Known so well for their outdoor sandals, Chaco has now expanded into the realm of boots and other styles of footwear. The Holbuck Boots are a prime example of Chaco’s innovation and expansion, as one of the first releases in their new series.
I’m not going to lie. Immediately, I was a bit hesitant: “Chaco is making boots for backpacking and hiking now? That seems a little strange, and I wonder if their first go-around will actually be of good quality right away.” Upon arrival, the Holbucks were in for a thorough testing with extended use and abuse, partially to see if Chaco’s new boot line would live up to their claim to fame in the outdoor industry. As soon as they were released, I was eager to examine their design quality–and to get them dirty in the field!
Design and Construction (4.0/5.0)
The Holbuck boots are fully waterproof and feature a solid toe-cap and heel-cup. Even after 50+ miles of backpacking and hiking, and countless casual miles, the waterproofing has been reliable and the toe/heel areas show little signs of wear. After months of use, I’ve never had an issue with the Holbucks trumping the elements and engaging in the harshest conditions, which has increased my confidence in their ability to provide a quality experience in the outdoors. My only hesitation comes in considering the amount of seams and stitching that Holbuck has and how some of these have started to show signs of wear. Although their is a bootie in the lining to ensure that waterproofing remains, this stitching may continue to wear consistently depending on how rugged the terrain and how vigorous the activities are which this boot is used. That being said, I still have great confidence in the Holbucks to last for quite some time, and to consistently provide a quality experience.
One thing that the Holbuck Boots definitely excel in right away is comfort. Immediately, the suede and leather combination provided an ideal fit without significant pressure points or discomfort. This lent itself to being much easier to “break in” and get ready for the trail, while some rigid leather boots take weeks to finally seem comfortable in. To this day, the Holbucks are so comfortable that I use them throughout my weeks working, traveling, and adventuring as more of a casual shoe then a bulky hiking boot… but I am always ready to hit the trail and put on the miles in more rugged environments!
The Holbucks are also lightweight compared to other boots on the market. This is partly due to the insole/midsole and also to the materials used in the boots’ construction. All in all, comfort rates very highly with the Chaco Holbuck Boots!
Midsole, Insole, Outsole (4.0/5.0)
The Holbuck features what is called the LUVSEAT PU Footbed, a mesh-lined midsole that breathes very well. While this midsole breathes well and massages the foot, I found that I could personally benefit from additional support and cushioning inside the boot. To achieve this, I ended up adding a dedicated midsole insert to the Holbuck as well. This system has worked extremely well for me and I am very happy with how the inserts sit inside of the boot. The average user may find the LUVSEAT midsole to be just fine for their uses, providing breathability and comfort, but I appreciated having additional support (especially when carrying 30-50lbs backpacking). The insole is the area of the boot that provides structure and support to the surface of the sole. In the Holbuck, it is noticeable that there is a soft insole that provides comfort and flexibility. The outsole, being the part that contacts the ground, is among the best of the three on the Holbuck, in my opinion. This has shown little to no signs of wear or weakness throughout my use of the boots!
With the additional support, crazy comfort, and quality construction, I found that the Holbucks performed well in the field in a wide variety of conditions and elements. This boot really combines comfort with performance well, to the point where it becomes more of a lifestyle boot than technical footwear. Even with this being the case, the Holbuck Boots are seriously able to tackle some rugged terrain and crossover to the realm of backpacking and hiking with ease. I’ve been thrilled to test these boots and am proud to say that I plan to use them for over 100 miles of hiking and backpacking this January and that I plan to continue to use and enjoy them in both the backcountry and frontcountry.
When arriving back at camp, the Holbuck is never a boot that I am dying to get out of due to discomfort and pain–they combine quality comfort with a medium to high level of outdoor performance.
Thanks to Chaco for providing the Holbuck Boots for review.