There are two kinds of hikers in this world: those who carefully cross a creek, taking care to keep their boots dry; and those who don’t (ahem...guilty).
It’s easy to get away with soggy feet in the summer. In the shoulder seasons and winter, discomfort can quickly veer into danger. That’s why I pick gear that protects against my lack of self-preservation.
Come winter, when the goal is to keep feet happy and warm, moisture is something I strictly avoid. Which is why I've been giving my new Insulated Bridger boots what can only be called a "thorough test." Spoiler alert: the boots passed. As in: Finally, a boot built to handle all I throw at it.
I put them to the test on an early October swing through the Selkirks of north Idaho and the Swans, Cabinets and Missions of western Montana—all places where fall can be volatile, with sunny days in the 60s giving way to six inches of snowfall overnight.
The boots had to protect against rain, snow and cold not just for an isolated hike but several days running—because there’s nothing that kills motivation more than sleeping out of a sleeping bag into pre-soaked shoes.
There are two other kinds of hikers in this world: those who carefully break in their boots before a big trip, and those who don’t. Can you guess which camp I’m a member of?
Right out of the box, I took the Bridgers on a 5-mile hike in the pouring rain to Crystal Lake in the Mission Mountains Wilderness. The boots kept my feet dry even as I submerged them in the lake, and they handled the steep climb back to the trailhead with ease.
The next day I hiked with some friends to Whale Lake in the Whitefish Range, an 11-mile trip in a region of western Montana where summer is but a brief visitor. Branches laden with fresh wet snow from a sudden storm the previous night drooped across the trail. This kind of moisture is insidious: even as the sun came out and burned off lingering patches of snow, my friends’ toes froze.
Aaron Theisen is a professional writer and photographer based in Spokane, Wash. Follow him on social media: @whiskeygingermedia.