Canyoning Foot wear. Bestard. Medium term test

Ok it’s been a solid 5 months since I purchase the Bestard Canyon guide boots and in that time they have taken me on approximately 32 trips. Mostly  canyons but with some creek walking and the occassional normal bush walk too so I thought it time to give an updated review.

 

You can read my intial thoughts here

 

 

Price.

As stated in the earlier review I got mine on special form the Canyonstore online. After postage they worked out to be abit over $200.

About 1 week after I ordered them I heard of a new shop openning in Katoomba that was to stock them,

Adventure Base Katoomba have them listed as $250. Which isn’t too shabby, and probably a touch cheaper than what I would have gotten mine for if not for the special.

Looks.

I said it before I’ll say it again? They are friggin moon boots straight from a dodgy 80’s sci fi show. Cool is you are into that sort of thing.

Though I do believe they have mellowed a bit with time.

Fit.

At the time fit was my biggest concern when ordering online. I probably went half a size to big. This hasn’t been an issue as the lace system gives plenty of scope to tighten them up and now the weather has turned and the water is somewhat cooler it allows me to comfortable wear 2 sets of wollen socks to help keep my toes warm.

With an Aussie retailer keeping plenty of sizes in stock this should no longer be an issue for Blue mtns canyons

Grip

No real issues with grip. I did have a bit of a slide on a wet log but I’m not sure different rubber could help there. And I did find a few spot in Arethusa a tad dicy, but it’s reknown for being slippery.

Sand

The only sand that seems to make it’s way into the boots is the stuff you get on your socks when getting changed into or out of your wetsuit. Win

Swimming

I still find the sensation of swimming in them weird. Its hard to explain what it is. But not a major issue

Wear

So they have seen a bit of action. I’ve snapped both laces. Didn’t notice until I got home and was taking them off, In fact I didn’t notice the last one until I took the photo below. Fixed with a knott or if you want a new set of boot laces.

The toe box of one also copped a cut.

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I’m not sure what I caught it on but I’m guessing with out the toe capping that might have been my flesh that was cut.

it didn’t effect thematerial underneath. A bit of stikka flex 1100c and shes as good as new

Sole wear. This a bit hard to tell from the photos as it looks like the side tread has worn a little bit but even when new the tread chamfers off toward the edge.

There is a bit of wear there but plenty of tread left.

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The uppers has seen a fair bit of action in thick scrub as well as the usual harsh canyon environment yet seem to have faired virtually unscaved

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Comfort

 

I wish all hiking boots were this comfortable out of the box.

In my first review I was a bit concerned how hot they might get on a long walk out but that was never an issue. They breathe pretty well and, I’m not sure if the hold a bit of moisture in the padding but they just never felt hot.

 

All in all, I rate them

 

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Canyoning Footwear. Bestard Canyon Guide

So I’ve always been a fan of Teva sandals for my outdoor adventures but then I strained both Achilles at basketball. Clambering up steep hills in any shoe at the moment is a little uncomfortable for me. In the canyon they didn’t bother me too much but on a steep descent and, oddly worse, on a long flat walk out the heal strap on the sandals has given me a bit of curry and certainly done me no favours. Bearable while still moving but once I stop they flare up, by the end of the car ride home I’ve been struggling to walk to the house.

With this in mind and to get the pressure off the tendon I’ve decided to retire them early and try out a canyon specific boot.

I’m a big fan of Five10s for riding so was attracted to them first but a few people had said the heal strap in the five10s was uncomfortable, something I was trying to avoid. I’ve also heard of people complaining about longevity and quality in them, something that has been somewhat an issue with the riding shoes since Adidas bought them out.

The Fat Canyoners had a good write up on the Bestards so I decided to give them a go.

 

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Here are my initial thoughts.

Postage got held up a little in the Christmas madness so when they finally turned up I popped them straight on to break them in a bit. No real need. These are one of the most comfortable boots I’ve ever tried out of the box. I wore them around all day doing some maintenance on my ute. Wow.

They are much lighter than they look too.

I’ve now had a chance to get them down their first canyon. Du Faurs creek

They have some features that shows just how much thought the good folk at Bestard have put into them, Notably  built in spats, to help keep sand and burrs out, and lace pouch.

