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The Altra Lone Peak 1.5

Review by Ammi Midstokke

Photos by Fiona Hicks

The trend of minimalist running shoes has me tempting fate on far too many trail runs.  I ran up shale in the Minimus.  I ran the Patagonian Marathon in Vibrams.  I occasionally tried to sneak out barefoot for morning runs.  It was all going quite well and I determined my feet were bad ass, like some Neanderthal nomad crossing mountain ranges, impervious to prickly pears and pine cones.

Then one day I stubbed my toe and stepped on a rock.  Actually, I broke my toe (nearly off) and I landed poorly on a pebble that left a blood blister on my heel requiring major bathroom surgery with a pocket knife and months to heal.  Something had to be done.  These longer mountain runs were becoming treacherous, and sandal season would soon be upon us.  My feet were far from socially acceptable.

Then a box with the Altra Lone Peak 1.5 showed up on my doorstep.  I’d never heard of Altra or the Lone Peak and I wasn’t sure if the Velcro flap in back was for gaiters (in which case this shoe was rad) or a mud flap (in which case it needed one of those naked lady trucker logos).  Either way, it felt like a shoe with a stiff sole and serious tread.  I resisted it because minimalists are elitist about their running gear and wearing a shoe is an embarrassing regression.  Kind of like taking a walk break.

Read the rest of Ammi’s review here!

OR Clairvoyant Jacket 3

By Tami Mittan

“This hard shell is much too hard.  This soft shell is much too soft. “  What’s an Adventurer Goldilocks to do?  How about trying the Outdoor Research (OR) Clairvoyant Jacket… which is just right.

If you know anything about Outdoor Research, you know that they take the technical construction and design of their products very seriously.    So when they set about to solve the dilemma of the typical hard shell being too stiff, board-like, and uncomfortable – they put a team of accomplished women mountaineer designers on the task.

In building a counterpart to OR’s award winning men’s Axiom Jacket, they already had a great fabric to work with:  GORE-TEX Active.   A new type of waterproof fabric, GORE-TEX Active balances  being extremely breathable, waterproof and incredibly lightweight.

Read the rest of Tami’s review here!

Firetail1

The Salewa Firetail EVO GTX

Photos and Review By Chris Weidner I’m wary of gear that looks too high-tech for what it is. Like ergonomic water bottles with tricked out lids or something. The techy stuff just adds bulk and weight to an otherwise functional piece. And at the end of the day, it’s just a water bottle.

So it’s no wonder my hackles were raised when I first saw the Firetail EVO GORE-TEX approach shoe (even the name sounds technical). They’re attractive kicks, but I was thrown off by the thin, steel cables that wrap around the heel, through the top lacing eyelet, and back down under the arch — the so-called 3F EVO system.

I felt like I should read a user’s manual before wearing them.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned about gear in over 30 years of outdoor adventures, it’s that looks aren’t everything. In this case, despite its gimmicky façade, the Firetail EVO GORE-TEX surprised me with outstanding performance and durability.

In Colorado’s Flatirons in February they offered stiffness and support as I boulder-hopped between patches of ice on trails. Yet they were flexible enough in the toe for primo smearing on the Atalanta, a 5.3 slab on the First Flatiron. I immediately liked the Firetail.

Firetail 005Out of the box they had much better traction and edging on rock than shoes with standard dotted soles. Salewa augmented their dotted sole by adding a flat rim of sticky rubber around the toe. This Vibram Tech Approach sole eliminates the annoying need for dots to wear down before they smear well. The laces extend almost down to the toe so you can tweak the fit for precise footwork while climbing.

By early spring I put the GORE-TEX lining to the test. I kicked steps in snow to approach Eldorado Canyon’s walls, hiked through three inches of wet slush in a Flatirons storm and submerged my feet in mud at the edge of South Boulder Creek. Throughout all these my socks and feet stayed dry. Seriously, I couldn’t believe it.

The only times my feet got damp were when snow spilled over the low-cut rim of the ankle, and when I hiked in the heat of Red Rock, Nevada, and Indian Creek, Utah, where the GORE-TEX lining didn’t breathe as quickly as my feet sweat.

