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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Ahnu Montara Womens Boots > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

AHNU MONTARA BOOT Test Series By Theresa Lawrence
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LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 08, 2012
FIELD REPORT - July 24, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - September 25, 2012

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Theresa Lawrence
EMAIL: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

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.


INITIAL REPORT

Product Information & Specifications

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Manufacturer: Deckers Outdoor Corporation
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Made in: China
Manufacturer's Website: http://ahnu.com
MSRP: $150 US
Listed Weight: not given
Measured Weight: 14.2 oz (402 g) each boot
Color Tested: Coffee Bean (brown)
Other Colors Available: Astral Aura (blue), Tawny Port (red), Dark Gray
Size Tested: 8.5 US
Other Sizes Available: 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, 11 US
Warranty: 1 year of normal wear, free of defective materials or faulty manufacturing.
After 1 year, products will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Product Description

IMAGE 6 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.

Initial Impressions

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.

Summary

INITIAL PROS:
- Stylish
- Lightweight
- Waterproof
- Comfortable

INITIAL CONS:
- Concerns about their lightness (in terms of how they will be of support on rugged terrain)
- Concerns about the fit (roomy)
- Only available in one width size

Future testing will determine whether my concerns are valid. Check back in about 2 months for the first of my field test reviews.

My sincere thanks to Ahnu and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this series.


FIELD REPORT

Field Conditions

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.
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Observations

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.
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Great Grip on Wet Rock!

However, when using them with a 39 lb (17.7 kg) overnight pack on steep, rocky terrain things were quite different. Now, to qualify, as mentioned in my initial review, these boots were not a perfect match for my feet. My feet are quite narrow for the volume of these boots, which had not been a problem until I upped the conditions from easy terrain to rugged and steep, carrying a much heavier load. With these conditions, I found the muscles and tendons around my ankle under strain as they tried to keep my foot supported. And in fact, I had a bit of tendonitis that needed icing after the first trip and which slowed me down quite a bit on the second trip. I'm thinking of changing the insoles or adding a shim under the insoles to cut down some of the volume. These were issues on the way up, no blisters or hot spots though, but I could feel everything, all the rugged rocks, sticks, roots on the trail under my feet, especially with the heavy pack, contributing to achy feet. (Just to qualify as I probably sound like a baby I do expect my feet to be tired after hiking 1500 m (4920 ft) of elevation on rugged terrain with a heavy pack these observations are over and above what I usually experience in same conditions). Ok, now on the downhill, again because of the extra volume and no way to tighten the boots any further, I developed blisters on the bottom of my toes and ball of my foot as my foot tried to stop itself from sliding beyond the end of the boot, jamming and bruising the ends of my toes with each step down. Ouch! I'm going to play with the fit with some shims and alternate insoles and see if I can improve the situation for the rest of the test series. This would not be the first pair of boots I have used alternate insoles or shims to accommodate my skinny feet.
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Boot Skiing Descent!


On a brighter note, hiking in the heat, the eVent technology wicked away my sweat keeping my feet dry. The system appeared to breathe very well, which impressed me. I was a bit skeptical of anything waterproof being breathable. On the flip side, I feel I may have overwhelmed the waterproofing technology by spending the better part of a day traipsing and boot skiing through melting snow. The leather was soaked through to my socks. I tried to dry them in the sun for a couple hours at camp, but they remained damp. I put them back on with fresh dry wool socks, which became mildly damp, but didn't soak through. However, when the sun went down, my feet were very cold.

On a positive note, the traction has been great, impressive actually. Walking up wet rock faces was no problem at all. I couldn't ask for anything better than that. They have proved to be durable so far; a few scuff marks here and there, but the leather, components and seams are all intact and appear un-phased by the rough terrain.

Summary

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.

Thanks again to BackpackGearTest.org and Ahnu for allowing me to wear these boots!


LONG-TERM REPORT

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. IMAGE 12

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.

These boots proved fantastic for ground searches for search and rescue, where we moved through dense bush very slowly. My feet felt protected from all the debris, uneven terrain and deadfall, etc. that was encountered. In this setting I found the ankle covering provided support and protection and stayed comfortable all day and all weekend for this use. They were very comfortable also for beach excursions while on my kayaking trip. This included walking along rocky beaches, sand and drift wood. They also kept my feet warm at night around the beach and car camps.

I would have done more scrambles with these boots, but they didn't appear to be durable or supportive enough for this type of use. For most of my scrambling I opted for a more rigid, sturdier, heavier boot. The observations I had that lead me to this conclusion after only 2 jaunts in scree and class 4 scrambling were the resulting abrasions on the soft leather, the toe starting to peel and the soft sole starting to separate and crack (see the photos below). Also, while scrambling (4th class) over rock slabs, I found the grip would give way as the soles were too flexible (not rigid). Like when trying to climb with runners instead of hiking boots (not sure if that analogy makes sense to anyone else). Also, as mentioned in my field testing I could feel every sharp rock, root, etc. under my feet, which after a full day, made for sore feet.

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Summary

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.

LIKES
- Comfortable for light easy trails
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Somewhat breathable
- Lightweight
- High ankle coverage protects from debris

DISLIKES
- Not recommended for narrow feet
- The soft, lightweight materials do not hold up to rocks and scree
- Limited waterproofness
- Flexible sole doesn't offer enough support for scrambling

Thank you to Deckers Outdoor Corporation and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to try out these interesting boots, it has been a lot of fun.

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

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