Review by Arnie P
AHNU Mendocino men’s boots
The Mendocino boots were provided by AHNU for review purposes. Since I had not seen any Ahnu products in my usual gear store I looked up a definition for Ahnu.
On Wordnik I found the following. “The name AHNU is derived from Celtic mythology, from the goddess of balance and well-being.”
The Mendocino comes in two colors, Black, and Smokey Brown. I received size 9 in Smokey Brown. The outside of the boot is mostly leather in a classic design. The top of the boot comes just above my ankle. The lacing is strung through a combination of closed metal lugs, open metal lugs, a single nylon loop, and a pair of nylon loops. The single nylon loop is at the base of the laces, this is followed by 3 closed pairs of metal loops, then the nylon loop pair which is recessed on the boot, and lastly, near the top, two pairs of open metal lugs. The tongue extends above the top of the boot by about ½ inch. The top of the boot slopes downward toward the heel. There is a fabric tab that comes out of the boot at the top of the heel. At a glance it looks as if the tab intrudes into the boot. When I looked closer it is a continuation of the interior. This eliminates the need for a loop at the heel to assist in putting on the boots. The tab reminds me of a built in shoe horn, something I have not seen or used for a very long time. The sole has a symmetrical pattern. The innersole is removable and appears fairly thin. The inside of the boot is lined with Event material and has the word waterproof printed on it. The outside of the boot has a similar label. The toe of the boot has a small rubber bumper and the heel has a slightly larger rubber bumper. The bumper on the back has 3 horizontal ridges. For more details check out their web site at WWW.AHNU.com.
Boot size: 9 US
Left boot: 20.5 oz
Right boot: 20.6 oz
Colors: Black, Smokey Brown
Sizes available: 7 to 12 in half sizes , and,13
Trying the Mendocino boots
The opening of this boot looks smaller than the opening on other boots I own. I was thinking that this might be a tight fit. I put them on by placing my right thumb and forefinger on the tongue of the right boot and my left thumb and forefinger on the tab of the boot and slid my foot into the boot, when my foot was almost in I released my left hand and with a little down pressure my foot slid in easily. I repeated this for the other boot changing the position of my hands. I then tied the boots. I was wearing a pair of medium weight wool socks. Within seconds there was a slight warming in my feet. I then took a few steps. The boots fit snug but not tight. I then took a walk and was in such a hurry to leave that I forgot my trekking poles which I take with me on almost all my hikes. I could not feel any sensitive spots or any restriction of movement. The boots almost felt like I was wearing a second set of socks. I then wore my boots to drive to the gym. Being able to drive is good in that I don’t have to have a pair of shoes for driving and then have to change into boots after arriving at the trail-head. It is just so much nicer for me to put on my pack and start hiking after arriving at a trail head. I have a low tolerance for discomfort in hiking boots. After wearing the boots for a few hours I checked the laces and found I could tighten them a slight amount. The laces, after tying, were the right length. I felt very protected from the surface I was walking on. I had the comfort of a heavier boot but was not feeling the weight on my feet. This is the marvel of modern technology and a well designed boot. I look forward to next report in about a month. Please check back then.
Another month has passed already and I have been wearing the Mendocino boots about 2-3 times a week. This has consisted of some bushwhacking hikes, hikes in a local forest, and a long hike in the Boxford State Forest.
The tab at the heel of the boot
After I have broken in my boots, I tend to just slip my foot directly into the boot. I quickly found out that with this boot, I had to hold the tab at the back to keep it from slipping into the boot, between the heel and the boot. I like this tab because it hugs my heel and adds a level of comfort that I have not had in other designs. I think the tab may also help keep trail debris out of the boot, but since during the winter, my long pants cover the top of the boots, I cannot know for sure.
The lacing system
For years I had been using a lacing system consisting of round eyelets only. In the last several years I have been using various types of metal lugs for the lacing. I have had some minor problems with comfort on the top part of my foot with the metal lug type of lacing system. On my initial observation of these boots, I thought I was going to have the same kind of problem. I was almost going to try some of the things I have been using to alleviate the problem. I wisely decided to try these boots first without any modifications. To my amazement, I did not have any discomfort. The major difference in these lugs is they are hinged and this allows for the laces to easily adjust as one is walking in the boot. Depending on the type of hike I am doing, I may decide not to use the top pair of lugs. This is a personal choice and I do like the extra ankle flexibility when I omit the top lugs. The downside of this is that when I am hiking in shorts in warmer weather, there may be more of a possibility of trail debris entering my boots. I have very seldom had much trail debris enter my boots, but have learned that when it does occur I need to take action quickly and remove the debris.
