The blustery winter season is here. Unlike the tepid 2012 winter, 2013 has delivered what I expect and want for this time of year in Western Pennsyltucky – cold, snow and wind. My rock skis are out and in a regular rotation for weekend runs, and most importantly, my winter hiking boots are crunching the snow laden forests that surround the Pittsburgh-area.
I’ve been testing the Wolverine Gauge, where Wolverine has delivered a winter hiking boot that meets what I expected – tough, rugged, and impenetrable to wintry conditions. The Gauge hit both online and brick-and-mortar retailers this past fall. They are part of the company’s new V-Frame Velocity Series. The V-Frame is designed for low temps and the white frozen terrain of winter.
Wolverine has integrated an exoskeleton – a sturdy frame sitting on the outside of the boots upper that runs to the outsole. The upper combines the toughness of leather with the breathability of mesh. The combo keeps your feet free from the wetness of a stream. The Wolverine Gauge has a rubber outsole and a deep lug pattern. Wolverine includes a heel cleat to accommodate the rear snowshoe strap and also a gaiter loop at the bottom of the lacing system.
The preparation and planning to a few winter day treks that I have led for the Pittsburgh Hiking Meetup Group was the testing ground for the Wolverine Gauge. The last leg of the testing was on the trail system for Sewickley Heights Borough Park. The trails are highlighted by wooded slopes, spring seeps and tributaries to Little Sewickley Creek. In the winter, it has all the elements needed for testing – snow and ice.
I was expecting a very stiff fit since the Gauge is a fuller-cut boot and built for enduring inclement conditions. I was glad to be wrong. Wolverine has designed the boot’s upper to provide just enough ankle flex. Although like any other high rising upper, you are always going to give away some flexibility in exchange for stability.
Wolverine advertises the Gauge to withstand temperatures to 40-below with its 400-gram 3M Thinsulate Ultra insulation. There was no way to replicate those extreme conditions, but I did have the Gauge on the trails when the temperature dipped to the single digits.
This Thinsulated boot did not fail and the high-cut upper kept the snow out. I wouldn’t be testing these to the fullest without sloshing around for an extended time in some cold-flowing winter streams. Just as expected, my feet stayed dry.
Bottom Line: The Wolverine Gauge
gives you reassurance that your feet will stay warm when hiking on snow laden trails. The peace of mind is trumpeted by the actual performance of the boot. They will be a keeper when the trails are white instead of brown. (MSRP $172)
–Jason Renda, Head Gear Geek at OutdoorInformer