Review by Arnie P
Baffin Cabo Trails to Rapids hiking shoes
The Cabo shoes were provided by Baffin for review purposes.
The Cabo is part of a family of shoes in the Trails to Rapids family consisting of the Amazon, Baja, Belize, Cabo, and Panama for men and the Amazon, Atlantis, Baja, Belize, Boca, Cabo, Mexico, Panama, and Rio for women.
Size: Men’s 9 US
Sizes available: 7-14 whole sizes only
Colors available: Black, Chocolate
Left shoe: 10 oz
Right shoe: 9.7 oz
My first impression was that these were a pair of slippers. Then I looked at the soles and realized they are definitely made for the outdoor use. These shoes are about 4 oz per shoe lighter than any hiking shoe I’ve ever worn. For me, this could make a difference, especially on the last day of a 3-day backpack. Often at that point, I am starting to fade and am not raising my feet high enough to clear all obstacles.
Hang tag information
The hang tag on the shoe provided information on the construction of the shoe. The following is from the hang tag:
“Upper: Ventilated mesh provides ultimate breathability
Layer 1: Removable water channeling system drains water
Layer 2: Nylon layer allows water and air to travel through
Layer 3: Metallic grid stops stones and grit from entering
Layer 4: Ultra light mid sole provides cushioning and acts as the primary defense against larger outdoor elements
Out sole : Designed specifically to give you added traction while on the trails”
The Cabo’s similarity to a slipper is in initial appearance only. As I examined this shoe, I discovered a lot of well thought out ideas. The toe of the shoe is shaped somewhat like a rounded box. There seems to be adequate protection on the toe end to prevent injury caused by bumping into hard objects such as rocks. I seem to stub my toes a lot while on the trail and for many years had gotten blood blisters under the nail of one or both big toes. I think this type of toe end may protect my toes. The tongue of this shoe is not a separate part of the shoe. Both the tongue and tab at the heel have oval shaped holes, large enough to fit my index finger. This makes it easy to put on and take off these shoes.
The laces are terminated in a single tab. The laces pass through a locking device before reaching the tab. The result is no laces to tie, just adjust to your comfort level, and secure the locking device. The terminating tab can be placed under the laces. The laces end up dressed close to the shoe. This may reduce the possibility of snagging branches on the trail.
Trying out the Cabo
The Cabo’s go on easily. I used one hand on the tongue and the other on the heel tab and slid my foot into the shoe while exerting a small amount of force on the tabs. I adjusted the laces for comfort, then locked the securing device. I wore the shoes at the Lowell Folk Festival. The city closes off streets to cars during the festival and many of these are cobblestones. Walking on cobblestones is a unique experience and I felt that the Cabo’s were as good or better than any shoes I have worn while walking on cobblestones. The cobblestones may look flat but they are not and each one is at a slightly different height. There was a short heavy rain and I did walk through a few puddles and got wet but my socks were only slightly damp at the end of the day. The humidity was high that day. The traction on the wet smooth cobblestones was excellent. I was wearing a backpack with a weight of at least 10 pounds and was at the festival for about 8 hours. Walking on hard surfaces is not easy on my feet and my feet were still comfortable at the end of the day.
So far I am pleased with the Cabo’s and will be initially using them daily the full day doing all my regular activities. This will include a couple hours at the gym and a few hikes before going on 2-3 day backpacks. Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say about the Baffin Cabo’s.
I have so many good things to say about the Cabo shoes that I am not sure where to begin. During this period, I wore the Cabo’s for several activities and the shoes performed very well.
Harold Parker State Forest
I went on a 3-hour hike with a much younger friend. It was a humid day in the 90’s. Because of our summer drought conditions, I was not expecting many wet areas, even though it had rained heavily a few days before. My plan was to circle a small pond. We got off the path and found ourselves in an area where the ground was spongy. I could not see any water where I was walking, but could feel it on the soles of my feet. Then we came to some swampy areas where it was very muddy. Later, we arrived at a small stream which I normally would just walk through, but the area was extremely muddy. Since neither of us wanted to be slogging in mud part way up to our knees, we circled around. Further along, we came to a place where there was a 3 inch diameter tree across the muddy stream. Crossing first, I had no problem with slipping. When my friend crossed, she slipped on the tree and one foot went into the mud. Fortunately, she sank only up to her ankle, and since she was wearing dust gaiters, she did not get very muddy.
We hiked in an area where the trees and an open area were covered with vines. If I had been wearing my usual hiking shoes without gaiters, I would have gotten caught on the vines. Wearing the Cabo’s, I did not get tangled. The vines were so thick that we could not see the ground under the vines. In total, we bushwhacked for about an hour before we got on to a paved road. Within 15 minutes, we had found a path back into the forest. I realized that since my previous hikes in this part of the forest had been in winter snow conditions, I had not previously encountered the wet conditions or the vines.
When I am wearing these shoes, I feel that I have good traction on damp wood, which in other shoes can be very slippery. I have also learned if there is any moisture at all on the ground, I can feel it through the bottom of the Cabo’s even if I cannot see the water. When I detect moisture in this way, I can test for muddy places with my hiking pole. With other hiking shoes, when there were trail areas covered with sand and gravel, I found that often I needed to stop to empty the trail debris from my shoes. I think this was because there was enough space between the shoe and my stockings that debris could collect. It is nice that the fit on the Cabo’s is snug enough to prevent trail debris, because then I don’t require dust gaiters. Even with a 10-pound backpack that day, when wearing the Cabo’s, I still felt very isolated from the roughness of the trail. I was very pleased with the outcome of this hike and I would have liked to have more pictures; however, my camera battery was dead after my first picture.
