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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Wolverine Compass Hiking Boots > Test Report by Kristine Mar

Wolverine Women's Compass
iCS GORE-TEX Waterproof Hiking Boots

Test Series by Kristine Mar

Initial Report - May 12, 2011
Field Report - July 24, 2011
Long Term Report - September 18, 2011

Biographical Information:

Name: Kristine Mar
Age: 45
Gender: Female
Height: 5'3" (1.6 m)
Weight: 120 Pounds (54 kg)
Email address:
City, State, Country: New York, New York, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background:

My love for the outdoors began about ten years ago, while I was living in Northern California. Most of my hiking experience includes day hikes with an occasional 2-3 day backpacking trip. I'd consider myself an all season hiker and generally like to keep my pack as light as reasonably possible. I am currently living in New York City. I've hiked in various parks in several states and countries and enjoy hiking in various terrain, but prefer mountainous terrain for the vistas and views, and enjoy forest/river hikes for the scenery.

Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Wolverine
Year of Manufacture/received:   2011
Manufacturer Web site:
MSRP: USD $190.00
Color Tested: Mushroom
Other Colors Available: Black
Size Tested: US 6.5 M, Euro 37.5, UK 4.5
Other Sizes Available: US 5, 5.5, 6, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10 and 11
Other Widths Available: W
Construction Material on Label: Leather Upper, Balance Manmade Materials
Country of Manufacture: Made in China
Listed Weight: None Provided
Actual Weight: 2 lb 7 oz (1.1 kg) per pair

Product Description:

The Wolverine Compass iCS GORE-TEX® Waterproof Hiker, herein after referred to as the Compass hiking boot, is described as a waterproof nubuck leather and mesh upper with a GORE-TEX waterproof breathable membrane lining. Wolverine's Individual Comfort System (iCS), is an exclusive innovation which provides enhanced inner support, increases outer support while remaining firm and adding comfort.

Women's Wolverine Compass Hiking Boot - Top/Front View

Women's Wolverine Compass Hiking Boot - Tread

The distinguishing feature of the Compass Hiking boot is the removable iCS midsole which is a full-cushion EVA footbed. EVA stands for stands for Ethylene Vinyl Acetate and is a polymer that is a common component of many footbeds for shoes. EVA is a dense foam which molds to your feet while absorbing shock. The ability to control the amount of shock absorption to the foot by rotating the disc and placing it at various angles is what makes this boot unique. Above the iCS midsole is a mesh liner footbed which rests on top of the midsole and is also removable. The outside of the boot is manufactured with nubuck leather, GORETEX, and an EVA rubber outsole.

Package Description:

The inside of the shoebox had a description of the Individual Comfort System footbed and how to set the comfort levels with four different settings. The description for the use of each settingand a photo follows:

I – Enhance Inner Support – If you have low arches or need to reduce inward tilt

Photo: Disc in I Position

O – Increase Outer Support – If you have high arches or need to reduce outward tilt

Photo: Disc in O Position

F – Go Firm – For more energy return and more bounce in your step. Combat fatigue during a long day of walking or hiking

Photo: Disc in F Position

C – Add Cushion – Under the heel for maximum shock absorption. Boost comfort when doing a lot of standing

Photo: Disc in C Position

The following are photos of the instructions included inside the shoebox to adjust the footbed.


The company also provides a 30-day money back guarantee if not fully satisfied with the comfort of the boot with a phone number to call for additional information.

Initial Impressions:

I tried the boots on straight out of box and they fit perfectly without any adjustments to the footbed. The boot seems to be well made and sturdy. The distinguishing feature of the boot is the inner footbed which is adjustable to enhance inner support, increase outer support, and two additional settings to either provide more firm support or add more cushion.

When the inner lining is removed and the disc is moved to different positions, the resting position of the disc seems to be adjusted and sits in varying angles on the footbed.

Inner Lining and iCS Footbed

Test Plan / Strategy:

I will test this product mainly on day hikes and hopefully a few short weekend backpacking trips in the states of Connecticut and New York over the next few months. I plan to test this product by determining if the hiking boots are comfortable to wear, and are both waterproof and breathable. I will move the disc in the footbed to different positions and determine if I feel a noticeable difference in comfort of the boot and the effects which it has on my foot, ankles, and knees. I will also determine if the boots cause blisters, provide adequate support for the foot and ankle and will comment on any other observations.


So far, I like the weight and the fit of the Compass hiking boots. The boot feels stable and seems to provide good ankle support. The footbed and inner lining, together, provide a comfortable cushion even without any adjustments. The hiking boots are nicely designed and the construction of the seams and stitching seems to be solid. In the coming months, I will test the overall comfort and features of the hiking boots while hiking and backpacking, and will analyze the comfort and durability.

Field Conditions:

I used the Compass hiking boots a total of 8 times over the last two months on one 2-day backpacking trip and 6 day hikes. The boots were always worn with a medium weight synthetic hiking sock or a merino wool sock. The temperature has ranged from 80F to 90F (27C to 32C) and the daily mileage on the trail ranged from 8 to 12 miles (13 to 19 km) with maximum elevation gains of 1500 ft (457 m). All of the hikes including the backpacking trip took place in Harriman State Park in the state of New York. I have adjusted the discs under the foot bed in 3 of the 4 positions available to determine if there is really a noticeable difference in the feel of the boot. I first tried the I position which is supposed to enhance inner support and is supposed to be used for individuals with low arches and to reduce inward tilt. This position felt as if the top of my foot was constantly pushed forward into the tongue of the shoe and was actually very uncomfortable for me. This makes sense, since I know that I have high arches. I was not even able to keep it in this position for one hike.

