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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Patagonia Vagabond > Test Report by Gail StaisilPatagonia Vagabond Boots
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
Initial Report: September 28, 2007
Field Report: November 24, 2007
Long Term Report: January 22, 2008
Patagonia Vagabond Boots
September 28, 2007
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Initial Impressions and Product Description
There weren't any surprises when I viewed the Vagabonds for the first time as I thought they appeared just like they did on the company's website. The Vagabonds belong to Patagonia's Performance Footware Collection. They are both waterproof and rather modernistic in appearance. I quickly grabbed a pair of midweight wool socks and tried the boots on my feet. I was very assured of the fit as the toebox is nice and roomy and the boots width aligned nicely to my feet when I laced them up. The size 10.5 US (41.5 EU) is my normal size for boots and they both fit perfect and feel comfortable right out of the box. Like many boots, the mid-cut uppers do feel a bit stiff but being that the uppers are made out of Cordura nylon mesh material, it shouldn't take long to soften.
As previously stated, the uppers of the Vagabonds are made out of a taupe-colored mesh-like material. This material extends into the area underneath the laces forming a bellows tongue. The tongue presumably will deter dirt and water from entering the boot. The mesh material also has a softer mesh insert on the tongue and one on each top edge of the heel on each boot. Those areas are of a lighter color mesh.
The outer side of each boot features a metal tag that says "waterproof" on it. The waterproof bootie-construction is supposed to keep my feet dry. I did notice that Patagonia also makes another version of footwear that's very similar to the Vagabond but it uses Gore-tex for its waterproofness. I'm just not sure what material makes the Vagabonds waterproof, as I couldn't find any real information on that.
The multi-color cordage for the laces is fed through four sets of dark brown metal eyelets and then there are two sets of matching hooks at the top of each boot. All of the eyelets and hooks are backed with light tan leather inserts presumably for strength. The lacing system seems very easy to adjust. I just simply pulled on the laces to tighten, wrapped the cordage around the top hooks and made a simple bow. The back of each heel edge features a (brown and yellow striped) ribbon loop to facilitate pulling on and off each boot. A simple "Patagonia" label is located beneath each loop.
The lower sides of the uppers are made out of dark brown leather and feature stitching in two matching colors around the edges of the sections. A rubber-type material is wrapped around the lower perimeter of each boot forming a nice toe wrap and heel wrap.
The Vagabonds arrived adorned with only a single tag that was attached to one of the heel loops. It touted the use of the new Vibram Ecostep for the outsole material of the Vagabonds. Even though regular Vibram has been around since 1937, the re-invented rubber material now uses 30 percent recycled rubber in its formulation. According to Patagonia's website, the new material is supposed to have high abrasion resistance and traction in multiple kinds of terrain. There's a significant lug pattern on the Ecostep soles for the later. The bottom and side of each sole have the "Vibram" logo embossed into them.
Patagonia not only used recycled materials in the outsoles but also in the footbeds, midsoles and insoles. The footbeds really shine with the use of recycled materials. Seventy percent of the synthetic cork footbeds (POLI-CORK) are recycled material. The footbeds contains a carbon component with antimicrobial qualities and Capilene linings. Both attributes should help with breathability and odor control in the waterproof boots.
The midsoles are made out of 15 percent recycled EVA foam that may help with heel stability. There's reportedly an air-cushioned disk in each midsole that would add to the comfort. The dual-density insoles are made with 100 percent recycled high-performance polyethylene and polyurethane.
The inside of the boots themselves have a soft Capilene lining with padding underneath. The ankle collar area is also sufficiently padded for comfort.
Overall, the Vagabonds arrived in mostly fine condition. There's a small cosmetic defect that shouldn't effect the performance of the footwear in any way. It's a depressed area measuring about 0.5 in (1.27 cm) long on one of the leather inserts located below an eyelet. Upon close examination, it may possibly be the "footprint" from the "waterproof" tag on the other boot. Since there wasn't any extra cushioning paper in the shoe box that they arrived in, it may well have imprinted the opposite boot in that manner.
I didn't find any accompanying care instructions for the boots and I couldn't locate any on Patagonia's website. However, taking care of footwear is rather intuitive so I'm not sure if any are really necessary. I normally use a waterproof spray on my footwear to hinder dirt and water but I won't during the test period to see if the boots are truly waterproof.
So far, I'm very impressed with the Patagonia Vagabonds. They not only fit great and feel comfortable, but they also have a neat modern appearance to them which I like. I can hardly wait to start wearing them for many planned trips and dayhikes in a variety of rugged terrain.
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Patagonia Vagabond Boots
November 24, 2007
Locations and Conditions
During the field test period, I have worn the Patagonia Vagabond Boots during a four-day backpacking trip. In addition, the boots were worn for local dayhikes approximately two times a week. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to lowland swamps. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m).
