Those of you who keep an eye on my social media pages, will know that I promised some gear reviews. I figured what better way to kick those off than with a product I use almost every day myself: the Columbia Conspiracy Titanium OutDry trail shoe.
I’ve been wearing these shoes for about two months now. Waterproof shoes, in the summer. When one of the lads in work asked me why I went for the Conspiracy over something else; basically, why would I get a waterproof shoe during what’s actually turning out to be quite a nice summer?
I replied “Because we live in Ireland and we get nine months of winter.”
The point was, waterproof shoes can get very hot, and we were going through a heat wave. I wanted something I could wear and not have my feet soaked if I had to cycle from the train station to work in lashing rain though. I took the risk.
The risk paid off. Generally I find these shoes do get warm compared to non-waterproof shoes, but nowhere near as hot as others. While I can’t be certain, I’m fairly confident this comes down to the way OutDry is used. OutDry uses a one piece waterproof breathable barrier that’s heat bonded directly to the inside of the outer fabric. This means no seams and no gaps where water can get in. This also means that there isn’t an insulating layer of air between the outer and the waterproof membrane making the shoe hotter.
The fact that your feet don’t overheat is only one of the reasons these shoes are so comfortable. Another is the Techlite comfort insole.
Underneath your calcaneus (or heel bone) you have a little pad of fat. This is the body’s natural shock absorber and without that you wouldn’t be able to stand up properly. All the weight of your body would be pressing down onto your heels and would be very painful. In the Conspiracy Titanium, Columbia have engineered this magic little blue spot to do basically the same thing.
You’d probably be excused for thinking it’s a bit of a gimmick at first glance, but it’s definitely not. I find that after a day on my feet, that little blue spot genuinely helps. These are definitely the most comfortable shoes I own and I’ve even said to customers that in my opinion, they’re probably the most comfortable shoes in the shop. You might not notice the difference if you’re sitting in an office all day, but that’s not what they’re for. These are trail shoes. These shoes were made for walkin’.
With that in mind, I couldn’t very well review the shoe without testing it. So I hit the Curragh.
For anyone not familiar with the Curragh, it’s a flatland. I myself have referred to it as “the biggest field in the country”. With that said, if you ever try to go for a run on it you’ll quickly realise how flat it’s not. So I spent the better part of a day on the Curragh walking through and over the most unfriendly and undulating terrain it could provide. I climbed every hill and stepped in every puddle.
The shoes definitely held up.
I spent a good while walking around Rabbit Hill, where the Army do their 4×4 off road driving training. At no point was I uncomfortable, at no point did I feel like my feet were too hot.
The Omni-Grip rubber soles were great on gravel, grass, and mud, and never slipped once. (The only time I’ve ever slipped in these shoes was on an unfortunately wet stairs – not fun.) My feet were bone dry when I got home. And in case you don’t think the puddles were enough to test the OutDry waterproofing, I’ll embed a video of a test at the bottom of the post.
So, to recap:
They’re waterproof, but don’t lead to super hot feet. They don’t have any fancy lacing system like some other trail shoes, but this means the laces are easily replaceable if one breaks and you’re miles from anywhere. The soles have good grips without having a big, chunky “walking shoe” look to them that might intimidate first time trekkers. They’re light, but sturdy. And they look and feel like an every day “runner”, so people are comfortable in them mentally as well as physically. I mentioned in work one day that they should have been called the Camino rather than the Conspiracy. Over the last few months where I’ve been selling adventure footwear, the Columbia Conspiracy Titanium have been by far the most popular shoe I’ve sold to people going on the Camino de Santiago. I can definitely see why.
And finally, that water test I promised you: