The guys at Outside PR asked me if I want some outdoor gear to use and abuse and in exchange to write some reviews on Highball Blog. To which I said: Hell, yeah!
So they sent over a pair of Wolverine hiking shoes - the Terrain Low - iCS Waterproof Low-Cut Trail Hiker - and a hydration pack from Hydrapak (review and funny cartoon advert coming soon).
So here's my telegraphic, Q&A review:
Do I like the design?
Yes. The overall appearance is kinda sexy. I like the combination of red fabric, rubber, leather and the lacing system.
They seem bulky, and I guess they are because of the wide and thick foam sole. When I initially got them I was like: Oops... They're too big for me. But it turned out they just have meat on them without being too large. I wear 42 (European size) and these are 41 1/2 European (8 1/2 M American measure).
Are these waterproof hiking shoes?
In other words: Do they do what it says on the can? Yes, the're waterproof indeed. Been with them in the rain, walked across small streams and on the snow and they didn't leak. A plus feature.
Does the ICS (Individual Comfort System) really work?
Yup! Basically the ICS is a gel disk that rests on a foam shape which you turn according to your desire:
- F stands for Firm - a solid step for you... a giant leap if you switch to...
- C which stands for Cushion - good for running or walking on hard surfaces. The difference between F and C is pretty significant. It really works!
- I stands for Inward - If you have low arches or "flat feet", inner heel support helps reduce discomfort caused by the twisting of the foot due to over-pronation. Simply turn the disc so Cushion points towards the inner area you want supported..
- O stands for Outward - If you have high arches, outer heel support helps reduce stress on your foot due to under-pronation (supination). - Taken from ICS tech specifications
What kind of sole?
It's not Vibram, as we all like (Don't we?). It's made of foam and has very little hard rubber on it.
That's the biggest flaw in my opinion. Because of this, the shoes are just too soft. Hard to walk (and not so safe for your ankles) on steep slopes and rugged terrain...
Not only that but the sole is vulnerable to sharp objects that may be on the ground - if you step on any sort of spike, it will pierce right through the foam sole. Also foam is highly exposed and thus subjected to fast wear and tear (I've had them for approximately two months and the sole doesn't seem to take long term abuse) - see pictures below.
Comfortable and fit?
They're comfortable all right. Your feet will rest as on pillows. But the fit is rather loose. No matter how tight I lace up, my heel rises off the insole as I step so I have this felling that my foot goes out of the shoe...
The most pleasure I get is when I walk long hours on flat terrain or in the city (the sole is soft and this goes well with asphalt and concrete).
When going down on slopes my feet move inside pretty heavily and this leads to discomfort and stress on my ankles. This is due to the soft foam sole and the wide/loose fit inside the shoe.
- One of the sewings that hold the carry loops at the rear of the shoe popped. But the loop is still in place held by the second sewing. No big deal but it happened as I was simply pulling on it a bit harder (my fault?!). I hang my shoes with a carabiner on my harness when doing multi pitch climbing routes so I see the loops as a key feature for any outdoor sports shoe.
- The plastic elements on the inner and outer arch of the sole and the red rubber are starting to come off (not the best gluing?!)
But for the serious mountaineer and trekker these shoes are too soft (both literally and as a figure of speech). Hard hikers like it hard so if you're one of them (I know I am - I don't do hiking regularly but when I do, I'm off the path quite a lot) and like to wear light shoes (not boots - I gave up wearing boots in the summer years ago) there are other type of shoes out there for you.
So, would I buy them? No. They're not for me. (I won't throw them away either)
Check out the pics below for a closer look. Click on each for larger view (they open in new tabs)
|Disclaimer: I believe every one who posts stuff online (blog posts, YouTube videos, etc.) is in the honesty business. I'm also part of that group - or so I like to think.|
I had friends ask me: Are you gonna tell it all in your review? Disclose the flaws and all?. Yes! That's my job as an operator in this honesty business.
Whenever an outdoor gear manufacturer approaches me for a review, I always ask them to make a giveaway for my readers. Coz in the end it's not much value for you as a reader to learn that I got a new pair of shoes, right? You may say: So what? And you'd be right!
So I see smart outdoor companies listening to real feedback from real people and acting on it (improving their products, having better customer service, allowing end users to co-create and participate in product design and development, etc.).
I'm here to give you my sincere opinion to you, the reader and to you, the outdoor brand. I also wanna share my benefits with you, dear reader, and I'll always push for a giveaway or a discount code. (Read this as: if you see more reviews and less giveaways, it's not me to blame, it's the company...) :-)
Wolverine were very generous and they also gave away two pairs of shoes in a Highball Blog Gear giveaway. Thumbs up for them! :-)
Be safe and enjoy the outdoors!
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