I have been out bushwhacking several times with the Mendocino boots and they are well suited for this purpose. One of the problems bushwhacking is getting caught by the bushes. When this happens it really is a nuisance because I might fall or require extra energy to get free from the entanglement. So far I have not gotten the Mendocino boots caught in branches, bushes, or vines and have not tripped due to entanglement. They are almost as light as some trail shoes, but with the protection of an ankle boot.
Boxford State Forest
This was the longest hike of the period. I joined 10 other hikers for this 5-6 hour hike that covered 6-7 miles. The hike had a late start as we waited for an unknown number of hikers to arrive. I wore my thickest pair of wool socks for this hike. I am not absolutely sure that these socks are all wool as I could not find any labeling on them. My feet did start to get cold while waiting. Within a few minutes after starting the hike, my feet got warm and stayed warm for the remainder of the hike, even when we waited about 10 minutes for the slower hikers to catch up. Also, my feet did not cool off during a long lunch break. Hiking with a group this size tends to be a more leisurely hike as there are frequent stops for everyone to catch up. Looking for lost hikers is never fun. I usually hike in this forest about once a year and like the location very much. It was sunny, about freezing and the wind did get stronger as the hike progressed. The trail had the following conditions; flat and easy, rocky, areas of frozen puddles, areas where the sun turned the surface to mud, a combination of mud and ice, and several hills. A one point we had a choice of turning back or crossing a stream where there were several sections of trees placed across the stream. On one side of the crossing the stream was partially frozen and on the other it dropped down several inches. We crossed the stream carefully making maximum use of trekking poles or poles made from branches. The crossing was about 20 feet wide. I was completely pleased with the performance of these boots on this hike and I was stable at all times. Despite the amount of mud I walked through, when I arrived at the car there was no mud on or under my boots. Except for the beginning, my feet stayed warm and they were dry throughout the hike. When I arrived home, my feet did not have any sensitive places and they were not tired. At this point I would not hesitate to use these boots on a sunrise to sunset hike.
The Mendocino boots are light for this type of boot and are extremely comfortable. They great for all the types of hiking that I have been doing. Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say about the AHNU Mendocino boots.
A last look
I have have been wearing the Mendocino boots from 2-3 times a week to almost daily. This has been a month of alternating days of cold temperatures followed by warmer temperatures. I have been on local hikes up to 2 hours and a longer hike of about 4 hours. Let’s get more into the details.
Great Brook Farm State Park
The day was overcast with very little wind, and the temperature was almost 40 F. The ground was mostly frozen. My hiking friend, feral cat (a trail name), and I have hiked at this location several times. Since our last hike, we found several places where trees and large branches were blocking the trail. Since this is a popular place for hikers, there was always a fairly easy path around the blocked trail. There are minor hills and a lot of places where there are ponds and a few small streams. After we completed the first loop we stopped to rest and have a bite to eat. Since we both had time, we started a second loop. To our surprise, we encountered a place on the trail where there was a lot of shade and there was a large patch of packed down snow that was mainly ice and almost no bare spots. Since there was not any snow left at our homes, this was a complete surprise. Neither of us had thought to bring traction devices. The patch was sizable at about 25 feet by 60 feet. This turned out not to be a problem. It could have been that the soles allowed for good traction in all conditions. I was comfortable and dry at all times during this hike.
Horn Pond Reservation
This was an afternoon hike where temperatures were about 70 F, sunny and very little wind. It was my first hike of the season with shorts. The ground was completely thawed and there was only a small amount of mud in a few places. The major trails are well used, so I take smaller, less used unmarked trails where they are more likely to be obstructed by small branches. I find it nice to be in a place where I don’t see people for short periods of time. Then I return to the main trail and wait till I see the next side trail to wonder off on. For this hike, I was wearing medium weight wool socks and was surprised my feet did not sweat, considering the 70 F temperature. The comfort level was excellent for this hike. There was a short descent that was quite steep. I did not have any trouble with traction in this area or any other place on this hike.
I have been noticing the laces are a little too long. This was especially true when I was not using the top pair of lugs. I have started tying a simple knot between the top two pairs of open lugs, and then the regular bow knot at the top. This way, the laces have stayed tied almost all the time. Although this is not a major problem, I prefer not to have to stop and tie my laces, as it seems to happen at the most inconvenient times.
Sometimes it is difficult to describe something that works well under a multitude of conditions. Every time I have worn these boots, I have been pleased that I was wearing them. To be more specific, I like the lightness of this type of boot and the ability of the boot to keep my foot dry and well ventilated. I like the extra protection my ankles get from the leather in a very rocky area. On the downside, the laces are a little long. I was going to mention scratches left by brushing against rock, but the ones I thought I had, I can no longer find. I expect to enjoy wearing these boots for a long time under a variety of conditions. I wish to thank AHNU and 4alloutdoors.org for the opportunity to test these boots.