The Sugarpine II vs. the Original Sugarpine
Ahnu updated the Sugarpine to the Sugarpine II. These updates seem to be chiefly aesthetic, with a new upper and outsole design. See the side by side photos below; the Sugarpine II is shown on the left, followed by the original Sugarpine.
- New Upper Design — The upper of the Sugarpine II features a new mesh ripstop material with heathered detailing.
- New Outsole Design — The key aspects of the waterproof membrane, insole, and Vibram outsole remain the same as the original Sugarpine, but the design has been refreshed to look cleaner on the new shoe.
- Price Increase — The Sugarpine II retails for $145, a $5 increase from the previous boot.
Since we haven't tested the Sugarpine II just yet, the following text refers to the Sugarpine version we originally tested.
Hands-On Review of the Anhu Sugarpine
Our favorite synthetic mid-height hiking boot proved to be the Ahnu Sugarpine, which held up and remained comfortable on the rocks, in the rain, and around the campfire.
The Ahnu Sugarpine are highly adjustable with their gusseted tongue and lacing system, making them a versatile boot for many foot sizes.
Photo: Eric Bissell
These boots came right out of the box and onto the trails in Tuolumne Meadows this past summer. With very little time spent breaking them in, the boots were comfortable and adjustable for different foot widths. They can be laced tightly or loosened all the way down to the toe, which we found to be nice after a long day of hiking. This adjustability can be found in the Vasque Monolith as well as the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3, both of which scored similarly to the Sugarpine in the comfort metric. In this way, we preferred the Sugarpine to the Montara (also made by Ahnu) because they are much more adjustable in the toe. This adjustability gave the Sugarpine a high ranking in comfort, as they fit different feet across the board. Ahnu also designs their boots specifically for women in mind, so they have plenty of arch and heel support. The ankle height also comes up far enough to make the anke feel supported and comfortable with additional padding.
The ankle shaft height and relatively stiff sole of the Ahnu Sugarpine made them feel supportive all day on the trail. The stiffness of the sole comes from the integrated nylon shank in the midfoot and the shock dispersal plate in the forefoot. Both of these features provide support to the bottom of the foot and also protection from rocks bruising the soles. The Keen Targhee II - Womens and the Ahnu Montara III scored similarly in the metric rating for support. The footbed provides support to the heel and arch, but can also be replaced by a more aggressive insole if necessary.
The Ahnu Sugarpine are supportive enough to be worn on all-day hikes but feel light on the feet.
The Keen Targhee II have a slightly thicker sole, and thus provide a bit more support underfoot than the Sugarpine. This compromises some of the flexibility that the Sugarpine has though. The footbed on both the Sugarpine and the Montara provides support to the heel and arch.
The Ahnu Sugarpine is the lightest of all the shoes we tested this year, weighing 1 lb 7 oz per pair. Though they feel light, they have enough support and a stiff enough sole that they also feel substantial enough to wear all day. Their synthetic uppers and minimalist tread pattern cut weight, but the overall construction still provides comfort and support. Similar lightweight models that are great for day hiking or traveling are the Ahnu Montara or the Columbia Redmond Mid. Both of these boots are lightweight, which is nice for short hikes, but will not provide enough support for longer outings. The Montara is heavier than the Columbia and provides much more support underfoot. Like the Sugarpine, it also provides a good amount of ankle support, without adding a bunch of weight.
The tread pattern and lug depths of the Ahnu Sugarpine are less aggressive than many of the other boots we tested. We found this to affect the way they handled on loose gravel, but the Vibram rubber was sticky enough to maintain traction on slabs and boulders. Boots with more aggressive tread patterns or thicker soles, like the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX - Women's or the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra - Womens, protected the soles of our feet from rocks more effectively.
Here, you can see the moderate tread pattern of the Ahnu Montara. Regardless, the Vibram rubber was sticky enough to maintain traction on boulders and talus.
Ahnu uses their own waterproofing technology to keep water out while allowing the foot to breathe on long hikes. We tested this in rainy conditions in the Sierra Nevada and found these boots to work very well in wet conditions. Our feet stayed dry and the gusseted tongue kept water out, even on stream crossings and in puddles. The eVent liners in both the Ahnu boots we tested (the Sugarpine and the Ahnu Montara), as well as in the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultras, proved to be a great feature that regulated the temperature and moisture levels of our feet on any given day.
We wore these boots on all types of trails around Yosemite Valley, but the most wear and tear they encountered was around the campfire. There they held up to the soot, dirt, and heat. The synthetic material that makes up the bulk of the Sugarpine's upper sheds dirt and keeps the boots looking clean day after day. For a synthetic boot, the Salomon X Ultra is a good comparison to the Sugarpine in terms of durability. The minimal seams and simple design provided less opportunity for wear, which added to their durability.
The Ahnu Sugarpine break in quickly and look good both on and off the trail, making them a great all-around boot for day hiking or traveling.
Photo: Eric Bissell
These boots are a great three-season day hiking boot. They are comfortable, with little break-in period, and still provide enough support to keep feet feeling comfortable all day. Because the soles are thin and the tread is minimal, they do not perform as well with weight. Their water resistance and wicking liners keep feet dry in wet conditions.
At around $145, the Ahnu Sugarpine is a moderately priced shoe that seems durable and versatile enough to work well in most conditions. They are similar in price to the Merrell Capra Bolt - Womens, but are much more durable and supportive. For the price, these are a great option for someone who is just getting into hiking and looking for a good first boot that will function in many different situations.
The Ahnu Sugarpine
are a well-priced, stylish boot that are both durable and comfortable. They are the lightest boot we tested but still provide ankle and heel support. They cut weight in the sole and in the materials that make up the uppers, so they are definitely not the stiffest boot we tested. The Sugarpine
held up the to the test in water resistance and breathability as well, making them a good boot for most conditions.