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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Wolverine Compass Hiking Boots > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen


Compass iCS
GORE-TEX® Waterproof Hiker

Test Series by
Ryan Christensen

Last Update - September 22, 2011


May 14, 2011
July 26, 2011
September 22, 2011

May 14, 2011

Reviewer Information Backpacking Background
Name:  Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  46
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Email:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:   Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago. I also began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.

Product Information:

The information below came from Wolverine's website and product tags.

Men's Compass iCS GORE-TEX® Waterproof Hiker
Manufacturer: Wolverine World Wide, Inc.
Manufacturer website:
Place of Manufacture: China
Year Manufactured: assume 2011
Materials: Upper: nubuck leather and mesh
Liner GORE-TEX® waterproof breathable membrane
Footbed: full-cushion EVA with mesh sock liner
Outsole: EVA/rubber
Sizes Available: US men's 7 - 12 in half sizes; 13 and 14
Widths Available: medium
extra wide
Colors Available: Mushroom (tan)
Comfort Guarantee:

"We produce the world's most comfortable boots and shoes. Guaranteed. Try a pair of Wolverine Contour Welt®, Wolverine iCS®, Wolverine Compressor®, Wolverine Fusion® 180, Wolverine Fusion®, Wolverine DuraShocks® 3D, Wolverine DuraShocks® SR, Wolverine DuraShocks®, or Wolverine MX® for 30 days. If you're not completely satisfied that they are the most comfortable boots or shoes you've ever worn, return them for a full refund."

MSRP: $190.00 US

Product Specifications
Manufacturer's Specifications  
Weight: N/A
Tester's Actual Measurements  
Weight: Men's US 10.5
(UK 9.5; EUR 43.5)
Right Boot: 26.5 oz (751 g)
Left Boot: 26.6 oz (754 g)
Pair: 53.1 oz (1,505 g)

Product Description:

Compass_CollageThe Wolverine Compass iCS GORE-TEX® Waterproof Hiker (hereafter called "boot" or "Compass") is a mid-cut, leather and mesh waterproof, breathable hiking boot. These boots include Wolverine's proprietary Individual Comfort System (iCS), which is intended to provide the wearer with maximum comfort and ultimate control.

The Compass consists of a black nubuck leather and gray mesh upper with a black and gray EVA/rubber outsole. It stands approximately 6.75 in (17.2 cm) from the bottom of the sole to the tallest point at the front of the ankle cuff and tapers to approximately 5.25 in (13.3 cm) at the back of the cuff. Albeit smaller than that on other boots I own, the toe cap extends back approximately 0.5 in (1.3 cm) from the front of the boot. The 0.125 in (0.32 cm) woven lacing runs through five sets of D-rings with two pair of speed hooks on the ankle cuff.

Even with its GORE-TEX® liner, at first blush, the Compass appears quite similar to other mid-cut, nubuck/mesh hiking boots. However, the most unique difference lies inside the boot in the insole. This insole is a key component of Wolverine's proprietary Individual Comfort System (iCS). This two-part insole is shown in the photos below. The photo on the left is the top view of each of the two components. The photo on the right therefore offers a look at the bottom view of the two pieces.

Compass Insoles_Top View Compass Insoles_Bottom View
In the left-hand photo, the sock liner is on the left. Quite honestly, this is very similar to insoles in other boots that I both own and have previously tested. This EVA insole is approximately 0.125 in (0.32 cm) thick in the forefoot area and has a molded heel cup which extends backward from the arch area on both the left and right sides and rises approximately 1 in (2.5 cm) from the top of the sock liner. It also contains numerous ventilation holes which are visible.

