Cabela's Mountain Hiker
Price Paid: $140
I got mine to replace my Pivetta P-5s in 1985 or shortly thereafter, and still wear them all the time. They still don't leak and have the original soles, though the lugs are all wore off.
I've never had a blister once in them all this time, due to the snug fitting heel which is uncommon for me to find in my wide size. Too many shoes like Timberland have very wide heels that let the foot slide all around in the shoe, whereas these benefit from smarter boot builders.
I use only bees wax on the leather, and generously, all the time. I like Sno-Pruf which you can get anywhere. Don't use Nikwax, it will make your boots smell like kerosene and stretch out. These shoes lasted me close to 26 years with only beeswax for leather care, and spent years outdoors. I'm ready for a new pair now.
Materials: full grain leather, gore tex lining, vibram outsole
Use: Trail hikes with up to 50 pound load
Break-in Period: Very Quick
Weight: 3.4-3.5 pounds
Price Paid: $149 plus tax
These boots instantly fit like a glove. I saw them online at Cabelas.com and then decided to drive up to their Dundee, Michigan, site and see how they wore. First I checked them out, and then I tried on the Cabela's By Meindl series which cost a bit more. My feet are pretty low-volume I guess, and for some reason I could wedge my foot into as low as a US size 9 in the Meindl boots, but my heel just wobbled around. I could tell it would be a recipe for hotspots and blisters in my feet.
The salesperson who was very busy but also very helpful, suggested some orthotics which did make those boots feel better. However to potentially spend $30 for inserts on a shoe that cost $40 more, I really didn't think it justified the cost. The only advantage to those higher cost boots in my opinion was the "rough-grain" leather appearance, which I like better in such a boot because I think it resists scratching etc better. The past two pairs of boots I have purchased had that rough leather appearance (I.e. EMS Summit, Cabela's Teton II (the boot that didn't fit me)).
To get back to the story, price wasn't really that big of an issue for me in a boot that I plan to wear for several years. But I ultimately decided that although I liked the look of the Teton II better than the Mountain Hiker, the fact that the Mountain Hiker fit like a glove instantly out of the box in my normal size, with no heel wobble even on my low-volume feet, and feel soft and supple but with that glove-like support -- would make them my new pair.
I wore them all day at my computer, and if I do that in my EMS Summit II(?) GTX's my feet will experience discomfort and fall asleep. These felt comfortable, and my feet did not fall asleep. For a new pair of boots, I think this is a refreshing surprise. The Teton II's apparently take a while to break in, and with the huge heel-space, for me would have meant some pretty painful blisters along the way. By contrast, again the Mountain Hikers are comfy right out of the box.
On the downside, I would prefer that Cabela's begin to offer these boots in a different texture similar to that of the Teton II's. However to counter that issue I mentioned regarding scratching of the glossy brown exterior, I have read reviews that suggested some typoe of wax can be used to buff out the scratch marks(, and good boot maintenance is necessary for everyone who plans to make their boots last for year after year anyways). Just make sure you use Gore-Tex compatible waterproofing products.
Salesperson also recommended some type of orthotic for maximum comfort, and I have read other reviews that suggest the footbed in the boot is not the best. So far, I am not didpleased, but after a great 32 mile AT hike in North Carolina where I was "gellin" in my Summit GTX's I'll probably give the same treatment to these boots.
I have to be careful wearing these when driving. Twice I hit the break in my automatic and still had my foot on the accelerator. In a college town, I think this is a problem with so many pedestrians. Just a thought, maybe we shouldn't wear big boots when driving.
The lore at Cabelas is that these boots are made by Vasque, due to their claimed similarity to Vasque Sundowners; but I could find no evidence. These boots are made in Romania, not China (where Vasque manufactures), and I doubt that Vasque would manufacture boots for a third party in a higher-cost environment than they provide their first party product. I think Asolo's are made in Romania. I'm not aware of other manufacturers policies. My thought is that they are not made by Vasque. All Cabela's says is they are designed in Italy. I expect that these boots are very similar to the LL Bean Cresta hikers.
A great boot. Super comfy, just be prepared to do your maintenance I expect. I have not taken these on a long hike yet, but I know they will do well just on the basis of support and comfort that they are providing too. Cabela's has a great warranty program too, so I feel confident there.
Materials: Full leather upper with Goretex lining
Use: dayhikes, fishing, mountain biking
Break-in Period: 1 week on the outside
Weight: 3 lbs
Price Paid: $139
I thought I was never going to find another boot with the fit and quality of my Italian Vasque Sundowners. When Vasque moved the manufacturing to China I thought that all was lost but these boots from Cabela's are awesome. I suspect that these are made by the same folks that used to make the sundowners before. If you ever had a pair you know the fit that they had. I put these on and I thought I was putting on my old Vasques.
These have two things up on my old Vasques though; sole and price. They have a Vibram sole which you don't get on a pair of sundowners unless you get the mx2 model which is made in Italy and comes with Vibram soles. But the Cabela's boot costs $70 less!! Why pay 70 bucks more for the same boot? Once you break these in they are good for short hikes, camping fishing, tooling around town, or even long backpacking trips. At the end of the day my feet are never tired and I never get hotspots in them. The Vibram sole is top notch and the leather is high quality. You will have these boots a long time. Hopefully Cabela's never discontinues this model or decides to move the manufacturing to china. Just in case I am going to buy a few extra pair.
Use: Rough trail w/heavy pack
Break-in Period: Short if at all
Price Paid: $139
I was very happy with these boots right out of the box. They are stiff and provide a lot of support. They do require a short break-in period but one short day hike should be enough. They are waterproof and sturdy. I hiked 10 miles with a tree stand and antlers on my back, over uneven terrain, and then a steady trek on a smooth trail with no problems. The lacing system maintains its tension and there is a wide toe box for plenty of comfort. I would buy them again and recommend them. They also come with a 60 DAY FIELD TEST GUARANTEE which can't be beat!! You have nothing to lose but a small return shipping fee if you don't like them for some reason!
Use: Camping and everyday wear
Break-in Period: One day
Price Paid: $170
So that's what happened to Vasque Sundowners.
The last pair I bought didn't have the same fit and fell apart (shoelace hook fell off and sole cracked within 3 months).
I put on a pair of Mountain Hikers at Cabela's today and it was like my feet had come home. They felt just like my original pair of Sundowners.
These are fantastic boots!
Materials: Leather with Gore-Tex Liners
Use: Any terrain with a heavy backpack
Break-in Period: Hardly any
Price Paid: $139
The best boot I've worn in close to 40 years of hiking.
The sticker price on some of the name brand boots are high as hiking and backpacking become more "trendy". These boots from Cabela's show me that there are still high quality, affordable boots out there. Cabela's also has one of the best customer service departments and return policies around. These boots are an excellent choice.
Materials: leather, Gore-tex, vibram sole
Use: short dayhikes, rough trails w. heavy pack, ice and snow
Break-in Period: don't remember
Weight: couple of pounds
These boots are great. Except for one flaw. The insoles...or lack thereof. Everything about these boots is awesome. You just have to buy a good cushion that I think Cabela's forgot to add when making them. These are the best boots for the money you will find.
Where to Buy
The Cabela's Mountain Hiker is not available from the stores we monitor.
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