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Reviews > Footwear > Camp Shoes > Pakems Extreme Footwear > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

PAKEMS EXTREME FOOTWEAR
Test Series by Theresa Lawrence
Initial Report - August 7, 2015 
Field Report - October 18, 2015

 Long Term Report - January 14, 2016

TESTER INFORMATION

Name: Theresa Lawrence
Email: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
Age: 37
Location: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)

I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.

Initial Report - August 7, 2015
PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Pakems Inc
Manufacturer's URL: www.pakems.com
Year of Manufacture: 2015

Made in:
China
MSRP: $70 US

Measured Weight: 600 g (1.32 lbs) for the pair with tote bag.
525 g (1.16 lbs) without the bag.
Colors Available: Black/Gray, Black/Marble, Gray/Neon Blue, Bodie Edition (color your own with markers included)
Color Tested: Gray/Neon Blue
Sizes Available:
6, 7, 8 , 9, 10, 11
Size Tested:
9 US women's


DESCRIPTION & FIRST IMPRESSIONS                                                                                

The Pakems Extreme high top packable shoes came packed in a box along with a Pakems decal, Pakems citrus chap balm, a description card and a matching tote bag. There were no tags attached to the shoes or bag, so I was not sure at first of the type of Pakems I received. The description card also did not indicate the model name. I was able to match it to the website, so I believe these are the Extreme High Top. What the card does point out are the features of the boot which include a rubber outer sole for traction, an insulated layer, a durable rand that keeps water out and provides greater support, a water-resistant coating and bungee lacing and toggle closure. I also found a trendy little strap on the side that snaps shut and holds the bungee lace out of the way. I'm told that I can machine wash these boots in cold water and tumble dry on low, which is pretty neat. Washable and packable!

Looking more closely, there is a tag on the inside that indicates what fabrics were used. This included upper rip stop nylon, lining and sock textile (not sure what type of textile that would be) and outer sole rubber. There is a Pakems logo on the bottom tread and on the rand. Between the rand and the outer sole interface is a sort of braided fabric that makes me wonder how it will do against outdoor exposure. The rand helps keep water out, but I'm wondering if there may be a weakness at the interface, something I'll be looking out for in my field test. 

With regards to product information provided by the manufacturer, I found the information sparse, both with what came with the shoes and what I found on the website. In fact the website, was surprisingly unhelpful in providing any additional information about these shoes. The website was very much about the story on how Pakems originated as opposed to the technical specifications of the products they sell. And while it was a warm and fuzzy story, it had no sway in informing me about whether the shoes would work for me and my decision to purchase them.


TRYING THEM ON

When trying them on they felt like floppy slippers. Easy to slip on and slip off, which was great. However, even though the length is good, indicating that they are the right size, they offered very little support and were very roomy. I could tighten them a bit with the bungee cord, but because the stretch of the bungee was no match for the structure of the boot, it was only a marginal effect. The extra volume resulted in my heel coming up significantly with each step I took. Less so with thick socks. I do appreciate that they accommodate thick socks, as I feel these are more of a winter apparel. Because they are high top, my foot does stay in the boot and I can effectively walk around, even with the heel slip. I will have to wait and see if this is a small or big problem during the field test.

The thickness of the sole appears to protect from feeling every little rock and root in uneven terrain, which I think will be a bonus in the backcountry. More on that in the field report. The traction also appears quite robust, which I'll put to test. 
These boots appear to be quite insulative. While temperatures are quite warm at the moment, come the end of the Long Term test phase I should be hitting some much colder temperatures and less than ideal weather and I anticipate I will be able to test these insulative properties. In the meantime, I'm worried they may be a little warm for the record temperatures we've been having here in the Rockies. My idea of how I will be using these boots are as backcountry camp shoes, which will include short walks around camp in mountainous terrain, forest and beach.

They are heavier than I would normally be willing to pack into the backcountry and do take up a fair bit of volume. We'll see how this adds to my backcountry travels.