The prickly, desert environment was an excellent test of the aramid material used in the uppers. Composed of strong, synthetic fibers, it’s the same stuff used in body armor fabric. Not once did a cactus poke me through the material as often happens with mesh or leather uppers.

At 415 grams (14.6 ounces) per shoe, the Firetail is on the lighter side of burly approach shoes. However, their bulk — and to some extent their weight — prevents them from being ideal for clipping to your harness on long climbs. They feel light in a pack, which is how I carried them up routes in the Flatirons and Red Rock.

A unique feature of Salewa’s recent shoe models is the Multi-Fit Footbed (MFF). It consists of two insoles: a thin, foam base that fills out the shoe and a slightly thicker insole that slides on top of the first and attaches with Velcro. It’s a simple and effective design that allows you to remove the top insole for a higher-volume fit if, for example, you’re wearing thick socks.

I didn’t take advantage of the MFF very often though. What I found instead is that the shoe, over time, conformed enough to my feet (and typical sock thickness) that I didn’t have to adjust anything. This proved especially nice because the Firetail’s last is on the narrow side while my feet are wider than average. This wasn’t an issue after several days of wear.

After more than two months of heavy use the uppers are slightly fuzzed and the soles are a bit worn. Overall they’ve held up incredibly well. And I’m no longer put off by the steel cables — even if all they do is make the shoes look technical.

But hey — looks aren’t everything.

Alpha FL 1

The Arc’teryx Alpha FL features tough three-layer GORE-TEX Pro fabric technology.

 

by Chris Weidner

A climbing partner once told me I have a rib cage “like a horse.” My shoulders are broad too, which means that every time I swing tools or jam cracks above my head, my jacket creeps above the waistbelt of my harness. It’s so annoying that I often just cinch the jacket over my harness. This isn’t ideal because it’s colder and harder to see the gear on my harness, but at least I can freely move my arms. Maybe I’m too picky, but I’m surprised more companies don’t get this right.

The Alpha FL (Fast, Light) from Arc’teryx is different. The ergonomic design and stretchy material allow total freedom of movement without the jacket moving up and down. Even for this barrel-chested guy, a size Medium fit me perfectly yet still offered smooth movement, especially when skiing and climbing. Needless to say, I tuck this baby under my harness. The Alpha FL also comes with removable foam HemLock inserts that protect even further against the jacket coming untucked.

With one chest pocket, a large hood, Velcro cuffs, and minimal seams, the Alpha FL looks like a simple jacket. What you can’t see are the high-tech ideas behind the design that make it the lightest, most breathable hardshell in the Arc’teryx line.
For starters, the three-layer GORE-TEX Pro material is the most effective waterproof, breathable and highly durable material around. Most waterproof shells that are lighter than the Alpha FL’s 325 grams (11.5 ounces) rip to shreds in a few pitches of alpine granite or grovelly mixed. Simply put, the Alpha FL is a slightly heavier but much burlier than any jacket in its weight category.

 

A second feature that surprisingly few companies get right is the hood. A hood should be large enough to cover a helmet without restricting neck movement, yet easily cinch down without a helmet, allowing full range of motion and vision. Sounds simple, right? Apparently it’s not. I’ve had to remove some jackets just to figure out how to adjust the hood. Arc’teryx nailed their hood with three simple toggles: one on either side, and one in the back. It’s easy, quick and intuitive — just like it should be.
In fact, every feature of the Alpha FL is quick and intuitive.

Thin, Velcro straps seal the cuffs and are somewhat stiff for easy maneuverability while wearing gloves. Two drawcords cinch the

Alpha FL 004

The Arc’teryx Alpha FL in its natural environment.

waist, one above each hip. Four reflective blazes are easy to spot in the flash of a headlamp.

Perhaps the Alpha’s best feature is the absence of pit zips, which add frivolous weight and happen to be my third jacket-related pet peeve. If you’re sweating enough to need pit zips then you’re wearing too many clothes. And if a “breathable” jacket doesn’t compensate for mild perspiration without them, it’s useless.

The Alpha FL comes with a small stuff sack with an attachment loop for clipping to a harness. Stuffed, it’s about the size of a large burrito and the weight of a couple hand-sized cams — barely noticeable on the harness.

