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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WP Boots > Test Report by David Baxter

AHNU LODI BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY DAVID BAXTER
LONG-TERM REPORT
April 20, 2009

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: David Baxter
EMAIL: binkly99 at yahoo dot com
AGE: 28
LOCATION: Seattle, Washington, USA
GENDER: m
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 180 lb (81.60 kg)

Backpacking background: I have been hiking for six years and backpacking for five. I get out on the trails or snow every weekend, regardless of the weather. My trips range anywhere from fairly short dayhikes to longer multi-day backpacking trips. In the winter I snowshoe or snow-climb in moderate terrain and occasionally participate in a glaciated climb. My typical winter pack is about 15 lb (6.8 kg) for a day trip, and 35 - 45 lb (16 - 20 kg) for a glacier climb with an overnight camp. In the summer my pack is around 25 lb (11 kg).


INITIAL REPORT December 5th, 2008

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Ahnu
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: Ahnu Footwear website
MSRP: Not listed
Listed Weight: Not listed
Measured Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz (1240 g) pair
Size: Mens 10.5 US
Color: Smokey brown

FEATURES

From the Ahnu website:
- Insulated with 200 grams (7 oz) of Thinsulate for cold temperatures
- Dual density EVA sock liner with FTC lining to reduce friction and heat
- Simple webbing-pull lace system
- Waterproof breathable construction
- Gusseted tongue
- QuiteLight(TM) non-marking rubber outsole with cross-directional lugs
- Integrated TPU shank and arch support
- Compression molded EVA midsole for shock absorption

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots arrived in a brown and green shoebox, covered with the Ahnu logo. Under the flap is an explanation of the company name and describes their commitment to design and social responsibility. It also prominently says the packaging is printed with soy ink. The boots were wrapped with a simple paper sheet. Inside each boot was a rigid cardboard mold to hold the boots shape during shipping.

The Lodi Mid boots at first glance appear more like a hi-top shoe than a boot. They rise about 6 inches (15.2 cm) to mid ankle and taper off there. The predominant color is a deep mud-brown for the upper portion. All the stitching is done in a deep orange, along with the interior lining. A gray stripe runs around the sides of the sole. The lugs are a pattern of orange, gray, and black with the Ahnu name raised under the arch. The Ahnu name also appears on the back, the loop on the tongue, and the Ahnu logo is on the outside edge of the toe.
Lodi boot
Ahnu Lodi mid boot
Sole
The lugs and sole

CONSTRUCTION

The Lodi Mid boots appear well made. All of the seams are very tight around the upper parts and where it joins the sole. With the exception of the top of the tongue, all the stitching is sewn with two lines and is straight. The lace hooks are riveted to the upper leather and fabric and seem quite sturdy. The lace slider is a tough plastic and grips the laces tightly. At the ends of the laces, a plastic cap joins the two ends completing the webbing. While adjusting the slider I accidentally pulled this off, releasing the laces. It was difficult to get the lace ends secured in the plastic cap again.
Lacing
Lacing detail
Lace slider
The slider for the laces


There is a noticeable amount of glue visible around the perimeter of the boot, joining the sole to the upper leather. Likely it will simply blend in once the boot is dirty but out of the box it does detract from the appearance of the boot slightly. Aside from this the boots are quite attractive.

The brown leather portions of the boot are soft to the touch and fairly squishy. I can easily squeeze it with my hand. By contrast the front and sides of the toe box are very rigid. A thick, textured, black piece of rubber wraps around the front and both sides of the toes for protection. This feels very tough and sturdy, though the top is only soft leather. The same material protects the back ankle area, extending halfway up the boot. I can't squeeze it easily and it should provide good ankle protection.

The sole of the boot is fairly thick. I am able to bend the sole with my hands under moderate effort. The toe and heel areas do not bend easily though. On the bottom, the pattern of the lugs is visually attractive. They do not appear to be very aggressive or deep though and the edges of the lugs are slightly rounded. The rubber feels grippy, however. The angled pattern of lugs is reversed on the heel to provide better braking.

The interior lining material is soft and smooth to the touch. This same material covers the whole interior, even the underside of the tongue. The insoles are black on the bottom with matching deep orange color to the boot interior. They seem typical of what one finds in most boots.

