AHNU RIDGECREST SHOES
TEST SERIES BY JOHN R. WATERS
INITIAL REPORT - November 03, 2015
FIELD REPORT - March 31, 2016
LONG TERM REPORT - April 21, 2016
John R. Waters
jrw at backpackgeartest dot org
Canon City, Colorado USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
175 lb (79.40 kg)
My backpacking began in 1999. I have hiked rainforests in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, 14ers in Colorado and Death Valley's deserts.
I hike or snowshoe 6-8 miles (10 km-13 km) 2-3 times weekly in the Cooper Mountain range, with other day-long hikes on various other southwest and central Colorado trails. I frequently hike the mountains and deserts of Utah and Arizona as well.
My daypack is 18 lb (8 kg); overnights' weigh over 25 lb (11 kg). I'm aiming to reduce my weight load by 40% or more.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.ahnu.com
MSRP: US $150.00
|Listed Weight: 15.8 oz (448 g) each shoe
Measured Weight: 19 oz (539 g)
Colors Available: Dark Shadow, Dark Olive, Black
Color Tested: Dark Shadow (Gray)
Sizes Available: Men's 7 - 13
Size Tested: Men's 10.5
* eVent waterproof bootie
* Waterproof leather and hydrophobic mesh
* Numentum™ Hike technology
* RMAT® midsole
* Spider Rubber™ outsole
* Integrated TPU shank and arch support
* Shock dispersal plate
* Moisture-wicking mesh lining
* Rubber toe protector
Warranty: "Ahnu® products are warranted to provide normal wear and be free from defective materials or faulty manufacturing for one year from confirmed date of purchase. Any products beyond one year will be evaluated on a case by case basis. "
|Photo © Ahnu
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING THEM OUT
Since these are not my first pair of Ahnu brand footwear, I was pretty confident the size 10.5 men's shoes I ordered would fit per the sizing chart on the Ahnu website. And they do.
Is this "like at first sight"? I'm ready to start trying these out right now.
They look great. They look to be rugged. With the eVent© lining, they look to be waterproof. With the thicker than average sole insert, they look to be comfortable. They even have the tie-down lacing holes. The tread design looks quite aggressive and rugged.
Putting my 10.5 US (44 EU) foot in for the first time was quite easy and with mid-cushion hiking socks on, quite comfortable. These have SPIDER RUBBER soles (that's what's embossed on the shoe). I'll see if I can jump between boulders. But, actually, walking on the tile floor in my office they squeak and are sticking to the floor. Interesting. I'm looking forward to giving these a real workout.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Though there weren't any care instructions included with the shoes in the manner of clothing care tags, I did find some guidance on the Ahnu website for their care in their FAQ section.
Ahnu recommends occasionally using any trusted nubuck leather cleaner and conditioner to keep the leather at its best. Synthetic uppers should be cleaned by handwashing with a mild soap and cold water. Of course, excessive dirt should be removed promptly with a soft-bristled brush, like an old toothbrush. The shoes should be allowed to thoroughly air dry away from direct heat and sunlight.
These instructions are common to all my other shoes and nothing new to me, but what I did learn was the footbeds should be removed and handwashed with a mild soap and a soft-bristled brush as well. Same as with the shoes, the footbeds should be air-dried away from direct heat and sunlight and never dried in an electric or gas dryer. Interesting. Wonder if that will make my shoes smell less, well, less like shoes?
Now that we are going into the colder, wetter winter months, I start to pay more attention to what's on my feet when I'm trekking outdoors. Living and hiking in high desert, waterproofing isn't usually at the top of my boot features priority list in the summer, but once the snow arrives, I think more about the need to keep my feet dry. Snowshoeing in footwear that is not waterproof often makes for a miserable outing. Usually, I wear a higher boot in the winter, but with the Ridgecrest Shoes, I hope to be able to continue to stay dry by wearing gaiters and hope to be even more flexible than when wearing higher boots.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Well, I was hoping to get to test these in warmer weather and Mother Nature cooperated. Usually in December and January, the temps here in Colorado and where we hike are between 20 and 40 degrees F (-7 and 4 C). This season the temps have been unusually warm here. While folks on the East Coast are getting temps under 0 F (-18 C), we are seeing temps in the 40 to 70 F range (4 to 21 C). Of course, we still trekked up to over 11,000 ft (3500 m) above sea level and did snow shoeing, which the Ahnus are not designed for (even with the eVent membrane) unless wearing gaiters.
