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Posts Tagged waterproof

Oboz Bridger Hiking Boot

You know that stereotype about women owning too many pairs of shoes? Guilty as charged, though with an unexpected plot twist: instead of sling backs and peep-toed heels, I own hiking boots. A lot of hiking boots. My closet is wall-to-wall waterproof uppers and arch support.

Oboz BridgerFinding the right pair of hiking boots is as personal as finding the right overnight pack or pair of skis: there’s no right answer, just the right boot for your foot, your terrain, and your excursions. I realize not everyone can own a hiking boot for every occasion (that honor is reserved for obsessive types like me), so if you’re looking for a solid all-purpose boot, the Oboz Bridger fits the bill. The boot comes in both men’s and women’s versions, and is categorized as one of Oboz’ classic hikers. Fun fact: the Montana-based Oboz company gets its name from the term meaning ‘outside Bozeman’.

The Bridger is constructed of a full leather upper with a pliable collar. Out of the box, the all-leather boot looks like it will be stiff or bulky, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. When worn, the Bridger is soft and flexible, if not the most lightweight. You get a sticky rubber sole with an outsole with nylon shank for stability, side lugs, and excellent arch support in the insole. (I do like a high arch, so this was a plus for me.) The boot is waterproof but still breathable: it uses ‘Bdry’ technology that ensures the membrane blocks water on the outside while releasing sweat from the inside.

My first hikes wearing the Bridger were on wet trails spotted with ice and slush, and I experienced no leaking whatsoever. I didn’t need the customary band-aids I bring along for breaking in boots, and I experienced good traction on the slick trail and in mud. As this review goes live, my Bridgers are with me on a late winter trip to Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia national parks, where so far, they’ve performed well in wet snow an dried out reasonably well by fireside overnight.

The Bridger comes in walnut and Rio red for women, retailing for $160 on Oboz, and in Sudan or black for men for the same price. They can also be found on Amazon, Planet Shoes, or REI.

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Sony Cyber-Shot Digital Camera Tx30

The Sony Cyber-Shot Tx30 is the absolute best point-and-shoot camera I’ve ever owned. Yes, I have a DSLR that I bring on professional trips because, well, it makes me look like I know what I’m doing, but when given the choice, I absolutely always reach for the Cyber-Shot. Of course, any point-and-shoot compact camera is going to be lighter and smaller than a DSLR, ideal for those on-the-go moments when you need a camera that will fit in your pocket, but the Cyber-Shot Tx30 goes far beyond convenience. It offers high quality images, but more importantly to me, it is absolutely, completely indestructible.

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Sony describes the Cyber-Shot Tx30 as ‘certified waterproof, rustproof, shockproof, and freeze proof’ and they are not kidding. I have taken mine everywhere from snorkeling with whale sharks to sandy beaches to ski trips, and it has never failed me. It’s been in the hands of both preschoolers and teenagers, both demographics known for hard use of electronic items. It’s very user-friendly, with an easy-to-navigate touch screen that I can still see in bright sunlight, and turns on and off with a slide of the front panel, rather than at the touch of a button (easier to manage with gloves or while underwater). If your travels will be taking you outdoors in any capacity, this is the point-and-shoot that needs to be in your pocket.

Here’s the nitty-gritty (aka, why your photos will turn out startlingly well): the Cyber-Shot Tx30 has 18.2 megapixels, takes 1080/6oi video, and a 5x optical soon. It also has something called a 10x Clear Image zoom, but I have to admit I don’t know what that means. Sounds fancy.

I took the Cyber-Shot on a five day river rafting expedition, during which I was the only person to take out his or her camera on the water. Yes, all the DSLRs along for that trip took excellent shots of sunsets and cookouts, but they were packed carefully away on the rapids. What’s the point of bringing a camera you can’t use? My Cyber-Shot was on my wrist the entire five days, and I could use it everywhere, from a video selfie jumping off cliff rocks into the river to recording Class IV rapids from the vantage point of a kayak.

Here’s an example of video taken entirely with the Cyber-Shot:

Pick one up at Sony for $259 or get a deal on Amazon for $227. The Cyber-Shot comes in fun colors ranging from bright orange to pink, blue, or black.

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GoLite XT Comp Hiking Boot

For my inaugural test of the GoLite XT Comp shoe, I laced up at a lodge near the base of Lake Louise, Alberta, and set out to hike the wet and steep trails of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park after an early October storm. At the lower elevations, I navigated through muddy sections and slippery rocks with ease, and by the time I hiked half-way to my goal of Little Beehive above Lake Agnes, snow was falling. Near Lake Agnes, the snow had accumulated enough that other hikers were slipping traction grip overlays over their hiking boots. Not me: the XT Comp shoe was performing nicely in the wet slush and light powder, thanks to its ‘rock absorber’ traction sole comprising of rubber nobs. My verdict: the XT really is the ‘state-of-the-art off-road performance shoe’ that’s advertised.

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During the five mile round-trip hike in the above conditions, my feet never got wet, despite the fact that the XT Comp doesn’t look waterproof. Why: a low cut and plenty of ventilation in the mesh upper makes this shoe look like a warm-weather pick. However, the traction on the sole is seriously substantial. It’s touted as lightweight, but I’d amend that to say ‘as lightweight as possible for a shoe with this much stabilization and traction.’ I loved the substance I got from this shoe without sacrificing the low ankle rise. If you’re looking for a reasonably lightweight, ankle-length shoe that provides the traction and stabilization of a full above-ankle hiking boot, this may be the one.

