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Reviews > Footwear > Camp Shoes > Giesswein Vent Shoes > Test Report by Gail StaisilGiesswein Vent Shoes
Test Series by Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan USA
Initial Report - March 13, 2017
Field Report - May 16, 2017
Long Term Report - July 26, 2017
March 13, 2017
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 160 lb (73 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com
For the last 20 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.
Initial Impressions and Product Description
I received the Giesswein (geese-vine) Vent Shoes in the color of Black and in the size Women's 11-11.5 US (42 EU). The sizes for the Vent appear to be Unisex so for instance that same size would equate to a smaller Men's size (8.5-9 US). The Vent Shoe is considered an indoor/outdoor shoe which separates it from some of the other categories of footwear made by the manufacturer that are for indoor purposes only. Giesswein products have been made in Europe since 1954 and their motto is "Wool is Cool". Much of my clothing is wool so I am excited about testing wool footwear.
The Vent shoes can be used both indoors and outdoors belonging to the Lodge Shoe category by the manufacturer. When I tried them on they seemed true-to-size and I was immediately taken with their comfort. The shoes are quite hefty with the upper being comprised of breathable boiled wool. The wool is processed for up to 12 hrs in a procedure called "fulling". It is "washed, agitated, compressed, and subjected to high and low temps" in spring water (washing machine) and dried. This gives it a fuzzy appearance and the shoe is soft to the touch and not scratchy. The wool helps keep feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Wool by nature is both odor and water resistant.
The upper has a pull loop on the back of the heel. I found this helpful in getting the shoe on as the collar of the shoe fits closely around the top of my foot. There is a cinch cord laced through the collar (elastic gore vamp) for further security if necessary. The toe cap and heel cap are reinforced with recycled fiber for added durability. I can especially feel this inside the shoe in the toe area and it gives more of a shape to the toe box. However it is not noticeable while wearing. The shoes I would say are very utilitarian in appearance with no excess decoration. They are unadorned other than the heel tab with Giesswein imprinted on the tape and a small tag on the lateral side of each shoe with the name of the manufacturer. However if looking for more color or decoration the manufacturer has a whole plethora of options!
The Vent model comes with cork-latex removable footbeds. The top of each footbed is suede and the footbed features anatomically correct arch supports that support metatarsal and medial areas. This is a substantial footbed that provides the maximum level of comfort that Giesswein makes - Level 5/5. The footbed could be replaced with custom orthotics if preferred.
The rubber outsole is waterproof and treaded for slip resistance and non-marking. With that said I have already worn the shoes in the house as well as driving to/from and walking into a ski hut where a fresh layer of 5 in (12.7 cm) of snow had fallen. The shoes picked up quite a bit of snow but when I went inside the water melted off and didn't penetrate through to my socks. The soles also gripped well. Looks like they are off to a great start.
The footbed must be removed prior to washing. The shoes can be machine washed in cold water on a gentle cycle with mild detergent if desired. No fabric softener or machine drying. Stuff with paper and air-dry overnight. The last part reminds me of how we dried winter footwear when I was growing up!
The Giesswein Vent Shoes appear to be very comfortable and versatile. I will be testing them both indoors and outdoors during the upcoming months.
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May 16, 2017
USA Locations and Conditions
During the field test period I have taken one winter backpacking trip, one spring backpacking trip and I have worn the shoes at least several times a week during the whole test period. The trips were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I live and it was in mostly boreal forest. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2,000 ft (610 m). I have also worn them on two trips to Wisconsin where they were worn outside for all activities.
Location of Trip: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night (March 29-30)
Sled Weight: 40 lb (18 kg)
Distance: 6 mi (9.7 km) sled pull to camp wearing snowshoes and 12 mi (19 km) ski
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy
Temperature Range: 27 F to 34 F (-3 C to 1 C)
Location of Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night (May 11-12)
Pack Weight: 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Distance: 8 mi (13 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy and a bit of sun
Temperature Range: 36 F (2 C) to 62 F (17 C)
Since receiving the Giesswein Vent Shoes I have worn them almost daily. I started off by wearing them inside the house which is unusual for me as I prefer bare or sock-clad feet even in the winter. At no time did I consider kicking them off for being too hot as the wool used even in the inserts seem to keep them very breathable. They kept my feet very comfortable. Throughout the winter I volunteered at a ski cabin where I worked three-hour stints. I wore the shoes while driving there (almost an hour each way) as well as wearing them in the rustic cabin itself. Because the shoes are in a neutral color, I started wearing them just about everywhere. At first I thought it would be an issue and my feet would get wet but that simply didn't happen even though I walked through at least 6 in (15.2 cm) of fresh snow at times. Our last significant snowfall of 7 in (17.8 cm) happened on April 11 so I got in almost a month of winter time use.
