AHNU LODI MID INSULATED WB
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
April 21, 2009
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
5' 11" (1.80 m)
225 lb (102.00 kg)
I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and
snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for
the last 25 years. I'm an all-season, all-terrain, off-trail kind
of guy, but these days (having small kids) most of my trips run on
the shorter side of things, and tend to be in the temperate
rainforest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in
excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Ahnu, Inc.
|Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WB Boots|
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.ahnufootwear.com
Listed Weight: None
Pair - 2 lb 13.3 oz (1.28 kg)
Right Boot - 1 lb 6.7 oz (0.64 kg)
Left Boot - 1 lb 6.6 oz (0.62 kg)
Other details: Size Tested US 12 (EU 46, UK 11, JP 30)
Typical Shoe Size Worn by Tester: US 11 1/2 (EU 45, UK 11, JP 29.5) or US 12 (EU 46, UK 11, JP 30)
Technical Performance Features (From Manufacturer's Hang Tag):
*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 of heel for extra stability
*Shock dispersal plate in forefoot for stone bruising protection
*Integrated TPU shank and arch support provide tortional (sic) rigidity and mid-foot support
*3.5 mm cross-directional, non-marking, slip-resistant lugs provide traction on varied surfaces.
The Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WB boots arrived in their retail packaging, a brown cardboard shoe box with green print. On the inside of the lid of the box was the URL for the company's website, and a brief statement about the company. Inside the box was also a statement that the package was printed using soy inks.
The boots were wrapped in brown paper, and included brown cardboard inserts inserted into the boots to help them retain their shape. A single hang tag was attached to the laces of one boot (information from hang tag is given above under Product Information and Specifications). The string used to attach the hang tag appears to be of natural material (perhaps raffia), and the effort toward using environmentally responsible packaging seems apparent.
My first impression of the boots was that I found them attractive, and that they felt lighter than similar insulated boots I have owned.
The Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WB boots use a variety of materials. The uppers are a combination of synthetics and what appears to be leather, with a subdued orange stitching. A black synthetic toe cap and high-density posts (that wrap around the heel) accent the brown leather and synthetic uppers.
The midsole is described by the manufacturer as a compression molded EVA material, and is grey with black trim areas. The outsole is grey, black, and orange, and is described by the manufacturer as "QuiteLight non-marking rubber". The tread is not exceptionally aggressive, but seems adequate for my normal trail and off-trail use. The tread pattern itself seems very well designed to provide traction in all directions.
A number of other features are described by the manufacturer at their website, including an integrated TPU shank and arch support and an ESS plate under the forefoot to prevent rock bruising. Also described is a "dual-density EVA sock liner featuring ETC lining for reduced friction and heat build up." I would describe the lining as very soft. The insole appears to be a standard insole.
|Floating Lace Lock|
The lacing system for the boots consist of 4 pairs of black metal lace guides and one pair of black metal lace hooks (at the top). Placement of these guides and hooks puts three pairs of guides across the instep, with the final guide and upper hook are at the ankle area. The gussets attaching the tongue to the sides of the boot run up to approximately the level of the uppermost guide (just below the upper hook). The laces are black and orange nylon, and use Ahnu's floating lace lock. The floating lace lock amounts to a toggle that is used to secure the laces instead of tying them. The lace ends are actually connected using a black plastic coupler tab above the toggle, so that the laces form a continuous loop. Also, there is an elastic strap across the front side of the upper tongue, which appears to be for securing the lace ends above the toggle.
Overall, the quality of materials and workmanship appears to be very good. With the exception of a single stitch that shows frayed ends yet seems secure (broken thread, perhaps - see photo), I could find no defects in materials or construction.
|Frayed Thread Ends Visible (Center of Photo)|
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
No instructions were provided with the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WB boots, which isn't surprising given that the statement inside the lid of the box includes the sentence: "All of our products are user friendly, with intuitive technology that is meant to enhance ease of use without gimmicks." Given that I don't even have to tie these shoes, I would have to agree. There are, however, picture instructions of how to operate the floating lace lock and how to shorten the laces' length at their website. Both seem exceptionally clear to me. Basic care instructions are also available at the website. Nubuck leather cleaner and conditioner is recommended for leather components, and mild soap and water (with a brush if necessary for heavy soiling) for all other components.
