WOLVERINE FULCRUM BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY JERRY ADAMS
INITIAL REPORT - October 13, 2011
FIELD REPORT - December 30, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - February 23, 2012
Portland, Oregon, USA
6' 1" (1.85 m)
190 lb (86.20 kg)
I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay around Mount Hood, Columbia Gorge, Mount Adams, Goat Rocks, and the Olympic Peninsula. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 15 lb (7 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Wolverine World Wide Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.wolverine.com
Measured Weight: 31.4 oz (890 g) per shoe
size tested - 12M US, 11 UK, 45 EUR
The Wolverine Fulcrum boots are fairly heavy, Gore-Tex, leather, mid-height hiking boots.
At 31.4 ounces (890 g) for one size 12 boot, this is fairly heavy compared to other boots I've worn.
The outside of the boot is leather. I got brown. They also have black.
In the middle is a Gore-Tex membrane to make them waterproof and breathable.
On the inside is an organic fabric to wick away moisture and minimize odor.
One side of boot with the Ortholite insole removed. The Ortholite insole is advertised to provide additional arch support:
|Side of boot, insole|
Other side of boot with the insole upside down. There is a stiffer blue material under the ball of my foot:
|Other side of boot, bottom of insole|
In the heel is the Individual Comfort System disk. It can be rotated to either of four positions - firm, cushion (less firm), outward (more support on outward side for high arches), and inward (more support on inward side for flat feet). It came in the firm position. I'll just leave it that way for my testing but will probably try the other positions briefly:
|Individual Comfort System disk (with insole removed)|
The Vibram soles are fairly aggressive, made out of a black rubbery material:
There's a black, plastic covered cushion at the top on the rear of the boot. There's a black plastic protective cover at the bottom at the heel of the boot. There's no loop to hold while putting the boots on like other boots I've had, but I've never found that real useful.
There's a little padding around the ankle but not around the toes.
The tongue has no slit on the tongue to run the laces through to keep the tongue from sliding to the side. A typical tongue is attached only at the bottom so it can slide sideways which is why the slit is needed. The Fulcrum tongue is attached at the sides all the way up to the top so it can't slide sideways so maybe the slit is un-necessary.
The lace is a stretchy material. On other boots, this has not been my favorite because it's a little difficult to get the lace tightened without it untying itself in use. I'll see if this happens during my testing.
The outside of the boots is made of 6 pieces of leather. Other boots I've worn have more pieces. Fewer pieces is good because there are fewer places to fail and let water leak through. Especially good is on either side of the boot, even with the base of my toes. Boots I've worn in the past always fail here. Usually there's a seam that eventually rips out, but not on the Fulcrums. Also, the Fulcrums are fairly stiff, so maybe it won't bend so much which causes the leather upper to separate from the sole at the glued joint.
I wore the boots around the house. They seem comfortable. I always wear size 12 boots, which these are, so they're sized the same as other boots I've worn.
They seem well made. All the stitches and glued places are done well. The color of the boots is uniform.
The arches feel good. I have pretty flat feet. Possibly, if I had high arches these boots wouldn't be best?
The soles seem a little stiffer than other boots I've worn.
The Wolverine Fulcrum boots seem like really well made boots.
My only criticism is they're fairly heavy, but, the advantage of being heavier is that they're better on rough ground and rocks and such.
I can't wait to take these boots out on a few trips. Since the test is starting in October, I won't get any really hot weather to test breathability, but I'll get lots of wet weather and some snow.
Look forward to my Field Report in about two months.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Oct 12 - 19, 2011 - North side of Mount Hood in North central Oregon, 35 to 65 F (2 to 18 C), 30 miles (48 km), 5000 feet (1500 m) elevation gain.
Boots now broken in a bit:
|Boots on first trip|
Nov 23 to 29, 2011 - 26 mile (42 km) and 2 night backpack and 4 night car camp on Deschutes River in North Central Oregon. 1000 feet (300 m) elevation gain. 30 to 50 F (-1 to 10 C). I got blisters on balls of both feet, maybe it was my socks.
Dec 12 to 17, 2011 - 5 night car camp, 28 miles (45 km) day hiking, 20 to 40 F (-7 to 4 C). No blisters with new socks.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Wolverine Fulcrum boots worked great during the Field Report period.
On my first trip I did a lot of hiking in rain and walking through wet brush so the boots were saturated on the outside for a couple days. On my last trip on one day the boots got saturated with wet snow. These are the two worst-case tests of waterproofness. My feet stayed dry, except for some dampness from sweat. These boots are great for wet conditions.
Since my socks got a little damp from sweat in cool weather on my first trip (maximum 65 F/18 C), in warmer weather they would probably be worse, so these boots are probably not as good for hot weather. This is the hottest it will be for my testing.
On my second hike, after a 10 mile hike the first day of a backpack, I got blisters on the balls of both feet. I think this was more the fault of my socks, than the boots. On my third trip I used new socks and had no problems.
I always wear size 12 boots. These boots are size 12 and fit comfortably. I didn't get any blisters (except from worn out socks?) which is an indication that they are the correct size. I think these boots are accurately sized.
