The Schnee's Absaroka
By Erik Wallace, Guest Contributor
Schnee's designed their Absaroka, named for the Absaroka Mountain Range straddling the Montana/Wyoming border, for the serious backpack hunter. It's essentially a backpacker design engineered for the hunter carrying heavy packs in mountain conditions.
The Absaroka is a non-insulated 6-inch high boot crafted from 2.6-2.8 mm Anifibio full grain leather uppers utilizing a one piece vamp construction. This leather is stitched to a full polyurethane midsole and a full length 7mm nylon midsole with a Vibram Tsavo outsole. This construction is supposed to help ease the break-in of this type of boots and as you'll read, I think it worked.
Stitched inside is an eVent membrane liner. The tongue is heavily padded and there are flex notches incorporated into the design. A full rubber rand wraps the boot for protection. They're not lightweights, advertised at 3.8 pounds, nor would any boot of this contstruction be.
Out of the box, I could see the boots were obviously well made. They felt good, looked good, and fit well. Fit is a personal thing, something boot wearers perhaps more than anyone else appreciate. Like many, I could fill a closet full of boots that almost fit me and spill those that never came close across the floor. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised with the Absarokas. They fit me well, at least standing and walking about in my living room. My foot and ankle felt snuggly cradled with room in the toe box and no heel lift. I needed to get them out on the trail to find out if they "really" fit.
The Absarokas did feel stiff out of the box and would need a break-in period. They're built to work in the mountains, after all. And while I had hoped to have weeks or more to break them in, life happened, and it turned out that I didn't have that luxury.
So there I was, a few months later at the trailhead: Absarokas on my feet, 50 pounds of gear on my back, and a thousand foot climb ahead to my Idaho base camp. Cause I'd like to think my ma'ma didn't raise no dummy, I also had duct tape on my heels and a pair of back-up boots in the truck.
Fast forward through the next three days of my hunt. My Absarokas weren't broken in, and wouldn't be until day ten, but my feet still felt fine. They were tired, but for one exception mentioned later, they were fine. So I plodded on through the next seven days in search of an Idaho buck or bull in some beautiful SE Idaho country.
Then on day 10, after another pre-dawn start, it dawned on me: "Hey, they're broken in." They still felt good, still looked good (even better if I do say so myself), remained supportive, but I had quit noticing they were there. I've found that quality easy enough in light hikers but not so much with their heavier cousins.
The Idaho Backcountry where I tamed the Absaroka Boots
Additional Thoughts and Observations
The Absarokas employ the eVent liner and it certainly works as advertised. These are the most breathable vapor permeable lined boots that I've used to date.
These are not stealthy boots, at least on my feet, and I didn't expect them to be. They are built to carry loads and offer maximum support which they do well.
As they are non-insulated, these are not adequate for sub zero temperatures. Later in the season, I experienced ambient temperatures with highs around -15 and five to 30 mile per hour winds. That is pac boot weather and I'm not discounting the Absaroka in this category. I'd recommend using them on active hunts down to about 15 degrees.
The eVent liner seems to have more loose fabric than necessary. Between days three and five this was particularly irritating and manifested in uncomfortable pressure on the top of my left foot. I worked through it and the sensation went away but for some this may present a challenge. There still seems to be too much fabric, but I don't notice it any more, or more accurately I can't feel it anymore when wearing the boots.
While I never tagged a buck or bull, as I pulled my boots off late the last night of the season, I still had many things to appreciate.
Among them some great scenery, great memories, new places explored, and a great pair of boots—the Schnee's Absaroka. I look forward to putting them to use come next season. You can learn more or order directly from Schnee's here
Discuss or ask questions about the Absaroka here.