I walk. A lot. It is my exercise of choice and as a result I average about 1,400 miles a year walking in all sorts of terrain. Which is pretty rough on the average pair of “walking” shoes. So, when I got the chance to test the new Bridger Ridge hikers from Kenetrek, I was curious to see if they would live up to the performance of Kenetrek’s Mountain Boots, the boots the company was founded on. Short answer…they more than live up to what ever trail you set them on.
The Bridger Ridge High Hikers are based on the same platform as the popular Mountain Boots and feature a combination leather and nylon upper outsole transition system for solid ankle support.
Removing the boots from the box I checked them over to see if there were any loose threads or material. All seams were tight and there were no manufacturing errors. These were some well-built boots! I next tried them on to get an initial idea as to fit. Both were extremely comfortable right out of the box. In fact, I think they may be the most comfortable boots I have ever worn. This is due to the Kenetrek Supportive Insoles that help stabilize your heel and arch, while working in conjunction with the tread design to provide a shock absorbing affect with each step.
I received a pair each of the high and low hikers for testing just a couple of weeks before leaving for vacation to northern Minnesota, providing a perfect opportunity to put the Bridger Ridge high hikers through some pretty soggy trials.
Northern MN is pretty swampy in the spring, and one of the hands down soggiest trails I have ever hiked is the two-mile trail out to my brother in-law’s award-winning deer shack.
This trail is not for the squeamish. Stagnant water and deep mud holes make up the majority of the trail and even ATV’s have difficulty traversing the terrain. So on a cool and windy afternoon I started out to test the qualities of the Bridger Ridge high hikers.
I had already worn the boots on daily walks in the city and on the dirt road leading to the farm so I knew how comfortable they were. As advertised, the tread worked with the cushioned insole to absorb the shock of the step. It is also the reason pulling these boots on feels like slipping your foot into a pillow.
After walking a quarter mile or so across damp fields, I entered the woods and slogged through the first of many mud patches. On the way out to the shack, I approached the trail like any hiker, skirting the deeper standing water and walking around the worst of the
bogs. Even with caution, stepping into the mud and water was unavoidable. By the time I made it out to the shack, the boots were thoroughly covered in muddy residue, but my feet were completely dry. On the way back, I decided to pull out all the stops and trudge right through the mud and water at the deepest points to truly test their waterproof qualities. After another two miles and a full 30 to 45 seconds of standing in a running stream to clean some of the mud from the sides and toe of the boots, my feet were completely dry, and the boot’s treads were clear of mud. Even when walking through the worst of the mud holes, the only accumulation of mud was on the sides of the boots and a few thumps from my walking stick cleared that away keeping the boots from gaining mud weight as others might.
Interestingly, the treads retain a lot of traction even when wet and muddy. Definitely a plus when you’re experiencing a wide variety of trail conditions.
Back in the desert with temps hovering in the high 90s, I focused on the performance of the low Bridger Ridge hikers. At just over two pounds, they are light enough for trail running (if you’re into that sort of thing) and offer more support and durability than cross trainers or walking shoes. In fact, the Bridger Ridge low hikers were designed specifically to take on the Bridger Ridge Run, one of the most grueling trail races in the U.S. The Ridge Run is nearly 20 miles of brutal climbing and descending along the Bridger Mountains of Montana. A run this challenging requires footwear that can take the punishment of the terrain and the constantly changing weather and trail conditions.
As with the high top version, the low hikers offer the same tread design and out of the box comfort. While they are not billed as being waterproof, they are certainly highly water-resistant, as I walked through shallow streams and standing water with no soggy after effects.
The same tread design that sheds mud and muck so well, also shrugs off the small stones and pebbles that make up the majority of the trails in the Arizona desert. These small stones lodged in the treads reduce traction drastically and have made for some harrowing experiences when I have been rock hopping with other boots. Since the Bridger Ridge Hikers shed them so easily I have not worried about whether or not I have the necessary traction for climbing on or around boulders.
Both boots remain comfortable during extended wear periods. I wore them daily for 16 to 18 hours at a stretch and never experienced any discomfort or hot spots that I have encountered with lesser boots.
All in all, the Bridger Ridge hikers live up to the standards one expects from a pair of Kenetrek boots, with the same rugged durability only in a lighter weight.
After two months into this evaluation, both the high and low versions have proven durable and comfortable. Time will tell what their overall life expectancy will be, but based on my experiences so far I believe they will double or triple the lifespan of my former walking and hiking footwear choices.
Bridger Ridge Hikers
– Combination leather/nylon upper outsole transition system for solid ankle support
– Extra thick padded collars and tongues for cushion and comfort
– Reinforced toes and heels for extended durability and protection
- Kenetrek Supportive Insoles stabilize your heel and arch and soften every step
- Kenetrek Outdoor Combination Outsole combines a PolyUrethane midsole with a high traction molded rubber tread to keep you on your feet in any terrain
- Speed Lace Hooks
Available in Men’s and Women’s Sizes
MSRP for Bridger Ridge High Hikers $165
MSRP for Bridger Ridge Low Hikers $125–Randy Gibbs