Shown in the middle photo below is the heart of the iCS. This firm EVA insole includes several slightly-raised hexagon shaped cushions which are made of a more rubbery material than that used in the other parts. A good arch support is also part of this insole. However, the significant element is the adjustable heel cushion. This circular disk is adjustable: shipped in the "Comfort" position (for maximum shock absorption), with the "C" aligned with the arrow in the depressed area. One may adjust the disk to "Firm" (for more energy return and bounce in one's step) by rotating the disk so the "F" lines up with the arrow. Likewise, aligning the "O" with the arrow will provide "Outward" support (for high arches or to reduce outward tilt). Whereas "Inward" support (for low arches or to reduce inward tilt) is obtained by aligning the "I" with the arrow. The bottom of this rubbery cushion has a saw tooth construction that fits into the corresponding saw tooth in the insole itself. The disk is approximately 0.625 in (1.6 cm) thick at the "C" edge and tapers to approximately 0.5 in (1.3 cm) at the "F" edge. Thus when "O" is lined up with the arrow, the thick edge is to the outside. Conversely, with the "I" aligned with arrow, the thicker edge is to the inside. The adjustable orange disk extends approximately 0.125 (0.3 cm) above the black "donut hole" center. I imagine this is to enhance shock absorption.

Compass_Soles The photo above right shows the bottom view of the two pieces. Three grooves are noticeable in the firm EVA insole which I assume is to enhance flexion in the forefoot.

The gusset is padded and also has a Gore-Tex membrane. The inside of the gusset has the same lining as the rest of the boot. The collar is also padded around the ankle. There is a useable 0.5 in (1.3 cm) wide webbing pull tab at the back of each boot.

The boot has a somewhat aggressive tread design (as shown in photo on right). Twenty six larger lugs outline the tread and bi-directional chevrons and rectangular lugs makeup the interior of the tread. There is a large depression in the heel area; measuring approximately 2.5 in (6.4 cm) at the longest point and 1.125 in (2.9 cm) at its narrowest point.

Initial Impression:

The Compass appears to be well made, constructed of what appear to be high quality materials. There were no noticeable flaws in the seams, no gobs of glue, or other manufacturing imperfections. Initially, I liked the design and styling of the boot. Upon further examination, I became intrigued with the iCS and am rather curious as to whether the adjustable disk will enable me to get a noticeable personal cushion setting that is superior to the cushioning in my non-adjustable boots.

Initial Testing:

After removing the boots from their box, I proceeded to look over them thoroughly for noticeable flaws; I found none. Next, I donned the boots to check sizing--they fit nearly perfectly, and felt quite comfortable. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical that with the two-part insole, that they would rise high enough to provide sufficient ankle support. However, after trying them on, I believe they do. However, testing will prove whether or not this is true.

Initial Pros:

Initial Potential Cons:

  • stylish look
  • Gore-Tex liner
  • adjustable heel cushion
  • nothing at this time

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July 26, 2011


During this phase of the test series, I wore the boots approximately 20 days. Thus far, the boots have performed well.

Likes Thus Far Dislikes Thus Far
  • stylish look
  • Gore-Tex liner
  • adjustable heel cushion
  • none at this time

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

I wore the boots eleven different days to work, walking around my neighborhood and local foot hills.

In addition, I wore the boots nine consecutive days at Island Park Scout Camp which is at approximately 6,500 ft (1,981 m) above sea level. During these nine days, the high temperature was 57 F (14 C) and the low was 32 F (0 C). It rained three consecutive days, and on Monday June 13, we received nearly 0.5 in (1.3 cm) of rain in a very short, but heavy downpour.

I was on my feet much of the 18+ hour days in camp, and walked most of the 103 acre (0.42 km2) camp; several times over. Each day I wore cotton Boy Scouts of America (BSA) socks when I was required to be in full uniform and light merino wool low-cut socks the balance of the time.


As the result of having back surgery in December, I have been quite restricted; no backpacking for a year, and have not been allowed to hike any significant incline. Consequently, the boots have not been up any steep slopes or endured any grueling backpacks. Nevertheless, I believe they were well tested during this phase of the test.

On the walks around my neighborhood, I wore different types and thickness of socks. I found the boots to fit somewhat loosely when I wore lighter weight socks. Although I did not experience blisters, I did develop hot spots. Medium-weight merino wool socks (my personal favorite) seemed to be the most comfortable for me.