I did a lot of cross country on bouldery slopes during my first hike. Some bouldering on my second hike. The stiff soles made this fairly comfortable.
The lug soles provided good traction on muddy trails (first trip) and icy trails (last trip).
On my third trip it got down to 20 F (-7 C). This included fooling around in the morning without being very active. My feet stayed warm, except right when I put on the boots in the morning. I think the Gore-Tex lining and the extra padding make these good cold weather boots.
One thing I don't like about these boots is they're so heavy, even compared to other Gore-Tex boots I've had, but I really didn't notice it - maybe if I had done more mileage I would have gotten noticeably more tired? I think the reason they're so heavy is the extra padding and the stiff soles, but these offer some advantages as a trade-off.
Another thing I don't like is that all the eyelets are closed. On other boots I've had, the upper two or three pairs of eyelets are open, which makes it easier to loosen the boots to take them off, and easier to tighten the shoe laces. However, I easily removed the boots and put them back on without problem so maybe this isn't necessary.
The shoe laces are a stretchy material. I don't totally like this, because it's a little difficult to tighten them so that they don't come untied. I prefer laces that are less stretchy and have a rough, frictiony texture. But, they didn't come untied a lot so maybe they're okay.
Another thing I don't like is there's no loop on the back top to hold onto when I put the boots on. This is compounded by the fact there are no open eyelets so it's more difficult to loosen the laces when I'm putting on the boots. This isn't a big deal, probably wouldn't influence my buying decision.
These criticisms are minor. Maybe they make me challenge some of my assumptions about boot requirements. Overall the boots worked well.
Stiff soles for rough trails
Aggressiveness of lug soles
Medium warm because of Gore-Tex layers and extra padding around ankles
Heavy - but maybe that's because of the extra padding and stiff soles which offer advantages as a trade-off
A little sweaty in warm weather
No open eyelets at the top
No loop at the top rear to help put on boots
But, despite the no open eyelets or loop at top rear, I still used the boots successfully, so maybe these requirements aren't necessary?
I'll do about the same amount of testing in the Long term test. Look forward to my report in about two months.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Feb 1, 2012 - 4 night backpack and 2 night car camp on the Deschutes River in North central Oregon. 20 miles (32 km) backpacking and 18 miles (29 km) day hiking. 1000 feet (300 m) elevation gain. 29 to 50 F (-2 to 10 C).
Feb 14, 2012 - 4 night backpack and 2 night car camp on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. 33 miles (53 km) of backpacking and 8 miles (13 km) of day hiking. 3200 feet (1000 m) elevation gain. 32 to 50 F (0 to 10 C). The boots got very wet from rain and stayed fairly dry inside, except damp from sweat.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I used the boots once in fairly cold weather (29 F / -2 C) and my feet were fairly warm preparing breakfast in the morning. I think one of the good characteristics of these boots is they have a little more warmth than most other boots I've used.
My socks got a little sweaty, even in relatively cool temperatures. I don't think these are the best boots for hot weather.
With new socks, I got no blisters on the balls of my feet like I did on a previous hike, although they were just a little sore after 10 miles (18 km) of backpacking, but on the next trip they didn't get sore at all on a longer hike so I guess my feet are breaking in.
These Wolverine Fulcrum boots met my expectations - nice boots.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
In the Field Report and Long Term Report periods, I did a total of 163 miles (262 km) of backpacking and day hiking. I did a wide range of hiking from easy level trail, to bouldery off trail, to snow, to mud...Temperatures ranged from 20 to 65 F (-7 to 18 C).
Overall, they were quite comfortable the whole time - minor blisters once. Fairly warm even at 20 F (-7 C).
They provided good support for rough ground. The stiff soles helped with this. If I step on the edge of a rock it spreads out the load rather than cutting into my foot. They were comfortable when I did some major elevation gain and loss on some of my hikes. They were also comfortable on easier more level hikes.
They provided good traction for slippery ground - snow and mud. The aggressiveness of the lugs on the soles is good.
They were very waterproof, even when I was in days of rain or melting snow. This is what I would expect of the Gore-Tex linings. The only downside is that my socks were always a little damp from sweat, even in cool weather. These probably wouldn't be the best boots for hot weather, but I never tested this.
I examined them carefully at the end. The toes are scuffed up. Slight signs of wear on the soles. All the stitches and upper to sole connection are as new. I think I will get many more miles on these boots.
I left the ICS disk at the heel in the "cushion" position as it came from the factory. I have fairly average feet so I couldn't come up with any reason to change it, and I couldn't think how I could test that it made any difference.
As I wore them, with light weight gaiters, a little scuffed up now:
|Next to Deschutes River|
Fairly stiff so they're comfortable on rough terrain
A little bit of padding so they're a bit warmer than most other boots
Waterproof in even the worst conditions
A little heavier than other boots I've used so theoretically I get a little more tired on long hikes
The Gore-Tex and extra padding makes them sweatier than most other boots I've tried
The lack of open top eyelets and heel loop are very minor - probably wouldn't effect my decision to buy these
I'll continue to use these boots in cooler weather but I might use a little lighter boot in warmer weather.
Thanks to Wolverine World Wide and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test these.
Read more gear reviews by jerry adams