Lace pouch? Sounds like a wank yeah. But on scrubby walks I was often waiting for others (I’m looking at you Mandy, dearest love of my life….) to stop and do up laces. Tucking the knot and lace ends up into the little pouch on the Bestards tongue means this should never be an issue with these boots. Attention to that sort of detail gives me high hopes for these boots (Or at least helps me justify to myself spending so much on them)

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The only concerns I had so far was how hot they be on a long walk out in high summer.

 

Price.

They aren’t cheap and being a tight arse I would not have spent that coin on a shoe for canyoning had I not suffered the achillies thing.

They generally go for around $175 Euro,that said I picked mine up for $115 euro from the Canyonstore. Postage was hefty adding another $50aus meaning all up it was a tad over $200Aus

Looks.

What can I say? They are friggin moon boots straight from a dodgy 80’s sci fi show. Cool is you are into that sort of thing.

I am

Fit.

At the time of ordering there wasn’t anywhere in Aus that stocked them (New store openning  in Katoomba is suppose to be stocking them now) so getting the sizing right was a bit of a concern. My Five10 riding shoes are all US10/Euro43 but my clipless riding shoes are US10/Euro45. Both fit perfectly (how does that even work?). My Teva Sandals are a Euro 43 and slightly tight so I split the difference and with widish feet and habit of wearing thick woolen sockswent Euro 44.5. The fit was pretty spot on, slightly roomy across the foot so the 44s may have been better. The lace system helped pull every thing tight enough.

Grip

Fat Canyoners said they needed to scuff the soles up a bit to get comfortable with the grip. I didn’t have any issues in Du Faurs but it isn’t the most slippy canyon out there so I’ll reserve judgement

Sand

There is a fair bit of wading down a sandy bottom creek in Du Faurs. At the end of the day not a scearic of sand in the boots. Win

Swimming

After the naturalness of the Tevas to swim in I found the Bestards to be a little weird in the swims. They had a bit of a floaty sensation. Not bad, just weird. Might take a bit of getting use to

Wear

To early to tell.

Comfort

As stated earlier one of the most comfortable boots I’ve ever put on out of the box. None of that breaking them in and taping things up until the skin toughens up you normally associate with new hiking boots

The day wasn’t that hot so I didn’t get a chance to see how hot they be on a long sunny walk out but so far so good.

Definitely took the pressure off my achillies. Stepped out of the car and walked inside feeling almost normal. A big relief to me.

Be interesting to see how they go long term.

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Updated Medium term test

Canyoning Footwear. Teva Traildozer3 long term test

So I’ve been a long time fan of Teva adventure sandals  for canyoning and it’s been about 8months since I updated my old set to a set of Trail Dozer 3s and in that time they’ve done around 25 canyon trips, a dozen or more bushwalks and they have also seen a little day to day wear so it’s time for a long term review.

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Price.

The Trail dozer models go for around $115. I think I got mine on special for around $75. Dearer than Volleys, cheaper than some of the canyon specific shoes out there

Looks.

I’ve never really cared to much about looks. I’ve always been a function over fashion type of guy. I guess they are not much to look at but they aren’t butt ugly either. The greyish green certainly bucks the trend of bright gnarish colour schemes some other brands seem t think outdoors types prefer.

Fit.

My old trail dozers were a US10, Euro 43 and fit me like a glove (for my feet) so I ordered the same. The new ones were noticeably smaller. They were fine barefoot but combined with my favourite canyoning woolen socks (hole proof heros) they were a little snug around the toes. Not painfully so but noticeable.

Grip

Originally the Teva guys strapped a bit of car tyre  to their feet to help stop them falling out of their kayaks or something. Things progressed from there.

I always thought they were as grippy, if not more so, as the Volleys. The new models were no different. In the 25 or so canyon trips I did in them I slipped maybe 3 times, more due to lack of attention then shoe tread.

Sand

I think this is what I liked most about the old Tevas. Sure you’d get a bit of sand under your foot at times but the just the act of wading forward flushed it out. I was a little concerned the new, more enclosed design of the Trail Dozer 3 or 4 models might trap the sand in there a bit more. This wasn’t an issue. They flushed themselves out just like the old models. I can’t remember ever needing to take them off mid canyon to rid them of sand.

Swimming

They really are the best shoe I’ve swam in. It’s almost like you are barefoot. Feels pretty natural.

Velcro strap

I’ve read a few comments on other shoe reviews of people being very wary of velcro in canyon environments. I can honestly say in 20 years of using Tevas outdoors I’ve never had the velcro fail. Infact on my last pair the leather loop holding the plastic lug the straps went through wore out while the velcro was still holding strong

Wear

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After fair bit of walking the soles are showing a bit of wear but there is plenty of treat left in them.