TRYING IT OUT
I slipped my feet into the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WB boots with my winter hiking socks and was immediately satisfied with the fit, though it was somewhat different than any other boot I've worn. The boots are fairly snug through the ball of the foot, but have a roomy toe box and heel area. My foot is very narrow through the area above my heel and below my ankle bone, and these boots appear to have had this in mind, as there is far more padding through this area than other boots I've owned, though not excessive by any means.
The lacing system was my next challenge, but it was very intuitive. With only one pair of hooks to deal with, I simply crossed the laces, hooked them over the hooks, and pulled upon the coupler tab at the lace ends while sliding the floating lace lock down. I found it quite easy to adjust the overall lace tension.
During my first few steps, the stiffness of the boots surprised me. Similar boots I've owned were neither so stiff when new nor have they provided as much ankle support. I was quite impressed, and curious to find out what the break in time would be.
Overall, I find them quite comfortable, and I am pleased with their fit and appearance. Their shock absorption seems to be better than most other boots and trail shoes I've owned.
I have worn the boots around the house, office, and town now for 4 days, including one short day hike. While I would consider the boots almost broken in at this point, they still are fairly stiff and provide great ankle support. Several important observations have been made, however, over this time period.
First, where the padded tongue and sides overlap at the front sides of my ankles, there are two annoying pressure points. I will monitor these closely to see if they improve with time. It isn't painful, but does ache somewhat by the end of the day, and has been tender when putting the boots back on the following day.
Another thing I have noticed is that the laces seem to loosen somewhat throughout the day. The loosening has generally only occurred when I had the laces exceptionally tight, and they loosened only to a "normal" tension. This could be a problem under some hiking circumstances, so I will monitor this closely. While they are simple to re-tighten, a loosening lace at the wrong time can be devastating in some of the off-trail areas I frequent.
The final observation I made relates to the ESS plate under the forefoot which is designed to prevent bruising your feet when stepping on rocks. I step on a lot of rocks. Many areas I hike are almost entirely rock hops. One of the first things I did was run out to some jagged rocks in my front flowerbed and balance myself directly on the ball of my foot to see if this plate really helped. It did. In fact, it spread the pressure almost evenly across the entire forefoot. I'm particularly excited to try this feature out under field conditions.
Overall, the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated WB boots appear to be well constructed and made of good quality materials. They are very comfortable, though rather stiff right out of the box. The ESS plate under the forefoot appears to provide good protection for the feet from pointy rocks, which I look forward to testing. While the lacing system is easy to use and adjust, I have noticed some slippage with extended wear, but only when lacing the boots very tight.
This concludes my initial report.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have had the opportunity to test the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots under a wide variety of conditions. I have worn them in rain, snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain, freezing fog, and even a few days of sunshine during the test period. Temperatures ranged from 10 F (-12 C) to 60 F (16 C). Surface treads have included dirt, gravel, cedar boardwalk and duff trails, and off-trail surfaces including river rock, rock slabs, duff, dirt, and mud.
All testing has occurred on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, including the coastal rainforest and the Olympic Mountains. While I have worn the boots every day during the test period to better assess long-term wear, actual field use has been approximately 16 days during the test period, mostly day hikes involving fishing or snowshoeing. Pack weights have been as high as 37 lbs (17 kg).
I have worn the boots with mid-weight and heavy socks, occasionally with liners. For short day trips in warmer weather I have also occasionally worn the boots with cotton athletic socks.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Overall I have been very pleased with the comfort of the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots. The only comfort related concerns I have had were minor pressure points at the tongue that went away after several days use, and an occasional pressure point just below the ankle when worn with thin socks. Neither of these were significant.
The remarkable thing to me is that the uppers on these boots remain fairly stiff. Sliding my feet into them, the generously padded ankle and tongue both feel somewhat stiff, but not uncomfortably so. I had expected the padding to become more supple in these areas, due to wear, given the amount of use they've seen. I'm happy to report they remain as supportive and comfortable as ever.
Water resistance is excellent. I have stepped in water up to my instep (about the height of the tongue gusset) and stood for almost a minute with absolutely no leakage.
In return for the outstanding water resistance, there is some compromise in breathability. Given that these are insulated boots and I live in a relatively mild climate, I find it easy to overpower the breathing capacity of the boots. Even at temperatures right around freezing, I find my feet easily beginning to sweat if wearing heavy socks and moving. In colder temperatures, or while standing still, they are fantastic.
