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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Ahnu Mendocino Boots > Test Report by John Waters


INITIAL REPORT - May 16, 2012
FIELD REPORT - July 29, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - October 01, 2012


NAME: John R. Waters
EMAIL: jrw at backpackgeartest dot org
AGE: 63
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 170 lb (77.10 kg)

My backpacking began in 1999. I have hiked rainforests in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, 14ers in Colorado and Death Valley's deserts. I hike or snowshoe 6-8 miles (10 km-13 km) 2-3 times weekly in the Cooper Mountain range, with other day-long hikes on various other southwest and central Colorado trails. I frequently hike the mountains and deserts of Utah and Arizona as well. My daypack is 18 lb (8 kg); overnights' weigh over 25 lb (11 kg). I'm aiming to reduce my weight load by 40% or more.



Manufacturer: Deckers Outdoor Corporation
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US $165.00
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 3.8 lb (1.7 kg) for the pair
Sizes Available: 7 through 13
Size Tested: 10.5
Colors Available: Smokey Brown or Black
Color Tested: Smokey Brown

Other features:

eVent® waterproof bootie
Vibram® outsoles
Leather uppers
Mid-cut boot height
Ahnu Mendocino
Picture Courtesy of Ahnu


Thanks to a very detailed description and several pictures on the Ahnu website, there were no surprises when I opened the box and first saw the Mendocino boots. They are really classy.

I really can't recall ever having an "all leather" boot except for the ones I wore as a firefighter and a pair I bought when I started hiking about 20 years ago. Lots of my boots have had leather parts but nothing like these Ahnus which are almost completely wrapped in leather. I say "almost completely" because there are two small sections of fabric exterior on the rear of the boot towards the top and a small cloth insert along the side of the lacing system.
Mendocino boots
side view
Already dusty from a hike.

I ordered my regular 10.5 USA size which is the size I have been wearing for the past few years. Since I am sent these boots directly from the manufacturer with no opportunity to try them on, getting the correct size is chancy for these tests. Fortunately, the Mendocinos are true to size and fit just right. They are comfortably snug with just about a finger's width of empty space at the toe. With first try-on, they slid over my wool socks without any problem. In fact, there is a very heavy rear heel "gaiter" that can take the place of what has become a pretty standard top pull loop. This rear tab is padded so that it provides a comfortable rear support for the area above my ankle which I suspect will reduce any rubbing from the top rear of the boot against my leg as well as sealing off the space at the back to keep debris out.

The interior of the boots is white and has the eVent trademark imprinted throughout. This eVent interior has the feel of smooth nylon and allows my foot to slide in quite nicely. In addition, the front gusseted tongue pulls forward enough to make a 5 in (13 cm) long opening from heel to the bottom of the tongue, which is plenty of room to slide my foot into.

The removable insole is a standard form factor found in almost every boot I have tested. The front half is 0.38 in. (0.95 cm.) flat foam and the rear half is slightly thicker under the center for arch support and uses a standard heel form.

On the outside of the boots, the lacing system (going from toe to top) allows the laces to run through three metal hinged loops on each side, then through an offset gold cloth loop (about 1.5 in /3.8 cm) away from the metal loops. The cloth loop is in a small cloth-faced section rather than leather that then directs the lace though a gold cloth loop in the center of the tongue and then through two metal hooks on each side at the top. There is enough room in these top metal hooks to insert the lace twice. I like to do that if possible to secure the lacing better.

There is a 0.8 in (1.9 cm) rubber toe guard and the outside sole is about 1.3 in (3.2 cm), with the heel only about 0.3 in (0.6 cm) higher. The tread is pretty aggressive at about 0.1 inches (0.4 cm) with a really nice design that looks like arrows. There is no specification on the material used for the exterior of the sole. I'm very interested in and will be reporting on the ability of the sole to grip dry and wet rock, mud, etc. since I know nothing about these outsoles.


The distance from the interior heel bottom to the top of the rear padded heel gaiter is 4 in (10 cm). This is the kind of boot I like to do heavy hiking in, especially over rocky terrain. I like having ankle support and I look forward to seeing how comfortable these boots are under rough conditions.

Each boot weighed in at 1.9 pounds (851 grams).


The Ahnu Mendocino boots are quite attractive, classy looking hiking boots. Hopefully, they will perform as well as they look. I am really interested in seeing just how breathable a leather boot will be in summer's heat with today's technology. To see how I've fared with these boots, please continue reading below for my Field Report.