While geared toward fast and light alpinism, this hardshell is perfect for pretty much everything outdoors, from the Eiger North Face to gardening on a wet, spring day in your back yard.

At $399 the Alpha FL sells for a middle-of-the-road price compared with similar jackets from other brands. There are no extraneous features, yet nothing’s lacking.

Bottom line? The Alpha FL is a simple, lightweight hardshell that really works. Even if you’re as picky as I am.

 

MSR Reactor 1

The MSR Reactor Stove with the available hanging kit set-up is ideal for the big wall bivy.

Photos and article by Quinn Brett

I grew up using MSR stoves and have always had an affinity for them.  During my expeditions and big wall adventures, though, I have used a JetBoil instead. That’s because, in large part, my partners have provided the stove for our trip.

While I was psyched to check out MSR’s Reactor Stove System, I was also apprehensive because I’ve gotten used to a 1-liter setup on my excursions.  This particular gear review is based on the 1.7 liter size and at first glance, the set-up was bigger and bulkier; i.e. less room in my pack.

Over many outings in Southern Patagonia this January, I became quite fussy with gear orientation in my pack.  This stove was going to throw off the system, I thought. Not true, it turns out.  I soon discovered that I could easily stow everything in the canister: fuel (8 oz), burner, hanging kit, even my spoon!  Granted, with any 1-liter model you can have this same setup… you just have to carry less fuel (4 oz).  In the cold temps and extended backcountry stays, particularly at Paso Superior, having more fuel eased our minds because we didn’t have to actively conserve.

 

My change-resistant brain melted with every freeze-dried meal I rehydrated.  There was enough water for two meals and a little tea in a single stretch.  The 1.7 L Reactor preformed great in snowy, below-freezing temperatures and howling wind that raced around Fitz Roy.  Water boiled nearly on mark with the ‘advertised’ three-minute boil time.

Quinn MSR 2One point of contention I hear from friends, pertaining to all canister stoves, is the inability to simmer something.  I pulled it out at home the other day, chopped up some onions and splashed in some wine in a fun little experiment that went swimmingly.  I would let the stove run for a minute or two, stirring constantly before turning it off with a closed lid for another minute or two. After I repeated this two or three times, I had some perfect, translucent onions!  Not a difficult thing to do, but it does requires a mindful eye.

This particular model came with the hanging kit setup, a super-light wire that nestles the stove like a hammock.  It cinched down simply, was not a fuss to untangle and prepare and it actually held the stove securely – a super handy thing for wall climbing.

In comparison to the Jetboil, the MSR Reactor is slightly pricier.  This would be my only criticism.  The Reactor is lighter, boils water more efficiently, and is a quality made gear item. Get your MSR Reactor Stove System now from Mountain Gear.

 

 

1.0L 1.7L 2.5L
Weight 14.7 oz / 417 g 1 lbs 1.5 oz / 496 g 1 lbs 4.7 oz / 588 g
Burn time per 227-g / 8-oz. canister (MSR IsoPro) Appx. 80 minutes Appx. 80 minutes Appx. 80 minutes
Boil time (MSR IsoPro), 1 liter 3.5 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes
Water boiled (MSR IsoPro) per 227-g canister 20 liters 22 liters 22 liters
Water boiled (MSR IsoPro) per 1 oz. of fuel 2.5 liters 2.8 liters 2.8 liters

 

 

 

Price: $189.95 1L

Price: $199.95 1.7L

Price: $219.95 2.5L

 

 

 

 

Green Oboz 1

A closeup on the all-mesh upper of the Oboz Helium.

Article and photography by Mike Green

If you’re looking for the ideal ultralight kicks to fly around the backcountry in, the new Oboz Helium may be the shoes for you. Designed for “going hard and packing light” these multitask shoes excel at everything from bagging a desert peak at lunchtime to the Friday night pub crawl, and they’re so light you’ll forget they’re even on your feet.