SUMMARY

So far my initial impressions of the Extreme High Top packable shoe are mixed. I like the high top feature, insulative properties, robust rand and traction and even the colors and look are fun. But, I have reservations over the fit and comfort. With the amount of heel slip, I'm wondering if this will create adverse friction and if it could easily be ignored given I generally don't do a lot of walking around once I've set up camp. Any significant jaunt from camp I would put my hiking boots back on. Other pending outcomes of interest include their durability in whatever weather I encounter and how practical they are for packing in my backpack. Stay tuned for the answers to all these questions in about two months time.


Field Report - October 18, 2015


FIELD CONDITIONS
              
Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia
(4 days, 3 nights)
Distance: 65 km (44.4 mi). Elevation Gain: ~ 4000 m (13123 ft). Maximum Elevation: 2336 m (7664 ft).
Temperatures: - 3 C (26 F) to 26 C (79 F). Weather: one full day of rain, some strong winds, and sleet/ snow at higher elevations, the rest of the trip was cloudy and sunny with one morning waking up to frost. Trail Conditions: forest, sub-alpine and alpine trails.
Broken Group, Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
 (5 days, 4 nights)
Sea kayaking around The Broken Group Islands. Rugged west coast beach terrain.
Temperatures: 9 C (48 F) to 27 C (81 F).
Weather: mostly sunny, high humidity and occasionally some forceful sea breezes.
Car Camping Excursions
Various Locations in Montana and Alberta
(5 nights in total)
Car Camping in National, Provincial and State Parks.
Temperatures: 3 C (37 F) to 30 C (86 F).
Weather: mostly sunny, some rain and wind. 



FIT & COMFORT

In my initial report I was concerned about the fit because they came across quite floppy. However, in actuality the fit was okay. I liked the fact that they were extra roomy. It allowed my feet to feel free and not constricted following many hours of hiking. The extra room also allowed for socks and in some cases when it was really cold, (at freezing), 2 pairs of socks. Even with bare feet when the compression cords didn't compress much, the narrow opening ensured that they didn't slip off. I also found they didn't cause any abrasion or unpleasant rubbing. While they fit well enough, I couldn't say they were the most comfortable camp shoes I've ever worn. At this time I would say they were reasonably comfortable to wear around camp. Where they fell short was in the lack of arch support and insole cushioning. And without cushion the soles were quite hard and very noticeably so on hard surfaces. In these instances they offered very little give for sore feet.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

My first trip with these boots was on a kayaking trip in July. The weather was quite warm overall and I found my feet overheated very quickly and started to sweat. At the cooler temperatures of that trip they were quite comfortable, but around a camp fire, they were way too toasty. On the flip side, on my Rockwall trip in the alpine, I encountered some below freezing temperatures and they just barely kept my feet warm while wearing two pairs of wool hiking socks. From my experiences I feel they faired best in mild temperatures such as on the shoulder seasons where the weather is not too cold, nor not too hot.

What I did like about these boots was the protection that they offered my feet. I was not worried about stubbing my toes or stepping on sharp rocks. I felt very confident in their ability to keep my feet safe. In one instance I walked 1 km (0.62 mi) uphill along large rockfall debris to get to a waterfall and was pleased with their performance on such rugged terrain. The patterned tread offered a decent grip for the terrain. Furthermore, I walked on some very damp (from heavy rain) trails and my feet stayed dry and the outer materials repelled any rainwater I encountered. They do appear to be durable and after wearing them on 12 occasions they have held up with no issues. They are a bit dirty, but they still appear as new.

They were easy to get on with my bare feet, but with socks the narrow opening was a tight fit and took some effort. In the middle of the night this was mildly frustrating. For camp shoes they were a tad on the heavy side and took up a bit of volume, both of which I was willing to sacrifice to get my feet out of my hiking boots. The tote bag they came with was light enough that I could use it to pack the boots in. But, I did remove the shoulder strap as I had no use for it. The Velcro straps on the bag kept the shoes compressed, which was useful.