All components have held up exceptionally well. I have worn these boots daily. I have taken them on some brutal, muddy, brushy off-trail adventures. I have dished out a lot of use in just two months, and other than some less-crisp edges on the sole tread and some wrinkles in the uppers from flexing, they look as good as when they arrived. I am not just pleased but frankly amazed at how well these have held up. I have one lace that is showing some minor fraying in one small spot, but this may have been damage sustained while climbing through brush.
These boots have been fantastic performers. For my winter use, they offer as perfect a balance between being robust yet light, comfortable yet supportive, as I have ever found. Traction has been above average on all treads I've encountered, with the possible exception of wet cedar boardwalk, where I would consider their performance average.
Now that I have grown accustomed to the lacing system, I enjoy it very much. It is very quick to use, and holds reasonably well. It can be difficult to cinch the laces very tight, but the uppers offer so much support I've not found it necessary to do so, anyway. The loose ends of the laces are as prone as any to hanging up in the brush, but unlike regular laces they never untie (but can loosen somewhat). Occasionally the end of the laces will come out from beneath the elastic band across the tongue and the plastic end will thump against the other lacing guides. While mildly annoying, this is easy to fix, even with one hand.
Performance in the snow with these boots and gaiters has been fantastic, and they are rapidly becoming my favorite snowshoeing and winter hiking boots. They are very warm, and offer excellent traction on most snow surfaces.
The Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots are comfortable, attractive, durable, and well-designed boots. The insulation is exceptional, and their use in temperatures much above freezing can cause perspiration to quickly outpace the breathing ability of the materials. The lace pull tab can occasionally thump against the lace guides as I walk, but this is easily remedied. Overall, I consider these boots a fantastic product.
I would like to thank Ahnu Inc. and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Lodi Mid Insulated WB boots. My long-term report will be appended to this report in approximately two months. Please check back at that time for additional information. This concludes my field report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have worn the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots on 2 overnight trips (snowshoeing) and approximately 7 day hikes over various surfaces during long-term testing. Weather conditions included sun, rain, and snow, and temperatures ranged from 20 F (-7 C) to 65 F (18 C). I wore my winter gaiters with them while snowshoeing, and wore multiple sock combinations including heavy socks with liners and midweight socks without liners. All field use was in the Olympic and Cascade mountains of Washington State. In addition to field use, I have worn the boots almost every day of testing as my regular footwear to better assess long term wear (until approximately two weeks ago).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots have served me very well during long-term testing. In the snow, they provided exceptional warmth for their weight, and were comfortable not only while slogging along in snowshoes but also while lounging around camp. Normally one of the first things I want to do when I get to camp is get my shoes off in favor of slippers, booties, or (when it's warm enough) going barefoot. The Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots were comfortable enough, however, that all I generally wanted to do was loosen the laces.
Regarding their warmth, I have to say they performed very well while standing on compact snow at 20 F (-7 C) while building an igloo for several hours. During warmer weather, however, I have found my feet sweating, and do not find the boots comfortable at temperatures above 65 F (18 C). Below that, they work well, and truly shine at temperatures near and below freezing.
In terms of wear and tear, I have to say the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots have held up exceptionally well, with the exception of one of the laces. Several weeks ago, after a trip, I noticed that the outside sheath of one of the laces had been abraded, and was bunching up in the lacing mechanism when I would try to tighten them. This has proven to be a pretty substantial inconvenience, and I plan to replace the laces before using them again. Other than that, the sole, upper, and lining are all in excellent condition, especially given the amount of use these boots have seen this winter.
|Frayed Lace is Bunching (Upper Right of Photo)|
The Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots are a very comfortable, well-made, durable boot. While one lace became abraded and gave me some difficulty, I consider replacing the laces a minor inconvenience in comparison to the ease of "tying" these boot laces with the tensioning system. They perform best, for my use, at temperatures near or below freezing, and were comfortable down to 20 F (-7 C) even while standing in one place for extended periods of time. I couldn't be happier if looking for an all-purpose lightweight winter hiking boot.
As soon as I replace the damaged lace and the weather turns cool again, I'll be reaching for these boots. Their comfort, warmth, and attractive design make them a top pick for me both for use on the trail and casual everyday wear.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
I would like to thank Ahnu and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Ahnu Lodi Mid Insulated boots. This concludes my report.
Read more reviews of Ahnu gear
Read more gear reviews by Mike Curry