WOLVERINE GAUGE BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
INITIAL REPORT - January 10, 2013
FIELD REPORT - March 22, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - May 20, 2013
Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
155 lb (70.30 kg)
I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season backpacker and year round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Wolverine World Wide Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: www.wolverine.com
MSRP: US $170.00
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 3 lb 4 oz (1.47 kg)
Colors Available: Black or Brown
Color Tested: Brown
Sizes Available: 7-14, some select half sizes
Size Tested: 8
Details from Company Website:
-Abrasion resistant mesh and waterproof Americana leather upper
-Wave mesh lining with waterproof membrane
-400 grams of 3M Thinsulate Ultra insulation
-PESU II EVA with NXT odor control sockliner
-Compression molded EVA midsole
-Dual density rubber lug outsole
Additional details from pamphlet included with boots.
-Divided lacing system for custom fit
-Articulated eyelets increases comfort and control
-Velocity coated toe protects from abrasive surfaces
-Wide outsole pads at the ball of the foot and deep lug for traction
-Lightweight and flexible V-Frame exoskeleton increases stability and durability
-Dual compound outsole for durability and reliable traction on snow and ice
The Gauge Boots arrived in the typical style shoe box. The boots look rugged and substantial but not bulky. They appear well made without any visual imperfections in construction. The materials are balanced and blend together well.
The Gauge Boots are a part of Wolverines Velocity Series. These boots feature Wolverine's V-Frame exoskeleton. This is the coating that covers the toe and sides of the forefoot of the boot. The Gauge includes two winter hiking specific features. A gaiter loop at the base of the laces and a heel cleat to assist in the attaching of snow shoes.
These are a taller, over the ankle boot. Wolverine list them as 8 in (20 cm), which I measured from the insole to the top of the ankle. The boots are waterproof and insulated for a comfort rating of 40 below. The Gauge Boots are made of three materials. The toe and forefoot are a combination of breathable mesh and the V-Frame exoskeleton. The remainder is a combination of breathable mesh and leather. The insole is removable and is treated with CLEAN NXT odor control. After an internet search I found the CLEAN NXT is a biotechnology using a microbe and enzyme that eliminates odors. The upper of the boot is cemented to the sole. The midsole has memory foam feel to it. It gives slightly when compressed and instantly returns when released. The sole consists of two different tread patterns with two different densities. The placement of each is designed to increase traction on surfaces with variable conditions. The red colored tread is the softer of the two. The lacing system is divided into three parts. Three eyelets at the forefoot, one at the ankle and three above the ankle. The eyelets above the ankle can pivot in the head to toe direction. The eyelet at the ankle is fixed. The eyelets at the foot move head to toe as well as left to right.
The flexibility of the eyelets is interesting. I have worn boots where one eyelet created a pressure point due to location. I wonder if this design will allow for a more user specific fit.
TRYING IT OUT
Sliding my foot into the Gauge Boots I am surprised by the eyelets all the way to the top. I am still able to get in and out without a problem, so no issues. Pulling the laces tight, the boot feels nice around my foot. The height of the boot is obvious but not overly restrictive. But my first step reveals trouble. My heel easily slides up and down. My shoe size 99% of the time is a size 9. However the Gauge Boot is the 1% exception. The size 9 I received was too big for me. The boots look great in every other way. I was disappointed not to be able to get outside with them right away.
I contacted Customer Service and was quickly and courteously assisted. Replacement boots were ordered on the spot. The temperature is dropping outside and these boots have my feet feeling toasty sitting inside. I eagerly await the next pair of boots.
The Wolverine Gauge Boots look and feel like a great cold weather boot. I am especially excited about the winter specific features. These boots are the first I have worn with a gaiter loop, heel cleat and dual-compound outersole. I am intrigued to see how useful these features prove to be in the field.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Pine Park / Girl Brook, New Hampshire - 6 mi (9.5 km) 600 down to 400 ft (180 to 120 m), -1 F (-18 C) calm and clear skies. Three in (7.5 cm) of fresh snow over hard-packed snow covering the trail that hugs and crosses small stream. No pack carried.
Balch Hill, New Hampshire - 5 mi (8 km) to 950 ft (290 m), 18 F (-8 C) with winds gusting to 30 mph (48 km/h). Hard-packed snow and ice covered rocky trails. Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg).
Burnt Mountain at Boston Lot Lake, New Hampshire - 10 mi (16 km) to 1000 ft (300 m), 25 F (-4 C) and cloudy. Rough, rocky and rooted trails through mostly pine forest covered with 6 in (15 cm) of snow. Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg)
Mt. Moosilauke, New Hampshire - 10 mi (16 km) to 4,802-foot-high (1,464 m), 10 F (-12 C) with 8 in (20 cm) of new snow at the trail head. Steep climbs through dense forest with 3 ft (1 m) snow drifts. On the exposed summit 0 F (-17 C) with 50 mph (80 km/h) gust. Pack weight - 30 lb (13.5 kg).
Moose Mountain (North Peak), New Hampshire - 8 mi (13 km) to 2300 ft (700 m), 17 F (-8 C) and wind gusts of 32 mph (51 km/h). Trail hard-packed snow with some areas of 6 in (15 cm) drifts or ice covered rock. Pack weight - 20 lb (9 kg).
