Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the great folks from Wood N’ Stream at SHOT SHOW 2015. For those of you who are not familiar with this company, Wood N’ Stream is a division of the Weinbrenner Shoe Company, headquartered in Merrill, Wisconsin where they produce some of the industry’s most comfortable and reliable boots for the avid outdoorsman. Established in 1892, the Weinbrenner Shoe Company’s Wood N’ Stream brand is hardly a newcomer to the outdoors market.
Having spent the better part of my life in the woods hunting, fishing and hiking with my father and grandfather, various name brands of boots have come through our family and have both succeeded and horribly failed, thus building knowledge of what to look for in a good hiking / hunting boot. Displayed at the Wood N’ Stream booth on the show floor were a pair of hiking / hunting boots that came up the ankle about 8 inches titled the Maniac finished in a Real Tree camo. These boots appeared to provide excellent ankle support, traction from the aggressive soles and blended well with typical hunting attire. I inquired to obtaining a sample of these boots for review and Wood N’ Stream was very helpful in getting a pair shipped immediately.
To begin with, let’s take a look at information provided by Woods N’ Stream for 8” Maniac Real Tree Camo model boots.
- Insulation: 840 gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ Platinum with X-Static Odor Control
- Lining: AZTEC Premium
- Midsole: Compressed Molded EVA
- Outsole: VGS Hiker Unit
- Special Features: WATERPROOF, Breathable Construction. 3M™ Scotchgard™ Protector
- Retail price: $180
- Feature Real Tree Camo accents
Real World Testing
You may ask at this point, “Why am I just now reading an article about a pair of boots field tested in late January?, the answer is simple. First, anyone can do a “table top” review of what they think the boots will do, repeat in specs from the side of the box they arrived in and guess from trying them on whether or not the boots are comfortable, but it’s my belief that you can never know a good boot until you find out how long it takes to break them! Secondly, I decided to REALLY test the Wood N’ Stream boots out, I would need the toughest person I have ever known to wear and tear boots, Swanson Media Group field tester, Ricky Swanson aka my father.
Aside from spending every spare minute of his life in the woods chasing deer, wading streams after fish and hiking hours only to find out what’s around the next ridge, Ricky is a forester by trade. This profession involves handling privately owned timber for land owners to cultivate and reforest property on a daily basis by walking, measuring and taking samples of the trees. Unlike the climate in my current state of Florida where we have only three seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall, my father lives in North Carolina, a state with a true four seasons and terrain that ranges from mountains, plains, swamps / wetlands and beaches. With this being said, Ricky’s wife, Kate can attest to the fact, he is in the woods practically 7 days a week working or playing and has been known to wear out lifetime warranties on outdoor products in a matter of months.
Once the Maniac Real Tree 8” boots arrived from Wood N’ Stream, it was immediately into the frozen woods they went with Ricky. Through winter tree planting, Spring turkey hunts, flagging boundary lines and doing logging checks between walking acre after acre measuring trees via sample plots along compass lines, a detailed log was kept during the month of April on just how far these boots managed to endure during a typical 30 day stretch. As you can see from the photos, Maniac 8” Real Tree boots were sunk into mud, water, over blown over broken trees and used to step a planting bar into the ground day after day to help over 184,000 seedlings repopulate cleared forest. A sum total of all the acres walked noted in the log book showed just over 5, 184 acres of woodland terrain being walked from April 13 – 28 alone!
Notes were made throughout the testing process by Ricky about how comfortable the boots remained from start to finish and how they managed to hold up. Break in time was very minimal and remained constant regardless of terrain changes.
The water guard held well against average wet conditions of hard mud, wet grass but obviously gave way when submerged for extended time crossing a shallow creek back and forth throughout a day.
The Real Tree camo accents on the boots did not stand out or attract attention from the wildlife while turkey hunting and helped him take home a nice bird at the end of the day.
Points of wear came about mid-summer with the sole starting to separate from the rear of the boot upper due to the twisting and stress on the soles from climbing over downed trees. Holes formed in the top of the left boot and the right boot instep, both at the seam of the camo to the leather portion of the boot lower.
After spending the better part of the year wearing the 8” Real Tree Maniac boots by Wood N’ Stream, Ricky continues to wear them on a daily basis. The boots held up under “rougher than average” user conditions and were subject to far more abuse in a shorter amount of time than the average outdoorsman would be using the boots. The wear and tear occurred in areas very common to a hiking boot and did not cause immediate failure in the boots during the process of wearing them. Although Ricky would prefer to see this model with a heavier duty, rubber lower, Ricky says he would recommend these boots for the average hiker or Fall / Spring hunter. A more insulated boot would be needed for several cold, winter climates where Winter temperatures remained below freezing throughout the day. The boots were very comfortable, well-constructed and at a reasonable price point in which he would confidently wear taking on the challenges of the great outdoors. For more information about Wood N’ Stream, you can visit them at www.weinbrennerusa.com.