Weighing in at a paltry 10.4 ounces (size 9 M), the Oboz Helium are a minimalist’s dream, and the fit is pure comfort. Whether it was an 8 hour day in the warehouse, or an 8 mile hike in the Sonoran Desert, they felt more like a second skin than part of my wardrobe. Credit the single piece mesh upper, and the EVA Super Skin midsole. The honeycomb patterned upper conforms so securely to the foot they fit like a glove, and made me feel like Spiderman scrambling and boulder-hopping on a trip in the McDowell Mountains. There is no slipping and sliding or rubbing, and in a month of regular use I didn’t get a single blister.

Green Oboz 2

The Hyalite Outsole.

All that mesh gave me a level of breathability I’ve only encountered in a sandal, and when my feet are dry, my feet are happy. Even on those 90 degree desert days my feet were singing, and if there was wind, I could actually feel the breeze on my feet. Talk about the perfect warm weather shoe! The Oboz Helium even dry faster than any shoe before it. On a fishing trip to the Verde River a misstep brought me ankle deep in the murky water, but by the time I hiked back to the car a couple hours later the shoe was dry.
Read about the Oboz Helium here!

Mountain Hardwear Hyaction 1

The Mountain Hardwear Hyaction goes for a ride.

By Chris Barlow

It doesn’t take an advanced degree in journalism to know that when reviewing a product, the reviewer should use the product in the way it was intended, to test it under the circumstances for which it was designed, which is what I typically try to do. So, what do I do when I get a new rain layer, the Hyaction jacket by Mountain Hardwear for example, for a month-long desert climbing trip, and it doesn’t rain?

Don’t get me wrong: I had plenty of opportunities to put the Hyaction through the appropriate wringer on my desert adventure. I wore it up several big routes in Zion and Red Rock and a lot of rugged cragging near Moab, apparently as a wind-layer and to scare away the rain. Mountain Hardwear designed the Hyaction to be a lightweight jacket for technical climbing scenarios. It’s definitely a minimalist jacket, focused on the basics: fit, weatherproofing, and breathability. At nine ounces, it was an easy jacket to bring along on my desert escapades, just in case, and it was impressively compressible, barely taking up space in the pack.

Read more about Mountain Hardwear’s Hyaction here!

garmont 2

The Garmont Zenith Mid GTX on the trail.

Review and photos by Jim Rueckel

Even though I’ve worked at Mountain Gear for a number of years, I don’t often get asked to check out new gear. You see, we have guys here who are way more hardcore than me. They’ll go out and ski up and over peaks in the Cascades, do a trail run, ride some gnarly (do people still say that?) singletrack, & climb some 5.10+… all in one weekend. THEY get the cool gear, and rightly so.

Me? I’m just a hiker. Whether I’m backpacking with friends or leading trips for a local hiking group, I put up mileage every weekend, always in the company of my dog, Tika. I’m also picky about my gear. When I was asked to review the Garmont Zenith Mid GTX I have to admit I wasn’t overly excited. When I replaced my last boots, I actually bought the same model because they fit so well.

Read the rest of Jim’s Garmont boot review here!

MM3 29 MARTY SUN 728x90st v1 jm

At Mountain Gear we’ve helped kindle the spirit of adventure in our customers for over 30 years. Whether it’s helping a rookie climber buy her first harness and shoes or outfitting a Himalayan expedition, we’ve been there. When HISTORY went looking for a retail partner for their Mountain Men series we were proud to answer the call. It’s a unique show that follows modern day mountain men as they carve out a living in American’s wildest ranges. Here’s an excerpt from HISTORY about the series and its central characters:

They will brave the extremes of remote wilderness where one single misstep can send you into the bone-breaking jaws of a grizzly bear or leave you stranded with no help for miles around. As they struggle to stay one step ahead of the deadly cold, each will take on new challenges to maintain their life in the wild and ensure their survival.

At Mountain Gear, we don’t do battle with grizzlies or try to hack out a living in the Alaska bush. However, we do support a community of all-mountain athletes. Our customers are mountaineers, splitboarders, backpackers, ice climbers, trail runners, paddlers, rock climbers, mountain bikers and backcountry skiers. Like HISTORY’s Mountain Men, their outdoor passion takes them to places of great beauty and even greater peril. And like the Mountain Men – Marty, Tom, Eustace, Rich, Charlie, Kyle – our customers know the feeling of being alive is strongest when the danger is greatest.

