Hell Hike And Raft: Boots

My first thought when planning for Hell Hike And Raft was, ” What am I going to wear?” Seriously. I love gear, but without the right apparel, things can go south in a moment. And it all begins, literally, at ground level. My first thought always was to go with hiking boots – ankle support and protection, look cool (maybe), and are made specifically for the job at hand, climbing up and over the Seven Devils on our way to the Snake River. Happily, I acquired early on two very different styles of hiking boots from the makers at Ahnu and Obōz.

Hell Hike And Raft: Boots

When I first opened the Ahnu Coburns box, I was a bit skeptical. They looked a bit “fancy” to be serious hikers and, when I first put them on, it only got worse. They were flat out one of the most comfortable out of the box boots I’d ever put on.  Probably can’t go the distance, I thought. Then I walked in them; then, walked some more. Waterproof? Check, the eVent liner worked as promised keeping my feet dry and not sweaty. Rough, tough, and ready to go? Check. Able to take whatever I could dish out? Check, and then some. What’s the catch?

Simply put, there is none. Leather boots, comfy from the get-go, that can go anywhere, including the office, in comfort and style. Feet stayed warm in snow, dry in rain, stable on rock, and grippy in mud. These are simply, yet utterly designed for the job at hand. Nicely done, Ahnu, nicely done.

Hell Hike And Raft: Boots

Built on the single guiding principle of being “True to the Trail,” Obōz Footwear (outside Bozeman),  do one thing and they do it well. They make hiking shoes and boots. That’s it. Well, not totally true, they also make a few lifestyle shoes, but it’s really the hikers we’re interested in. The Traverse Mid BDry Hikers, quite a mouthful, are mini tanks for your feet. Get your foot inside, cinch up the laces, and you literally feel like you could walk through or over anything. The soles feel like they wrap up and around the bottom of your feet, cradling them in protective and supportive material. Heavy lugs and sticky rubber mean that you walk anywhere without fear (well…). These are stiff, stiff, stiff boots that will probably never soften up, but will remain steadfast in their protection, all the while allowing you to walk long distances in comfort. Really.  Did I mention they’re waterproof as well? They are.

Love Obōz as a company as well. They plant a tree for every pair sold, run their office on windpower, and donate shoes, all, in their own words, without tie-dye. Companies that interact with their communities and the world around them, I like them.

To say I put these pairs of boots through the wringer is an understatement. Even though I’ve only had these a few months, they’ve hiked all over the place, from the Ice Age Scenic Trail in Wisconsin to Breckenridge, Colorado to every other trail I can find, urban, suburban, or otherwise. These boots have been out in snow, rain, hail, sun – you name it, I tried to expose them to as much abuse as possible. Even so, both pairs of boots feel fresh and whole, no dings or dents to be found. Two VERY different style of boots and both worthy of coming along to Idaho. No idea yet which ones will make the cut, but I’m very, very happy to have both in my closet.

One thought remains – what if low cut hikers or trail running shoes with gaiters would be a better choice? I might just have to find out. 🙂

These products were provided for review purposes – all opinions are my own.

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