AHNU WOMEN'S MONTARA BOOT
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
INITIAL REPORT - May 16, 2012
FIELD REPORT - July 10, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - September 25, 2012
kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
Canon City, Colorado, USA
5' 4" (1.60 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado.
Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Manufacturer: Deckers Outdoor Corporation|
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.ahnu.com
MSRP: US $150.00
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 1 lb 12 oz (794 g)
Colors Available: Coffee Bean, Astral Aura, Tawny Port & Dark Gray
Color Tested: Tawny Port
Sizes Available: Women's 6 to 11
Size Tested: Women's 8
|Photo Courtesy of Ahnu|
When I had to choose the color I wanted my new boots to be, I knew I wanted something different! I have several pairs of boots and trail shoes and they all are various shades of brown and gray. If there is any other color at all, they are insignificant accent strips or lacing. I must confess I ultimately flipped a coin to decide whether to order the Montara's Astral Aura (a blue) or the Tawny Port (red).
And, wow - I love the color of my new Ahnu Montara boots! "Tawny Port" looks exactly as I expected after checking out the Ahnu website - very much like a fine red wine if wine were nubuck leather. Nubuck leather, by the way, is leather made from the exterior side of the animal skin and sanded to produce a soft velvet-like feel without sacrificing strength. Nubuck is subject to easy staining and the pretty color dyes add a measure of camouflage for any imperfections of the leather. The port shade predominates the body of the boots, but there is a good bit of black to tone it down, mainly the heel, over the Achilles and the gusseted tongue.
The Montara boots being tested are mid-cut boots. Ahnu also offers a low-cut Montara trail shoe. I am a big fan of mid-cut boots for protection of my ankles on all the rocky, loose scree-type trails I generally frequent. With the Montaras, I have an extra inch (2.5 cm) of added protection versus my other mid-cut boots. A genuine leather lined collar is heavily padded a good 1.5 in (3.8 cm) at the top and there are 3 added padded "ribs" to cradle my ankle as well.
Over the leather-lined gusseted tongue, 4 sets of metal eyelets guide the smooth corded laces up and over my forefoot to 2 sets of "quick-lace" metal loops.
A rubber toe rand wraps under my toes and integrates with the VibramŪ outsole. A very distinctive pattern of small lugs form the outer edges of the outsole with larger curved lugs in the center to guide out water and mud for traction
|Photo Courtesy of Ahnu|
While the interior of the Montara is not showy or stylish, it modestly proclaims its desirability (for me) with the stamped words; "eVent" and "waterproof" throughout the white bootie. According to Ahnu, "eVentŪ" is both breathable and waterproof. Finally, the interior reveals a stock moderately padded insole rated by Ahnu for backpacks up to 40 lb (18 kg).
TRYING IT OUT
Despite a big wad of paper being jammed into the body of the Ahnu Montara boots, when I removed the paper, the boots looked to be a bit squashed down with a visible crease on the sides. This didn't slow me down at all though when it came to trying them on and once my feet were in the boots, the crease smoothed out without any detriment.
I was pleased to find the Montaras didn't need to be unlaced any further than the two quick-lace loops at the tops in order to be put on. Since the collar of the boot is so high, I thought I would have to loosen the laces a lot more so as to be able to work my tootsies down into the toebox. I tend to get a cramp in my calf if I flex my foot into a downward point which is painful. So, I try to avoid this by making sure my footwear laces are not too tight. No worry with the Montaras, they slid on without any twinges at all!
Once on my feet, the boots were quickly laced up and I pronounced them a perfect fit. I normally wear a size 8 in any hiking boot or trail shoe and the Ahnu size 8 didn't disappoint me. My first thoughts after a quick stomp down my driveway to feed my neighbor's horses (1/3 mile (1/2 km) are the Montaras are somewhat, out-of-the-box stiff but very solid feeling underfoot.
The Ahnu Montara boots are not my first pair of Ahnu footwear, but they are my first pair of Ahnu boots - my previous experiences are with trail shoes. As I expected, the quality and thoughtfulness of Ahnu products is readily apparent from the get-go with these Montaras. They sport a great padded high collar, appear to have adequate in- and outsole support and even look rather spiffy. I'm anxious to get them out on the trail which is what I plan to do this coming weekend on a Mother's Day backpack.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
|Montaras after Soaking in Twin Lakes||All of my backpacking and hiking time while wearing the Ahnu Montara boots during these past two months took place in Colorado. Though I never left the state, the terrain varied from high alpine mountain trails to high desert foothills and valleys.|
Over Mothers' Day weekend in May, I wore the Montaras on three separate day hikes in the Twin Lakes, Colorado area, one being a hike on part of the Colorado Trail to the Dexter House at the ghost resort of Interlaken, elevation just about 9200 ft (230 m). That day started at 44 F (7 C) and ended up with a high of 69 F (21 C). We had a brief shower on the trek back. (In photo, Mt. Elbert is in the background.)