To learn more about the larger-than-life characters behind Mountain Men and to see some great gear fit for mountain men anywhere, click here.

Patagonia Ascensionist

The Ascenionist on the trail. Photo by Chris Weidner

By Chris Weidner

Backpacks have evolved for so many years that fundamental design changes are hard to come by. But big change paid off for Patagonia with their latest alpine pack series: the Ascensionist.

The Ascensionist Pack comes in 25-liter, 35-liter, and 45-liter volumes. Since February I’ve been testing the 35-liter version — a perfect size for single-push ascents, one-day climbs, and cragging year-round.

The most unique — and at first, baffling — feature of the Ascensionist is its closure system. There’s a large flap of material that sticks out of the pack like a big, orange tongue. This “asymmetrical sprindrift collar” has a drawcord that cinches down and covers the pack’s contents. A second drawcord cinches the main aperture down with a single pull, covering the spindrift collar. A single strap with a thin metal buckle attaches to the top and secures the closure.

Initially, I fumbled with the drawcords and had trouble opening the pack. But I soon realized how easy the system really is. To open it up simply hold the drawcord tab and spread it open. It’s lightweight, simple, and effective.

The best part is there’s no lid. Stuffed lids always seem to flop around or bump my helmet every time I look up. The Ascensionist removed the lid so I don’t have to. The top has a small, zippered pocket, which fits a few essentials, nothing more.

Read the rest of Chris’ review here!

marmot moran slackline

The author hard at work testing the Marmot Moran.

 

By Ammi Midstokke

Photos by Fiona Hicks

Let’s face it: in general, pants are overrated. They seem to have a practical application for warmth and protection, and since the invention of the much-sold-by-Old-Navy Cargo Pant, storage; however, I’ve yet to find a pair that fit my personal demands for good pants.

Until now.

I’ll be the first to admit that I did not hold a lot of hope for Marmot’s Moran Pant.  It claims to be almost everything: hyper breathable, water resistant, and flexible.  It even has a side pocket and, dare we say, has the potential to look good.  I never met a pair of pants that looked good and felt good.  I always thought it was a mythical combination, most likely born of hot yoga legends or something.

Warmed by the light feel and design of these pants, I decided to test them in a variety of common usages: hiking, rock climbing, tree climbing, and slack lining.  If I’d had the right pumps, I probably would have worn them to the opera, too.

Read the rest of Ammi’s review here!

Our Red Rock Rendezvous participants have been sharing some of their impressions from the event and we thought it would be fun to share. Here’s another in the series:

Red Rock Testimonial 2014

One Red Rock Rendezvous participant’s thoughts on America’s greatest climbing festival in their own words.

 

The Aescent Two14 Approach Shoe

The unique STEALTH MI6 outsole of the Five Ten Aescent Two14 Approach Shoe.

By Tami Mittan

Since in my mind, an effective tread in a shoe has always equated to a deeply-grooved sole in intricate patterns, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Five Ten Aescent Two14 Approach shoe. To the naked eye, the sole appears almost smooth, with the exception being a pattern of raised dots. Described as a lightweight performance shoe, the STEALTH MI6 outsole was unique to me. Interesting. So how well would these suckers grip? You know, as I scurried up almost vertical rocks in an attempt to grasp my son’s pant leg?

I live in western Colorado with my husband and two young kids. The area offers up a diverse range of 2-hour-away destinations, perfect for a day trip of exploration and outdoor play. We bring snacks. We bring layers of clothing. And if she’s lucky, we bring Daisy, our Golden Retriever. We call these trips “Family Adventure Days”.

The ideal temperatures make spring a perfect time to visit the gorgeous red rocks of Moab, Utah, so we recently headed there for one of our family adventure days. When gathering gear, I figured scrambling after my kids while they try to scale the lofty arches would be a great time to test out the Aescents.

Read the rest of Tami’s review here!

All photos by Brett Jessen

Our Red Rock Rendezvous participants have been sharing some of their impressions from the event and we thought it would be fun to share some of them. Here’s another in that series:

Red Rock 2014 Testimonials

One Red Rock Rendezvous participant’s thoughts on America’s greatest climbing festival in their own words.

