Published on October 1st, 2011 | by Greg0
Timberland: Fascinating Footwear and Solid Boots
There is still plenty of room for new designs in footwear. We regularly check out sport-specific footwear- tennis shoes and the like- and we’re regularly struck by how much change there is. Not just in style or fashion, which change seasonally by their very nature, but also in materials and technology. Some of it is marketing, but certainly not all of it. Witness today’s odd pair of, er pairs of shoes… two pairs… well, two of the latest from Timberland.
The Timberland Radler Trail Camp Moccasins have one distinctive feature about them that makes them different from any other type we’ve seen. They zip-up, collapsing into a small pseudo-ball, better able to fit in tight spots without cramming or jamming. You’ll either need and appreciate that feature, or you can pass these up. It’s not that they aren’t comfortable- they are, though they don’t offer the support for running or serious activity. Instead, it’s that the zip-ups change the shoes in other ways that make them less appealing for everyday footwear. For instance, the zipper is still visible when unzipped. And even when zipped, it’s the likely-to-be-dirty part that is facing outside, meaning you have to clean them before putting them into your luggage or bags.
Ours were a fairly nice red, but the orange is a bit bright and the lime as well; black and purple are attractive though. We appreciated the solid sole with excellent grip and traction. The removable fleece footbed was a bit prone to bunching up though, as it needed to be much more flexible than normal shoes. Of course, inserts don’t work so well in these either. For the price, these are fun and certainly useful to those looking for something lightweight but still sturdy, and they held up to some good abuse on boulders and even in water. Think Vibrams, but without the odd look, and with more support and ruggedness for rough terrain. At $60 or so, they’re also a bargain for a good idea executed well.
For a very different audience, the Timberland PRO Helix 6″ Workboot are also the ideal footwear solution. They make several varieties, but the one we tried is the 6-inch WP Safety Toe, where WP stands for waterproof. These have every feature in the book, and though we didn’t test all of them, we did our best to give them the workout. At the end, they still looked great and barely worse for the wear. We didn’t, for example, test out their electrical hazard protection, said to “meet ANSI Z41PT99, ASTM F2412-05 and F2413-05 standards”. We did drop some stuff on our toes on purpose though, a few books and with increasing confidence, larger weights. Unlike some work boots we’ve seen and tried, the toe area wasn’t quite as tight-fitting; snug but not suffocating, a firm grip around your feet to let you know that you were being passively protected.
There was no mistaking the weight though- these are fairly heavy, weighing a couple of pounds. They seemed true to their listed size, in our case at least, since we primarily wore thicker socks with these. Most impressive was the waterproof treatment, as leather is attractive and wears well but often lets in a fair bit of moisture. We took a run through a few puddles during our trek in Marin, and at one point immersed the boot almost completely. Some water did in fact get in through a seam or two, but nothing below the bottom half of the shoe (tongue). Despite the weight, these were comfortable immediately, with no real break-in. We didn’t love the tread- it felt like a bit more grip would’ve been handy for some slippery situations- but these aren’t true winter boots. No one will call these sexy, but in the right circumstance- lumberjacks, you know who you are- they are attractive and even classy. All in all, the best workboots we’ve tried, and $150 or so feels quite fair for a well-made set of heels that feel like they could last forever.