The second hike was at Independence Pass, Colorado and onto the town of Independence, a mining ghost town.
Lastly, that weekend, we hiked trails in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness past Maroon Lake and onto the Crater Lake Trail.
Temperatures ranges on the latter two hikes were from 40 to 44 F (4 to 7 C) with it being a dry, though cloudy day. We did see quite a bit of snow at the Pass - 12095 ft (3687 m).
John and I spent the last week of May in Breckenridge, exploring the Ten-Mile Range. Three day hikes included the White Falls Trail, the Quandary Peak Trail from 10979 to 13424 ft (3346 to 4092 m), and the 11481 ft (3499 m) Boreas Pass trail which climbs to a saddle 12159 ft (3706 m) and separates Bald and Boreas Mountains from Hoosier Ridge. Despite the higher start elevations (all over 10000 ft/3000 m); the temperatures were mild from 40 to 69 F (4 to 21 C). It was very windy though on Quandary Peak - so windy we turned back before summiting. Otherwise, the weather was partly cloudy, no rain.
On the last of the past two months' overnights (June 15-17) where I was able to get out and use the Montaras, my hiking took place in my local BLM (Bureau of Land Management) playground of the Cooper Mountain range that abuts the north boundary of our property in Canon City, Colorado. This is a wilderness area with no developed trails just a lot of juniper, pinon pine-covered hills which alternate with granite slabs and rocky shale gullies. Elevation is roughly between 5300 ft (1600 m) and 9100 ft (2770 m). Temperatures during the daytime saw a very steaming high of 90 F (32 C) and a low at night of only 67 F (19 C).
The above listed trips were supplemented with almost daily usage at home. Living out in the boonies on a building site means dirt, rocks and desert vegetation - prickly stuff. No cute sandals for me! If I step out my door, I've got boots on and for the past couple of months, those boots have been the Ahnu Montaras.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
As I indicated in the Summary of my Initial Report, I headed for the mountains the weekend after I received the Montaras for 4 days of hiking. Plans were to tackle Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest Fourteener and to get in a couple of other less strenuous hikes. As plans go, even though it was May, Elbert should have been do-able as it was pretty much devoid of snow the weekend before according to trail reports. But as luck would have it, the night we arrived at the base of the beast, we had a snow storm that rendered the trail above tree line covered in new, slippery white stuff. While we had crampons and even snowshoes with us (just in case), we also had a dog and an 11-year-old, too. Plan B was quickly formulated and a high valley trek was substituted.
On the Colorado Trail, I quickly found wearing the Montaras to be a very satisfying experience. On this, their maiden hike on a fairly well-maintained trail with a pack weighing less than 10 lb (4.5 kg), I found no need for a break-in period. I could have easily been climbing the shale-y hills I could see in the distance. Also, I found the boots to be rather lightweight and way less clunky-feeling than some of my other mid-height boots.
Once I was on some slightly more uneven terrain, I became more aware and appreciative of the very supportive arch of the Montaras. I sometimes have a problem with the arch of a boot not hitting my arch (especially the left one) in exactly the proper place and that causes a whole lot of discomfort. The arch is perfectly positioned for me and after a whole day of trekking, I was pleased to have feet that were not sore.
Since the Montara are lined with eVent and reported to be "waterproof", I just HAD to get them wet. There wasn't any water on the trail but we did take a lunch break on the shores of Twin Lakes at the old Dexter (ghost) Hotel. This was just what I needed! I rolled up my pant legs and waded into the lake up to where I determined, in advance, the top edge of the gusseted portion of the tongues of the boots. And there I stood in the frigid lake water for a good 10 minutes until the rest of my family got antsy about moving on. The water was icy cold to the touch of my hand - high mountain lakes in May are like that - but not only did my feet not get wet from the boots wetting out, my feet did not get cold either! Neat!
Getting the Montaras that wet though did have some consequences. At day's end when I took off the boots, there was a rather strong "whiff" of unpleasantness! My boots spent the night outside to dry and air out. By sunrise though, the Montaras were odorless and ready to go again.
I got an even better feel for how well the Montaras handled uneven, rock-hard terrain when my husband, John, and I attempted to summit Quandary Peak near Breckenridge, Colorado. This trail lured me in with a nice dirt path through a wonderful pine forest. By the time I hit tree line and had my first tantalizing glimpse of the summit, I was trapped on a trail I could barely discern through rocks - rocks the size of house bricks to rocks the size of brick houses! Okay. Brick doll houses!
| || |
|Taking a break on the Quandary Peak Trail|
I had to walk carefully so I wouldn't slip between the rocks or have a loose rock move with the risk of breaking an ankle a possibility with every step. The Montaras proved their mettle and gripped securely. The higher-than-trail-shoes collar gave me a valuable added bit of support keeping my ankles from wobbling any more than necessary. And the nice thick outsoles coupled with the stock insoles were sufficient to keep my soles from looking and feeling like someone had taken a meat tenderizer to them.
