In 2013-14, Wildcraft sent me a pair of trekking shoes for review. They looked sturdy and tailor made for the rugged terrain of Himalaya. However, they lasted only two treks with me (Parashar Snow Trek and another snow trek). The company never claimed it to be a water-proof foot-gear let alone it being suitable for a snow trek but supposedly a shoe made for high-altitude trekking lasting only two treks was a major letdown.
So I shot an email to them with truckloads of suggestions. And since then they have come a long way with Amphibia Track Trekking Shoes (Myntra Link).
I would like to believe that they listened to my suggestions and made some great changes in the new product which has performed beyond my expectations so far. So far these shoes have gone to Srikhand Mahadev (5100m/16900 ft), Kinnaur Kaialash (4810 m/15970 ft) and Manimahesh Kailash (4100 m/ 13600 ft).
The product is up for grabs at Myntra with a massive discount (40%)
Even after scouring Wildcraft website for hours, I couldn’t find this product listed on their website and the most probable reason is that they have recently launched Amphibia Sphere and Gabbro series shoes made from full grain Nubuck Leather which has inherent water-repellent properties. But we will talk about that later in this review.
You may want to ask why did they send me an outdated product? Actually they had sent it during the fag end of 2016 but my lethargy got the better of me.
Design and Material
Made from relatively softer suede leather (made from the under-skin of an animal) the upper portion is also provided with textured synthetic mesh that provides for breath ability along with durability. And because Suede is nothing but Nubuck minus buffing, the material has a natural tendency to repel water. As experts at REI put it, “Nubuck leather is full-grain leather that has been buffed to resemble suede. It is very durable and resists water and abrasion. It’s also fairly flexible, yet it too requires ample time to break in before an extended hike.”
The lace-ups are centrally aligned and there is an option of high-top styling. The footbed is cushioned appropriately to minimize if not negate the shocks that are an inherent part of Himalayan terrains. The mid-sole section is made of Phylon Rubber which is durable even for rough application and transmits ground shocks laterally along the length of the shoe. Phylon EVA is an elastomeric polymer that gives materials a “rubber-like” composition in softness and flexibility. The insole is stiffer which provides for the much desired stability while you haul up heavy loads on a mountain. There is an option of removable sockliner as well.
As it comes with a nylon shank, it adds to the load bearing capabilities of the midsole. These thick inserts are inserted as a linking medium between misdsole and outsole to provide for a sandwiched layered construction. With 3mm deep lug soles it gives better traction while walking on muddy or slippery trails. And because lug soles are neither too close or too widely spaced, shedding mud can be done by thumping your feet on the ground (twice or thrice maybe if the trail is too muddy)
I was not a fan of high ankle shoes. Not until I went to Srikhand this year and walked on massive glaciers for more than 6 hours. The high ankle support provides the much needed support in snowy conditions aided by a stiffer midsole section. The high support wraps above the ankles and provides for a firm grip both for the snowy and rocky terrain which comprises 2/3rd of the total distance of Srikhand trek.
And because we are talking about snow, which eventually becomes water and then works like a termite IF it seeps in. This big IF is pretty much covered by Wildcraft here. The water repellent capabilities of this footgear are surprisingly too good. Even if the water seeps in, which will happen particularly on a slushy trail like Srikhand, there’s another layer of protection in the form of removable sock liner for foot comfort as it has been claimed to be anti-microbial, breathable and anti-odor by the company.
I even used the toe shield to break trail on overnight snow and it didn’t let water seep in. The bonding adhesive used is surely of top category. However, my sock liner has gone haywire owing to excessive amounts of snow on the glacial slopes of Himalaya this year.
The product weighs a little above 1050 grams and comes in three different colors. Although it is not available online but I am aware that this is indeed available at retail outlets.
Go, give it a try!