I also wore them to a sugarbush during maple syrup production. I was there for four hours mostly standing on snowy surfaces and my feet stayed nice and dry and warm. Now that it is becoming more spring-like weather I still have been wearing them to town for errands and such. Not sure that is the intended purpose of these shoes but it has worked well for me.
During my winter camping trip my feet were grateful to be put in the Vents as my feet were tired from both skiing and snowshoeing (the latter while pulling a sled). They kept my feet plenty warm at camp with the temps mostly below freezing. During my spring trip the weather was still very cool with lows around freezing. I was glad to wear the shoes at camp. Since the trip was only for one night and my pack was not super heavy, I did not mind carrying the extra weight and bulk of the shoes.
I have found the soles of the shoes to grip nicely on all surfaces with no slipping even in snow and icy surfaces.
Lately at various times the shoes have collected sand on the outside but it has never penetrated through to the inside. Shortly I will be leaving here to do the "work" part of a work/study program for two weeks in northern Minnesota. I will be camping the entire time in an unheated yurt in very cool conditions, so I expect the shoes will be worn a lot during this extended period.
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Long Term Report:
July 26, 2017
USA Locations and Conditions
During the long term period I have camped in a yurt for a total of 14 consecutive nights. Other trips amounted to an additional 21 days for a total of 35 days during the long term period. I have also worn the shoes often just for every day life including trips to town. The yurt trip was in northern Minnesota very close to the Canadian border. Other locations included Wisconsin and Michigan, USA. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2,000 ft (610 m).
Location of Trip: Grand Marais, Minnesota
Length of Trip: Base camp in yurt - 15 days, 14 nights (May 16-30)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, windy, rained most days of the entire trip
Temperature Range: 38 F to 54 F (3 C to 12 C)
Location of Trips: 7-day trip to Wisconsin (June 19-25), overnight car camping trip to Dead River Basin/Willow Creek area (July 2-3), a 4-day trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan (July 5-8), a 2 -day trip to Fayette State Park Lodge (July 10-11), also wore them at different times during another trip to the Keweenaw (July 17-22).
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds, wind, rain, etc.
Temperature Range: 42 F to 78 F (6 C to 26 C)
During my trip to northern Minnesota I resided in a small unheated yurt for a bit over two weeks. The weather was everything but nice. Winds, thunderstorms, clouds prevailed...and did I mention cold? All nights were at freezing or not significantly above it. Daytime temps were mostly in the low 40's (4-6 C) with an occasional 50 F (10 F) degree day. I wore the shoes far more than I anticipated. I always wore them around camp but I also wore them to the art school where I was working. The grassy/weedy surfaces surrounding the yurt were not mowed yet this spring so I was always walking in tall wet vegetation. The felted wool kept my feet from getting wet. This is one of the most amazing aspects of testing these shoes as they have seen far more wetness than most non-waterproof shoes would tolerate. Most footing surfaces seemed to keep me upright but one day the long grass and steep slopes were apparently too much as I slipped and literally tumbled over twice..what a scene! Can't totally blame the outsoles as the slope was quite steep and wet!
I usually don't mention trips that I didn't choose to take the Vents on, but I did wear the Vents both before and after an 11-day trip while driving over two hours each way to the ferry For Isle Royale National Park. I was packed to the hilt for that long backpacking trip not allowing me to take the Vents. I also took the Vents on several additional trips to visit family in Wisconsin, a car camping overnight trip on the Dead River Basin as well as two trips to the family homestead in the Keweenaw Peninsula Michigan. I also did an overnight trip to Fayette State Park where I stayed in a lodge. The shoes were handy on all of these trips as they are easy to get on and off plus being very comfortable.
Overall I have continued to find the Vent Shoes not only very comfortable but durable. They have been my go-to shoe for driving too. I have worn them far more in outdoor conditions than I expected throughout the test period. They have handled everything from snow to sand/mud. They have also have kept my feet warm when the temps were cold and my feet comfortable when the temps have been hot. They still look great and don't seem to hold odor that I can notice. I believe I will continue wearing these shoes for a long time! In fact I will be bringing them as camp shoes on a three-day backpacking trip next week to Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park.
-Sherpa fleece padded collar
-Molded heel ridge
Thanks to Giesswein and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity to test the Vent Shoes. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.
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