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Amphibious Feet: Xtratuf Rubber Boots Review

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[leadin]Adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a full year in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota, living in the wilderness and testing gear as a part of their daily existence. In this review, Dave tests the hard-working Xtratuf Legacy 15″ boot.[/leadin]

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All summer long I am foot-loose and fancy-free, preferring to paddle, portage, and play in sandals or old running shoes. But in the spring and the fall I pull out my Xtratufs when I head out on a canoe trip.

Xtratuf Canoe Test

My wife Amy and I paddled into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota on September 23rd ready to spend a full year in the Wilderness. It was a cold and rainy day and our neoprene-lined Xtratuf Legacy rubber boots kept our feet warm and dry as we paddled and portaged up the Kawishiwi River and into the Wilderness.

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A canoe trip in the Boundary Waters is really an amphibious affair; you paddle for a few minutes, or for a few hours between portages. Portaging is a lot like backpacking for a short distance, so sturdy footwear, which you are comfortable walking in, is important.

When the weather is warm I prefer wet-foot canoeing (jumping in knee-deep water in sandals) because it is faster and more efficient. But when the air and water get cold, the thought of wet feet is enough to send the most experienced wet-foot canoeist tip-toeing on rocks.

This is when rubber boots like the Xtratuf Legacy become key gear.

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Rubber boots allow you to walk in the water at the beginning and end of the portages, line the canoe up small rapids, and splash through muddy sections of the portage trails while keeping your feet warm, dry, and comfortable.

Xtratuf Legacy 15″ Neoprene Lined Rubber Boots Review

$150, Available Now

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Where to test them: These boots are ideal for cool, wet conditions. They are our go-to footwear for the Boundary Waters in the spring and fall. Places like Southeast Alaska, where cool and wet is the norm come to mind when I think of these boots.

Who they’re for: Canoeists looking to keep feet warm and dry during shoulder season. Hunters and backcountry users that are walking in standing water would also benefit from a boot like this. Lots of commercial fishermen in Alaska use these boots as well.

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Xtratuf Boot Details

The Vibram soles are really good and provide great traction. The upper is unlined, but from the ankle down is lined with neoprene for added insulation. One feature that we really like is that the upper is really flexible, so it is easy to fold the top of the boot down. This makes them really easy to slip off and on when you are hanging out in camp. More importantly, folding the top down makes it easier to dry out the boots. The boot lining does not absorb much moisture, but foot sweat does accumulate, so it is helpful to dry them out when possible.

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Soles: These boots have great traction and we have been very pleased with how well we can walk on slippery rocks while loading and unloading the canoe as well portaging.

Flaw: Our boots were made is the USA and have lasted us many years of hard use. We have learned that these boots are now being manufactured overseas and we are not sure if new pairs will be as durable as our old standbys.

The footbed is very basic, so you might want to add your own insole. Don’t expect much in the way of ankle support from these boots. That is the one area where Muck Boots rank above Xtratufs in my mind.

Xtratuf vs Muck Boots

We used the Edgewater Boots made by Muck Boots for a while, but have gone back to our Xtratufs because the traction is so much better and we really like having an insulated lower and a uninsulated upper. Because the upper is flexible and uninsulated they are easy to stash in our pack on warm days when we choose to paddle and portage in our Chaco sandals. Amy and I have owned these boots for about five years and they have held up really well.

–Dave Freeman and his wife Amy are spending a year in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in an effort to protect the Boundary Waters from a series of sulfide-ore copper mines that are proposed along the edge of our nation’s most popular Wilderness. Throughout their “Year in the Wilderness” they are sharing regular reviews on GearJunkie.com. Dave and Amy were named National Geographic Adventurers of the Year in 2014.

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