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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Shoes > Owner Review by Kathleen Waters


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July 5, 2015



NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
AGE: 64
LOCATION: Caņon City, Colorado, USA
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.


Manufacturer: Ahnu
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US $130.00
Listed Weight: 10.7 oz (303 g)
Measured Weight: 10.5 oz (298 g)
Sizes Available: 5 - 11 Women's
Size Reviewed: 8 Women's
Colors Available: Monument, Deep Teal, Night Shade, Black, Dark Gray, Dark Blue, Red Dahlia, Black Aubergine, Dark Slate, Eclipse & New Black
Color Reviewed: Winetasting (discontinued color)


* The Sugarpines have a proprietary waterproof, breathable technology
* Outsoles are VibramŪ non-marking outsoles with self-cleaning lugs and a rubber to protector
* Uppers are waterproof mesh, leather and suede
* Has a gusseted tongue
* Lining is constructed of a moisture wicking mesh material
* Duel-density EVA, removable footbed with an integrated nylon shank and arch support
* Built-in shock dispersal plate in forefoot
Ahnu Sugarpine Trail Shoes


Sugarpines on the Trail
Ahnu Sugarpines on the Trail!
In the past 16 and a half months, I've worn the Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof trail shoes on one three-night backpack, at least a dozen half to full day hikes and many casual days in-between. I'd estimate I have 60 "hard" miles (97 km) on them and countless rural/urban miles/kilometers as well. I got them in late January of last year, so I have worn the Sugarpines through several months of winter, the heat of summer and through the cool of autumn.

Most of my trekking has been in south central Colorado. A lot of it was into the approximately 100,000 acres (40,000 hectares) of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land encompassing the Cooper Mountain range/Royal Gorge area near Caņon City or the Wet Mountains south of the Arkansas River Valley.

The Cooper Mountain range is mostly piņon pine and juniper-covered high desert with rough primitive game and mining trails (for the most part) and is easily accessed just outside of my property fence line.

The Wet Mountains rise up from the Arkansas River Valley and are dense ponderosa pine and sage forests.

I also wore the Sugarpines on a few out-of-state trips, mostly casually, in New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, Utah and Louisiana.

Elevations I wore the Sugarpines in ranged from sea level up to 6000' (1800 m). Temperatures ranged from just below freezing to well over 100 F (38 C).


The Ahnu Sugarpine trail shoes are a good-looking pair of hiking shoes! With their deep wine colored uppers and almost plain style, these shoes can easily be worn casually in town as well as on the trail without screaming "BACKPACKER COMING"! The style is very much reminiscent of an Oxford-type of shoe rather than a low-cut hiking boot. I very much like the look as I try not to call attention to my clumsy feet!

The shoelaces are inconspicuous and shorter than most of my other hiking shoes/boots. I actually can tie them normally without having to double (or triple) bow them and without have laces so long as to wonder if I'm going to inadvertently lasso the nearest rock or errant twig on the trail and end up kissing the dirt!

Right out of the box, the Sugarpines cradled my feet in a comfortable, yet supportive position. I found the sizing to be spot-on, very true-to-size; I almost always wear a size 8 in most brands. The heel cups of the shoes are snug without being too tight and I never have had any slipping upwards of my feet or hot spots or blisters from rubbing.

I found the toebox to be roomy enough but not so wide as to have my tootsies frantically searching for a "grip". As with a lot of my trail shoes, I ended up swapping out the stock insoles for my favorite aftermarket insoles. While the stock insoles were just fine, padding-wise, I have a left arch which is not quite in proper sync with my right one and insoles for "normal" arches can be just a tad off-kilter and annoying.

While I happily knocked off lots of miles/kilometers day hiking in the shoes, I did find the Sugarpines to be not quite as supportive as I need when toting a heavier backpack. I tend to roll outward on my feet and the Sugarpines let me do that more than I like. I have other Ahnu boots that are mid-height and I don't have that problem, so it could just be the fact that the Sugarpines are low-cut shoes without that extra structure I need for my ankles. Obviously, there is no ankle support in any low-cut shoes and I'm a natural klutz so stability might be in the foot of the beholder!

Even with a heavy backpack though, I never felt like the soles of my feet were getting battered and bruised by a rocky trail. Many of the nice packed-dirt trails I encountered turn to large rocks, mixed with small rocks and boulders once I'm above tree line and sharp edges on those rocks can cause me to be very sore by the end of the day. The Sugarpines held their own in that department nicely. I certainly was aware that the surface wasn't packed dirt, but I didn't hobble on the way back down!

And since I'm on the subject of rocks, let me say that the Sugarpines never slipped on any surface I trod on, from dusty dirt to ball-bearing-like scree to large rocks and slabs of granite, I was as sure-footed as I could be. Definitely, not mountain goat like but better than me on ice skates! The tread on the Sugarpine isn't very aggressive, but it was enough. Where the Sugarpines' tread suffered was in the mud - there just isn't enough depth to "squish" out the mud between lugs.

Though I haven't encountered any unexpected downright downpours on the trails and I avoid hiking when it is already raining due to our clay-like, shoe-swallowing mud, I have had to wade through some small streams and through morning dew-wetted vegetation in the Sugarpines. The shoes took the challenge like a champ and at no time did I ever had to endure wet feet except for the time I misjudged the depth of the water and it sloshed over the top of the shoes (mid-height boots would have saved me). This was on the Newlin Trail in Fremont County, Colorado where there are 28 stream crossings! Thanks to my spare socks and the Sugarpines' quick drying, the hike continued with no real damage sustained.
Tread of Sugarpines after 16 months
Side View
Cleaned up Sugarpines

Sadly, I haven't really done anything special to care for the Sugarpines since I got them and when I started this report, I noticed they were a bit dusty and dirty from all the nasty mud we have around here in Caņon City. The nasty mud often needs to be almost gouged out of the lugs with a sharp stick before it hardens into cement-like hardness. I almost always did that as soon as I could, but normal use has still taken a bit of a toll on the Sugarpines.

I couldn't find any specific care instructions on the Ahnu website, so I went with what I thought was prudent. I used a stiff brush to remove all the loose dirt and then a soft brush dipped in cold water to remove whatever else I could. I think they turned out pretty well! The laces are still in great shape with no worn or unraveled threads. And unlike some of my previous trail shoes, the Sugarpines have not deteriorated around the inside of the cuffs from rubbing nor have the uppers suffered any harm from the cactus, boulders and other debris I've kicked at and scraped against on the trail. And the outsoles show some wear on the heels and outer edges, but they still have lots of miles/kilometers in them.


1.) Very comfortable trail shoes right out of the box.
2.) Truly waterproof, even after standing in running water for several minutes.
3.) Stylish enough to wear casually.
4.) Supportive enough for rough terrain with a medium weight pack.


1.) While the Sugarpines are great for day hiking and casual wear, for me, they don't have enough arch and ankle support for times when I need to carry a heavier pack.
2.) Tread is not aggressive enough for expansive soil mud.


The Sugarpines spent most of the winter pining (pun intended) in my gear closet. I favor a mid-height boot in the cold and snow. But now that the weather has warmed up considerably, I've moved them to the front of the line, ready to go on summer day hikes! While I was not comfortable when wearing a 30+ lb (14+ kg) backpack, that might say more about my preferences and arch/ankle idiosyncrasies than about the Sugarpines! I will definitely continue to wear them a lot going forward. Had them on today, as a matter of fact, for a quick 2.2 mi (3.5 km) round-trip trek to the grocery store! Very much recommended for walking, day hiking and casual wear, especially if water is in the picture!

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

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