Over the past 12 weeks, I have been wearing the Ridgecrest shoes almost all the time and probably have put at least 1200 miles (1900 km) on these guys. Extensive hiking throughout Fremont County here in Colorado at altitudes from 5,000 to 7,500 ft (1500 to 2300 m) in both wet and really wet conditions. We had some heavy rainfall in January that flooded out many of our roads and trails. So I used those opportunities to hike around under some very wet conditions. I even was on trails with 3 or 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) of wet snow just to see how the eVent membrane would handle the wetness.
I also put miles on in Salt Lake, UT in the East Canyon State Park in the snow at 12 F (-11 C). We were hoping to go snowshoeing, but the snow was not that deep and it was very crusty anyway.
I made sure to go off trail where possible wherever I was and climb around on boulders under wet and dry conditions.
And, of course, the way I see if the soles are tough, is to use shoes and boots when I climb our communication towers, because I can be standing on a 1 inch (2.5 cm) metal bar for up to an hour at a time. If my feet don't hurt, the footwear is going to handle well on a pebbly, rough trail for sure.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Very nice. I had no instances of blisters or rubbing and there was no break-in period necessary. The lacing system was comfortable, although it is possible to get carried away and snug the lace up too tightly when working quickly. I had many times when I had to untie, pull the lacing down to loosen up the tongue area, and then re-tie.
The lacing has the extra heel-locking holes at top to lock my feet into the shoe to avoid blisters (which I was not at all in danger of without using this feature) and to minimize toe cramming going down steep inclines. I am not going to even try to explain the lacing technique to use these holes. There are plenty of videos on the Internet.
* Weather conditions
Excellent. These are high performance trail shoes that handled well under dry, wet and SNOW. The eVent membrane kept my feet dry even when my rain gear was dripping wet and my non-raingear hiking pants were pretty well soaked. The exterior never got soaked significantly and dried off quickly. Snow all over the shoe never penetrated even as it melted on my foot. Although the Ridgecrest is not an insulated shoe, I was still able to wear mid-weight hiking socks at 10 F and my feet did not get uncomfortably cold.
Wading in the Arkansas River in December while fly fishing, yeah, I could feel the cold water, but as long as I didn't get water into the interior, my feet did not get wet walking around the shoreline for a few hours (the shoes did nothing to help me catch fish though).
When it was clear and warm (sunny and up to 65 F), my feet didn't sweat. Apparently, these breathe quite well and amazingly, even after a whole day they didn't stink. I have other shoes that I can use for an hour and they smell awful. The Ridgecrests have not smelled bad the entire time I've been using them. I find that interesting. I will be using these more in the warmer weather for sure.
|Handles loose rock comfortably and no slipping.
* Trail Conditions
The tread is quite aggressive and gave good traction on everything I threw at it. No slips on wet rock. Slight slip on ice. Pretty good handling on muddy trails. No problem handling dusty or sandy trails. No issues with skidding on pebbles. And no pebbles getting stuck in the tread other than really tiny grit in a few of the small slash lines that would only come out with a thin knife edge.
* Wear and Tear
No loose fabric threads. No cracks in the sole. No separations. There is some small amount of pitting on the sole resulting from normal trail wear but nothing that would not be expected and so small that there is PLENTY of life left to go. Laces are fine (I always double tie them.). Insoles are fine other than the normal fuzz that collects around the toe and heel (and they still smell okay!)
I did use these while tower climbing (we only climb in dry weather of course) and these were quite comfortable and handled well because of the aggressive tread that allowed me to comfortable keep in place on the tower rung.
