet.)

  2. He is carrying a boot for extra storage on his backpack. A boot (British English) of a car is the storage compartment, a hatch at the back of the SUV.

  3. I would say a combination of CaroZ and Andréa explains the joke, though I would argue that its more a case of Oversized tires = Oversized boots

    I do have these questions:

    Is the spare for the right foot or left foot? How does he know which to pack?
    Even with accounting for perspective, doesn’t that spare look significantly larger than the two boots he is wearing? Its taller than his shoulders to his waist. SUVs have the advantage over most cars in that they have full sized spare tires, but that thing is huge.

    CaroZ suggests that is an extra pair on the backpack, but I can only parse that as a single large boot.

  4. The extra one strapped on his back might be, as Daniel suggests, an allusion to the UK sense of ‘boot’ as what USians would call a trunk. But this guy’s vehicle is an SUV and probably does not have a trunk (or boot) in the style of a sedan, though of course there is storage in the rear of the main compartment. But this rear-mounted-outside position is, as CaroZ says, the way some SUVs (and RVs, and old-time station-wagons..) carry their full-size spare tires.

    The second hiker’s reasoning (from the way the first hiker has huge feet and boots, and a spare slung on the back, to conclude he drives an SUV) is of course not logical at all. But it is comic!

  5. Thanks, Judge Mental – btw I had not seen your comment when writing mine.
    I missed a point you pick up on, CaroZ calling the spare a pair. Seeing the sole, it is clearly just one boot. (And indeed we may not be able to tell what handedness, or footedness, it fits.) Maybe the reason it looked to CaroZ like a pair is from the multiple layers of flaps under the laces. But some of that is the “tongue”, not a second boot.

  6. Wayno’s comment on his comic: Monday’s gag featured some all terrain footwear. My photo research for this one included an image search on the phrase “Elton John Tommy Boots,” to find pictures of the giant Doc Martens he wore in the film version of the Who’s rock opera.

  7. This probably would have played better back in the 90s, when many/most of the SUVs on the market had full-sized spare tires mounted on the rear tailgate. Almost none do today, only the Jeep Wrangler, the Mercedes-Benz G Class, and the revived Ford Bronco. The gag still works, of course, but not as well as it would have back in the days when the term “SUV” more readily evoked the image of a rear-mounted spare tire.

  8. He carries a spare boot in back in case he ever punctures a hole in one of his boots while travelling.

  9. Ah, I did not notice but you are right – there is only one spare boot! Must be a left-right symmetric boot that’s only good enough to get you as far as the nearest shoe store.

  10. Do other techies recall hearing that the expressions around “booting up” a computer (and “boot disk” and “boot track” etc) come from the earlier notion of a person “pulling himself up by his bootstraps”?

  11. And here I thought it had something to do with the verb, to boot=to kick, which is, I’m sure, what many folks want[ed] to do to their computers.

  12. Maybe huge boots don’t differentiate right from left, so the spare could be used for either. IDK, so feel free to demur.
    Huge as the spare is, it has only 5 lacing attachments while the worn items have 6.
    Do the circled triangle and the square on the sign have any real meanings to hikers?

  13. One fun thing to keep in mind is that tires can be directional, somewhat like boots, with the tread pattern intended to run a certain way for either side of the vehicle, but can’t be switched from side to side.

    I thought most people these days drove an SUV these days, so the discussion in the cartoon seems a bit peculiar and dated. It might seem quaint today, but a decade ago or more there was a lot of loud anti-SUV sentiment. I wonder what became of all the HUMMER* SUVs that were the main target of disgust. I never see one around these days, while classic pickup trucks (and their variants) still seem quite common.

    *The original ’90s version, not GM’s subsequent watered-down models.

  14. The little initial program in non-volatile-memory is sometimes called a “bootstrap loader”.

  15. Oh, geez, so now “to bootstrap” is a geezer term? And yes, I must admit that it has been a while since I wrote manuals telling users to “bootstrap” their systems.

    The circled triangle probably points to a campsite and the square could indicate an outhouse.

    As for those disgusting Hummers, I heard that GM is going to make an electric Hummer (https://www.gmc.com/electric/hummer-ev). It doesn’t actually look like their original land yacht, but more like a four-door pickup.

  16. The overly large, military-based Hummers of the 90s aren’t common on the road today because they never really were that common, with GM and AM General combined selling just under 12,000 of them during the entire 14 year production run. They were always intended to be an exotic car. I recall seeing them set up to draw attention to advertising displays, plastered with logos for stores and radio stations, as often as I recall seeing them out on the road.

    The mass-market Hummer H2 outsold the entire production run of the original by 12 times over during only an 8 year production run. The H3 matched the H2’s sales in just its 5 years of existence.

  17. I do remember seeing the older generation Hummers around here in the Boston area. Around the time of the Great Recession of a decade ago when gas prices were climbing they were left in driveways, sometimes with For Sale signs, and haven’t seen them since, which is why I was wondering. I don’t even recall seeing them at car shows in more recent years. BTW: I think surplus military-spec HUMVEEs are even rarer on the streets than the civilian breed. Since they were never intended for private use, they were not approved for use on public roads.

  18. That boot does seem to be mounted on a spare tire rack; pack frames don’t look like that. Is that a tobacco pipe next to his left boot? Wood pipe, black mouthpiece, brass band?

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