Mount Kearsarge, New Hampshire - 7 mi (11 km) 820 to 2920 ft (250 to 820 m), 20 F rising to 50 F (-6 to 10 C) clear and calm. Variable trail conditions of hard-packed to soft unbroken snow with bare rock and ice on the summit. Pack weight - 20 to 15 lbs (9 to 6.8 kg), varying if snowshoes were carried or worn.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I received the size 8 boots in a reasonable amount of time. This pair has the same quality level of materials and construction as the previous pair. Trying the size 8's on the fit is noticeably better. The volume of these boots seems to be on the long and narrow side. There is a fair amount of wiggle room for my toes while being snug at the widest part of my foot.
The next morning I took a quick 1 mi (1.6 km) walk around the block. My foot does not slide forward toward the toe or lift at the heel. Halfway through the walk I feel discomfort on the back of my left heel. By the time I get home it has become painful. I examine the inside of the left boot and cannot see or feel any difference from the right one. Looking for the source of the pain I isolate the area of the boot making contact with my heel. My search leads me to the top edge of the heel cleat. I now notice it is almost flat where the one on the right is slightly rounded. I put the left boot on and can instantly feel the sore spot. When I squeeze the sides of the heel cleat shaping it to my heel the pressure vanishes! After this discovery I squeeze the left heel for one minute before my one mile morning walks. It takes four rounds of this before the problem is eliminated.
Now that the Gauge Boots are comfortably broken in they are ready for the woods!
My first hike was an easier but a cold one. Things went well so I stepped it up by adding a pack and more difficult terrain. The Gauge boots were comfortable and handled conditions on both hikes. On the next hike there was fresh snow. While not deep enough to reach the top of the boots, I wore gaiters to keep my pants dry. Here I was disappointed to find my Outdoor Research Crocodile gaiters did not fit the gaiter loop on the Gauge boots. The hooks on these gaiters are too wide for loops on the Gauge boots. Other than that these gaiters fit the boots fine.
The toughest hike during of the testing period was Mt. Moosilauke. This is a big mountain for my neck of the woods. The summit is fully exposed making winter conditions even more challenging. I hiked it as the back edge of a nor'easter blew through, so lots of fresh snow and high winds.
Currently there is a lot of debate in New Hampshire about the cost and responsibility related to hiker search and rescue. At the moment hikers who need to be rescued can be charged if deemed negligent. The deciding factor is hiking under-prepared for conditions or continuing a hike as planned if injured.
So even though I was just day hiking this mountain, I packed a full overnight worth of gear. This added the final layer of difficulty to hiking the whole day in snowshoes and below freezing temperatures. At the trail head I strapped a pair of TSL snowshoes on the Gauge boots. I was surprised to find the cleat on the back of heel did not make any contact with the snowshoe binding. I was able to easily and securely fasten the snowshoe, but still bummed that a feature I was excited about would not function for me.
The Gauge boots were doing a fine job until just below tree line. I took a short break to eat, drink and layer up when I noticed my toes were cold. Once I started moving again they warmed but not back to a very comfortable level.
The last two hikes provided variable surface conditions. The Gauge boots provided excellent traction on all surfaces, hard-packed to wet soft snow and wet to ice covered rock. The only time my foot slipped was on sheets of sheer ice.
On the final hike of the test period the temperature range was rather wide. It started off below freezing and ended well above freezing. The first half of the hike my feet felt great. The second half my feet were too warm. By the time I returned to the trail head my socks were wet from perspiration. I did wear gaiters on unbroken trails to keep the snow out, then removed the gaiters to vent my lower legs and feet when not needed.
Overall the Wolverine Gauge boots have done a good job as a winter hiking boot. They have been totally waterproof. The traction has been exceptional. The foot and ankle support very good. The construction and materials have held up well. Unfortunately I am disappointed that two of the winter specific features are not compatible with my gear. The insulation did not provide adequate warmth at the most extreme conditions experienced. On the mildest day the boots become too warm and did not vent enough excess moisture. The upside to that downside is the odor control is great. Even with all the sweating the boots remain odorless.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Mt. Moosilauke, New Hampshire - 10 mi (16 km) to 4,802-foot-high (1,464 m), 30 F (-1 C) with consolidated snow on the way up, 50 F (10 C) with soft snow on the way down. Pack weight - 30 lb (13.5 kg).
Trail Maintenance Appalachian Trail, Vermont - 4.4 mi (7 km) to 1295 ft (395 m), 40 F (4 C) with intermittent light rain on a wet and muddy trail. Pack weight - 15 lb (7 kg).
Moose Mountain, New Hampshire - 10 mi (16 km) transverse from south to north, to 2300 ft (700 m), 72 F (22 C). Pack weight - 25 lb (11 kg).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Gauge boots continued to provide excellent traction and sure foot steps during Long-Term testing. The soles gripped hard and icy snow. The high ankle coverage kept debris out when sinking in soft melting snow. The waterproofing kept my feet dry in wet snow and mud. When kicking steps in the soft snow I found many rocks hidden in the snow. The protective V-Frame exoskeleton covering kept my toes happy. The extra ankle support was very nice while doing strenuous trail work. I felt my feet were well protected while removing blow downs and digging water bars in the Gauge boots. The temperature on the last hike was definitely beyond the upper limit of comfort, but these are winter boots after all and these Wolverines like the snow.
The Wolverine Gauge Boots are well constructed solid boots. My feet were secure and stable over all trail conditions. The most impressive feature is the traction. This is followed closely by the waterproofing. The Gauge boots performed well in all but the very coldest conditions. The boots show no signs of damage or undue wear.
The Gauge Boots were good for my average winter hikes. I will lace them up when heading out in temps between 15 to 35 F (-9 to 1.7 C).
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
This completes my Long-Term Report. My thanks to Wolverine and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Gauge Boots.
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