As a full-time travel blogger, finding shoes that are comfortable, durable, lightweight, stylish, and more importantly versatile, can prove difficult. However, as travelers and skateboarders can both attest, Ridgemont Outfitters landed bolts with the Outback II, creating one sick versatile shoe. For non skateboarders “landing bolts” means you landed your trick perfectly and “sick” doesn’t mean you have the flu; It means you’re extremely impressive! Over the past few months I’ve put my Outback II shoes to the test. From hiking through forests to traipsing all over Chicago, these shoes have definitely proven themselves!
Outback II – Key Features
- Waterproof Waxed Full Grain Leather
- Vulcanized Outsoles
- Vari-Flex Lasting Board
- Eva-Cush Insole
- Gusseted Tongue
Outback II – Street Performance Review
When looking for a good urban shoe I look for something that is comfortable, stylish and element appropriate. My urban travel adventures always include a ton of walking so no matter how stylish the shoes, if they’re not comfortable they’re not making it in my carry on. I chose the Outback II shoes for a recent rainy Chicago trip and they were comfortable, stylish and waterproof.
The flexible soles on these shoes are impressive! I have to say these are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. I walked around St. Joseph one evening and then again all day in Chicago and at no point did my feet hurt or feel fatigued.
Eva-Cush Insole – A great decision on their part, Ridgemont chose an open cell insole vs. the more commonly used closed cell insole. Closed cell foam insoles resemble a million balloons stuck together. The air is trapped inside each bubble, with cell walls all around. When compressed, the air eventually leaks out of the cell, and the foam goes flat. Simply put, this means the foam insole is less protective on the next hit because it keeps compressing further. Open cell foam on the other hand allows the air to flow freely in and out of each cell, operating like a spring and returning to its original position after compression. The Outback II soles are open celled, antimicrobial, non-absorbing, and will never compress more than 5%. The arch support in the soles also helps ease foot fatigue. How rad is that!
When was the last time you saw a hiking boot you could wear to an art museum or out to dinner? You can’t remember right? That’s because most hiking boots are just that, hiking boots. However, this stylish hipster high top sneaker-boot moves with ease from the trail to the cafe. I don’t think most women would feel cute or even remotely stylish walking around Chicago wearing hiking boots. However, my style conscious bestie (who regularly stops me from making fashion blunders) spent several days walking around Chicago with me while I wore my Outback II shoes. With their waxed leather, my BFF approved Outback II shoes carried me with style to hipster cafes, famous landmarks, an art museum, and a Chicago Cubs game. Not to mention my feet felt great! As a regular traveler I also appreciate that these shoes make a great light weight, protective and stylish motorcycle riding shoe. There’s no way I’m hauling my bulky riding boots around the world for three months!
Waxed Full Grain Leather – Sorry hard core vegans but the Outback II shoes are made of the best waterproof full grain 2mm thick European cow hide leather. Durable and comfortable, the leather is treated with oils and waxes making the shoes completely waterproof. Always the sceptic, I took them out walking in a heavy rainstorm but my feet remained dry and comfortable. Still not convinced, I stomped through a few deep puddles, but there was only minimal leakage around the tongue. As far as the leather itself it was completely waterproof with no leakage around the soles. And lastly I walked through Chicago on a rainy weekend, and once again these shoes convinced me of their waterproof superpowers. My feet remained warm and dry.
Outback II – Trail Performance Review
The top three things I look for in a hiking shoe is comfort, waterproofing and durability. It’s one thing to perform well on sidewalks but another to hold up with miles of hammering over rough terrain and extended exposure to the elements. So this Spring I hit Michigan’s forests and sand dunes putting my Outback II shoes to the test to see if they performed as well on the trail as they had in the big city. Here’s how they fared.
These boots didn’t need the traditional “break in period” that most hiking boots need. With the Eva-Cush insoles my feet remained comfortable and not fatigued even after miles of hiking. And unlike most new boots, I had no rubbing or blisters anywhere. Because they’ve been so great for hiking, I also plan to take them backpacking this summer.
