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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Ahnu Sequoia Trail Shoes > Owner Review by Kathleen Waters

AHNU SEQUOIA WOMEN'S TRAIL SHOES
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
Ahnu Logo
February 12, 2011

OWNER REVIEW

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy@backpackgeartest.com
AGE: 59
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Ahnu
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.ahnufootwear.com
MSRP: US $100.00
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 22 oz (624 g) per pair
Sizes Available: 6-11 Women's US
Size Reviewed: 8 Women's US
Colors Available: Jadeite, Total Eclipse & Medium Gray
Color Reviewed: Medium Gray

Other details:

* Leather upper with synthetic mesh panels
* Mesh lining
* Forefoot shock-dispersal plate
* NPS (Neutral Positioning System)
* ETC® Footbeds
* Compression-molded EVA midsoles
* Outsole-integrated thermoplastic urethane shanks and arch supports
* Vibram non-marking rubber outsoles with cross-directional lug pattern
Ahnu Sequoia Trail Shoes
Picture Courtesy of Ahnu

Warranty (from Ahnu website): "Ahnu guarantees all of our products to be free of defects in materials and workmanship. We firmly stand behind everything we produce. Our warranty is valid for one full year from the original time of purchase. "

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Ahnu Sequoias on Trail
Ahnus on the Trail
If I thought the Ahnu Terra Linda trail shoes were snazzy, I was even more impressed with the look of the Sequoia trail shoes (hereafter referred to as "Shoes" or "Sequoias")! But beauty is as beauty does and is only skin deep and all those other platitudes the good sisters tried to drill in me in grade school and the Sequoias are definitely more than just a pretty face!

Starting with their low-cut profile, the Shoes follow the typical trail shoe design - lots of fabric for venting, traditional lacing, minimal toe rand and rubberized side bumpers and a flexible sole

Charcoal gray synthetic mesh and Nubuck leather uppers combined with nylon mesh create a sporty but dressy, not blatantly outdoors-only look. Accents of light green and blue add a bit of color via side stripes which cross over and create the lace loops. The laces are smooth, round, black laces with a thread of light green running through them.

A dual density sock liner for reduction of irritation and heat build-up, begins in the heel and continues throughout the foot body. The same colored inner sole covers "high density EVA plugs" which "are supported by external struts on both the medial and lateral sides of the heel"

There is a padded collar and a small but useful "pull loop" at the back of the collar.

The outsoles of the Shoes are reported to be Vibram® and have mid to shallow lugs that outline the footprint of the shoes. They rather make me think of "Jaws" - opposing sets of teeth with the front of the foot being larger than the heel! In the center of the palate are gray contrasting boomerang-shaped wedges. At the arch is the vivid yellow Vibram® logo sandwich between crescent lateral arch supports. Bits of blue and green accents connect the sole with the uppers.

FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE

Slipping my feet into the Sequoias for the first time at the Outdoor Retail Winter 2010 Show in Salt Lake City 13 months ago was like putting on my oldest, most comfortable sneakers! Ahnu says the Sequoias are "Designed for: Traditional Hiking, Fast Hiking, and Traditional Walking."

I'm not sure whether I was doing "Traditional Walking" and at times, I'm equally sure I was "Fast Hiking" across the Salt Palace, but such was my initiation to the Ahnu Sequoias that day!

It was almost 6 hours into a day of pounding the cement floors of the Salt Palace and my feet were feeling rather abused and they were also hot. In the instant I pulled the Sequoias on, the insides of the Sequoias felt as smooth and cool as new silk stockings. They were cushion-y and the toe box was roomy enough for my poor toes to spread out and breathe. Ahhh!

Since then, I have worn the Sequoias for (on average) at least 1 all-day hike a month, numerous short (3-4 hours) hikes, and many days a month casually.
Most of my hiking and backpacking during the past year was in south central Colorado with a couple of day hikes in Utah, Florida and Michigan tucked in between. The terrain in Colorado is high desert with lots of valleys and hills-to-mountains. Elevation, at minimum, was over 5000 ft (1500 m) and at maximum, around 11,000 ft (3400 m).

My husband and I spend a lot of our time hiking behind our property on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land where there are no trails. The ground can be anything from powdery dust - fire danger conditions continue to be high - to hard granite. We have to do a lot of scrambling up and around boulders on ridges, too.

Vegetation is typical high desert, lots of cactus, juniper and Piñon pine. Very Nice!

We also have been exploring trails in and around Fremont County, scouting out interesting and not-too-hard ones in anticipation of visiting grandkids. We even spent Mother's Day weekend backpacking with our newly-turned-9-year-old granddaughter on trails in the Royal Gorge Recreation Area and watched with pride as she hiked to the top of Fremont Peak (7096 ft/2163 m).

Most of the time, the Shoes' wearings were in hot and dry climates, but I did wear them on a 3 week-long trip while in White Lake in lower southeast Michigan. While it was rather dry in the west, Michigan more than made up for the lack of moisture (for reviewing purposes). If it wasn't humid, it was cloudy and misty and if it wasn't cloudy and misty, it was raining!
Mother's Day Hike
Mother's Day 2010 Hike

Finally, I wore the Sequoias for two days at this past January's OR Show (2011) in Salt Lake City where they were still comfortable for the most part, but I finally have decided to retire them to a more leisurely life as casual shoes only.

