November 14, 2014

Gear Review: Ahnu Sugar Bowl Waterproof Hiking Boots

Just before I went on vacation, I was able to do an unseasonably warm hike of South Boulder Peak and Bear Peak, and I was hoping that the weather would stay nice for a few more weeks so I could get in some more hiking before winter. Unfortunately, I was thoroughly disappointed to come back to Colorado and find below zero temperatures. Quite a far cry from my sunny, warm adventures in Mexico!

However, on that hike two weeks ago, I tested out some new gear that is actually specific to some winter activities. Ahnu was kind enough to send me their Sugarpine boots for testing, and while I was able to take them in the sunny dry conditions a few weeks ago, they’re actually insulated and waterproof, so they’re going to be perfect for all my cold weather adventures. Out with the hiking, in with the snowshoeing!

My Dad bought me a pair of snowshoes for Christmas a few years ago… when I was living in Manhattan and had little to no use for them 🙂 However, they made the journey to Colorado in my big POD, and now I’m excited to really put them to use this winter. I do already have a pair of Keen hiking boots that I bought a few years ago and love (they’re really sturdy and also give me lots of traction), but I knew I would need something waterproof and warm for these adventures. Enter the Ahnu Sugar Bowls!

Ahnu Sugarbowl
Ahnu Women’s Sugar Bowl Waterproof Hiking Boots in Charcoal Gray

First of all, I absolutely love this color combo. My snowpants are mint green, so these will go perfectly with those once I’m bundled up with those. Plus, the gray is perfect for hiding dirt while still being feminine – I got these pretty muddy just from that one hike, but they still look great! Meanwhile, the styling is really sleek, so even though these are tall boots that provide plenty of support, they don’t look bulky. And, they do fit true-to-size – my size 8.5s were just right.

The outsoles are made from Vibram rubber, and while at the top of the mountain, another hiker actually commented on how nonstick Vibram rubber is. I was a little worried about the grip at one point (when we were scaling the rocks on top of Bear Peak), but my friends assured me that those rocks were just slippery buggers, and that their hiking boots weren’t doing any better. The Sugar Bowls are built with Ahnu’s Numentumâ„¢ Hike technology, with a lateral to medial TPU heel clip for neutral positioning and stability. They also include a rubber toe protector and shock dispersal plate in the forefront, for stone bruising protection. Clumsy me definitely needs this!

Sugarbowls on Bear Peak
That way I can get awesome summit shots like this one!

One thing I really liked about Ahnu’s design is that while the Sugar Bowls have a traditional lace up system so that you can adjust the overall fit to perfectly hug your feet/ankles, they also have a side zipper to make getting in and out of them really easy. Don’t you hate it when you have to keep stopping in the first few miles of a hike to readjust your boots until they’re finally laced just the way you like them? I loved that with these I could just get the lacing right one time and then use the zipper for subsequent wears.

The most notable feature of these boots, though, is the 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation. These boots are toasty warm! My feet were really hot the hike long, and when I finally took them off after eight hours of hiking, I had no blisters… but I did have a bit of heat rash. I probably shouldn’t have worn them on our very unseasonably warm hike two weeks ago, but I wanted to break them in and make sure they would do the job in less temperate conditions. These definitely lived up to that! I feel really confident that they’re going to be excellent for preventing frostbite and keeping my toes warm all winter long. The Sugar Bowls weigh 15.5 oz, so they’re definitely not as lightweight as something like trail running sneakers. But chances are if you’re doing an activity where you want insulation, you’re not going to get much lighter. If you are looking for something a bit lighter, though, Ahnu offers an entire line of hiking boots, all of which look to have the same great design (though obviously I only tested this one pair).

The Ahnu Sugar Bowls retail for $165 – which seems pretty comparable to other mid-calf technical winter hiking boots. However, they are also sold at REI, Moosejaw, Amazon, Backcountry, Eddie Bauer, Zappos, and Nordstrom, to name a few, and many of those sites frequently offer great coupon codes and sales. With Cyber Monday coming up all too quickly, you might be able to score a really great price on these! In my opinion, they’re worth it even at full price – these are high quality boots that will definitely last a long time.

Disclaimer: Ahnu provided me with a pair of boots in exchange for a product review, but I received no other compensation and was under no obligation to write a positive review. Now that winter is here, I can’t wait to wear them all season long!


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