Heat hasn't been a negative factor thus far even though the Montaras are leather and waterproof. I had worried they might prove to be hot and sweaty for summer weather. I have been wearing mid-weight bamboo/merino wool socks for all of these two months' treks in the Montaras.
Dusty, dirty boots are a given around my neck of the woods and the Montaras are dusty-looking though they still sport their burgundy good looks with no noticeable gouges or tears. Let's see what I can do about that in the next two months, eh?
As I indicated in my Initial Report, the Montaras are not my first pair of Ahnu shoes. In the past, I've had great times in my Terra Linda and Sequoia trail shoes and the proven quality of the Ahnu products gave me confidence Ahnu Montara boots would be great for me. The Montaras address my biggest "niggle" with regards to trail shoes and that is the height of the collar. I prefer wearing higher boots in the prickly, rough terrain I mostly backpack in and the Montaras fit the bill nicely. So far, so good!
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
As in my Field Report, all of my backpacking and hiking time while wearing the Ahnu Montara boots was in southern Colorado except for a three-day weekend hiking trip in September to the mountains near Beaver Creek in Summit County, Colorado.
While in the backcountry, the terrain varied but was primarily alpine mountain trails in the high desert foothills and valleys of the Cooper Mountain range in Fremont County. The Beaver Creek area is typical Rocky Mountain pine and aspen mountain terrain, seems like all of it is "upwards"!
On two different overnight trips and several (4-5) day hikes, my hiking took place 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). This summer, we broke all sorts of temperature records here in Colorado and temperatures during the daytime very often exceeded 90+ F (32+ C). While it has been said that our heat is a "dry" heat - it's still been very hot. I've often remarked that an oven is "dry" heat as well! Thanks to our desert climate, we usually reached a low at night 70 F (21 C) or slightly lower for comfortable sleeping.
This most recent foray (Beaver Creek) was in much cooler weather with a high of 72 F (22 C) and off-and-on drizzle - no snow though. Below are a couple of pictures on the Beaver Creek Corkscrew trail.
|Taking a break on the trail|| |
|Aspen leaves-covered trail|
I also wore the Montaras for some casual wear outings such as ziplining near the Royal Gorge. Between the zipline platforms there was some rough terrain totaling a couple of miles (3 km) of hiking along an old mining road. I was certainly glad to have on good hiking boots!
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I've easily put an additional 50 miles (80 km) on the Montaras during the last two months. I probably would have worn them more but it's been so exceptionally hot this past summer. While I almost always wear mid-height boots due to my fear of rattlers and prickly vegetation, this year I've had to force myself at times to wear these heavier boots rather than some of my other lighter weight trail shoes. And while the Montaras are not the heaviest boots I own, they are still heavier/hotter than trail shoes.
Nonetheless, I did wear the Montaras backpacking and greatly appreciated the support and protection they afforded me especially when carrying a backpack weighing in excess of 25 lb (11 kg) or so. Thanks to the generous insole cushion and outsoles, I never suffered any adverse effects from rough terrain, no sore arches or blackened toenails from steep downhill climbs. I never even felt the need to put in after-market insoles either. And I do so like the stiff ankle support which balances out my natural klutziness a bit.
Recently, I did have a problem on an 8-mile (13 kg) day hike though. I don't know why but suddenly the right boot started to rub the inside upper part of my foot where the tongue of the boot is attached to the boot body. I sat down on the trail, pulled off the boot and examined the lining to see what was causing the irritation but couldn't find anything unusual. I tried lacing the boot up more tightly, then loosened the laces, then wiggled the tongue around several times, to no avail. It was annoying but not enough to ruin my enjoyment of a wonderfully beautiful hike through aspen groves and fortunately, the skin didn't blister. I have no idea why the rubbing occurred and the next day I didn't feel a thing! Maybe it was the socks I had on. Normally I wear a pretty thick hiking sock but I was trying out a pair of compression socks which were more lightweight than my usual choice. Yeah, it was probably the socks!
Dust and mud have played havoc with the pretty tawny port color of my Montaras and they no longer look like new. As a matter of fact, they look quite disgustingly dingy right now. I suppose I will have to clean them up when I get home from my latest trip and get them ready for winter when I know they will be front and center in my boot line-up for snowshoeing. Bring on the snow, eh?
I really like the Ahnu Montara boots for their great ankle support, sole cushioning and waterproofness. They kept me steady on "iffy" terrain and I found them to be "sticky" enough for the granite slabs as well as the ball-bearing-like scree I often encounter. Despite the abuse I've given them via scuffs, mud, prickly vegetation and stream-crossings, the boots have held up well. In my previous experiences with Ahnu boots, I've had similar results so I expect the Montaras to be in my backpacking wardrobe for some time.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
My only negative comment would be they turned out to be too hot for this abnormally hot summer and I passed them over on a couple of trips just for that reason. I am, however, looking forward to wearing them a lot this coming winter (and future winters) for snowshoeing backpacks.
My sincere thanks to and Ahnu for the opportunity to wear these boots.
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
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