I am not one to buy a new product and protect it behind glass, admiring it from a safe distance. I’d rather put it through its paces. So when Santee Claus delivered me a pair of Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Hiking Boots on December 25th, I laced up pronto. I’ve been hitting tracks ever since. My wanderings have taken me through all sorts – boggy mud, shallow saltwater, rocky slopes – over many, many kilometres. I would estimate at least 200 kilometres. At this point, still relatively early on in their life cycle – in the heyday of their youth, you might say – I am seriously impressed by their performance.
My first impressions when they came out the box was, deary me, these are sleek and brilliantly understated, exactly what I am after in a world of vibrant look-at-me colours and garish mesh-dominant designs. As it turns out, the dark brown colouring of the leather wears mud and dirt a lot better than anything yellow or light blue ever could. When I slotted my foot in, criss-crossed the laces through the two hooks both sides, drew the laces tight through the D-rings, and set off at a brisk stride over the varnished floorboards, I was truly impressed with the way my foot seemed to roll, from the heel to the toe, in the absence of any overbearing arch support. I was also happy with the comfort and with the fact that my monstrously wide feet fit, despite these shoes being normal sized and not 2E (yet a 2E option exists!). These initial impressions have stood the test of time.
Their performance on the tracks has been exactly what I was after. They wore in in no time. My foot has never, ever gotten wet, despite me regularly immersing my feet within a few centimetres of water. Of course, being leather, these boots are less breathable, so I sweat more and wear through socks more quickly (the breathable tongue ameliorates this somewhat). They’re also more a touch more heavy (though still reasonably well weighted for leather boots). These are trade-offs I’m more than happy to accept, for longevity and so that I can look at the view, rather than eye the puddles underfoot. The tread, known as the Omni-Grip, looks fierce and performs accordingly; I’ve suffered few slips to date in spite of some questionable foot placement decisions. Everything considered, I highly recommend these hiking boots. And no, you can’t borrow them.