Vari-Flex Lasting Board – One of the first things I noticed about the Outack II shoes was that the bottoms are not stiff like most new shoes. They are flexible allowing for much more maneuverability and an “at one with nature” experience. This is due to the BiFit custom composite board that provides variable flex. It optimizes the walking and hiking experience by making it more flexible at the ball of the foot while more rigid from the arch to the heel. I really like this when hiking over rocks, logs and uneven terrain as it helps me grip the surface better.
Gusseted Tongue – None of my other hiking shoes have a gusseted tongue and I have to say this is one feature I really appreciate. As someone who never stays on the beaten path I love being able to walk through sand, brush, briars and water while keeping my feet protected. Whether it’s exploring the sand dunes along Lake Michigan or Morel mushroom hunting in the Spring, my Outback II shoes have kept my feet clean and dry.
Although they proved to be waterproof while traipsing around the streets, I was curious to see how these shoes would hold up with extended exposure to water. While out hiking I saw some wild mint growing in a creek so decided it was a great opportunity to test them out. Wading several inches deep into the creek I stood harvesting the mint for five minutes or so. My feet remained completely dry until I went deeper and let the water flow over the tongue. Even then there was only a small amount of leakage at the base of the tongue. Remember, the Outback II shoes are not rain boots so if you stand up to your ankles in water, your feet will get wet. However, if you keep the water below the tongue your feet will stay dry.
The quality construction of the Outback II shoes are amazing. After everything I’ve put them through the tread and soles show no wear. The leather also looks good with no marks or scuffing. And unlike canvas hiking boots that soak up water and dirt, the waxed waterproof leather on the Outback II shoes allows me to easily hose off mud and debris.
Vulcanized Outsoles – These shoes also have a vulcanized outsole which means that the materials are chemically bonded together using high heat. So how does this translate? These shoes have super strong bonds that also allow you to feel the earth (or board) beneath your feet. And if that’s not enough, the Outback II also has a lockstitch side seam for an ultra secure outsole bond.
Outback II – Suggestions for Improvement
Overall these shoes surpassed my expectations and I am looking forward to wearing them for years to come! However, here are a few minor suggestions for improvements.
- Tread – The tread on the Outback II is a bit slippery for hiking on some surfaces. However, I do realize that to make an aggressive tread would sacrifice the sleek design. Maybe having a Vibram sole or something similar would help?
- Ease of Use – I love having the gusseted tongue but it makes the shoes harder to get on. It would be nice to put them on without having to unlace them halfway.
- Lacing – I don’t always like to lace my shoes all the way to the top. However, if I stop short and don’t lace the top loop the unlaced metal loop rattles against the metal rivet. Finding a way to make the top loop stationary would ensure that it doesn’t rattle.
- Space – When traveling I only take a small carry on bag for months at a time. Because the Outback II shoes are high tops they take up more space than I’d like. However, Ridgemont is currently working on a new lightweight low top shoe coming late Summer 2018.
Outback II – Summary
If you’re looking for a good looking versatile shoe, the Outback II is an affordable option. Ranging from $89-$129 the Outback II comes in four attractive color schemes, Brown/Olive, Black/Gray, Black/Burgundy and Auburn/Red. You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck considering you’re getting a shoe of superior quality, design and style. From outdoor adventures to urban pursuits these high quality shoes will take you to your destinations with style and comfort! Buy now and save 20% off the Outback II shoes or any other Ridgemont Outfitters products by using this link. Discount automatically applies at checkout.
*Please note that the above link is an affiliate link, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through my link. Ridgemont Outfitters provided me with the Outback II shoes in exchange for writing an honest review. However, I recommend the Outback II shoes because they are an excellent product, not because of the small commissions I make if you make a purchase through my link. Thanks for your support!