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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WP Boots > Test Report by Brett Haydin

AHNU LODI MID INSULATED WB BOOT
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
LONG-TERM REPORT
April 21, 2009

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE: 36
LOCATION: Denver, Colorado, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 195 lb (88.50 kg)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

December 11, 20008

Ahnu Lodi Insulated WB Boot
Ahnu Lodi Insulated WB Boot
Manufacturer: Ahnu Footwear
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.ahnufootwear.com
MSRP: N/A
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 2 lb 10.9 oz (1.22 kg)
Right Boot: 1 lb 5.5 oz
Left Boot: 1 lb 5.4 oz
Size Tested: 10.5
Sizes Available: 7-12, 13, 14
Color Tested: Smoky Brown (only one available)
Warranty: One year warranty on materials or workmanship. This does not apply to misuse, accident, modification or unauthorized repair. Also, they ask that you return the item to the point of original purchase rather than send to the company itself.

Other details provided by manufacturer:


  • Waterproof/breathable bootie construction
  • Insulated with 200 grams of Thinsulate for cold temperatures
  • Gusseted tongue to keep out unwanted debris and moisture
  • High density "posts" on both medial and lateral heel for extra stability
  • Shock dispersal plate in forefoot for stone bruising protection
  • Integrated TPU shank and arch support provide tortional rigidity and mid-foot support
  • 3.5 mm cross-directional, non-marking, slip-resistant lugs provide traction on varied surfaces
  • Dual density EVA sock liner for reduced friction and heat build up
  • Simple webbing pull lace system
  • The arch support and cushioning provide all-day comfort
  • Cross-directional, non-marking, slip-resistant lugs provide traction on varied surfaces
  • QuiteLight non-marking rubber outsole for excellent traction. Rear cross-directional lugs provide proper braking traction.
  • High-density posts on both medial and lateral of heel for extra stability
  • Lightweight, compression molded EVA midsole for excellent shock absorption
  • ESS plate offers stone bruising protection.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 3
A closer look at the Lodi
The Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WB Boot, hereafter referred to as "Lodi" or "boot," comes in a cardboard shoebox, which includes information about the company and their commitment to social responsibility and product excellence. I definitely appreciate the attention to environmentally friendly practices employed in their packaging. There is one hang tag attached to the boot listing some of the technical specifications. The manufacturer's website has an interactive picture highlighting each of the features with an attractive diagram of how each of these fit together.

The Lodi is a mid-height boot, meaning that they are slightly taller than a standard shoe, but tall enough to cover the anklebone. The size I am testing reaches a maximum height of 6 in (15.25 cm) at the back and tapers down to 5.625 in (14.3 cm) tall at the lowest point of the ankle. The tongue is gusseted to keep out any stray debris, snow or rain.

The boot is made primarily of brown leather which is overlaid with additional layers of leather as well as synthetic material stitched with two rows of straight-line stitching in orange thread. The tongue is constructed on a nylon material with a mesh pattern. All of the threads and cuts are well constructed with very minimal loose threads. There are nylon loops sewn into the heel as well as the tongue that I can easily grasp to make putting the Lodi on an easy endeavor.

According to the manufacturer, the sole is made of QuiteLight, which is a non-marking rubber material. The lugs have a cross-directional pattern in skewed directions from the front to the back. The pattern isn't especially aggressive, but certainly looks adequate for winter conditions. There is also an integrated TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) shank to add support while shedding the weight as compared to one of metal. There is additional protection from rocks also integrated into the footpad. Even with these extra layers, the soles are comfortable as well as firm. There is a slight amount of glue visible where the soles meet the leather.

The boots also have a toe rand to protect from loose debris as well as heel protection. The toe rand covers the front of the toe box and curls just a little toward the top. There is black stitching holding it in place. The heel protection covers the heel about half-way up the boot and is made in two layers, both of them made of some type of rubber material.

One of the reasons I wanted this boot was for the insulation and waterproof features. Each of these features is sewn into the lining of the boot. The lining is a soft fleece-like fabric. I can clearly see where some of the insulation is in the area around where my ankle is. This also has the added benefit of creating some decent padding in this area. The manufacturer does not indicate what type of material makes the Lodi waterproof other than to say it is a waterproof and breathable membrane.

The lacing features are also intriguing! I hate lacing up my boots. The opportunity to try out a boot that doesn't need to be tied is quite appealing to me. The laces are held in place by four sets of plastic lace guides that are riveted into the boot. There is one additional set that has two rivets and an open ended hook the laces easily fit into. The laces are then easily pulled tight and held in place by a "floating lace lock." This mechanism slides freely downward, but is held in place unless the lock is released by pulling on the release tab. There is a clear illustration on the manufacturer's website that can be viewed here. The laces are then connected at the top by another plastic piece that can be disassembled if I wanted to shorten the laces. The laces can also be tucked into an elastic band sewn into the top of the tongue.