The uppers have worn a bit but they’ve seen a fair bit of thick scrub. The spungy uppersole showed a bit of wear early on, especially around the heal but haven’t seemed to deteriorated since.

There are a couple of spots were the stitching has copped a flogging and they are looking a bit scruffy, especially the outside just behind the toe box

 

Comfort.

If you had have asked me 6months ago I would have rated the comfort pretty high. Then I strained both Achilles at basketball. Clambering up steep hills in any shoe at the moment is a little uncomfortable for me. In the canyon they didn’t bother me but on a steep descent and, oddly worse, on a long flat walk out the heal strap and slightly small size has given me a bit of curry and certainly done me no favours.

I’d  still rate the Tevas highly and if it wasn’t for the achillies issues I’m sure I’d stick with them. As it is to get the pressure off the tendon I’ve decided to retire them early and try out a canyon specific boot and have purchased a set of Bestard canyon guides.

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Imlay Canyonfire rope: First Impressions

During my first canyon craze I remember starting with 13mm ropes and going through the debate over whether 11mm ropes were adequate or not… I missed the 9mm debate but they seemed to be the size of choice when I got back into it, and now the debate was 9mm or 8mm… Wasn’t 8mm just prusik chord!

My ropes were still 11mm and it was time to upgrade. When weighing up choices for a new rope I really liked the look of the Imlay stuff. Tom from Imlay Canyon Gear and CanyoneeringUSA seemed to be a passionate canyoner (canyoneerer) and I had heard people speak highly of his stuff,particularly the 8.3mm canyonfire rope.

Still I was a bit apprehensive. I’d tried a couple of 9mm ropes. Some were fast, especially when dry. Often having beginners in our group that was a bit of a concern. The 11mm ropes certainly help keep things under control.

My other concern was that I’m at the upper limit of weight Tom recommends for his 8mm ropes. Tom suggests a 200lb (90kg) weight limit to get good life out of the 8mm ropes in high flow canyon environs. Not that there is much of that in the Blue mts canyon scene

These factors combined had me steering more toward the 9.2mm Canyoneero.

But then I got the chance to have a go on some bigger abseils on two different Canyonfire ropes on a canyon trip to the South Wolgan.

On the first abseil, not knowing what to expect from the rope I rigged up with extra friction. It became obvious pretty quick that on a sloping drop that I’dd added way too much. The texture of the weave on the sheath seemed to give it alittle more bite and control.

The subsequent abseils and first hand review on wear rates and longevity had me sold. This was the rope I’d be investing in next and a month or so later I put in an order.

(The other factor that sold me was I offered to carry Julie’s rope for the trip. After being accustomed to lugging my 11mm ropes around, especially after they tripled in weight when wet, it was almost as if it wasn’t there.)

Cost: At $210au for 60m ($160US/220feet) It’s not the cheapest rope out there but it’s not the dearest either.

Specs: Imlay lists the rope specs as

Model Rated Strength Weight grams/meter Weight lbs/100 feet Weight lbs/200 feet
8.3mm Canyon Fire 4100 lbF 57.3 g/m 3.85 lbs/100ft 7.70 lbs/200ft

The Blue water 8mm Canyon rope is lighter at 40g/m and has a higher tensile strength at 5000lbf(2.2kn) but it is $150 more expensive too.

Colours: Colours are important to some, not so much to others. Pretty colours do help to distinguish your ropes and can be very handy remembering which end to pull on a big drop where you have two tied together.

Imlay have some funky colours to choose

Purple/Orange or Red/Yellow for the canyon fire

Imlay Canyon Fire Rope 8.3mm

When ordering you can choose (order may take longer depending on availability of precut ropes) or opt to take what ever gets sent. I was happy with what ever but was pleased when the orange purple turned up.

It looks a bit different in the flesh. Standing back it looks pinky purpley orangey, to use a blokes knowledge of colour. and the pattern of the weave somehow makes the ends seemed slightly different, more orange up one end more purple at the other..

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Ordering and delivery: This was pretty simple. I ordered direct online off Canyoneerusa and it was delivered to rural NSW Australia with in 2 weeks (I think it was 8 or 9 days all up)

Postage was reasonable and I added a few extra bits and pieces to to make it more worth while.

