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Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Extra Boot REVIEW

The feature set of this new boot from Dunham suggests that it might be an ideal lightweight, insulated, waterproof boot for snowshoeing and snow hiking. That would be true, if it were not for one serious problem…

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by Will Rietveld | 2006-07-18 03:00:00-06

Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Extra Boot REVIEW

Introduction

When I spied the new 2006 Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Extra (can you say that with your finger on the tip of your tongue?), I thought: “Aha, here’s a lightweight waterproof insulated boot that would be perfect for snowshoeing and snow hiking.” There are lots of insulated pac-type boots and rubber lower section boots around, and they are certainly warm and waterproof, but they’re heavy. The Terrastryder Extra is constructed of leathers and synthetics, insulated with 400-gram Thinsulate Ultra, has Dunham’s Dryworks waterproof/breathable liner, and weigh a lot less. Could they be the ideal boot for hiking in snow and slop?

What’s Good

  • Lightweight
  • Insulated with 400-gram Thinsulate Ultra
  • Waffle Stomper tread provides excellent traction
  • Excellent support and stability
  • Available in extended sizes and widths

What’s Not so Good

  • Not waterproof as claimed
  • Dries slowly
  • Too many side seams make them vulnerable to seam failure

Specifications

  Manufacturer

Dunham Bootmakers

  Year/Model

2006 Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Extra

  Style

Mid-height insulated waterproof light hiking boot

  Weight

Measured weight (men’s size 11.5 EEEE) 2 lb 13.1 oz/pair (1.28 kg), manufacturer specification 2 lb 2 oz/pr (0.96 kg) for size 7

  Materials

Upper is full grain leathers and synthetics

  Outsole

Dunham exclusive Waffle Stomper tread, made by Vibram

  Features

Dryworks waterproof membrane, 400 gram Thinsulate Ultra insulation, Vibram® outsole with exclusive Waffle Stomper multi-directional lug tread, Vibram® Supertrek compound rubber outsole for enhanced grip on rocky surfaces, Dual TPU plates sandwiched between the midsole and outsole for foot protection and torsional stability, compression molded EVA midsole, Absorb shock absorption system in the heel and forefoot, gusseted/fully padded tongue and collar, extended rubber toe bumper, extended sizes and widths

  MSRP

$130 US

Performance

The construction of the new Terrastryder Extra is identical to the old Terrastryder mid-height boot, with lots of different materials and loads of seams. On the old Terrastryder I found the numerous exposed seams were their nemesis - the stitching on the side seams readily abraded from creative bushwhacking, and I blew out a number of seams after just 6 months of use. However, the exposed seams may not be a problem on boots meant for cool weather hiking and active snow sports.

Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Extra Boot REVIEW - 1
The new Dunham Terrastryder Extra (left and lower right) insulated boot has the same construction as the old Terrastryder hiking boot (upper right), i.e., many different materials and lots of seams. The numerous seams couldn’t handle the abrasion of off-trail bushwhacking, and I wore them out in 6 months. Note: the redesigned 2006 Terrastryder hiking boot (reviewed separately) overcomes the seam failure problem.

Dunham boots come in extended sizes and widths, fit well, and are very comfortable right out of the box. I found that the insulated Terrastryder Extra fits and feels basically the same as its uninsulated counterpart. The main difference is the addition of a layer of 400-gram Thinsulate Ultra insulation.

Thinsulate Ultra is a 3M product specifically developed for footwear. It is claimed to be compression-resistant, lightweight, durable, hydrophobic, and more insulative than foam or felt. It’s intended for cold weather sports at moderate activity levels.

I wore the Terrastryder Extra while snowshoeing, igloo building, and snow hiking, and found the insulation level to be about right for those types of activities in cool and cold weather. It’s a good idea to get fitted in these boots wearing heavy wool socks, or perhaps two pair of socks, for extra warmth and to absorb foot perspiration. It’s also helpful to use an insulating insole to reduce conductive heat loss. However, even with heavy socks, this is not an appropriate boot for low activity use or winter camping in really cold weather; there are better insulated boots for that purpose.

As far as weight, the Terrastryder Extra at 2 pounds 2 ounces per pair (manufacturer specification) is half the weight of a pac-boot, and a little less than comparable leather/fabric insulated boots.

Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Extra Boot REVIEW - 2
The Dunham Terrastryder Extra insulated boot has the same Waffle Stomper tread by Vibram (top left) as the Terrastryder hiking boot. The midsole (bottom left) provides stability and support yet is flexible for comfortable walking. The Waffle Stomper compound and tread provide excellent traction on a variety of surfaces, and cleans itself out well.

A critical factor with using a leather/fabric boot in snow and slop is its ability to stay dry inside. Since there is no rubber lower section, these boots are dependent on their waterproof/breathable liner to keep water out. The Terrastryder Extra has Dunham’s proprietary Dryworks® moisture management membrane system that is claimed to “provide waterproof protection and breathable comfort in the wettest conditions.” I wish I could report that the Dryworks system performs as claimed, but I can’t. Rather, I found that the boots consistently wetted through while hiking in wet snow and slop, and that’s with gaiters over the uppers to prevent any snow from entering through the top.

Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Extra Boot REVIEW - 3
Waterproof nada! The Terrastryder Extra’s Dryworks waterproof/breathable membrane consistently wetted through, giving me damp/cold feet.

I had little leakage in dry snow, rather the leakage issue was most prevalent in wet snow or slop, or any real wet hiking condition. It typically required an hour or so for the boots to wet through to where I could feel dampness inside, which basically meant chilly feet. The boots only leaked to the point where my socks were damp, they never reached a condition where my socks were sopping wet. In addition, the boots dried out slowly if I left them on the garage floor in 50 °F temperatures. I found it necessary to remove the insoles and put them on a boot drier overnight in order to really get them dried out.

Assessment

While the attributes of the Dunham Terrastryder Extra would seem to add up to a lightweight, insulated, waterproof boot that is well suited for snow hiking and other snow sports - there is one serious problem that torpedoes them - the boots are simply not waterproof as claimed. They consistently gave me damp and chilly feet, and were slow to dry out unless I used a boot dryer. Bummer!

What’s Unique

Dunham (and New Balance) boots are available in extended sizes and widths to fit most feet. For wide or narrow feet, Dunham boots are a good alternative to custom-made boots.

Recommendations for Improvement

The Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Extra boot is loaded with desirable features to provide cool/cold weather hiking comfort. However, there are a couple of issues that clearly need to be addressed.

  • Upgrade or replace the Dryworks waterproof moisture management system so it is an effective waterproof/breathable system. The present technology is water-resistant, but not waterproof.
  • Reduce the number of seams. Construct the lower boot of a lightweight/ waterproof Hypalon-like fabric, using welded seams.

Citation

"Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Extra Boot REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/dunham_waffle_stomper_terrastryder_extra_boot_review.html, 2006-07-18 03:00:00-06.

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