Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Mid Boot REVIEW

With the new 2006 edition of the Terrastryder, Dunham has corrected the seam failure problem of its predecessor. The new boot merits high marks, except for one annoying carryover problem.

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

Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Mid Boot REVIEW

Introduction

The popular Dunham Terrastryder has been revised for 2006, with some significant improvements over the original. I liked the fit, comfort, and traction of the original Terrastryder, but its numerous seams were its nemesis. In only 6 months of (hard) use, I blew out a total of 15 seams, which increased their breathability quite a bit, but limited their longevity! Dunham corrected that problem in the new Terrastryder II, and added some other nice features.

What’s Good

  • Lightweight
  • Nicely designed, a big improvement over the original Terrastryder
  • Comfortable out of the box
  • 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

Specifications

  Manufacturer

Dunham Bootmakers

  Year/Model

2006 Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Mid

  Style

Mid-height waterproof light hiking boot

  Weight

Measured weight (men’s size 11.5 EEEE) 2 lb 14.7 oz/pair (1.32 kg), manufacturer specification 2 lb 10 oz/pair (1.19 kg) for men’s size 9.5

  Materials

Upper is full grain leathers and synthetics

  Outsole

Dunham exclusive Waffle Stomper tread, made by Vibram

  Features

Dryworks waterproof/breathable membrane, 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, ABZORB® shock absorption system in the heel and forefoot, gusseted/fully padded tongue and collar, extended rubber toe bumper, extended sizes and widths

  MSRP

$120 US

Performance

The popular Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder is redesigned for 2006, and available in low and mid heights. Although the original Terrastryder was comfortable right out of the box, fit well, and had good traction, its abundant exposed seams were its nemesis. Admittedly I was a little hard on them, but in only 6 months I wore them out, with a total of 15 seams coming apart on the two boots. The revised 2006 Terrastryder has far fewer exposed seams on the sides, which should correct the problem.

Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Mid Boot REVIEW - 1
The new 2006 Terrastryder Mid (bottom left) is substantially different from its predecessor (top left). The older Terrastryder had numerous exposed seams which often failed. In the new Terrastryder Mid (bottom left and right photo) Dunham has dramatically reduced the number of exposed seams. The new boot is also taller and adds some nice features.

As an aside, I strongly recommend that the first thing you do when you get a new pair of boots is coat all the outside stitching with McNett SeamGrip, which is a liquid urethane plastic. It really helps to protect the stitching and prolong the life of the boots.

The new Terrastryder mid is taller than its predecessor, nearly as tall as a full height boot, and consequently weighs a little more (5.9 ounces/pair more in my size). The materials used in the uppers are basically the same, consisting of thin leathers, synthetic fabrics, and plastics. The uppers cover my ankles and are comfortably padded throughout. An improved lacing system distributes pressure more evenly over the instep area.

The midsole consists of compression molded EVA foam and Thermo Plastic Urethane (TPU) plates in the rear and front for increased support and torsional stability. I like their balance of flexibility and support; they are plenty flexible for easy walking, yet provide good support and foot protection for rough trail and off-trail use.

The outsole is the familiar Waffle Stomper tread, made by Vibram exclusively for Dunham. It’s unchanged from the original Terrastryder. The tread is open and fairly shallow. I found that it gets good traction, cleans itself well, and wears well. The boots’ outsole will easily outlast the uppers.

Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Mid Boot REVIEW - 2
The new Terrastryder Mid has a proprietary Waffle Stomper outsole (top left) made by Vibram. The midsole (bottom left) provides excellent support and stability, yet is flexible for comfortable hiking. The Waffle Stomper compound and tread grips especially well (right).

The downside of these boots is they are simply not waterproof as claimed. Their proprietary Dryworks membrane is only water-resistant, meaning the boots stayed mostly dry inside when I briefly walked in water or wet vegetation. However, longer exposure resulted in water soaking through and getting my socks damp. The leakage never reached the point where my socks were sopping wet, rather it was a damp/cold feet situation.

Dunham Waffle Stomper Terrastryder Mid Boot REVIEW - 3
Simply put, the Dryworks waterproof/breathable membrane doesn’t work. Every time I walked in snow or water for some duration I had damp socks and cold feet.

Moreover, because of the membrane, the boots were slow to dry out, and I usually had to use a boot dryer at home to get them thoroughly dried out and ready to use again. When hiking in warmer weather, my socks tended to accumulate sweat from my feet, and it helped to pull them off and dry them out at midday, or put on dry socks.

Assessment

I used the new Terrastryder Mid for both desert and mountain hiking, on- and off-trail, and in cold and warm temperatures. Overall, I was very pleased with their design and appearance, fit and comfort, foot support and protection, and traction.

However, their Dryworks waterproof/breathable membrane is more of a detriment than an asset. The boots are simply not waterproof as claimed. Water readily soaks through the membrane, dampening socks, and the boots are slow to dry because of the membrane.

Nowadays, many hikers have a separate pair of waterproof/breathable shoes/boots for hiking in snow and wet conditions and another pair of more breathable or quick-drying shoes/boots for warm weather conditions. The prevailing opinion on Gore-Tex boots is they are waterproof as promised, as long as the membrane remains intact. And boots with an eVENT membrane are emerging that are claimed to be waterproof and more breathable.

The upshot of all this is that an ineffective membrane is worse than no membrane at all. The Dunham Dryworks membrane is inferior technology, and needs to either be improved or replaced. I personally would prefer no membrane rather than the Dryworks membrane; it would make the boots more breathable and faster drying.

What’s Unique

Dunham 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

I really like the improvements in the revised 2006 Terrastryder, which overcome previous seam failure problems and provides better fit and comfort. However the Dryworks membrane is a carryover technology that has become noticeably ineffectual compared to Gore-Tex XCR and eVENT membranes in competitors’ shoes. Replacing Dryworks with an eVENT membrane would be an exciting improvement.


Citation

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

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