FIT

I have fairly normal sized feet, slightly wide in the toe area. My first test of the boots was to wear them around work for a few hours. I wore a pair of midweight wool socks without a liner. My feet slid easily into the boots, there did not seem to be much friction between the sock and liner. I wrapped the laces around the upper hooks and cinched the webbing tight. Initially they felt too loose in the toe area so I attempted to pull the lower parts of the webbing tighter, then cinch the top down further. This didn't work well and left the boots feeling too tight at the ankle at first, but after walking around for a short time the laces distributed the tension better and became more comfortable. I'm unsure if the boots need to be broken in or this is typical, time will tell.

Walking around on linoleum is hardly a real test but overall the Lodi boots were quite comfortable. They had a bit of stiffness from the ball of the foot forward and in the heel but felt softer than my typical pair of leather light-hiker boots. They did seem more stiff than I expected based on the softness of the leather. My feet slid slightly in the boots but I didn't feel a hot spot developing. When hiking in these I will likely add a liner sock and see if this resolves the slipping. I did feel the warmth of the boots though and had to switch back to my regular shoes when my feet began to overheat. They are too warm for me to wear indoors. Hopefully they keep my feet as toasty out in the snow!

SUMMARY

The Ahnu Lodi Mid insulated boots offer warmth for winter use in a relatively lightweight package. They have an attractive design and a simple but effective web-lacing system. Wearing them around my apartment and work for a few hours I found them to be comfortable right out of the box. My only concern so far is the durability of the lacing system. I've already managed to pull the end cap off the laces without too much effort. There is also more visible glue than other pairs of boots I've owned. Hopefully these issues are only cosmetic.

Please check back in two months for my field report and see how the Lodi boots have fared out in the snow and cold. Thank you to Ahnu Footwear and Backpackgeartest.org.


FIELD REPORT February 24th, 2009

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Since receiving the Ahnu Lodi boots I have worn them for at least one trip every weekend. I'll detail a few specific trips showing their performance in various conditions. All together I have used the boots covering around 120 miles (193 km).

In early December I wore the boots hiking up Mt. Pilchuck. Temperatures were about 32 F (0 C) at the trailhead and about 25 F (-4 C) at the lookout, around 5500 ft (1676 m). It was snowing lightly at the higher elevations and raining below with a stiff breeze. The trail was snow free the first few miles, then covered in a deep slush, and finally about a foot (0.3 m) of snow near the top.

I also wore the boots snowshoeing to Kendall Peak lakes in late December. Temperatures were about 15 F (-9 C) at the car and below 10 F (-12 C) at the lakes, lower than my thermometer displays. Snow was about 5 ft (1.5 m) deep and very unconsolidated, resulting in deep sinking even with snowshoes. Skies were clear and sunny with a mild breeze. The trail is around 7 miles (11.2 km) with 2500 ft (762 m) of gain.

In January I wore the boots hiking up to Norse Peak. I used the boots alone or combination with snowshoes and mini-crampons for this trip. Snow ranged from rock hard packed trail to hard icy crust and fluffy powder. Temperatures were high at around 55 F (13 C) at the summit. Skies were blue with a light breeze.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have found many strengths and a few weak points with the Lodi Insulated Mid boots over the past two months of use. I will break them down into a few categories.

Warmth: These boots are very warm for their weight. On my first trip using the Lodi boots I wore my heaviest pair of wool socks, typical for my winter travel in my usual boots, and found this combination to be much too warm for mild 30 F (-1 C) temperatures I encountered. I switched to a midweight wool sock and have found this to be very suitable for most conditions. I did wear the heavyweight socks snowshoeing to Kendall Peak Lakes and my feet stayed very warm despite the 10 F (-12 C) temperature at the lakes. Even when my feet have become wet they still remained warm.

Waterproofing: For the first month of use the boots seemed quite waterproof. Wearing them on the Mt. Pilchuck trail I crossed a shallow creek, hiked through a few miles of two inch (5 cm) deep slush, and finally a foot (0.3 m) of fresh snow and remained dry. My feet also stayed dry for the next four trips, covering an additional 43 miles (69 km). The next hike however I found their waterproofing had failed. I stepped carefully through a two inch (5 cm) deep puddle covering about 100 ft (30.5 m) of trail and had wet toes on the far side. After the hike I carefully inspected the boots but could not locate any puncture or crack points. I'm not sure where the water is entering the boots. The waterproofing hasn't become any worse so far but I try not to subject them to any dunkings in puddles or creeks. After a day of snowshoeing my feet also become wet now, particularly in the upper toe area. My socks are fairly damp depending on how wet the snow is at the end of the day. It seems to be worse when I wear snowshoes with the boots. I usually notice the wetness about where the snowshoe straps contact the upper toe area.

