Shoe Review: Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Low Profile Hikers
Autumn is a great time of year on the wet coast–ahem, west coast–to try out waterproof hiking shoes. These ones, from Ahnu, are the athletic-inspired Sugarpine Waterproof Low Profile Hikers. As usual, Ahnu has done a great job on this line, offering both style and performance for the trail enthusiast.
The Sugarpine Low Profile Hikers’ waterproof-breathable technology keeps your feet dry, while the Vibram® rubber outsole offers superior traction on wet and dry surfaces. Ahnu uses a technology they call Numentum™ Hike technology to provide neutral positioning and they pair it with a double lasted EVA mid-sole construction for a lightweight feel and low profile styling.
With the trend in athletic shoes firmly moving in the lightweight, barely there barefoot direction, it is no surprise that hiking footwear is following suit–in a limited way. The challenge for designers of hiking footwear, however, is to provide the support and protection necessary from water, mud, rocks, sticks and other terrain challenges while trying to scale down the physical design of the gear.
Ahnu has addressed this nicely with the Sugarpine low profile waterproof hikers. The Sugarpine Lows look like athletic runners, or even cross-trainers. It’s when you pick them up that you feel the difference: these are well-constructed hiking shoes that have the feel and confidence of durability and protection.
Grouse_GrindBut how do they feel when they’re on, and how do they measure up?
Despite the stiff, less-pliable materials, these hiking shoes fit like a glove, are extremely comfortable and feel almost as if they were made just for me.
What better place to test them out than the trail recently named one of the most challenging and dangerous trails in the world, the Grouse Grind?
Despite the always-grueling hike (about 1/3 of the way up, I never fail to ask myself why, WHY I am doing this?) these shoes reinforced my positive opinion: they perform as promised.
Here’s what I like:
They make for a comfortable hike, no matter what sort of water mother nature throws at you. And Vancouver throws a lot of water at you. And mud. (No, these are not good for snow, these may be waterproof, but they are low profile, after all.)
I’ve been a fan of Vibram® technology and as promised this design offers slip-resistant lugs that provide grip and traction on varied trail surfaces. I had no slippage issues even on the steep, rock strewn, single track trail (have you seen the Grouse Grind?).
The waterproof mesh, leather and suede upper and the gusseted tongue kept water, dirt and rocks out. Period.
Moisture wicking mesh lining kept my feet from overheating; conversely, my feet weren’t cold.
I appreciated the rubber toe protector, dual density EVA provides extra shock absorption with heel and arch support and I found the support and comfort level was fantastic. It felt like I was navigating the trails in a Cadillac. (If only that were true.)
The shock dispersal plate in forefoot for stone bruising protection was appreciated on the rocky and root covered trail. I had no issues with bruising, even on the roughest sections.
The self-cleaning lugs worked pretty well (Is it too much to wish Ahnu would invent a self-cleaning bedroom for my children?)
If you are looking for a trail hiker that doubles for trail running these are not for you. While the Sugarpine Lows are great–as promised–for walking; that same rigidity caused foot fatigue when I tried (on a much less steep trail) chasing my dog up the trail. Stick to hiking and enjoy the view.
Sugarpine Lows have been found to run half a size small. You will want to order half a size larger than you usually would (for example, if you normally order a size 9, order a size 9.5 in the Sugarpine Low).
Final thoughts: if you are looking for comfortable, durable, waterproof low profile hiking shoes, I recommend you give the Sugarpine Lows a try.