I tried the adjustable heel cushion in each of the four positions. The "Comfort" position (for maximum shock absorption), is where the "C" is aligned with the arrow in the depressed area. "Firm" (for more energy return and bounce in one's step) is where the "F" lines up with the arrow. Likewise, aligning the "O" with the arrow will provides "Outward" support (for high arches or to reduce outward tilt). For "Inward" support (for low arches or to reduce inward tilt) the arrow is aligned with the "I". With the heel cushion set to either "O" or "I" my feet felt somewhat unatural. I believe this was due to compensating for either outward or inward tilt which apparently my feet to not do. Therefore, for me, the Firm position seemed to provide the most comfort and natural feeling.

In Island Park, the waterproofness of the Wolverines was tested during the three days of rain. I am pleased to report that the Gore-Tex liner performed flawlessly; even walking through ankle deep puddles. The only water to get inside the boots came over the ankle cuff when I stepped in a puddle that was deeper than I anticipated it to be.

During the nine consecutive days--long days--I again tried the various heel cushion settings. Firm proved to provide my feet the most comfort. That being said, I am not convinced the Wolverines are the "most comfortable boots or shoes I've ever worn." To be completely certain, more testing is required.

Thus far, I am pleased with the fit and comfort of these boots. They provide good arch support, the insoles provide adequate cushion, and the collar snugs up around my ankles. Only when wearing light weight socks did I experience heel slip or my foot sliding forward. I am also very pleased with the waterproofness of these boots. The boots have held up well. There are no loose seems or other issues to report at this time.

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September 22, 2011


Overall, I am pleased with these boots; they are comfortable and have performed well through this test series.

Likes Thus Far Dislikes Thus Far
  • stylish look
  • Gore-Tex liner
  • adjustable heel cushion
  • none

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

Because I was not cleared by the surgeon to resume backpacking, I was left to completing this test series via day hiking. I went on three separate day hikes of 5-8 miles (8-13 km) each in Kelly Canyon, which is located 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, in the Targhee National Forest. The area known as the Kelly Canyon Nordic Area starts at an elevation of approximately 5,900 ft (1,798 m) and reaches elevations of 6,700 ft (2,042 m). Skies were partly cloudy and temps in the mid 80's F (28+ C).

I also got in a day hike in Harriman State Park, which is near Island Park. Harriman is 77 miles (124 km) north of Idaho Falls at an elevation of 6,120 ft (1,865 m) above sea level. There was not a cloud in the sky and the temps were in the upper 80's low 90's F (31 - 33 C).

Although not really cleared by my surgeon to do so, while hiking in both Kelly Canyon and Harriman State Park, I did get in some inclines.


The boots have performed well. I have worn them approximately 15 additional days since submitting my Field Report. I generally use third-party insoles in my boots, but I have not done so with these boots. Wolverine guarantees "If you're not completely satisfied that they are the most comfortable boots or shoes you've ever worn" they will fully refund the purchase price. Although I can not say these boots are the most comfortable I have ever worn, I feel no need to cash in on Wolverine's guarantee. After trying the various settings of the adjustable heel cushion, I find that for me, they continue to be most comfortable when in the "Firm" position, where the "F" lines up with the arrow. The boots have been and remain comfortable.

The boots remain completely waterproof. The GORE-TEX liner kept my feet nice and dry in puddled water. Wearing one pair of medium-weight merino wool socks has been sufficient with these boots. No blisters to report this test.

The boots continued to provide good traction, even on the inclines (nothing too serious, but enough to test them out) and talus. Although a bit dirty, as shown in the photo above right, the soles are still in really great shape.

Dirty as they are (as shown in the photo above left) the uppers have been great in the rain and mud. Even after walking through puddled water, the resulting discoloration has been minimal. The seams remain tight, with no loose or fraying threads.


I like how these boots feel on my feet and how they perform. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a moderately priced Gore-Tex hiking boot.

This concludes my test of the Wolverine Compass iCS GORE-TEX Waterproof Hiker. Thanks to Wolverine and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test these boots.

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