Cut Length: I ordered the 200feet deal which should convert to just under 61m. Pulling it out of the package and running a surveyors tape over it in the driveway  showed it closer to 63m. Tom guarantees the stated length is the minimum you get and suggests he usually adds a foot or two.

First use:

After the obligatory tie it on to something and run a descender over it a few times I had a couple of weeks wait before getting to test it on a trip through Dione Dell

My first impressions.

Handling: The rope has a stiffer feel to it. “Wirey” was the word Ed used. I have a theory that all new rope get knotted the first time you feed it through an anchor… Or maybe that’s just me. Surprisingly we didn’t get this one knotted but the wirey feel made it feel like it maybe more prone to catching up on itself. No real dramas were encountered on this first trip but it is something I’ll keep an eye on and perhaps its just perception not reality.

Control: All the abseils we did on this trip were beside the waterfalls and we kept the rope dry. I did note it ran a bit faster (certainly faster than the old 11mms) but not uncomfortably so. I used a glove on my brake hand, something I rarely did with the 11s, and rigged my Kong robot with slightly more friction when leading pitches I knew were free fall. I had no dramas pulling up when I needed rescue the ends from a tree branch.

All other members of the party were using traditional figure 8s and even our novice, Jodie with only a hand full of abseils under her belt, had no dramas controlling her descent on the biggest raps she has done to date.

Other than getting the ends tangled in some vegetation and having to sort it out half way down (could have happened to any rope) I was more than happy with how the rope felt and performed.

So far so good. I’ll do a longer term review on it later in the season to update how it’s performing and how it’s lasting.

 

 

Canyoning footwear: Teva

For a long time the humble Dunlop Volley was the shoe of choice for tennis players, roofers and canyoners alike. Cheap, grippy and reliable. Somehow they had escaped the twist on the old engineering adage of ‘Cheap, Strong, Light… Pick any two.” but then things changed.

Ownership, manufacturing processes, materials… whatever, canyoners started to find the quality and reliability of the good old Volley was a little random, if not far below what they had been. See David Nobles report for more .

Suddenly more expensive options were becoming more appealing and with the American ‘Canyoneering’ scene getting bigger there are now canyon specific options out there.

The Fat Canyoneers have some good write ups on some of these like the Bestard Canyon Guide  the Five 10 Canyoneer SAR and Canyoneer 2 or the Adidas Hydro pro and I have to say I was a little tempted to give one of those a go. *I’ve seen been trying the Bestards

However I’ve always been a fan of Teva sandals and so I thought I’d give a bit of a report on my latest pair.

My little brother introduced me to Teva ‘Water shoes’ back in the 90s. Originally the Teva guys strapped a bit of car tyre  to their feet to help stop them falling out of their kayaks or something. Things progressed from there.

I always thought they were as grippy, if not more so, as the Volleys and being sandals it was a lot easier to clear the sand out of them. You still got a bit of sand build up under the arch of the foot but a good shake in the water or kick against a rock tended to clear it out, no need to stop and take them off.

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The only real issues I had with the older models, other than the less than stylish combo of sandals and woolen socks, was the open toe caught the occasional stick and they were a little finicky when trying to stay dry by toeing across a thin ledge..

Newer models such as the Trail Dozer address those issues (well maybe not the sandal/sock faux pas) by including a toe box. Making them kinda like shoe sandal hybrid.

So I purchased a set of Trail dozers a few years ago on special for about $70 au. We were just getting back into canyoning, doing 1 or 2 a year so they weren’t getting a great deal of serious (ab)use but were being used as a bit of an every day summer shoe.

First impressions were they were more comfortable off the bat than the older models while retaining good grip and easy of shedding of the sand build up. The enclosed toe was much better, both at deflecting sticks and providing more positive grip on those thin ledges.

The tough/ abrasive conditions of our sandstone canyons will take their toll on any shoe but the Dozers have held up reasonably well.

Getting back into things a bit more seriously I’ve pounded these through around 50 canyon trips now, including a fair bit of off track scrub work.

One of the retention laces let go about 3 trips ago, a simple knot reconnected them and I continued on. They are scuffed and battered and the sole is starting to loose its grip but they are still serviceable and adding in the causal day wear I have to say I’m pretty happy with how well they have lasted and at about 1/2 the price of some of the canyon specific options I  will be purchasing another set.

The Dozers 3 and 4 seem a little more shoe like so it will be interesting to see how they go with sand. Other options retain the more open style.