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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Ahnu Montara Womens Boots > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence
I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.
Product Information & Specifications
The Ahnu Montara Boot is considered to be a mid-height (I would have pegged it as full height) hiking boot meant for light weight hiking with claims to handle loads of up to 40 lbs (18.1 kg). Key features include a padded collar, eVent breathable waterproof liner, nubuck upper (waterproof-oiled leather), rubber toe and heel protector, suede quarter panel, Vibram outsole for traction on a variety of surfaces, mid-cut for added security and protection, genuine leather lined collar and tongue and lastly Numentum technology engineered to center and guide the foot, which claims to promote a balanced and even stride. Other observed features include 4 pairs of metal D-ring eyelets for lacing and 2 pairs of metal lace hooks for ease of lacing. The tongue is gusseted to keep the elements out and the stock insoles appear lightly padded with slight reinforcement for the heel and arch compared to the ball of the foot.
The Ahnu Montara boots arrived in a shoe box in the requested size and color and looked marvelous! Very trendy and stylish! My first impression was that I don't want to bring them into the backcountry and dirty them up ... and my second impression was that I don't want to bring them into the backcountry because they won't hold up. I say this only because they weigh nothing! I was sure they weighed less than my runners (actually no, but almost, I had to weigh my runners just to kill the curiosity and they were 11.3 oz (321 g) per shoe compared to 14.1 oz (402g) per boot - that is one light boot!). As I looked closely at the construction they appeared well crafted, just with much lighter materials than I am used to. All the seams looked clean and I must say there were a lot of them due to the mosaic of materials being used, so I'll be looking to see if these hold up to the elements of the South Canadian Rockies. I spied the eVent waterproof lining inside the boot and I am very interested to see if this will keep the sweat off my feet.
Reading the Instructions
The accompanying shoe box contained a helpful diagram of each of the features; where they were and what they did. The box advised that the Ahnu Montara Boot was designed for traditional hiking, fast hiking and walking. The website had further details on the Numentum technology and warranty information. There was a diagram on the box explaining the Numentum technology in depth. I learned that it consisted of a 54-60 Durometer EVA midsole for optimal shock absorption, a shock dispersal plate in the forefoot for stone bruising protection, a 62-68 Durometer EVA stability posting on both the medial and lateral sides for neutral positioning, an integrated TPU shank and arch support to provide torsional rigidity and mid-foot support and finally non-marking, slip-resistant lugs on the outsole. There was also a diagram and explanation provided for the eVent technology indicating that with this technology sweat will quickly evaporate to the outside, maintaining a warm and dry microclimate for my feet. I appreciated that this information was provided in this way, the diagrams did help to visualize how the boot was set up.
Trying It Out
Ok, here goes. When I put the boots on, they were true to their size, 8.5 US, consistent with my runners and other hiking boots. My feet are quite narrow and so the boots are a bit roomy, likely more than the intended fit. Unfortunately, they are only available in one width. When lacing up the boots, I found I couldn't tighten them down as much as I would have liked, but my heel didn't lift at all, so that is a good sign. It seemed the problem was that there wasn't enough material where the tongue was gusseted to allow the tongue to sink down to sit snug against my foot and ankle. Honestly though, it felt like I was wearing a pair of slippers, not boots. The fit is unusually comfortable, in a slipper sort of way. Not at all what I expected. I couldn't help but feel conflicted between what I'm reading about the technology I'm told is there and what I'm wearing ... mainly because they are so light and feel like runners. I have worn them for a day around town and on a golf course trail and I have found them to be very comfortable indeed, hardly noticing them on my feet. I am ever so eager to put them to the field test.
Since these boots arrived I have worn them almost every time I have left the house. I have used them for around town use, search and rescue practices and of course in the backcountry. I have taken them with me on 2 overnight backpacking trips into the Alpine, hiking up mountain terrain with elevation gains of up to 1500 m (4920 ft) with a backpack just shy of 40 lbs (18 kg). These trips included scrambling on scree, rock and snow to nearby summits. Overall conditions ranged from walking on wet, melting snow and creek crossings to dry rocky mountain terrain. Distances travelled each day averaged 10 km (6.2 mi) and temperatures encountered ranged from 0 - 30 C (32 - 86 F). Other notable trips included a weekend river kayaking trip and a weekend rope rescue course, some light day hikes and approaches to rock climbing sites.
The Ahnu Montara boots have been comfortable, like slippers from day 1 around town, requiring no break in period. I experienced no blisters or hot spots from everyday use on easy, non-steep terrain. Based on this, they have been my footwear of choice for search and rescue practice, approach shoes and day hiking on easy, non-steep terrain.
My impression so far, is that for light, easy terrain they are superb and comfortable. However, even though the manufacture states they can be used for hiking with loads of up to 40 lbs (18 kg), these would not be my first choice for such use. At least not on rugged, steep, hiking trails with lots of elevation gain as I can feel everything on each step of the trail. Over the next 2 months, I plan to explore their performance within the scope of day hikes with a much lighter pack, which for me will involve scrambling up mountain peaks.
Long-Term Test Locations and Conditions
During the long-term testing phase I continued to wear these boots around town on local trails, for car camping, on beach excursions while on a 4-day kayaking trip and for search and rescue training practices. I have also taken them up two scrambles with a fairly lightweight daypack: Crowsnest Mountain (2785m/ 9135 ft) and Mount Hosmer (2315m/ 7600 ft), local mountains in the South Canadian Rockies. Weather has been consistently dry and warm over the past 2 months.
Performance In The Field
If you had read my field report you would remember I had some issues with the wide fit of these boots on my narrow feet. To remedy this I just used thicker wool socks. This did help to fill up some of the excess volume, but the downside in the warm weather was that my feet overheated and sweat a lot. It wouldn't be fair to blame this on the eVent technology not being breathable, as I was using winter socks in summer heat. I still had problems on the downhill developing blisters on the bottom of my toes trying to prevent sliding forward. But, without a heavy pack, the effect was much less painful.
I am pleased with these boots for everyday use around town local trails and for flat, easy, light hiking. However, for more involved hikes, scrambles, mountains with lots of elevation and varied terrain (scree and rocks), I would not recommend this boot. They proved great around the campsite. The eVent technology seemed to work well for breathability in the field testing, but in the long-term testing I used winter socks in the summer, and well not surprisingly my feet were very wet with sweat. I was hoping to test further the waterproofness, but the weather was far too cooperative this summer and stayed warm and dry. My feet did stay dry after walking through a couple of small creek crossings, but wasn't able to test another day of boot skiing to follow up with the field test, which seemed to overwhelm the waterproof function. For continued use, I plan to carry on wearing them for car camping, local trails, and ground search and rescue practices. But, will be leaving them at home for more involved hikes and backpacks.
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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Ahnu Montara Womens Boots > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence
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