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Reviews > Footwear > Camp Shoes > Pakems Extreme Footwear > Test Report by Gail Staisil

Pakems Extreme Footwear
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan

Author on Lake Superior

Page Contents:

July 17, 2015

Tester Information

Name: Gail Staisil
Age: 62
Gender: Female
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.

Product Information

Pakems Inc
Model Women's Extreme
Black/Gray (Also available in Green Camo, Gray/Neon Blue, Black /Marble and Bodie - color your own...markers provided)
Manufacturer  Weight  NA
Tested Weight  19.8 oz (561 g) + 2.6 oz (74 g) for storage bag = 1 lb 6.4 oz (0.64 kg)
For Size Women's 11 (EU 43)
MSRP $70. US

Initial Impressions and Product Description 

The Extreme model of Pakems arrived in great condition in the color of black with grey accents. The workmanship was impeccable. The Pakems are mid-height camp footwear that feature soft Pakems Extreme Footwearmaterials so that they can be packed down to a height of about two inches (5 cm). A handy stuff sack is provided to carry them if desired. The Pakems are designed to be worn for camp wear or for use after an adventure of any sort. They could be easily mistaken for casual footwear in this "anything goes" world. The Extreme model is also available in Men's sizes. The footwear only comes in whole sizes so it is suggested to up a size if between a size. In my case, I wear a Women's Size 11 US (43 EU) so I was able to get the size I normally wear. They fit great. There is room for socks of various thicknesses as the footwear can be adjusted across the instep.

A Little History

Pakems is a Colorado, USA company that specializes in footwear for relaxing after adventure. The founder (Julie Adams) designed them when she realized that a similar product was no where to be found. She had been downhill skiing and took her ski boots off to relax and wished she had something comfortable to put on instead. The rest is history. Pakems makes an assortment of footwear for the whole family.

Pakems Extreme footwear are lightly insulated. The insulation is evident as the sides of the footwear are sewn in a quilted pattern with two layers of lightweight nylon ripstop fabric holding together thin insulation of some sort. The synthetic and rigid rand of the footwear wraps around the bottom edge of the uppers. It is supposed to be highly water resistant and supportive. The rand extends upwards of two inches on the heel area with a lesser width towards the front. The company logo is printed on the exterior. Twill cordage is inserted into the area between the rand and the sole. The rubber sole is made of two layers with a graduated depth being higher in the back versus the front. The bottom of the soles are patterned to essentially add some grip. Part of the pattern is a repetition of "P's" in different sizes and some cut ridges of various widths.Patterned soles for grip

The insole is integrated meaning that it is not removable. It is not contoured or cushioned that I can tell being essentially a flat insert. The words "be kind" are printed on the insole to "encourage everyone that we need to treat others with respect". This is an anti-bullying message as the founder was bullied as a child.

The lacing system is formed by loops that are created with sewn on webbing to form a criss-cross pattern on the sides of the footwear. They kind of remind me of mukluks. There is also a center strip of webbing that runs down the "tongue area" of the top of the shoe. In four different places the laces are run through this area to likely keep the laces aligned. The laces are stretch elastic and form a loop. The closure is a toggle. The resulting loop of elastic can be fastened to the side when wearing so that it doesn't tangle in anything. This is accomplished by a snap closure loop on the interior lateral of each shoe. The top of each shoe or the collar is fabricated with a heavy duty stretch material. This material is used both on the internal surface and the external including the "tongue" area.
It took a little bit of effort to place the Pakems on my feet. They are not footwear that can be just stepped into. They are plenty big enough or are the right size but since the top of them does not have a separate tongue and is indeed a complete circle, they have to be pulled over my foot. I normally don't use the pull loops on the heel of most footwear but it was really better to use the ones on the Pakems. The loop is quite generous in size so I was able to slip my fingers through for a quick tug. Once on, the shoes are kind of loose fitting until the elastic laces are pulled tighter. In my case the resulting elastic loop after tightening is rather large. I did secure it with the snapped loop but it seems likely that the loop still might catch on something. Time will tell.

The storage bag that came with the Pakems is rather heavy at 2.6 oz (74 g). It has webbing straps with a buckle that would allow me to carry it on my waist or attached to my pack. I can see Storage sack for Pakemswhere this might be handy for a day trip but for backpacking purposes it is extra weight to carry.