First off, fit is the most important aspect of a trail shoe or boot in my opinion. If the footwear is too tight or conversely, too loose, when hiking, my feet are not going to be happy and if my feet are not happy, well then, I might as well call it a day! My Sequoias are a size 8. My previous Ahnu trail shoes, the Terra Linda, are a size 8. I found the Sequoias to be a tad bigger than the Terra Linda. Not so much as to be a problem - I couldn't have worn a 7.5 with heavy hiking socks - but I did notice it and I need to wear at least a mid-weight sock with the Sequoias. Since I happen to like the extra cushioning of a mid-to-heavy sock, this is just fine with me. My socks were almost without fail, wool.

I'm one who likes a roomy toe box and the Sequoias give me that without making my feet look like Bigfoot (does Bigfoot actually have big feet, relatively?). And while the toe box is generously sized, it is not so wide as to allow my feet to slide around unsupported. According the Ahnu website the Sequoia feature "Ahnu's neutral positioning technology, Numentum™," which "ensures proper foot biomechanics with each step." This purportedly centers and guides the foot to promote balance when traversing with and without a pack. That's important to me as a natural klutz I need all the stability I can get!

Speaking of stability, the nicely padded collar of the Sequoia hugs my foot comfortably without friction and provides enough support that I don't really miss my mid-height boots. Coupled with the ability to securely tighten the laces, I found the Sequoias to provide me with a good fit and a confidence step. Because they are a low-cut shoe, the Sequoias lace in the same fashion as a traditional tennis shoe. I have had no trouble lacing up or tightening up on the trail when preparing a steep descent. The laces have not become unraveled or developed pulls and snags from all the aggressive vegetation has frequently get "hung-up" on.

Muddy soles
Expansion Soil sticks to Everything!
The stock insoles offered good padding in the Sequoias, and Ahnu had added a forefoot protection plate to help prevent bruising on rocky surfaces. I did replace the stock insoles almost immediately with my favorite third party insoles. I have a slightly higher arch than average and I just prefer my custom insoles which fit perfectly in the shoes.

The Sequoias sport a Vibram® outsole that grips well on established trails, dirt roads and urban surfaces. I'm not as crazy about them off trail when the terrain is rocky. Seems like I need a more aggressive tread then - remember I'm a klutz - but even in rough, rocky terrain, I didn't end up skidding or on my face. And where the shallow tread really was a boon was/is on our infamous mud which is a very thick goo that piles up and sticks tenaciously to most of my boots. So, instead of having to lug two-inch (5 cm) "cement" shoes around in the rain, the Sequoias easily shed the goo with some vigorous scraping against the nearest rock or tree.

Rain is not much of a problem generally for me as we don't experience much in my neck of the woods, but I have gotten the Sequoias wet while crossing streams. They are not waterproof (nor are they advertised to be) and so my feet did get wet slightly on quick dunkings.

The Sequoias dried out quickly overnight in my tent. On the occasions a "bath" was required, the Sequoias also dried out within a few hours in the sun at home after I gave them a thorough hosing down to remove mud.

Where I ran into problems with the Sequoias - and this is a problem by no means exclusive to the Sequoias - is off trail in the high desert areas where the vegetation is, shall I say - prickly?

As with any other lightweight, meshy, vented trail shoe, the Sequoias did not protect my tootsies from cactus spines, the errant pine needles and various other sticky vegetation we call "hitchhikers".

These pests, if encountered at exactly the right angle, go right through the sides and the top of the toe box.

This is so commonplace that when wearing any trail shoe, my husband and I carry splinter removal tweezers. However, it's a trade-off. All that mesh is what makes a trail shoe so cool. And the breathability of the Sequoias in the heat of the high desert is as welcome to my feet as the pricklies are not! The mesh coupled with Ahnu ETC lining certainly reduces heat build-up, and I really appreciate that here in south central Colorado.
Thorny Cactus
Pretty but Owwy!

STAR ATTRACTIONS

1.) Super comfortable right out of the box
2.) Tough outer construction stands up to rough terrain
3.) Good support and cushioning against both loose rock and hard granite
4.) Breathability keeps my feet from overheating

MINOR DISTRACTIONS

1.) When off-trail, thorns, stickers and small twigs pierce mesh
2.) Minor - almost too minor to mention - heel lining wear after almost 11 months

SUMMARY

The Ahnu Sequoias were not my first pair of Ahnu brand footwear. I previously owned a pair of Terra Linda trail shoes. (I still have them.) I have liked the Terra Lindas immensely and I'm liking the Sequoias as well!

Comfort via good support and cushioning is what I look for in a trail shoe or boot and the Sequoias deliver nicely. I have no worries about my feet rolling on loose terrain. Bruising on the bottom of my feet is kept to a bare minimum and my feet stay cool thanks to the generous mesh panels on the topsides of the shoes.

I attribute the minor wearing in the heel lining to perhaps the Sequoias being sized just a tad larger than the same size Terra Lindas (I didn't even try on the Sequoias.), but the wear is not going to keep me from continuing to wear the Sequoias a lot in the future. But, I'll wear them on established trails where cactus plants can't grab me!

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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