SUMMARY

So far I have found the Pakems Extreme Footwear to be reasonably comfortable and offer lots of protection from rugged terrain, dampness and rain. The tread offers a confident grip on sloping rocks and trail. The insulation doesn't appear to hold much warmth in freezing temperatures and was much too warm in moderate temperatures. But, overall I would say they were a decent camp shoe for mild temperatures and worked well for rugged outdoor conditions. Stay tuned as there will be more to follow in another couple months.

Likes
- Provides good grip
- Provides good protection from rugged terrain
- Protects from rain and dampness
- Durable and reliable

Dislikes
- Not the most comfortable (no cushion)
- Not supportive (no arch or ankle support)
- Insulation doesn't hold heat in freezing temperatures and too warm for moderate temperatures
- Difficult to get on and off when wearing socks
- A bit weighty and takes up pack volume







 Long Term Report - January 14, 2016

LONG TERM FIELD CONDITIONS

Thunder Meadows Hut
Fernie, British Columbia
(3 days, 2 nights)
Description: Hiking with backcountry hut accommodation.
Distance: 8.2 km (5 mi). Elevation Gain: 710 m (2330 ft). Maximum Elevation: 1900 m (6235 ft). Temperatures: -3 C ( F) to 15 C (59 F). Weather: dry and sunny, light breeze.
Trail Conditions: steep forest trail and steep alpine meadows, boulders and scree.
Tunnel Creek Hut
Fernie, British Columbia
(3 days, 2 nights)
Description: Ski Touring with backcountry hut accommodation.
Distance: 21 km (13 mi). Elevation Gain: ~5000 m (16,400 ft). Maximum Elevation: 2054 m (6740 ft). Temperatures: -10 C (14 F) to -8 C (17 F). Weather: cloudy, but dry, light wind.
Trail Conditions: compact snow and fluffy powder, steep alpine terrain.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Since the field test I have been able to take these camp boots into much colder conditions on two different trips which involved backcountry hut accommodation. The huts were heated with wood stoves, so the indoor temperatures were rather warm. Inside the hut, these Pakems offered adequate protection and grip on wet floor. Near the wood stove, these boots weren't needed because of the warmth. But, walking around and away from the stove, a medium weight wool sock worn with these boots worked really well and was comfortable. Outside the hut on compact snow the boots worked really well offering traction and kept my feet dry from wet snow. Walking through fresh powder also kept my feet dry as long as I could keep the snow coming in from the top, which I achieved by putting my base layer pant cuffs over the ankle boot acting as a gaiter.

When worn with thick wool socks, these camp boots were adequately insulated for the winter conditions. I found I had enough room in the boots to accommodate different thicknesses of wool socks to achieve my liking. I found them to be cozy with the wool socks, although a bit on the hard side especially when walking on hard surfaces due to the lack of insole cushion. The lack of arch support mentioned in my previous field report did not bother me at all on these winter trips as I was looking for more of a slipper feel after being in a ski touring boot all day.

At no time was their waterproofness ever breached. They remained in good, clean condition, which would attest to their reliability and durability. As for packing, they don't take up an unreasonable amount of room in my backpack, though they are a bit weighty. However, for winter hut trips, the weight wasn't as critical because I'm not packing a stove or a mat and so I'm willing to take on the extra weight.

SUMMARY

My final conclusions were that the Pakems Extreme Footwear were a fine addition to my winter backcountry hut trips. They were much too warm for summer, but I found them to work well as a winter hut boot. They have proven to hold up to their waterproof claims and they did well for grip on compact snow. For the winter, they worked well in concert with warm wool socks. The size and width accommodated many thicknesses of wool socks. I was satisfied by their reliability and durability, though they were a bit on the heavy side.

Likes
- Provides good grip
- Provides good protection from rugged terrain
- Protects from rain, dampness and snow
- Durable and reliable
- Insulation adequate for winter when worn with wool socks

Dislikes
- Not the most comfortable (no insole cushion)
- Can be difficult to get on and off  especially when wearing socks
- A bit weighty and takes up a bit of pack volume



Thanks to Pakems Inc and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to take part in this test series.



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Reviews > Footwear > Camp Shoes > Pakems Extreme Footwear > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence



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