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.
I’ve always been firmly in the latter camp, blessed with blister-proof feet (and cursed with a clumsiness that keeps me from safely negotiating wet rocks) that allow me to carelessly stomp through the water while my hiking partners pick their way across rocks and logs.
And in the winter, when the goal is to keep feet happy and warm, moisture is something I strictly avoid. So, I was excited to receive a pair of Insulated Bridger boots recently. 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.
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.
But not mine; partnered with a hard shell and rain pants, the Bridgers proved pretty much impenetrable. My feet stayed dry and warm. Now, with winter around the corner, these insulated boots will be my go to – not just for hiking, but for every day. They’ve got the Oboz comfort I love, and they’ve held up in inclement conditions. I expect they’ll do double duty going forward.
Aaron Theisen is a professional writer and photographer based in Spokane, Wash. Follow him on social media: @whiskeygingermedia.