TRYING IT OUT

Cracked Floating Lace Lock
Crack at top of floating lace lock
Once I received the shoes, I started my standard routine for breaking in boots, not sure if they would require any. I'm glad that I did as it took a little bit of time. The tongue of the boot created some pressure on my leg, but that went away relatively quickly. By the third time I wore the boots, there was no problem. I had a chance to try out the Lodi at a local retailer before confirming the size, so I was certain that the size I needed would work. I normally wear a size 10.5 when I buy shoes, which is exactly what I ordered. I also have a slightly wider foot, which the Lodi accommodates.

The only problem that I have run into, in fact, is a potential failure of the floating lace lock system. In the image to the right, you can see a crack in the plastic casing that developed the first time I wore the boots. This has caused the lock to get stuck in place and requires some finesse to release the lock from time to time. This is an intermittent problem that I will be monitoring closely in case the system deteriorates.

The Lodi's fit wonderfully with my standard sock set-up which consists of a liner and mid or heavy weight wool sock. The flexibility of the lacing allows for room when I need it, but so far it has easily accommodated several thicknesses. I wore the shoes while hiking through the woods in search of our Christmas Tree for the year. While carrying an 18 ft (5.5 m) tree through the woods isn't a walk in the park, it was through a mix of snow, mud and rocks. The traction was just fine for the conditions and my toes stayed toasty warm.

SUMMARY

Overall, I am quite impressed with Ahnu's Lodi. The break in period was quick and easy and I find the boot overall attractive and functional.

The good:


  • Easy to lace up and go
  • Warm shoes for winter
  • Waterproof

The concerns:

  • Lace lock is already giving me problems



FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

February 24, 2009

I used the Ahnu Lodi Mid boots on two backpacking trips over the past two months. The first was a 17 mi (27 km) trip in the Bandelier Wilderness in New Mexico. The majority of the terrain was hard-packed dirt and hard rock. A couple of times we had to descend into canyons and in some shady areas there were patches of snow we had to cross. Temperatures ranged from 20 to 55 F (-6 to 10 C) with a little bit of rain on our first (of three) days. Otherwise it was sunny, but cool.

The second trip was a short overnight in the White River National Forest outside of Vail, Colorado. This was a 2 mi (3.2 km) snowshoe hike up to approximately 9,600 ft (2,971 m) to view Booth Falls. Temperatures ranged from 15 to 45 F (-9 to 7 C) and the sun was shining almost the whole time!

I also wore the boots on three separate snowshoe day hikes. One trip was a 4 mi (6.4 km) hike to Squaw Mountain in the Arapaho National Forest. Temperatures were between 30 and 40 F (-1 and 4 C) with light snow falling after a sunny start. The second was an 8 mi (12.9 km) round trip in the Rocky Mountain National Park up to Ouzal Falls, elevation 9,450 ft (2,880 m). Temperatures were between 20 and 40 F (-7 and 4 C) with clear skies. The third snowshoe hike was in the Eagles Nest Wilderness to Lily Pad Lakes, a 3 mi (4.8 km) round trip from the trailhead. The temperature was about 40 F (4 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Over the past two months, I have been able to log about 34 mi (55 km) with the Lodi Mid Insulated WB boots. They have kept my feet warm in a variety of conditions and in temperatures down to 15 F (-9 C). I generally wear a wool sock with a liner sock underneath. Around town, we have had temperatures below 0 F (-18 C) in which I have worn the boots, and my feet stayed warm with just a standard cotton sock. While snowshoeing, I usually wear a calf-high waterproof gaiter to keep the snow from sliding down into my boots. While there is no temperature rating provided for these boots, I have not reached a lower limit yet. The lowest temperature I have worn the boots in was -3 F (-19.4 C) and my feet remained warm!

Snowshoeing
Lodi Mid in snowshoes
On several of the snowshoeing hikes I took, the trail was quite hard-packed snow, especially at the beginning. For example, when I traveled to Ouzal Falls, I did not actually put my snowshoes on until the final mile (1.6 km) of the destination. I found that the cross-directional pattern on the lugs provided ample traction on both uphills and downhills. I purposely have hopped on logs and boulders as I came across them and have yet to encounter a serious slip. On that note, the boots also easily fit in my snowshoe bindings.

When I was traveling into the Booth Falls area, I had the heaviest pack load so far with 52 lb (23.6 kg). I felt that the boots provided excellent support; much better than I had anticipated. The picture at right shows me hiking with the shoes in my snowshoes. Despite a couple of stumbles, I do feel as though the support offered by these boots is sufficient for me and my backpacking style.

