With a name like Baffin Polar Proven, you may think this footwear company only offers shoes that keep your toes toasty in the middle of a Canadian whiteout. Not so, as we found out as we were researching their products pre-trip. Baffin has what they have named the “Trail to Rapids” series of shoes that, well, do exactly as they say. They are designed to drain water right out since there are no “solid” walls on the shoes and have rugged soles which provide rugged traction on the trail.
We received these as sponsored shoes from Baffin to test and try out on the trail for the trip. Here’s what we think, after wearing them every single day of the 12 days we’ve had of the trip so far:
What first caught my eye about the Atlantis shoe (the one I chose from the styles in this series) is the color options they come in. I know it’s a bit out there, but I LOVED the coral color. It’s super unique for footwear in a sneaker and they look great on the trail. I was a bit worried about them with dirt as standard trail running shoes are brown or gray, but the dust hasn’t done much to diminish their good looks. They are easy to shake out and dust off.
Once I got them out on the trail, the first thing I noticed is how well they stick to the terrain. No joke, this shoes has, hands down, the stickiest rubber I’ve ever seen in any sneaker. I have found myself walking confidently down pretty darn steep grades (and up them as well, but coming down is always harder!). These are the best approach shoes I’ve ever owned and if a climbing company were to integrate Baffin’s rubber on their soles, I would buy them in a heartbeat. I’ve never felt so confident on the trail and scrambling up rocks.
In general, I am not a shoe fan. I was born and raised in Florida, so flip-flops are my thing. But these shoes are like flips with protection. They are airy (hold them up to the sun and you can see through them), lightweight, and super easy to take on and off with the slipper-type design and drawcord to tighten them up. On the hottest of days, a slight breeze will blow right through these shoes and cool off your tired toes. For a flip-flop wearer, these things feel just like home.
What I would change: I don’t wear socks with these, so while the shoe is actually quite comfortable, if the tongue moves to one side there is a seam which you will start to notice after a bit if you go sockless as well. This is pretty easy to fix if you tighten down the drawcord with the tongue in place, but if you get careless, you will notice a slight amount of rubbing where the seam is on the upper part of the shoe. It hasn’t caused any pain or blisters at all (and I’ve been hiking lots with them on), but after about a half and hour, you’ll just notice it is there. I would just recommend the tongue be a bit wider to compensate for movement. Also, I’d love if the shoe came in half sizes. I wear an 8.5 normally and the 9 is a bit large for me. Other than these two things, this shoe is by far the best trail shoe I have owned. These shoes won’t get much time in the closet.
Verdict: These shoes won’t see much time in the closet.
I have been fortunate enough to try out Baffin’s Baja shoe that comes out of its Rapid to Trail series.
I want to start this off right and say that these shoes are awesome! I am glad that I have finally found a shoe that I can hike around in all day WITHOUT SOCKS…COMFORTABLY. I know a lot of people are probably going to say, then get sandals. I am not a huge fan of the sandal because it is open toe and I tend to smash my toes on rocks while going on approaches to crags. Plus, I feel that sandals do not hold the same quality that these Baja’s do.
I have been using these for quite some time now on boulders doing scrambles, in the water, on dry trails, around camp, etc. and they have held up perfectly. These shoes have turned into my “do-everything” in shoe. Like I said before, I even enjoy using these while sitting around camp because they are still comfortable enough that I barely feel them on my feet.
As a climber, these are exactly what I wanted in an approach shoe. I am someone who never enjoys belaying in my climbing shoes so I always take them off. Problem is, I would have to put my hiking shoes back on including my socks. Then, to get back on wall take it all off and the process begins again. It gets annoying. With these I can just slip off my Baja’s and slip on my climbing shoes, and vice versa. It makes things not annoying at all.
The only downside that I have found is that they do not dry as fast as I thought they would. I used them in the river (completely submerged) and tried to let them sit over night outside our tent to dry. The next day they were not totally dry. There were spots where it had dried but some spots felt like I was still in the river. It might have been due to the fact it was in a dry climate and a cold night.
Overall, if you are looking for a non-sock shoe with amazing grip, comfort, cool look with a variety of uses, this shoe is definitely something to look in to.