 

Here are some more photos from this year’s event, too:

 

The Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody

The Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody packs into its own chest pocket for easy carry.

By Marc Hemmes

All photos by Joe Pyle Photography

Of all the outdoor clothing I own, the Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody Jacket has to be my most-used jacket for outdoor endeavors. Because it offers protection from wind and light rain, this jacket is great for alpine climbing, running, hiking, biking and spring backcountry skiing to name a few. Basically, when I’m heading into the backcountry, whether it’s spring, summer or fall, this jacket comes with me.

The Squamish Hoody Jacket (SHJ) weighs a mere 5.5 ounces and compresses into its own chest pocket, a package that’s about the same size as a pack of ramen noodles. Besides its light weight, one of the first things I noticed about the SHJ was its breathability. Even when breaking a sweat, I didn’t feel like I was wearing a trash bag. Arc’teryx lists the fabric as “Gossamera™—100% Nylon ripstop fabric with water repellant coating.” This stuff does what it claims. Before I received the jacket I envisioned a fragile plastic jacket, but I was wrong. As thin and lightweight as the material is, it’s also surprisingly strong and abrasion-resistant. It’s a very comfortable material against the skin and it looks nice so you can wear it to the pub after a day of climbing.

Read the rest of Marc’s review here!

Now that the Red Rock Rendezvous is over for the year, we’re beginning to get some great correspondence from our participants. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share a few of their notes with you. Here’s one of our favorites:

RedRockRendezvous2014 testimonial

One Red Rock Rendezvous participant’s perspective on the world’s greatest climbing festival.

RRR 2014 MBlog 1 RRR 2014 MBlog 2
RRR 2014 MBlog 4 RRR 2014 MBlog 3

Our intrepid reviewer, Eric Ian, takes a lightweight Patagonia jacket, the Houdini, into the wilds and returns with this awesome video review. You can also see more on the Houdini line at Mountain Gear.

A review of CAMP's Jasper CR3 Light & Flint Harnesses

The author using the Flint Harness at a local crag near Estes Park, Colo.

Marc Hemmes reviews two CAMP USA Harnesses: the Flint and the Jasper CR3 Light

Hanging belays have always been my unofficial test for harnesses. Sure, if you’re vying for the second ascent of the latest Chris Sharma project, you can buy a g-string of a harness that only weighs two ounces, but the cons will quickly outweigh the pros once you’ve been hanging in the harness for more than five minutes. For the rest of us, who would rather avoid leg amputation by harness, here are two harnesses from CAMP that will keep you nice and comfy without sacrificing performance.

The CAMP Flint Harness: If I had an editors choice award, the Flint Harness would win. As CAMP describes it, “The Flint is designed for high-end climbers looking for a harness that will not break the bank”. The Flint excels at everything from liebacking steep granite cracks to high stepping at your local sport crag. No matter the climb, or the hanging belay, the Flint has all the right ingredients.The 6-mm EVA foam padding is comfortable and supportive without being bulky. It weighs in at only 475g (16.8oz), and the price is right. I really like the adjustable leg loops, which I found to be much better than one size fits all. Both the leg loops and the belt buckle are pre-threaded for quick and easy adjustments. Another handy aspect is the patented no-twist belay loop, which keeps your locking belay biner from cross loading. The Flint also has the standard four gear loops, a rope trailing loop in the back, and the always handy drop seat for your bathroom needs.

To sum it up, the Flint has become my go-to harness for all occasions, and for the price ($49.95 at MountainGear.com), you can’t beat it.

Read about the Jasper CR3 here!

Waterproof shoes Q&A with Paul

Check out our assortment of waterproof, GORE-TEX® Salewa shoes on MountainGear.com.

By Paul Schenkenberger

How long does the waterproofing last on a shoe or boot before the rain comes in? Ask us any questions on Google+ or Facebook.

That’s a good question.

There are a lot of products out on the market that are designed to add a water repellent finish to fabric and leather boots. Using them will also condition and extend the life of leather uppers. Not a single one of these treatments (short of dipping in liquid rubber) will make a non-waterproof boot into a waterproof boot. These boot treatments are similar to the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) sprayed on some rain jackets. These products treat the leather or the cloth so it is water repellent, not waterproof.