Over Mother's day weekend in May, I wore the Ahnu Medocino boots on three separate day hikes in Sawatch Range in Colorado. Trail conditions were as follows:

#1. The Colorado Trail along the south shore of Twin Lakes to Interlaken
Elevation: about 9200 ft (230 m)
Temperature: 44 F (7 C) - 69 F (21 C)
Brief light drizzle

#2. Independence Pass
And Maroon Bell in the Snowmass Wilderness (Crater Lake Trail)
Elevation: (the 2nd highest mountain pass in Colorado at 12,095 ft/3,687m).
Temperature: 40 to 44 F (4 to 7 C)
Partly cloudy with low humidity. There was quite a bit of snow at the Pass and I did end up post-holing several times though remaining drifts.

I've also worn the Ahnu Mendocino boots on at least a half-dozen day-long treks during the last few weeks, all of them close to our home in Canon City in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, mostly the Fremont, Cooper and Wet Mountain ranges. Our last overnight-hike was on June 15-17and took place in BLM (Bureau of Land Management) territory of the Cooper Mountain range which we can access directly from the north boundary of our property. The Cooper Mountain terrain is an undeveloped wilderness area filled with juniper and pinon pine-covered hills and is very rocky. Elevation ranges from 5300 ft (1600 m) and 9100 ft (2770 m). It has been very hot with daytime temperatures almost continuously in excess of 90 F (32 C). We've had no rain during our outings.

I've also worn the boots casually about town another 4-5 times. Backpack weights while wearing the boots have ranged from day packs of 10 lb (4.5 kg) to my overnight pack of 32 lb (14.5 kg).


I was so hoping that I would have been able to stress these boots out in snowshoes, but due to the lack of snow here in Colorado, I just didn't have a chance to do so. We packed our snowshoes on our packs for hiking Independence Pass, but even at that altitude, the snow was sparse. There were sections of drifted snow then bare ground. So we hiked along and ended up post-holing up to our knees for a while, but that was it. The boots did exceptionally well. It was cold, not anywhere as cold as we usually experience at these altitudes, and the boots kept my feet warm and dry. In fact, even post-holing in knee-high snow I never had ice enter the interior of the boot thanks to the high collar and the lacing..

The lacing system performed very well. The laces move freely through the metal eyelets when making adjustments and firming up, and I am able to wrap the top of the laces around the top lugs twice to securely manage the loose ends so they don’t dangle and get caught on brush when bushwhacking.

On the several miles/kilometers trail around Twin Lakes, there was no snow either. But, I took the opportunity to run along the shore with my granddaughter and test the boots with water right up to the very top of the boot. Since this is a very still lake surface, I was actually able to keep the water just below where it would have gone down into the boot. I could feel the cold water but my foot was dry and comfortable for the 15 minutes or so we walked in the water along the shoreline.

We did a lot of hiking that Mother's Day holiday weekend. Miles/kilometers of it. And it felt very comfortable to be wearing these boots over all sorts of terrain.

A few weeks later, in Breckenridge, Colorado we attempt to ascend Quandary Peak, one of Colorado's 14ers (peaks over 14,000 ft (4300 m) high). Quandary is at 14,425 ft (4348 m). I had not done that trail before and was soon to discover that it was miles/kilometers of boulder fields on a 3,450 ft (1052 m) rise over 3.5 miles (5.6 km). At times the trail is difficult to find because of all the boulders. No dirt. Just rocks. Big rocks. All various shapes and sizes and some real sharp. But these boots handled the rocks well. They did not allow me to slide on upward sloped rock surfaces and handled well on downward facing boulder facings. You can see from the photos though that they took a beating. The rock faces really scraped up the leather pretty well. However, they performed well and looks don't mean as much to me in this instance as how well they treated my feet. The height of the boot protected my ankles well from abrasion and kept me from twisting an ankle or two. The really nice thick and firm soles were a pleasure to rock and boulder scramble with because I was so well insulated from pointed rocks.

I was also wearing gaitors on the Quandary trail because I assumed there was going to be more snow. There was none. Just small remains of what were probably some very deep drifts. But the gaitors fit well over the boots and also protected my legs from scrapes against the rocks.
Boots on the Trail
Mendocinos on a Rocky Trail
Boots on the Trail
Mendocinos on a Dirt Trail

Other than the distress to the surface caused by the Quandary hike, the photo of the soles shows that there is very little wear even after many miles/kilometers of use. There is some crackling of the surface around the rim of the sole where it comes up to the boot. There is no wear on the interior or with the laces or tongue. And, I have to admit, that my feet do not stink as much in these boots as they do in some others. There is a smell, but not the embarrassing tent-clearing kind I get from a few other boots that I wear in the field.

