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Dunham Waffle Stomper Alcatraz Shoe SPOTLITE REVIEW

Really lightweight shoes for water sports and hiking in wet conditions, but they tortured my toes on steep downhills.


by Will Rietveld | 2006-07-28 03:00:00-06


Re-designed for 2006, the Dunham Alcatraz is targeted for water sports and wet trail hiking. At 27 ounces per pair in my size, it’s the lightest shoe that Dunham makes. I tested it while canoe camping/hiking, wet canyon hiking, hiking on wet trails and vegetation, and hiking on steep/dry/rocky trails to see how comfortable and versatile it is. The results were mixed.

Dunham Waffle Stomper Alcatraz Shoe SPOTLITE REVIEW - 1
The Dunham Waffle Stomper Alcatraz is a lightweight shoe designed for water sports and wet trail hiking.

First, an overview of some of its salient features. In the developing market for lightweight water sports shoes, Dunham’s entry is nicely designed and very lightweight and functional. The uppers are made of various synthetic materials and minimal padding for light weight and fast drying. They have fine mesh drain ports front and rear to allow water to be readily pumped out while walking. And they are designed with excellent durability and traction to handle abrasive and slippery surfaces. Their outsole is the familiar Waffle Stomper tread by Vibram, using a special compound formulated for enhanced slip resistance in wet conditions. Another nice feature is elastic laces with a locking adjustor.

Dunham Waffle Stomper Alcatraz Shoe SPOTLITE REVIEW - 2
The Alcatraz is Dunham’s lightest shoe. It is constructed of lightweight synthetic materials and has minimal padding and water exit ports so it dries fast (left). It has an elastic lacing system (right) that is easy and fast to adjust.

I wore the Alcatraz nearly full time on a 10-day spring canoe/hiking trip on Utah’s Green River. Talk about versatility - I used the same shoes for wading while loading and unloading canoes, paddling, camping, and day hiking in side canyons. They easily handled the water and mud. For hiking side canyons, they worked beautifully for hiking wet canyons, going from water to rock to mud. However they left me wanting for better hiking shoes when we hiked steep cowboy trails leading to canyon rims. The main problems were lack of stability on sidehills, and toe jamming on steep downhills.

To test their usability for wet weather lightweight backpacking, I wore them on a multi-day mountain hike during our summer monsoon season. They got lots of exposure to wet rocky trails, mud, and wet rock and vegetation, as well as lots of steep uphills and downhills on dry rocky trails. Again the Alcatraz shoes were in their element in the wet stuff, providing excellent traction and good comfort. They were quite comfortable hiking uphill and on more gentle terrain. Their midsole with duel TPU plates and Absorb padding provided good protection from sharp rocks. The main issue again was their comfort on sidehills and downhills. On a 4,000 foot decent on a dry rocky trail, the Alcatraz tortured my toes to the point where I was hobbling at the end.

Dunham Waffle Stomper Alcatraz Shoe SPOTLITE REVIEW - 3
The Alcatraz has Dunham’s familiar Waffle Stomper tread (left) using Vibram’s TC4+ soft flexible compound formulated for enhanced slip resistance in wet conditions. The Alcatraz was most at home in the water (right) and wet trails.

Bottom line, the Alcatraz is a great lightweight shoe for water sports and wet hiking on undulating terrain, such as rafting or canoeing combined with shorter hikes or canoeing and portaging in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. However, they don’t have the support and stability needed for lightweight backpacking in rugged and steep terrain.

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: Dunham Bootmakers
  • Year/Model: 2006 Alcatraz
  • Style: Low-cut watersports/wet trail hiking shoe
  • Materials: Various synthetics
  • Midsole: Absorb compression molded EVA with dual TPU plates
  • Outsole: Lower profile Waffle Stomper tread made by Vibram exclusively for Dunham, Vibram® TC4+ soft flexible compound formulated for enhanced slip resistance in wet conditions and excellent grip on dry surfaces
  • Sizes Available: 8-15, three widths, half sizes to12
  • Weight: Measured weight men’s size 11.5 4E 27.3 oz (774 g), manufacturer specification 24.6 oz (669 g) size 9.5
  • MSRP: $85


"Dunham Waffle Stomper Alcatraz Shoe SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-07-28 03:00:00-06.