The Ridgecrests clean off well, having been subjected to wet, muddy conditions. I just hosed the mud off and all was well.
Briefly put: The Ridgecrests are a class act so far. Comfortable. Sturdy. Waterproof. Non-smelly. Handle well under a lot of different conditions. I like them a lot.
The temperature will be rising and over the next 4 weeks, we may see temps reach over 90 F (32 C) in some of the desert areas we will be in. Going to be interesting to see if the Ridgecrest shoes can still be odor-free and if the soles hold up as well when the desert floor hits those high temperatures.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I've hiked all over Fremont County, Colorado on dozens of trails and over 100 miles (160 km) of rock, dirt, mud, scree, concrete, and even in snow and on ice and even climbed up my microwave towers. These shoes were subjected to altitudes from 5,200 ft (1600 m) to 7,800 ft (2400 m) with temperatures from 10 F (-12 C) to 80 F (27 C), humidity from 8% to 80%, winds gusting up to 48 mph (77.2 k/h) along a ridge top with the associated sand blasting. I carry a pocket anemometer to check wind speed. I figured out that at 25 mph (40 k/h) I start to get pushed forward.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
This is my final report for the Ahnu Ridgeway trail shoes. Let me just say that these shoes should have fallen apart by now. I wear them so much and under such terrible conditions and they have not failed . Not even close.
I really should have killed these shoes by now. They still don't hold odor even when my socks do. By the way, I always wear all my trail shoes and boots with good hiking socks. Using thin dress socks is asking for blisters.
Just for kicks after wearing them for 10 hours at 75 F (24 C) in bright sunshine, I took them off and put my other trail shoes on. My feet didn't smell coming out of the Ridgecrests. I stuck my nose in the Ridgecrests after about 30 minutes and there was only a very slight odor. Then after only 2 hours in my other trail shoes my feet began to smell. Interesting. The Ridgecrests with eVent apparently allowed breathing and the other pair of trail shoes I switched to had plain GORE-TEX and did not.
The soles are in great shape. They held up well with no discernable wear and tear.
The exterior fabric is in great shape with no tears or wear. There are signs of wear and darkening on the insole though.
On the Newlin Trail in Florence, Colorado, I even wore them on the snowy trail at 22 F (-5.6 C) since they are eVent trail shoes and wanted to see how they would perform. And they did very well. No wetness at all from melting snow on my foot while we stood still and ate lunch, and pretty darn good traction, too. I never felt like I was in danger of slipping in the lose snow. They slipped on bare ice as to be expected, but not badly.
We've had a lot of rain the past few weeks and a lot of mud. The Ridgeways performed well under very wet conditions and shed water as to be expected from an eVent shoe. They brushed off well when the mud dried and the soles cleaned up pretty well even when the mud was wet.
eVent technology is somewhat similar to GORE-TEX in that they both use fabric with millions of microscopic pores per square inch that are 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water but 700 times larger than a moisture vapor molecule which allows gas and heat to be released (hence, breathable but waterproof). The difference is that GORE-TEX has a membrane between the inner and outer fabric which is oleophobic (able to repel oils and dirt) and eVent doesn't. So eVent fabric tends to need cleaning more, but eVent directly vents sweat to the outside while with GORE-TEX those sweat and heat molecules need to work their way through that middle layer. THAT is perhaps why the Ridgeways don't smell as much when my feet sweat. They apparently vent very well.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
" They are comfortable
" They wear well
" The soles wear well
" They did not allow water in under wet and snowy conditions
" They don't allow my feet to smell like other trail shoes I have
If I had to find one, the top of the tongue seems just a little low when not used with the heel lock lacing holes (the ones at the very top). I have to pull the laces up and over the top of the tongue when lacing up or the laces slide under the tongue. Otherwise, I am very happy with these trail shoes.
Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Ahnu for the chance to try out the Ridgecrest eVent WP Shoes.
John R. Waters
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