Comfort: I have found the Lodi boots to be very comfortable on all my trips so far, despite the waterproofing issue. I haven't had any hot spots, blisters, or pinch points. I like the soft lining on the insides. The soles are a little thinner than other boots I've owned and I can feel sharper rocks through the bottoms but so far it has not been an issue. During a prolonged cold snap I wore the boots to work and spent about 10 hours total in them. They were very comfortable the whole time.

Lacing: This has been my primary problem with the boots. The laces functioned well for the first trip but afterward the sliders did not lock in place as well and I found myself frequently having to tighten them. It was significantly worse when the laces were wet. I also lost the end cap on one lace pair somewhere along a hike. I didn't notice this and when removing the boots I slid the locking slider all the way off, freeing the laces. Re-threading the slider onto the laces was very difficult since the ends of the laces had fallen apart. I resorted to wrapping the tips in duct-tape and pulling them back into the slider using pliers. I tied the ends of the two laces into a knot to prevent this happening again.
laces2
Temporary end-cap repair


After one month I began to notice damage to the laces themselves below the point where the slider locks them in place. It appears to be from the laces pull through the hooks. They still functioned but over the next few weeks I noticed more lace deterioration and a lot of fraying where the slider moves back and forth. Eventually the laces snapped. I purchased some typical hiking boot laces to replace them but found these to be too thick to thread through the sliders. I could not find any compatible laces so I did not re-attach the slider system. I have been using the boots with these replacements in typical knots for a few weeks and have not had any issues so far.
laces1
Frayed laces
laces3
Replaced laces


Equipment compatibility: The boots work very well with snowshoes. They are sturdy enough for the straps and I haven't had any comfort or fit issues. I have also often used the Lodi boots with a pair of mini-spike crampons. These have a steel chain on the bottom with small spikes, and a stretchy rubber material holding them on by the tops of the boots. This squeezes fairly tightly onto the toe area, and I can feel this slightly, but the boots are stiff enough to work well. I used this setup on a steep ascent to Norse Peak. The snow was very crusty and hard, requiring the spikes and an ice axe. I felt confident edging the spikes in with the sides of the boots and they also performed very well plunge stepping through the crust on the descent. One minor complaint I have is with the use of gaiters. The lacing system has a center loop at the top of the toe where the laces pass through, preventing me from attaching the front hook of my gaiters easily.

Traction: Traction feels as good or better than my other boots so far. They stick quite well to snow of all types I have encountered, even hard packed surfaces. They are no better or worse than others on ice. I've also found them to be good on dirt and rock.

SUMMARY

While I have had some mixed experiences with the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots overall I am pleased with their performance so far. Their main attribute - warmth due to insulation - is very nice. My feet have yet to become cold, even when wet. They are very comfortable over long hikes on dirt or snow. I have not found their waterproofing to be very effective however. My feet only remained dry for the first month of use. So far this has been tolerable, since I am only using them while snowshoeing at the moment, but I have yet to try them on another creek crossing. The sliding lace system, while a nice idea, has not worked out well for me. The laces began to fray after a month of use and finally snapped. Replacement laces compatible with the slider have been difficult to locate. I also lost one of the end caps for the laces. At the moment I am using the replacements with a simple knot like typical boots.

This concludes my Field Report for the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots. I will update their condition in two months with my final report. Thank you to BackPackGearTest.org and Ahnu Footwear.


LONG-TERM REPORT April 20th, 2009

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have continued to use the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots regularly over the long term test period. I will relate a few typical trips with the boots but have used them for at least an additional hundred miles (220 km) since the field report.

At the end of February I snowshoed to Evergreen Mountain lookout. Distance was around 9 miles (18.5 km) with 4500 ft (1372 m) of elevation gained. Temperatures remained around freezing with partly sunny skies and a brisk cold wind. I was on snow the whole distance with some steep hard packed conditions in dense forest.

In mid March I snowshoed to Ollalie lake, about 6 miles (12.2 km) round trip. Elevation gain was around 2000 ft (610 m). Temperatures were around freezing and heavy wet snow was falling the entire time.

