Monday, October 10, 2011
Xtra Tuffs - Boot of Choice
After a brief hiatus, Xtra Tuffs are once again my hiking boot of choice. I have been hiking in and using Xtra Tuffs for practically every outdoor activity ever since the early 1990s. They are comfortable, durable, and best of all, waterproof. But for a few years there they were not so durable. I had one pair last just one month and with the next pair both boots wore out after only a one week hunt. So I decided to try a new brand and was extremely disappointed. I continued to use a really old pair from 2007 that just never did completely wear out.
Then during a visit to Kodiak Marine Supply, the sales lady told me that Xtra Tuffs are now made in China and that they are good again. She explained that American environmental laws precluded the use of a certain glue. But not so with China. .. . So now with the old glue in the works they are good again.
I am not sure if this is all true or not, but with the backhand compliment in mind I decided to give Xtra Tuffs another try. And after a couple of months use and 2 extended hunts they have held up great. I'm back in the saddle again! I guess the Chinese can manufacture a pretty darn good boot, afterall.
Over the years I've climbed a lot of mountains and done all my hunting in Xtra Tuffs. In fact I do not own a pair of hiking boots. And I have had people gasp when they hear I do use Xtra Tuffs. There is a perception that Xtra Tuffs are somehow inadequate for serious hiking. I say they work great. But you do have to hike a bit differently.
I use ski poles and when I hike on slopes I do not try to edge in but keep the soles of the boots flat to the slope. This requires strong ankles. Extra tuffs are actually better at gripping on rocks. They are less good on wet slippery slopes. You can NOT edge in with Xtra Tuffs and do not even try! But they do grip GREAT.
One key point is that you need to get your Xtra Tuffs to fit right. I get them a size too small so that my feet do not slip around inside (especially important when going down a steep slope - the whole toe jam thing). Then I put a felt liner in them and on top of that a superfeet insole. They feel a little tight at first, but after a few hikes I feel like I got a pair of 'hoofs' on.
Photos - Xtra Tuffs in Action! Top - taking a break in my Xtra Tuffs while negotiating a steep brush covered slope during our recent elk hunt. Second and third photos - my brand new Chinese Xtra Tuffs on their first real test, a hike in Sheep hunt in the Brooks Range. I hiked over 60 miles got a sheep and the boots held up great! And much lighter than true plastic mountaineering boots. Fourth photo - Shishaldin Mountain a 9500 foot Aleutian Strato Volcano in 2005 and my Xtra Tuffs are clearly there on the outside of my pack. Bottom - Koniag Peak 2004 - the highest mountain in the Kodiak Archipelago and my Xtra Tuffs made it to within 20 feet of the summit (not being a peak bagger the last 20 feet just did not seem worth it - REALLY hairy).