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Dunham Waffle Stomper Premier
By Matt Smith

Dunham has been making shoes and boots for a long time. The trademark "Waffle Stomper" name has become a household descriptor for practically any boot with a heavily lugged sole. I first saw the latest version of the Waffle Stomper Premier at the Outdoor Retailer show. The fabric upper, robust rand, and loud color grabbed my attention.

The Premier is fairly large volume for the size in my opinion, with a very roomy toe box. The padding is in all the right places for the odd bumps and bulges of my feet. I'm not sure if it is the placebo effect, or not, but the assymetric ankle felt great, even laced all the way up. I found it fairly easy to isolate the lacing on the fore foot from the ankle, even though the transition eyelet is not conducive to reverse lacing. I think this is probably because the transition eyelet is set pretty far back, so there is a lot of friction on that portion of the lace. Whatever the reason, I was able to get a good fit without much trouble.

The Premier features a Vibram outsole, with a PU midsole and an ABZORB covered lasting board. Typically, the first thing I do when I get a new pair of boots is to pull out the factory insole, and replace it with a third party insole. However, the factory ABZORB insole felt more robust than usual, so I gave it a shot and left it in place. It held up for about 30 miles before I considered it to be worn out. That might not sound like much, but with the junk insoles in many boots, I thought it was pretty good.

I expected that the fabric upper would breathe very well, and that my foot would stay cool. So, I was surprised when just the opposite happened, and my feet would consistently get sweaty very fast. I'm not sure if this is a funtion of the Schoeller fabric and the Dryworks booty, or just the Dryworks booty. Regardless, my feet were very warm. I was also disappointed to discover that with relatively little, and what I would consider normal, use and abuse, the toe rand on both boots began to delaminate where it crosses the Helcor rand. The separation was more notable on the inside of the foot, than the outside.

Summary: The Dunham Waffle Stomper Premier is a good boot, and with the exception of a few kinks with the toe rand, is a quality boot. I found it to be very comfortable, though very warm as well. I would recommend it in cooler environments. The Premier can be found online for $150 to $175.

UPDATE: Dunham informed me that they will be discontinuing their boot line in 2007, and focusing on active lifestyle footwear. As a result, prices on their boots have started to fall dramatically. I have recently seen the Premier online for as little as $115. At that price, I think this boot is a bargain!

For more information contact:
Dunham Boot Makers
www.dunhambootmakers.com
Brighton Landing
20 Guest Street
Boston, MA 02135
1-800-THE-BOOT

Matt is a contributing editor and the canyoneering specialist at Gearreview.com.

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