Backpacking Trip :
Location: Mackinac Wilderness Tract and surrounding semi-primitive territory (Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan), old overgrown roadbeds and bush travel
Type of Trip: 4-day backpack
Distance: Bushwhack route -Approx 18.6 mi (30 km)
Total Pack Load (including consumables): 34 lb (15.4 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Mostly cloudy, windy, rain, snowflakes, mid-to-low range humidity
Precipitation: Rain 0.43 in (1.09 cm)
Temperature Range: 26 F (-3 C) to 47 F (8 C)
Local Dayhikes and Trail Running:
Locations: Local dirt and rock trails
Distances: 3 mi (5 km) to 5 mi (8 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, cloudy, light rain, snow, windy, mid-high humidity
Temperature range: 18 F (-8 C) to 60 F (16 C)
Performance in the Field
First, I must highlight that the Patagonia Vagabonds are an impressive pair of boots. During my first hike while wearing them, I covered a distance of approximately 5 mi (8 km). It included a fair amount of steep ascents and descents over highly rocky surfaces. During the trek, my feet felt completely cradled and comfortable including the arch, heel and toebox areas on each boot. In addition, after the hike there weren't any areas of soreness or tenderness on my feet.
I continued to wear the boots every chance I had to hike the local trails. During one very cold morning with snowflakes floating through the air, I met my friends for a quick summit of a local peak. The distance was short (2.5 mi/4 km - round trip) and we quickly hiked up and down. We then decided to run the trail again to the peak as a grand finale. I realized I was wearing boots and not running shoes but I figured why not do it anyway. Although it perhaps made me a bit slower in this pursuit due to the weight difference between boots and my regular running shoes, I was impressed with the performance of the boots for that task. My feet felt very stable and the cushioned midsole was up to the demands of running on rock. The Capilene-covered insoles wicked away moisture and my feet were content. However the cushioned insoles are a bit floppy so that when I take them out of the boots, they take a bit of time to get them back inside in the correct arrangement - no big deal really!
During the field-test period, I did notice that the light-colored mesh uppers do stain a bit with the muddy areas that I encountered. However, this holds true for most footwear in that color range. The mesh uppers felt very supportive to my feet and didn't rip or otherwise noticeably deteriorate.
In November I went on a four-day backpacking trip. The trip consisted largely of off-trail bush travel, but we also used abandoned road and rail beds in a protected wilderness area. We crossed at least a dozen beaver dams to navigate through rivers and creeks during the trip. The dams always have precarious footing but I didn't have any trouble with stability. The EcoStep soles of the boots have a sturdy footprint making travel very stable and reliable.
During the bush trip we traveled through mostly lowlands. Although the summer had been extremely dry, rain was abundant this fall and the earth once again was a bit spongy. However, there weren't any instances of experiencing "over-the-boot" type water. I merely stepped in an inch or two (2.5 cm to 5 cm) of water at the most. During the third day of the trip, I started to feel that both of my socks were getting wet in the forefoot areas of the boots. I took my boots off at lunch to inspect them for a possible source of leakage. I thought that the only likely spot was a gap in the rand where the rubber had separated maybe a half inch (1.3 cm) in length. I couldn't see any other possible water entry points but it was also strange as the other boot without that defect was noticeably leaking more water. The Vagabonds are supposed to be waterproof, so I was more than mildly concerned at this point.
The final day of the trip resulted in rainy weather travel through the bush. I wore my gaiters (as normal) over the boots and my rain pants were shingled over the gaiters. I again started to experience that my dry socks were becoming wet in the same forefoot areas. I checked the boots at the end of the trip and the top openings of the boots were still very dry in contrast to those wet forefoot areas. The outside of the boots exhibited definite areas of wetness but it didn't seem to correlate to the wetness I was experiencing inside the boots.
Upon my return home, I contacted my test moderator and then contacted Patagonia by email. Their customer service representative promptly responded with the information that there would be a six-week turnaround time after they inspected the boots. I'd previously requested that I would like to continue to wear the boots until the replacement pair were sent. As that wasn't in their returns protocol, I then re-contacted them with the new information that I was testing the boots for BGT so that the process would hopefully involve less time. Their representative then told me that I could either bring the boots to my local dealer for inspection and replacement or send them right away 2nd-Day Air and they would do the same for the return. I immediately went to my local dealer with the boots, but because they don't carry that particular model, they told me that it would be a two-week process for them to handle it. I left the store and went straight to the mailing service to mail them 2nd-Day Air with a copy of the email transmission so far. After more than a week went by, I re-contacted the service representative to find out if they had been shipped. He said they would be sent from their warehouse soon by 2nd-Day Air. I did receive them a few days later, however the whole process still took two weeks (including weekends). In hindsight, I would of just had my local dealer handle the transaction and save the high shipping costs.
With that said, the new pair of boots feels great so far. I have hiked on lightly snow-covered trails but they haven't experienced really wet conditions yet. During the long term period, they certainly will encounter more soggy areas.
