Baffin Amazon Trail Shoes
A trail shoe mean for wet conditions. The design allows water to drain out through the sole and the mesh fabric of the uppers. Light, with pretty decent traction. Large slots in the bottom are open, but screened by a tough metal mesh to stop things from poking through. All the benefits of a sandal, but with more protection and a better fit.
- Almost a sandal, light and very cool
- Lets water flow through
- Large toe box, room for orthotics
- Comfortable fit
- Doesn't keep your feet dry (but it's not meant to)
- Not much anke support
- Questionable durability
Baffin is well known for winter boots, with ratings down to -100°, but this year they're promoting a new summer line.
The 'Trail to Rapids' series has an interesting design. It's very much a trail shoe, with decent traction, but it is also very cool and completely breathable. Here on Trailspace, we're always looking for a waterproof boot, but the Amazon goes on the premise that if your feet are going to get wet, just make sure the water can get out again.
In fact, the insole of the shoe and the sole itself are perforated to let water flow straight through! Neat little open slots in the bottom are protected by a metal mesh and the upper fabric has quite large holes in the weave.
The Amazon is a bit light for places like rough mountain trails or for scree slopes (although it does have a nice protective toe bumper) but it would work very well on dirt paths or forest trails with a few stream crossings. The shoe has a unique 'heel-down' configuration that reminds me of the old Earth Shoes and a wide toe box similar to Keens. Very comfortable for walking, but if you're used to a boot with a higher heel it might take a day or two for your tendons to stretch out a bit.
I found the shoe to be comfortable right out of the box. The fit was accurate (always important with an internet order) and there was enough room to accommodate my orthotics. I liked the padded collar around the ankle, and on the tongue, which gave some added comfort. The padding continued down far enough to stop the laces from cutting in, too.
This shoe would be perfect for someone doing a summer canoe trip. Comfortable when you're paddling, rugged enough for portages, and your feet won't mind getting a bit damp every now and then. I even wore them with a a pair of socks after a day in heavy boots, just for the lightness and the comfort. They are also light enough to be carried on a backpacking trip for water crossings.
I found them to be good on gentler mountain trails, and I'm sure they'll be great on the local hiking trails on the prairies, but I'm not sure yet how they'll fare at elevation. I'm doing a couple of mountain hikes next weekend, so I'll update then.
EDIT; 24 JULY 2013
- One immediate complaint was that pebbles and gravel of just the right size get picked up and jammed into the slots in the bottom. They can only be removed with a pair of pliers. Keep your Leatherman handy.
- After just one year of intermittent and occasional use, I've noticed the stitching holding the mesh to the top fabric is loosening off. I'm still wearing them (good for water crossings) but I'm not counting on them as a reliable trail shoe.
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: List $75
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Historic Range: $47.95