It has been well up over 90 F (32 C) and at times over 100 F (38 C) here in Colorado over the past few weeks. So I have been wearing lighter boots for hiking in the desert towards the end of this period. However, when the occasion was to hike in areas where there was cactus, sticky briars and possibly snakes, I wore these boots. Even at high temperatures like these, my feet vented well and I was very comfortable.


These are comfortable boots.

I like:
* the height of the boot because it keeps my ankles from twisting and keeps my feet firmly placed.
* the nicely padded tongue
* the firm, thick base and sole
* the lacing system

The jury is out on keeping these looking new.
Soles of boots
Like these outsoles!
Toes of boots
Scuffed up toes

In September, I'll be updating this report with the results of two more months of mucking through the dust and dirt on the trails of Colorado and beyond. Then I am going to brush them up and use some saddle soap on them to report and show the results in my final report.



Over the past four weeks, we have been out in the backcountry on two different overnight trips and several (4-5) day hikes. We hiked in the Royal Gorge BLM (Bureau of Land Management) District which abuts the north boundary of our property in Canon City, Colorado. Elevation is roughly between 5300 ft (1600 m) and 9100 ft (2770 m). These past few months we broke temperature records here in Colorado and temperatures during the daytime very often exceeded 90+ F (32+ C). We usually reached a low at night of 70 F (21 C). However, it has been too hot to wear the Ahnu Leather boots as often I would have liked to.

Fortunately, we managed to find time to get up into the high country in Beaver Creek, Colorado this past weekend. So, I was able to put these boots through a rather strenuous 9-mile (14.5 km) round-trip hike from 8,100 ft (2488 m) elevation to 10,200 ft (3109 m) elevation. That's a 2,100 ft (640 m) rise in 4 miles (6.5 km), which is averaged at a 6-degree rise, and at times (the beginning and end) was a 45-degree incline up and down a few black diamond ski slopes. The weather was beautiful and the fall colors were fabulous. And thanks to these boots, the trip was quite comfortable.
On the Trail w/Ahnu


Throughout this field test, these boots have performed well. No long-term break-in was required. No signs of any sore spots or rubbing for the most part. That is except on drastic down-hill treks. I normally wear a 10.5 US size and do not have problems with hitting the top of the toe box, but I also don't normally travel for 4.5 miles constantly going down a 45 degree incline. About half way down I could feel my 2nd toe (it's a little longer than my big toe) hitting the top of the toe box. I had to stop and tie my laces as tight as I could, much tighter than I would have liked them to be, in order to stop my foot from sliding forward. I have not had this problem with these boots scrambling through short rock scree hills and climbing over boulders. So I can only attribute the need for an adjustment to wearing the boots for several hours in 70 F (21 C) sunshine and maybe to my feet slightly swelling after hiking uphill on such an incline. Anyway, tightening the laces down really tight solved the problem.

I was concerned about the appearance of these boots after the wear and tear I was giving them. They were really getting scuffed up. But, as seen in the enclosed photo, they clean up pretty well with a simple cleaning compound. In the photo, the right boot was cleaned and the left was not.

I have never felt my foot twist after trekking in the boots for miles and miles (kilometers and kilometers - had to do the conversion) over all sorts of terrain. I am especially wary of loose scree and small rocks and broken shale. But I never felt like my ankle was going to twist and I was going to be in pain for days. In fact, I forgot these boots were on my feet and I was able to enjoy the trips.

Of course, where we hike, the exterior of the boots gets marked up with small nicks and scratches. But, a leather treatment, as shown above, takes care of getting the boots back into almost like new condition. The soles have not worn at all. There is no delamination. No separating of the body from the sole. No wear on the laces. Yes, the leather does look like it was worn, as leather gets folds and looks softer as it flexes. These boots will never look smooth new after they are worn and the more they are worn, the more they will look like a well-worn leather jacket. Proof I used them.
Polished up!


After testing, in my opinion, the Ahnu Mendocino boots are hiking boots for hikers who like performance footwear. They are sturdy, flexible and comfortable. They protected my feet from rough trail and abuse from rocks and bumps. My feet did not sweat and nor did the boots cause them to stink. Even after hiking for miles/kilometers, there was very little odor when I removed the boots. I have some trail shoes that stink after an hour on the trail.

The Mendocinos inhibited twisting of my feet and protected me from twisted ankles and pulled muscles. I felt very secure wearing them under adverse conditions. So, yes I liked them. A lot!

Thank you to and Ahnu for the opportunity to try out these boots.

John R. Waters

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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