Overall, I'm pleased with the Patagonia Vagabonds and I truly hope the leakage issue was limited to the first pair. I find them to be lightweight, very supportive, super comfortable, and their sure-footed traction has been a big plus during off-trail travel. In the long-term period, I will pay special attention to their waterproofness as well as monitor any other issues.
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Long Term Report:
Patagonia Vagabond Boots
January 22, 2008
Locations and Conditions
During the long term test period, I have worn the Patagonia Vagabond Boots mostly for dayhikes and snowshoeing. Outings included a four-day (walk-in) rustic-cabin trip. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to frozen lakes and snow-covered woodlands. More than 100 in (2.54 m) of snow has fallen during the final test period. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m).
Rustic Cabin Sledge Trip:
Location: Hiawatha National Forest (Upper Peninsula of Michigan)
Type of Trip: 4-day walk-in rustic cabin trip with day trips on snowshoes or skis
Distance: 19 mi (31 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days
Total Sledge Load (including consumables): Estimated 50 lb (23 kg), 12 lb (5.5 kg) daypack for dayhikes
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sunny, mid-high humidity
Precipitation: Snow (5 in to 6 in/13 cm to 15 cm)
Temperature Range: 14 F (-10 C) to 25 F (-4 C)
Location: Local trails
Type of Trip: Dayhikes and snowshoeing
Distance: Approx 3 mi (5 km) to 5 mi (8 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, foggy, sunny (very little), mid-high humidity
Precipitation: Snow squalls, light rain
Temperature Range: -13 F (-25 C) to 38 F (3 C)
Performance in the Field
During the long term period, I was anxious to wear the Vagabonds as much as possible in the field (generally 2 to 3 times a week). Over 100 in (2.54 m) of snow fell during this period resulting in wearing the Vagabonds both with and without snowshoes. There were also periods of warmer weather producing rain and melting snow (freeze and thaw cycles).
The trail surfaces that I encountered during the final testing period were mostly covered by a layer of snow (up to 2 ft/60 cm). The snow varied from being deep, light and fluffy to refrozen snow with icy surfaces. The Vibram Ecostep outsoles gripped the latter without slipping but I also was very cautious. I wore low-cut gaiters during all of my trail outings to keep snow or water out of the top of my boots.
During snowshoe outings, I varied the type of snowshoes that I used. The Vagabonds adapted well to several different types of binding systems. Again, gaiters were a necessity to keep snow out of the boots, but my feet stayed dry and comfy.
The mesh uppers on the Vagabonds hugged my feet so that even on very uneven surfaces, I felt like I had adequate support to my feet. I was able to complete all my hikes and snowshoeing outings with content feet. The bellows tongue stayed centrally located and didn't shift to one side like I have experienced with similar features on some other footwear. The air-cushioning disk in each midsole provided enough comfort so that the bottoms of my feet were always content and willing to walk more miles. Most outings were approximately 5 mi (8 km) or less. I normally wore lightweight Darn Tough Vermont Merino Wool or CoolMax socks with the Vagabonds.
I also wore the boots for short periods while shoveling snow and during errands to town in inclement weather. My feet stayed dry even when subject to the intervals of walking through wet snow and slush. That condition seems to be prevalent in every parking lot during temperatures hovering around freezing.
I've found the Vagabonds to be an extremely comfortable pair of boots. My feet never felt uncomfortably hot while wearing the boots, but outdoor temperatures were rather low during the entire testing period (-13 F to 38 F/-25 C to 3 C). However, I often engaged in very aerobic activity while wearing the boots and this would certainly compensate for the colder temperatures on the exterior. Although I wore the boots extensively during the winter season, I didn't feel that they would be warm enough for winter backpacking for me (I use mukluks with double felts for that purpose). I did wear them on a backpacking trip in the field test period but the low temperature was just 26 F (-3 C). The long-term period weather has been much colder.
The Capilene-covered POLI-CORK footbeds haven't retained any noticeable odor. I often removed the footbeds after a long outing to air them. I found that they are very soft and flexible making it hard to re-insert them correctly. It often takes me a couple of attempts to get them back in correctly as they would buckle upon insertion. However, their attributes compensate for the extra minutes it takes.
During the long term period, the Vagabonds have stayed in very good condition. They've been exposed to mostly snow conditions so the fresh snow has kept them looking very clean from top to bottom. As previously implied, periods of rain and melting snow were great to test the Vagabonds in for their waterproofness and I'm happy to report that the replacement pair of Vagabonds (that I received during the field test period) didn't experience any leakage issues.
The Vagabonds have proven to be versatile boots for both my dayhiking and backpacking needs. They are light enough to not be a hindrance for quick-paced dayhikes, but supportive and durable for slower off-trail travel during backpacking excursions. They have adapted well to many kind of trail surfaces from barren rock to deep snow. I will continue to wear the Patagonia Vagabonds for many avenues of adventure.
This report concludes the test series for the Vagabond Boots. Thanks to Patagonia and BackpackGearTest for the great opportunity to test the boots.
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