The heel is zero-lift for a natural stride; I found I needed to play around with insoles to get the just-right fit. The XT fits me wider than most shoes, which is both a plus and a minus: I like how easy it is to slip on over wool socks, and the ability to loosen them while traveling (I wore mine on a commuter train and in the car on the same Rockies trip), but I also needed to adjust the insoles to get the support I wanted.

All GoLite shoes come with adjustable insoles, which I definitely utilize. Use the velcro base to add or remove layering to the sole as needed. I found that removing all but the base of the insole gave me the best fit. Pick up a pair at GoLite for $125 in bright tangerine, or at Amazon for five bucks less. Also comes in men’s sizing, in artisan gold or navy.

Read other GoLite shoe reviews.

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Icebug Ivalo Winter Boot

I’ve got to tell you, I was excited to try out the new Icebug Ivalo-L winter boots. I’ve been reviewing several Icebug footwear products of late, but none with BUGrip, the brand’s signature traction system…until now. Freezing weather has finally come to Oregon, and I’m ready.

Icebug-Ivalo-LThe Ivalo is a very good looking women’s boot that’s lightweight and sleek, with a convenient zip-up closure for easy on-and-off. The outer is suede polyurethane with ripstop nylon, and you get a molded EVA removable insock and a rubber outsole. While the Ivalo looks like a pretty winter fashion statement, it performs like a tough work boot. The secret ingredient: Icebug’s BUGrip traction system, which, in this case, comprises of 16 carbide tip studs. All Icebug shoes have significant traction, but shoes and boots with BUGrip really deliver on ice and snow. You can see them when checking out the boot, and feel them digging into the ice when you walk. You will absolutely not fall down in these boots.

Here’s what’s really cool about BUGrip: these studs are not fixed in place. You can shift them around with your finger when you check them out, and when you’re wearing them, the studs will push in toward the surface of the sole as weight is applied. This movement allows the studs to be utilized only when needed. To quote the Icebug site, how far they are pushed in depends on the pressure exerted by the user and the resistance from the ground. What this means: you can wear the boot straight from ice to dry pavement and everything in-between without problems.

The Ivalo is water-resistant (Icebug is great about clearly marking their shoes as waterproof or water resistant). The zipper is made of grippy silicone, making it easy to zip up while wearing gloves. The only downside I found is inherent in the style of the boot: because of the zip-closure, you won’t get an extremely tight fit. While this is fine for traveling and commuting with the boot, it’s not the model for serious trekking or snowshoeing, but they weren’t designed for this anyway. Who is the Ivalo for? Anyone who walks on ice regularly, commutes to work or is in and out of ice, slush, or slick pavement, or wants a secure, comfortable boot for before or after winter sports like skiing or ice skating. In fact, I think I’ll pick up a second pair for my kids’ great-grandmother, who still walks across ice to check her mailbox every day.

Pick up the Icebug Ivalo with Bugrip for $150 on Amazon in wine or nougat, or on Planet Shoes for the same price.

See more reviews of travel shoes for all seasons.

 

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Hillsound Super Armadillo Gaiter

Hillsound gaitersA good pair of gaiters is one of those winter gear items you think you might not need until you realize (too late) that you really, really do. If you’re snowshoeing, nordic skiing, or traveling to a glacial destination this winter, or doing any serious backcountry trekking any time this year, do yourself a favor and invest in gaiters now. Alternatively, they make for a great gift, so put them on your list and hope for the best.

I’ve been playing in some early season Tahoe snow with the Hillsound Super Armadillo gaiter, where even in December, the powder is heavy and wet. I’m pleased to report dry feet and legs after several snowshoe treks.  I also wore them through wet sagebrush and dense vegetation on a fall hike off-trail, and enjoyed a lack of abrasions (or visible wear to the gaiters).

The Super Armadillo is Hillsound’s newest gaiter, featuring a base of what they call SuperFabric, which I suppose is self explanatory. Basically, it’s the most durable barrier on the market today. The upper of the Armadillo is waterproof Flexia fabric (a term that’s also quite helpfully descriptive). What all this meant to me as I hiked in underbrush and snow: the gaiters were stretchy, moving with my body, and breathable. I wore them over both nylon trekking pants and waterproof snow pants.

The gaiters are listed as slash-resistant, which makes sense (I’d resist getting slashed, too). I didn’t put this to the test, however, because I grew attached to my pair and didn’t want to push my luck. Even though they’re breathable, they feel quite significant while on; you definitely feel the extra weight (even though it isn’t much). They secure with both a strap under the boot and a full YKK zipper from top to bottom. The zipper is covered by a protective strap at the base and the top, and there’s an extra clip at the top, which, along with the stretch fabric, ensures the gaiters are not going to slip down as you move.

The Super Armadillo retails for $78 on Hillsound or find it on Amazon for a few bucks less. They come in men’s or women’s, and sizes range from S-XL for men and S-L for women. Keep in mind that the gaiter fit very snugly in order to keep moisture and dirt out: if you plan to wear over baggy pants, size accordingly.

If you want to upgrade, consider the Hillsound Armadillo Nano gaiter, which, out of the box, looks a lot like the Super Armadillo, but is made from Schoeller fabric, which offers a wind and waterproof membrane that reacts to changing temperatures. Yes, it would seem to have a brain…adjusting heat retention as needed. Kind of creepy, but also cool. (No pun intended.) As if that weren’t enough, the surface is self-cleaning: dirt cannot adhere to it. This upgrade will only set you back about $20, as the Nano retails for $98 on Hillsound or a $1 less on Amazon.

 

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