Not everything has worked perfectly so far. The crack in the floating lace lock resulted in a failure of the laces. Because the laces were constantly rubbing against the crack in the lock, two things happened. First, the crack widened. Second, the sharp edges of the crack cut the sheath of the laces, that is the outer coating of the laces. The instructions on the website stated that warranty issues should be directed through the retailer where the boots were purchased. However, there was also an email address to contact customer service. I received a quick response stating that I would be sent out a new set of lace locks as well as laces. I specifically mentioned that I hoped to get laces, since the color scheme would be hard to duplicate. The lace locks arrived a few days later, but there were no laces included. Honestly, I was not bothered by this, although the email stated they would be included. When other laces have broken on other boots and shoes, I never expected new laces from the manufacturer.

I went out and purchased a set of laces from a local retailer and set to work trying to feed them through the lace locks. This was no easy task. I tried a number of techniques such as tying fishing line to one end in an attempt to pull it through. I ended up purchasing three sets of laces, in attempts to get them to work. Frustrated, I contacted customer service again and explained my dilemma. Again, I received a courteous and prompt reply that I would be sent new laces right away. As before, several days later a package arrived, this time with my laces. This new set was of a different color: solid brown. What was immediately apparent was the plastic ends where much longer than a normal set of laces. They measured 1 in (2.5 cm). Having such a long, solid plastic end made it easy to feed the ends through the lace lock. The website included instructions for using the end cap on the boots making me happy once more!

The only other issue I have had is that my feet have a tendency to get sweaty when in the boots. To be fair, my feet sweat a bit more than normal. But if I am wearing the boots around the house or office, I do notice that my feet remain a bit damp. Oddly enough, I don't really notice this when I am on trail, so having adequate socks seem to make a big difference. So far the boots have remained waterproof, and I have been in some pretty wet snow at times.

I do feel that the foots fit fairly well. I am used to being able to lace my boots up quite tight, but these boots distribute the pressure evenly throughout the lace configuration. I have not noticed any heel lift or slipping when I have the laces pulled tight. Nor have I noticed the laces slipping, even after many miles hiking. I am especially pleased with how comfortable the shoes are to wear! The cushioning and padding is in all the right places making this an easy boot to wear on the trail and off.

SUMMARY

So far, I have been very happy with the Lodi Mid Insulated Boots. The best parts so far are the general fit and comfort as well as the ease of putting the boots on. They keep my feet warm and dry and are holding up remarkably well so far.

The boots seem a little bit too warm to wear as a casual boot, since my feet get pretty warm and sweaty indoors. The broken lace lock and resulting replacement of the laces was a bit of a chore. It would be great if the website included some information on what to look for in new laces as well as how to thread them through the device.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have continued to use the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WB Boots on an additional three backpacking trips as well as three snowshoe hikes for an additional 49 miles (79 km) logged on the trail. I have also worn the boots around town a lot (more on why later) as well as when working outdoors.

The first backpacking trip was an overnight in the White River National Forest south of Breckenridge, Colorado on the Quandary Peak Trail. I hiked about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) in and spent a cold night with the temperature when I went to bed at 5 F (-15 C). Temperatures exceeded 40 F (4 C) as the day progressed making it a warm hike, despite the windy conditions. Elevations were from 10,875 to 13,145 ft (3,315 to 4007 m). The summit hike was an additional 2.9 mi (4.7 km), but I snowboarded down to the trailhead. That left just another 0.75 mi (1.2 km) to my SUV.

The second backpacking trip was a 12 mi (19.3 km) out-and-back spontaneous trip in the San Isabel National Forest along the Colorado trail. The weather looked threatening the whole time, but temperatures remained between 30 and 50 F (-1 to 10 C) with only a trace amount of snow and rain mix. The trail was mostly snow covered, but much of it did not require any snowshoes. The elevation was between 9,900 to 11,950 ft (3,018 to 3,642 m)

My third trip was a 14 mi (22.5 km) hike up the Barr Trail toward Pikes Peak, however the weather conditions deteriorated and I was forced to turn back. The original plan would have been 26 mi (42 km) with a spectacular view. The temperatures dropped to about 5 F (-15 C) overnight and the high was only 25 F (-4 C) on our retreat. The depth of snow and high winds were the major problems. Starting elevation was 6,600 ft (2,012 m) and we camped at about 9,500 ft (2,896 m)