I next moved the disc in the O position which is supposed to increase outer support and is supposed to be used for individuals with high arches to reduce outward tilt. My feet are narrow with high arches, and I could feel my feet sliding slightly inside the shoe while the disc was in this position. I kept the disc in this position for one hike lasting approximately 4 hours and it resulted in me forming slight blisters on the fourth toe of each foot.

Next, I moved the disc to the F position which is supposed to provide firmness for more energy and bounce in the step. I have been happy with this position and have kept it here because of the bad, painful experience with the other two positions.


So far, the Compass boots have proven to be very sturdy and comfortable to wear, as long as the iCS midsole disc is in the right position. I was skeptical about the disc and how the different positions might affect the feel of the boot, but now, after trying the different positions, I feel that the disc does allow the users to adjust the boot to maximize comfort for each person. The boots offer great ankle support and the foot bed is very comfortable. The GORE-TEX® lining did a good job of keeping my foot dry when crossing streams and the sole of the shoe provided good gripping and traction properties when scrambling over boulders and wet rocks. I do feel as if the boot is slightly heavy for summer hiking as the temperatures here on the East Coast have been averaging 85F to 95F (30C to 35C) over the last month. Although the boots are supposed to be breathable I feel as if my feet were hot after the hikes, but this is more likely due to the weather and weight of the boots rather than the properties of the GORE-TEX®. At the end of each hike, I was happy to take off my boots and allow my feet to breathe.


So far, the Compass boots seem to be holding up well. It took a while for me to figure out the iCS system and how to adjust the removable midsole. My feet are narrow with high arches, so they need adequate support inside the shoe to prevent my foot from sliding. After several adjustments of the iCS disc, I have been happy with the F position, but will try out the C position which is supposed to provide additional comfort in the coming months. While the boot is slightly hot and heavy for the summer, they are comfortable and provide excellent ankle support and good traction.

Field Conditions:

In addition to the testing reported in July, I continued to use the Wolverine Compass hiking boots a total of 7 additional times over the last two months, on two backpacking trips, and at least four day hikes. The backpacking trips were both 3-day two night trips in Harriman State Park in New York, and in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. I also used the boots on at least five day hikes in the parks of New York State, including several hikes in Harriman, Minnewaska, and the Taconic State Park. The temperature has ranged from 80F to 95F (27C to 35C) and the daily mileage on the trail ranged from 5 to 15 miles (8 to 19 km) with maximum elevation gains of 1500 ft (457 m). For the backpacking trips, my pack weighed between 24 and 28 lbs (10.9 and 12.7 kg) at the start of the trip, depending on whether or not I had to carry a tent.


In my previous test report, I had tested the disc in the I, O, and F positions of the inner of the foot bed. On my next outing which was a backpacking trip to the Taconics, I tried the disc in the C, position which is described as the position which would add cushion under the heal for maximum shock absorption to boost comfort while standing. While the position was comfortable initially, by the time we reached the campsite which was approximately a 5-mile (8 km) hike in, my right foot was throbbing from being pushed against the tongue of the shoe. My left foot, however, seemed to be fine. I had to loosen my laces in the middle of the trek to the campsite to release some of the pressure. I moved the disc back to the F position and have kept it there ever since. I find that this position is the most comfortable for me since it doesn't cause my foot to roll forward or to either side.

While in the Berkshires and Taconics, I did several waterfall hikes on trails which were quite wet, with multiple stream crossings. I purposely, let the soles of the shoes get wet to see if they were, in fact, waterproof. I must report that the shoes did a great job of keeping my feet dry. I also felt confident in the soles of the shoes. The Vibram soles provided a good grip on sometimes slippery rocks and the sole itself felt very solid and provided great support even when carrying heavy loads.


The Wolverine Compass hiking boots have been a reliable and sturdy backpacking and hiking boot. The customizable iCS footbed is comfortable in the right position and for me it will remain in the F position as I continue to use these boots. The boots are comfortable right out of the box with no break in period required and are well designed with great ankle support and a sturdy sole. The Vibram sole was completely reliable when scrambling on boulders or stepping on wet rocks while crossing streams. The waterproof Gortex fabric also worked well and will be great for winter hiking and snow shoeing.

I personally think that these boots are a little heavy for the summer months, especially since we have had such hot summer here on the east coast, but I think that they will be great for the winter and can't wait to try them out with my snow shoes. The only main problem I had with the shoe with the disc in I position and the C position is that my foot was pushed into the tongue. It occurred more noticeably with my right foot than my left so I am not sure if it's my foot, or perhaps the fabric on the tongue is too thick or rises too high out of the shoe.

I look forward to continue wearing these boots especially as the colder weather approaches.

    Things I like:
  1. Comfortable customizable fit and no break in
  2. Waterproof Gore-Tex fabric
  3. Vibram Sole
    Things I don't like:
  1. The design of the tongue of the shoe.

This concludes my Long Term Report on the Wolverine Compass Waterproof Hiker. I would like to thank Wolverine and for allowing me to test this item.

Read more reviews of Wolverine Boots gear
Read more gear reviews by Kristine Mar

Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Wolverine Compass Hiking Boots > Test Report by Kristine Mar

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