If you haven’t heard of Jack Wolfskin, don’t worry – we’re not going to make any digs about residing under rocks. After all, the German outdoor giant, which was founded in 1981, only found its way Down Under in the last 10 months. Now that you’ve met though, we think it’s worth paying attention – especially if you’ve got a bit of a green streak – because sustainability is the brand’s middle name.
Committed to quitting harmful PFCs (polyfluorinated chemicals) by 2020 (among other admirable initiatives), we won’t be surprised if Jack Wolfskin goes the way of Patagonia and other groundbreakers in sustainable outdoor fashion, with a dedicated and well-deserved following of Aussie eco-warriors to match. Their worthy goals and newness in Australia made us all the more excited to throw on a pair of Women’s Rocksand Texapore hiking boots and put them through their paces.
Who they’re for:
Day walkers, travellers and occasional overnight hikers who like to feel protected and steady, yet light and nimble on their feet. The multifunctional design and mid-range price point gives them broad appeal.
What we like:
They’re noticeably lighter and more urban in style than comparable mid-height boots, which means they get triple the ticks in the arenas of street, bush and travel. The fit feels roomy yet secure and stable, allowing for thick socks, swelling and sliding forward on steeps.
What we don’t:
They don’t have an immediate “like-a-glove” feel, the design leans more towards rigid than form-fitting. However this had no impact on comfort or performance straight out of the box, and we would expect loosening with a few more k’s on them. As with any boot, this would also be improved with custom foot beds and lacing technique.
In the field:
When we first pulled on the women’s Rocksands, our first thoughts were “boots? What boots? It’s like I’m wearing nothing at all.” They are marketed as lightweight, but still we were surprised! Does that translate to buckling under the pressure of the trail? We took them for a thrash into Glenbrook Gorge to find out.
The Rocksands were a joy on the steep steps down into the gorge. With heels locked in, buckets of room in the toe cap for sliding, and no noticeable loosening of the laces, we were able to all but run down the trail. Amazingly for a new pair of boots, we put several kilometres on them without any signs of pressure points or rubbing – an indication that the break-in period would be minimal.
Into the creek we went, and the Rocksands effortlessly shifted gears. Between slogging through sand and pebbles, boulder scrambles and rock-hopping an algae-covered stream, their grip held up to our speedy pace in all but the slimiest sections. The multifunctional tread pattern combined with the flexible sole made for confident, cushioned traction and agility on variable terrain. Heavier boots with stiffer soles have always been deemed essential for coping with rugged tracks, heavy packs and foot fatigue, but if you’re a petite build (this reviewer is 5’2’ and 50-odd kilos for example) and bearing a proportionate pack weight, we’re confident in their capability on a moderate multi-day trek.
They were slightly too hot for our 36 degree foray (in that heat any waterproof boot above the ankle would suffer and these do come in a low-rise option), but the Texapore membrane seemed to breathe and not get too sweaty – which impressed us given the unfriendly conditions. On a milder day with a bit of a drizzle the Rocksands would truly excel. The membrane rises right to the ankle, and handled our shallow stream crossings without fail.
Like many sneaker/boot hybrids, the Rocksands stray from traditional ‘outdoor’ cliches. They have a clean, modern profile (made with a blend of suede and textile) and a pop of colour in the trim and laces – so we’re also looking forward to wearing them around town on cold, wet winter days.
Yay or nay:
If we’re going to immerse ourselves in nature and explore the world’s wildest places, making mindful gear choices from brands committed to protecting our playground is a step that just makes good sense. For this reason alone, the Rocksands are already one step ahead of the competition. Beyond that, they’re everything you’d expect in a mid hiking boot, and a little more.
They fall squarely between the lightest of trail runners and the bulkiest mountaineering boots, making them suitable for the majority of Australia’s (and the world’s) bushwalking trails. And with the additional thought given to off-track style, they have a level of versatility that we think is pretty hard to top.
We’d like to thank Adventure Co. Oatley for supplying the product. Adventure Co. is a boutique family-owned outdoor equipment store and digital travel agency based in Sydney. Their supplier partnerships celebrate and support ethical and eco-friendly practices.
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