The remaining day hikes included a 2.5 mi (4 km) hike along the Chief Mountain Trail in the Arapaho National Forest. Temperatures were mild at about 40 F (4.5 C) and the trail was pretty snow-packed. Another hike was a 7 mi (11.25 km) hike in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area along a well maintained snowshoe trail. Temperatures were around 30 F (-1 C) and the weather was cloudy but otherwise fine. The last hike was an 8 mi (13 km) to Grizzly Gulch in the Arapaho National forest. The temperature was about 20 F (-7 C) and it was snowy and a little windy.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Lodi boots have continued to perform well throughout the testing period. One of the biggest concerns I had going into the final two months of testing was the reliability of the lace lock, specifically with the wearing of the laces and difficulty replacing them. I have noticed the laces are beginning to wear at the point where they meet the eyelets, however, the laces have otherwise held up rather well for the duration of the test. This wear pattern is certainly consistent with other hiking boots I have used, so all of my concerns have been laid to rest. I do feel I received a faulty lace lock from the start, but Ahnu quickly took care of the problem and it has not resurfaced. I also notice that I need to tighten the laces periodically throughout the day. I believe that the lace lock works well overall, but I like my boots snug and they gradually loosen up and need to be pulled tight after 3 to 4 hours of hiking.

I have been very pleased with the overall fit and comfort throughout the test period. The boots are a little loose when I wear them with only a standard cotton sock around town, but when I wear them with my usual wool sock and liner sock combination, they fit perfectly. I haven't had any issues with blisters at all, which has been a concern with other boots I have worn. One of my favorite aspects of these boots has been the ease of which they go on. I have found that when I am in a hurry to go somewhere, I can easily slip these shoes on and head out the door. Likewise, while camping at night I can put the boots on and head out for a midnight bathroom break without having to lace and tie my boots so the laces don't track in the snow or mud. In my opinion, this is an awesome quality!

The soles have been great at providing traction on a number of different surfaces. I have encountered ice, hard-packed snow on steep grades as well as slushy conditions. I find that the cross-directional lugs seem to really make a difference in traction. The toe rand is in excellent condition, but since I use the boots in combination with snowshoes there has not been a lot of rocks to pound them against. The rand has protected my toes and the leather from the few that I have encountered.

As for waterproof ability, I have to admit that these boots do an excellent job at keeping my feet dry. As noted in my test locations I experienced temperatures above freezing on a number of trips; these boots had their fair share of getting wet in sloppy conditions! Nonetheless, the boots have remained dry the entire time. On my backpacking trip on the Colorado Trail, I stood in a stream while filtering water and did not experience any leaks. The insulation has also exceeded my expectations. While at work I had the unfortunate mishap of falling into a ditch full of running water while trying to break up a dam of snow. I had to continue to work outside in heavy snowfall with wet boots, but my feet remained warm the entire time. At least after the initial shock of the icy water was over!

Lodi with gaiter
Lodi boots with gaiter

When on trail in the snow, I usually use waterproof gaiters over my boots. The picture above shows a nice tight fit while hiking on the Barr Trail. Getting into snowshoes has also been very easy. I wasn't concerned about this going into the test since my snowshoes also accommodate my snowboarding boots! It is a relief to know that the Lodi boots work well with other gear items.

Overall, the boots have provided good support while hiking. My average winter pack weight has been about 45 lb (20 kg) and I have never felt as though my ankles were at any unnecessary risk. While I cannot feel the high density posts that provide the support, I do feel their reassuring presence when walking on unsteady terrain. I recall when I was hiking up the Quandary Peak Trail that the ankle support seemed to help in those spots where I took my snowshoes off. The terrain was a mix of windswept and crusted snow with rocks sticking out. Even when I did stumble off a small rock, I felt the boot helped provide that support.

The Lodi boots have been rather easy to maintain. I have exposed them to some muddy conditions at times, but after a good rinse a light brush has cleaned them right up. The leather and fabric are holding their color and texture and in really great shape. The soles are also in good shape. The lugs are intact and showing normal wear, but have plenty of life in them.



SUMMARY

I have been extremely pleased with the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WB boot. Despite cold temperatures and sometimes wet conditions, these boots have kept my feet warm and dry. These boots really deliver.

Things that I really like:


  • Insulated properties really kept my feet warm.
  • Waterproof feature worked great.
  • Ease of putting on the boots.
  • Customer service was quick, efficient and friendly
  • Very comfortable boots.

Things that could be improved:

  • Standard laces are really tough to install in the lace locks.
  • Lace locks keep the laces tight but do loosen up over time.

CONTINUED USE

I do plan to use these boots through the remainder of the spring season as well as next winter. I normally wear a full height boot for the additional ankle support but this test has opened my eyes to saving weight without really sacrificing support.

I would like to thank Ahnu as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to a part of this test series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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