At the end of March I snowshoed to Keechelus ridge, around 7 miles (14.5 km) round trip. Elevation gain was around 2800 ft (850 m). Temperatures were cold in the mid 20 F (-6.5 C) range with a very strong wind on the ridge top. Skies alternated with clouds and sun.

On April 4th I snowshoed to Florence Peak. Distance was about 10 miles (22 km) round trip with 3500 ft (1067 m) of gain. The first two miles (4.4 km) of trail were snow free but snowshoes were worn the rest of the way. The day was sunny and warm after a fresh snow, around 50 F (10 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Lodi insulated boots have continued to perform well over the long term test period. While the waterproof membrane remains a problem they have not become any worse. After a full day out in the boots my feet come back a little damp if the snow is wet but I still have not felt cold, no matter how much water leaks in. Creek crossings are especially difficult and water tends to leak in from somewhere around the toes. I cannot see exactly where or spot any obvious damage. I also found some damage to the interior lining where it contacts the tongue at the base of the ankle. This did not cause any problems over the test period.
frictiondamage
Damage to lining material


In early April I contacted Ahnu about finding a replacement pair of laces. I had been unable to find a suitable pair myself as I reported in the Field Report section. Ahnu graciously sent me a new set of laces at no charge. The replacements were the same length and make of the originals but plain black colored. Replacement was straight forward and fairly easy. These laces have longer eyelets than usual which make them easier to thread through the sliding lace locks. I was unable to get these eyelets locked into the end caps so I simply tied them in an overhand knot to secure them. The replacement laces have held up well since installation. They do show some slight fraying but have not yet failed. They do not secure any better than the originals and I occasionally have to stop and tighten the laces on a trip. This happens more often if the boots get very wet.

The Lodi boots are very comfortable over a variety of terrain. About half of my trip to Florence peak was on bare dirt trail, the rest on fresh snow. The boots flexed nicely and I did not have any blister problems on this or any other trip. I was able to feel large rocks through the soles but did not find it unpleasant. The trail was muddy in places due to snow melt. This extra water eventually seeped through, soaking my socks, but my feet stayed warm. Traction was surprisingly good over the slippery mud.

While I have found the boots very effective at keeping my feet warm they have not worked well for kicking steps into even moderately hard snow. While ascending Evergreen Mountain I had to gain significant elevation in dense forest with hard packed crusty snow. Attempting to kick straight into this caused my toes to ram the end of the boots or the boot to simply bounce off the surface. Later in the afternoon I was able to plunge step into the slightly softened snow but felt less steady than I would wearing my stiffer climbing boots. I was able to wear strap-on crampons comfortably on the Lodi boots to solve this problem.

SUMMARY

The Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots are very comfortable and warm winter hiking footwear. For a lightweight leather boot they provide surprising warmth. My feet have yet to become cold wearing these boots down to temperatures below 15 F (-9.5 C) and in very deep snow. The weather report said temperatures dropped down to around 10 F (-12.2 C) but my portable thermometer can only measure to 15 F (-9.5 C). I am able to wear a thinner pair of wool socks with these boots than similar uninsulated boots. They flex well and feel more like comfortable sneakers than boots but provide decent ankle support. The soft interior lining also feels very nice and I have had no hot spots or blister problems over more than 220 miles (354 km) of hiking.

I have had problems with durability over the past four months of use. After only two months the waterproofing failed and my feet would often become wet over the course of a day out in the snow. There is no obvious hole in the boots but water seeps in quickly when stepping through anything more than an inch (2.5 cm) deep or walking in wet snow and slush. I have also had the laces fail, requiring me to replace them. This appears to be caused by friction with either the sliding lock or the lace loops on the boots. With all pairs of laces I have tried the sliding lock becomes loose over a few miles, forcing me to stop and readjust the sliding lock.

CONTINUED USE

While I do find the Lodi insulated boots very comfortable and warm for snowshoeing I am undecided on their future use. I will retire them for spring and summer hiking because I do not require the extra insulation off snow. I may try to treat the leather with a waterproofing agent next winter and use them again on especially cold days. They will probably not be my first choice for use on every hike due to the waterproofing issues.

ltr_boots
The boots after many miles


Thank you to Backpackgeartest.org and Ahnu Footwear for this testing opportunity!

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

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