Friday, November 9, 2012

Product Review: Schnee's Wilderness Boot

Some of the best hunting advice I have ever received was that in preparation for any hunt, I should always take care of my feet. Hunting should be fun and full of adventure, and not worrying about constant foot anguish. In preparation for my Colorado archery elk hunt, I began a rigorous search for a quality boot. More than once, Schnee's out of Bozeman, Montana came up in conversation or forum post.

When I spoke with Schnee's CEO Jon Edwards about hunting boots in regards to hunting in California and in Colorado, he not only was super helpful, but he listened to what I was looking for and offered his advice. He gave me some pointers and along the way we shared a few hunting stories with one another. He then surprised me by offering a pair of the Wilderness Boots for review. He mentioned they were a shorter, lightweight boot that offered more maneuverability and should perform well on my Colorado hunt.

Within a couple of weeks I had a new pair of the Wilderness Boots on my doorstep. Without hesitation I put them on and right out of the box they felt super comfortable. Knowing I would have to break them in, I started wearing them around the house. I also started walking in them on asphalt while carrying 100# of sand in my backpack. I figured level ground would offer good support and it would get the leather broken in. The boots were very flexible, but not overly so as they still had plenty of support.

I then started hiking at one of the local parks that is full of hills and steep edges. I hiked this route a few times when I thought about the waterproofing characteristics of the boot. I knew they were supposed to be waterproof out of the box, but I also wanted these boots to last a long time. A quick call to Schnee's and the waterproofing capabilities of the boot were shared with me. I felt very confident knowing they boots were waterproof, but as I wanted them around a while Schnee's said I should use a conditioner. They recommended the NIKWAX paste and sent me some to try out. Once it came in the mail, I dusted off the boots and applied it. It changed the color of the boots to be a bit darker, but that was of no consequence. The deer and elk aren't going to care what color they are! The natural color of the boot comes back in a few days.

The Wilderness™ is the lightest weight model of the Schnee's Mountain Boot Series. Modeled after the Beartooth™ boot, the Wilderness™ boasts all of the same great features in a shorter 6" 2.6 mm thick nubuck leather version. Perfect for rugged day hikes, weekend backpack trips or as an early season archery boot. Brown. Italy. (3.1lb/pair).

Schnee's Wilderness™ Boot Product Details:

  • Premium Vibram® 'Tsavo' outsole featuring our signature rubber compound for maximum traction and durability
  • 100% waterproof, breathable eVent® Membrane
  • Polyurethane midsoles for lasting support and incredible shock absorption
  • Fully reinforced rubber rand protects against rock cuts and abrasion
  • Triple and Double stitched in key areas
  • Handcrafted in Italy exclusively for Schnee's

The true test of the Wilderness boots came when I wore them out hunting. I put them through the paces in Colorado while climbing mountains, scaling deadfalls, and descending down some of the steepest terrain I have ever encountered. The boots supported my ankles, were comfortable, and held up surprisingly well. I really beat them up, or so I thought, by going over rocks, trees, through rough country, but the boots hardly showed a scratch. Wanting to test out the waterproofing capabilities, I wandered right through a stream and then a waterhole. My socks stayed completely dry! I was truly amazed and ever so happy. I had finally found a pair of boots I wanted to wear all the time. The only issue I had was that the boots loosened up on me countless times, due to the steep climbs and coming down the mountains sideways. That caused severe torque and they simply loosened up, but that is not the manufacturers fault. I just re-tightened them and they were ready to go!

Putting the Wilderness boots to the test in Colorado.

Then I started hunting in the high desert of Southern California. Normally, I would wear my snake boots, but I really wanted to wear the Wilderness boots. I was able to score some snake gaiters through a trade and was able to utilize the boots here, too. Even in the high temperatures they felt comfortable. Combined with a good set of wool socks (even in 90 degrees) my feet felt awesome. Testing them in the cooler temps of 35-45 degrees, my feet felt warm and protected from the elements. I also hit some steep rocky slopes in SoCal and the boots took a beating. They also gripped the rock ledges well and protected my feet from cactus spines and sharp rocks. They are super flexible and move with you.

On a recent Southern California hunt, even after three months of abuse the boots are in great shape.

The soles are solid rubber and protect your feet extremely well. The inside sole has little cushion for the bottom of your feet and that's the only issue I had with the boots. By the time I was done hauling out my elk, my big toes were numb and stayed that way for two weeks. That is not an exaggeration. When I came back to California, I put a cushioned sole inside each boot to test the comfort level. I found that I didn't like that one bit. Not only did they rub a little more on the heel, they also heated up my feet to where they were very uncomfortable. Halfway through the day hunt, I took them out of my boots and they felt instantly better.

Always take are of your feet. Remember that because at $319.00 a pair, the Wilderness boots are not inexpensive. They are also not cheap. They are made in Italy, have superior construction, are tough, waterproof, and insanely comfortable. I would recommend these boots to any bow hunter looking for a pair of all-terrain boots that will last them for years.

1 comment:

  1. Those boots seem awesome. Wish I had the cash to try em out too.