Working on a ladder
Years ago, I found that scraping and painting a house for hours on a ladder, could result in painful feet, especially, if I was wearing sneakers. When I first got out of college, my non-dress shoes were sneakers and they were not good for ladder work. When I got into hiking and backpacking, I started using my hiking boots for ladder work and found that the boots were comfortable for the ladder work as well as for long hikes and backpacks. However, hiking boots are a little heavy for ladder climbing. Now that I am older, I am spending no more than 4 hours a day on the ladder, not like the 12 hours I spent thirty to fifty years ago. The lightness of the Cabo’s makes it less tiring for me to make multiple trips up and down the ladder. Thus, not only do they protect me from feeling the rungs of the ladder, they also reduce my fatigue from climbing up and down.
Local walks and walking to the shopping plaza.
Since my local walks are mostly on asphalt or concrete, my feet tend to get fatigued. When I wear the Cabo’s, my feet do not feel tired and I am comfortable even on days when the temperature is in the mid 90’s.
At the gym
I am usually at the gym 4-6 days a week. In the gym, the Cabo’s feel as good as any sneaker I have worn. They work well on the treadmills, stair master, ellipticals and the various bicycles.
I am really enjoying the lightness of these shoes. I am also not bumping my feet into things like I do when wearing a shoe with a larger outline. I have been wearing medium weight 100% wool ankle socks and have not had any problem with damp feet. I think the best feature of the shoes is that they don’t need to be tied. I adjust the laces for the best feel, lock them, and forget them.
Please check back in about a month when I will be writing my last report on the Baffin Cabo hiking shoes.
A last look
In addition to being a very busy month, this September has had warmer weather than normal and there has been a higher tic population this year. Despite these conditions, I was able to do 3 significant hikes and several short hikes and walks.
Hiking in New Hampshire
I hiked, wearing the Cabo shoes, for almost two hours in each of two locations in New Hampshire: a local forest and the Massabesic Center. There were other shorter walks of about a couple miles each.
Hiking in the local forest was mostly a bushwhack. This area is moderate to thickly forested with a mix of short steep ascents and leaf covered varied slopes. The traction was good with these shoes. The usual wet areas were dry because of our unusual dry weather this year. There was ample opportunity for my laces to get snagged by dead branches but I did not have this problem, more on this later.
The other hike was in the Massabesic Audubon Center which has clear trails and has a lot of tree cover. The trail I hiked had its share of rocks and roots that make hiking so much different than walking on sidewalks. When there are no problems on a hike there is not much to talk about. I had no problem with slipping or sliding on the trail. Some leaves have started to fall and this can be tricky this time of the year. I know from experience that slipping on leaves can cause a major muscular injury.
Middlesex Fells Reservation
I hiked for at least 4 hours in this moderately forested area. The trails are well used by hikers, often with their dogs. The area has many hills that have exposed hard granite rocks at the top. In a few areas, these rocks are very irregular, making walking very tricky. The Cabo shoe is not a mountaineering boot so I had to be careful in these rare spots. Except in these rare tight rock conditions, the Cabo shoes handled all rocky conditions I came across. Due to lack of rain, the usual wet areas were dry, so I cannot comment about the way the Cabo shoes handle water.
Other off trail use
I continued to do the same things I had done in my last report and the results were just as good. A few times, I did walk in tall grass early in the morning. My shoes and feet got thoroughly soaked by the dew. At first look, it would seem that walking through wet grass is less of a moisture problem than crossing a stream with water above the ankle. Because a stream crossing is temporary, a well ventilated shoe dries quickly if I remove my socks during the crossing. When walking in wet grass, it is unbelievable the amount of water that passes from the wet grass to the socks and the inside of the shoe. If one comes across several areas like this it is almost like walking in the rain. Unlike the stream crossing, where I can temporarily remove my socks, my socks get wet. Except when I work out at the gym, I wear socks that are at least 90% wool. There is no particular reason for not wearing wool for the gym, but I do so out of habit. When I left the wet grassy areas, my wool socks and Cabo shoes dried faster than I expected. As with hanging clothes out on a damp day versus a dry day, the drying time while wearing the socks and shoes varies with the amount of humidity. The only other shoe I have used that has ventilated as well as the Cabo is the Baja, which is also made by Baffin. The only time I would hesitate wearing these shoes is when I would expect to be walking in puddles and then spending time sitting in a cold place. With the lack of activity, the drying process might cause my feet to feel cold. Fortunately these are rare occasions. I have worn these shoes at seminars and meetings and generally anywhere where I would use a casual shoe.
What I like best about these shoes is that I can use them for almost all my activities indoors or outdoors. They may not be the lightest, but are close and do provide adequate protection especially on the toes. Speaking of toes, there is ample room for my toes to wiggle. This translates into greatly reduced blisters between toes. The fit is snug enough so that little or no trail debris enters my shoe. My being able to dress the lacing close to the shoe means I have little possibility of getting tripped by branches. The ability of drying out after getting wet is excellent. The traction is especially good on flat smooth surfaces. They may not be as good in areas that are extremely rocky. My conclusion is that they are definitely keepers.
I enjoyed using the Cabo shoes. I am looking forward to using them for many years. I wish to thank 4alloutdoors.org and Baffin for the opportunity to review the Cabo shoes.