The Extremes are designed to be more winter footwear in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how they work for the summer and fall months (although I live in northern climes so nights are very cool). As aforementioned the Pakems do come in lighter models which may work better for some.

Easy carry instructions were included. I was happy to see that the Pakems can be machine washed cold and tumble dried low. However they can not be bleached or dry cleaned...not a problem!


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Field Report:
October 13, 2015 

USA Locations and Conditions

During the testing period I have spent 24 days backpacking and have enjoyed the outdoors most other days. Locations of all trips were in the States of Michigan and Washington and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest to mountainous areas. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to over 7800 ft (2377 m).

Location of Trip: Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Length of Trip: 6 days/5 nights (August 21-26)
Pack Weight: 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, rain, and very little sun
Precipitation: 1.12 in (2.84 cm) 
Temperature Range: 43 F to 78 F (6 C to 26 C) 
Location of Trip: Grand Island National Recreation Area, Michigan 
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night (September 3-4) 
Pack Weight: 23 lb (10.4 kg) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Warm, humid and sunny
Precipitation: None 
Temperature Range: 58 F to 76 F/14 C to 24 C (Humidity ranged from 71-99 percent) 
Location of Trip: Pacific Crest Trail north of Rainy Pass, Mt Rainier National Park, Goat Rocks Wilderness, all in the State of Washington
Length of Trip: 9 days, 8 nights (September 12-20) 
Pack Weight: Approx 28 lb (12.7 kg)  
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, foggy, snow, rain and sun
Precipitation: snow/rain
Temperature Range: 26 F to 59 F (-3 to 15 C) 
Location of Trip: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, Michigan 
Length of Trip: 3 days, 2 nights (September 25-27) 
Pack Weight: 25 lb (11.3 kg) Overloaded with good stuff
Sky and Air Conditions: Warm, humid and sunny
Precipitation: None 
Temperature Range: 57 F to 76 F (14 C to 24 C)
Location of Trip: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, Michigan 
Length of Trip: 4 days, 3 nights (October 2-5) 
Pack Weight: 23 lb (10.4 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cool, sunny and cloudy   
Precipitation: None 
Temperature Range: 28 F to 59 F (-2 C to 15 C)
Hanging at Mirror Lake
Trip Talk

During the start of the test period I wasn't too excited with the thought of carrying the heavy and possibly too warm Pakems. The temps were hot for here. During my first trip there were a few chilly days so the Pakems were put to use at camp. Since it was rather wet I used them mostly in a couple of shelters. The temps got down to 43 F (6 C). I did wear them outside on wet surfaces that consisted of dirt, roots and soggy vegetation but my feet managed to stay dry. Also wore them while obtaining water from the big lake (Lake Superior) - a not so easy task if one does not remove footwear.

The next trip was to Grand Island National Recreation Area. The weather was hot and the humidity was high. I didn't have any desire to be other than barefoot at my sandy camp site just off the beach so the Pakems were not utilized. They sadly remained in my pack.

My next trip was to the state of Washington. I watched the weather reports on this one as I already would have a heavy load and I didn't want to lug the Pakems Extreme unless I knew that it was suitable for wearing them. The weather was mostly on the cool side with temps dipping to 26 F (-3 C) more than one night. The Pakems were comfortable enough at camp and kept my feet dry and happy (warm).

My next two trips were to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness in Michigan. During the two trips, temps were moderate. I wore the Pakems around camp and rustic cabins that we rented for some of the trip. The latter included wood finding each day so that we could have a wood stove fire. Since it is late in the season, wood finding usually involved several hours of hunting for suitable pieces (very slim pickings at this time of year). I also wore them while out in a row boat. That is where I noticed that it was tricky finding a place where I could get balanced to get in and out of the boat. It is not like wearing a regular shoe that fits closely and I could trust my foot plant. After trying to balance on logs and large rocks I decided it was better to try to get in and out with a bigger leap from the shore.
In addition I have worn the Pakems for a trip to a friend's cabin and once in awhile at home. I can't say they are my favorite camp shoes right now because of the weight and bulk but hopefully winter camping will find them more suitable.
In general the Pakems are comfortable enough but I really don't think they are that easy to get on and off especially in the middle of the night. Seems like they are just too narrow when pulling them across the instep although I find them loose once they are on. I don't ever have a problem with this with any type of shoe or boots so that is why I am convinced that this is the issue. The laces can be snugged and loosened but it is not enough. 