The Waterproof/Breathable (WPB) lining used in waterproof hiking boots doesn’t breathe as well if the outer fabric and leather is saturated. Some people confuse the sweat from their foot (it sweats a lot!) with leakage and blame the boot, not their sweaty foot. The idea behind using these treatments on a WPB boot is to keep the upper from absorbing water and allowing the WPB lining to breathe as well as possible, thereby reducing sweat buildup inside the boot.

When used on a non WPB membrane lined boot these treatments will reduce the rate and the amount of water absorbed, and therefore delay how soon the foot gets wet. With heavy leather boots these treatments may slow the rate down enough that light moisture will evaporate and never reach the foot; but these treatments will never turn a non-waterproof boot into a “waterproof” boot. Also, these treatments cannot “repair” boots once the WPB lining has developed a leak.

So, to answer the question, I will have to ride the fence a bit and say that it purely depends on how the boots are used after they have been treated. On a freshly treated boot the water will bead up and run off, however, the treatment will wear and wash off over time. How soon depends upon how much brush, snow, rain, mud, etc., the boot will be exposed to. Most people will get a day or two on the trail in severe conditions, and a week in good conditions. A couple hours of plowing through heavy, stiff, wet brush, and a person can overload the treatment. If your waterproof boots are leaky, or were never waterproof to begin with, then these types of treatments will not really change that.

One should use these products to:
- add a water repellent finish to footwear
- support the breathability of WPB footwear
- condition leather and increase its life
- reduce the amount of dirt that attaches to cloth and leather
- reduce drying times

Asolo Athena Review by Ammi Midstokke. Pic by Alan LemireBy Ammi Midstokke

“Hang on, I have to put these hiking boots on,” I say. Two runners stare back at me, blinking.

“Aren’t we running?”

“Yeah, but I already did every other sport in these. I’m trying to find their limit.”

For a mostly barefoot runner, the idea of wearing a hiking boot doesn’t typically strike me until some expedition involves the word “summit.” Even then, many, many, many moons ago I had discovered what I was certain was The Perfect Boot and refused to ever consider another. It was the boot of all boots, until one day I was many miles from the last train out of the German Pfalz, and I had to run. My battered, blistered, bruised ankles would never be the same.

I knew the Asolo Athena was special when I pulled it out of the box. It felt so light and flexible, but sturdy enough for some reckless outdoor behavior. Plus, it was coral and I’m a girl and buy kit and cars based on color, obviously.

It felt a little unfair to test a new boot, like wavering loyalty to a lover, and I almost felt guilt. Then I slid my foot into a whole new world of possibilities.

Day 1 – Hiking: Yeah, it’s a hiking boot. It can hike. Like a boss. The Vibram soles make for great grip on the rocks, particularly wet ones, submerged ones, steep ones, ones I should probably not be clambering up. I broke this boot in with 12 miles simply because it was that comfortable: No rubbing, no blisters.

Day 2 – Biking: It was a balmy 11 degrees out. The Asolo Athena was mentioned as a “light” winter boot and summer hiking, but it is indeed waterproof. I threw a simple wool sock on, some leg warmers for 1983 fashion, 18 more layers of down and merino, and rode for hours with wind chill. My toes? Toasty. Snow handling? Fantastic.

Day 3 – Running: I don’t generally recommend running in a hiking boot, but sometimes when you’re hiking you have to escape wildlife or catch a train. For these eventualities, we want to know our gear will hold its own. I did three miles on a treacherous, soggy, muddy, post-snow-thaw trail. The Asolo Athena performed beautifully. The waterproof material kept my feet dry through slush and creeks. My feet still had breathability thanks to the mesh upper fabric. The self-cleaning sole technology actually does keep the mud out and preserves traction.

The only con I actually noted in this boot was when I decided to see if it was capable for some summit action. I threw on some adjustable crampons and launched myself up the side of a mountain. They were a little too flexible for a solid fit, so I can’t recommend them for a Denali expedition. But I’m pretty sure they’re good for just about everything else. If they came in black, I’d wear them to weddings.

They are just under $200 at MountainGear.com.

Asolo Athena Review by Ammi Midstokke1. Photo by Alan Lemire