I have have received several comments regarding the footwear with most indicating they look kind of Alaskan or like mukluks. The comments have been positive and I guess they would indicate that these could pass for decent looking footwear. 

So far they don't look that dirty but I suppose they really are with the dusty conditions of camp areas sometimes. I will wash them before snow season to clean them better.

I am looking forward to much colder weather. It will be neat to see if they are more suitable for winter weather.

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 Long Term Report:
January 4, 2016 

USA Locations and Conditions

During the long term period I have spent 5 days backpacking, 10 days car camping and 5 days rustic cabin (pulled sled in) camping and have enjoyed the outdoors most other days. Locations of all trips were in the States of Michigan and Minnesota and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to over 2000 ft (610 m)


Location of Trip: Cook County/Grand Marais, Minnesota
Car camping trip while doing work/study at folk school and day hikingAuthor hauling sled into rustic cabin
Length of Trip: 10 days, 9 nights (October 16 - 25) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Cold, sunny, cloudy and rain   
Precipitation: 0.58 in (1.47 cm) of rain 
Temperature Range: 24 F to 55 F (-4 C to 13 C)

Location of Trip: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, Michigan 
Length of Trip: 3 days, 2 nights (October 30 - November 1) 
Pack Weight: 23 lb (10.4 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Clouds, rain and wind 
Precipitation: 0.76 in (1.93 cm) 
Temperature Range: 31 F to 45 F (-1 C to 7 C)

Location of Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan 
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night (November 9 - 10) 
Pack Weight: 23 lb (10.4 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Clouds and sun  
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 35 F (2 C) to 56 F (13 C)

Location of Trip: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Trip: 5 days, 4 nights (December 30 - January 3) 
Sled Weight: Estimated 45 lb (20.4 kg) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, snow, some sun
Precipitation: About 7 - 8 in (18 - 20 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range: 17 F to 34 F (- 8 C to 1 C) 

Trip Talk

During the long term period the temps plummeted and the Pakems came in to shine. My first trip was a very long car camping trip of 10 days to northern Minnesota. The weather really was mostly cold and rainy during my stay. Being in the Central Time Zone, darkness came early. After busy days working at an arts school, I spent a lot of inactive time in camp always wearing the Pakems to try to keep my feet warm in the low temps. I was mostly successful with that and glad to have footwear that worked. There were also many nights of rain but the damp conditions outside didn't wet out the Pakems to any degree.

Relaxing in front of wood fireMy next two trips were backpacking trips. The first of these was to the Porcupine Mts where it rained almost constantly for over 30 hours. Camp time was spent mostly under a tarp but I walked back and forth to other areas as needed in the wet environment. There were times when I went right through puddles that just appeared to be dead leaves but were quite sodden with water. I wore a pair of SealSkinz socks inside the Pakems to keep my feet warm as I was quite cold from the relentless rain. I was happy with the combination.

The next trip was to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The Pakems made great camp shoes...I even wore them for beach walking along Lake Superior for a couple of miles (3.5 km).

The last trip was just recently to a rustic cabin deep in the Hiawatha National Forest. I hauled a gear sled in and then spent other days snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The Pakems were worn for all hours other than that (in the cabin, trips to wood pile and outhouse). During this time it snowed an additional 7 to 8 in (18 to 20 cm). The air temps were fairly consistent during this time so the snow remained easy to walk on (didn't melt and re-freeze). My feet stayed dry. Chores including wood hauling, etc were done in the Pakems and the soles never slipped in the snow.
There have been no issues with durability during the test period. I still wish the insoles were removable as they would be easier to clean. After the latest trip in clean snow conditions the Pakems almost appear new. I will continue to wear them for winter conditions but they really didn't work well for other seasons (too heavy and too warm). Pakems does make other models which might be more suitable for backpacking in warmer months.

  • Attractive appearance
  • Soles adequate for most surfaces
  • Laces adjust with cordlock closure to insure a good fit
  • Lace keeper keeps extra cordage from dangling
  • Patterned sole for grip

  • Heavy/bulky for backpacking although lighter models are available
  • Hard to remove and place on feet
  • Insole is not removable

Tester Remarks 

Thanks to Pakems and for this opportunity to test the Extreme Footwear. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.

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