May 26, 2024

I walked 10,000 steps in Amazon’s best-selling hiking boots — 7 things that surprised me

I’ve been in the market for some new hiking boots and recently stumbled upon the Nortiv 8 Armadillo 2. Priced at around $50, they are currently a best-seller on Amazon garnering a 4.3-star rating (out of 5) from some 17,000-plus users.

The name may not roll off the tongue but these puppies — excuse me, armadillos — promise top-notch traction and comfort in a mostly waterproof design. Still, $50 seems a tad inexpensive for a pair of supposedly high-quality boots — most of the models in our 2023 Best Hiking Boots guide cost more than $100.

Then again,17,000 people can’t be wrong, can they? I intended to find out.

After 10,000 steps in the Armadillos through muck, mire and just a tiny bit of dog pee (Belevedere sends his apologies), here’s what surprised me most.

They are very comfortable

If the boot fits comfortably, wear it.  (Image credit: Future)

To properly assess the Armadillos, I rocked them in a range of conditions, including varying degrees of Seattle rain and on several long evening walks where temperatures hovered a few degrees above freezing.

I went off-roading in these hiking boots, strutting my stuff through muddy trails and fields of rain-soaked leaves, and even wore them on a fruitful visit to REI’s flagship store.

The Armadillos cradled my delicate toes in both standard tube socks and thicker Smartwool snowboard and hiking socks.

After cruising for what is likely closer to 20,000 steps (10,000 tracked), I have zero complaints: The Armadillos kept my feet warm, dry and without any aches. Simply put, they’re super comfy.

The insole is a tad thin but overall, arch support is decent.  (Image credit: Future)

However, I was surprised when I pulled out the insole and discovered it to be a rather thin, low-tech affair. Still, the boots, as a whole, provide solid arch support and plenty of shock absorption thanks to a thick yet squishy midsole.

Nortiv 8’s sizing is also right on the money. I normally wear boots in a US men’s size 10. I went with the same for the Armadillos, and the fit is fantastic.

The outsole is super grippy

The outsole offers ample traction.  (Image credit: Future)

These boots are seriously grippy. I put them to the ultimate test: walking on wet leaves while descending some of Seattle’s steepest hills at great speeds. And guess what? Where other footwear surely would’ve led to calamity and a bruised ego, I did not bust my butt once while wearing the Armadillos. The traction is fantastic and up there with my grippiest pairs of Doc Martens.

I appreciate the added ankle support

I like to lace my Armadillos up high.  (Image credit: Future)

As mentioned, I’ve needed solid hiking boots for a little while now. Prior to receiving the Armadillos, trail running sneakers were my jam — they’re lightweight, bouncy and waterproof. Plus, unlike most hiking boots, they tend to look sporty and cool. Unfortunately, trail running sneakers also provide little to no ankle support.

I have some lingering ligament issues in my left ankle from a skateboarding trick gone awry many years ago. And so it’s super easy for me to roll it. Fortunately, the Armadillos can be laced up nice and high, providing plenty of ankle stability for folks like me.

They keep my feet bone-dry

Who doesn’t love a good rubber toe cap?  (Image credit: Future)

Living in the Pacific Northwest, weatherproof footwear is a must for much of the year. And while the Armadillos aren’t entirely submersible — you may get some leakage around the tongue — they kept my feet completely dry during several rainy dog walks and hikes, as well as while jumping into deep puddles like a blissful child. (Weird looks from the neighbors ensued.)

I’m also a big fan of the rubber toecap, which adds extra protection from moisture as well as from accidental bumps into tree roots, rocks, and so forth.

You may want to swap out the laces

The laces are just okay. (Image credit: Future)

This is a small criticism: After just a few weeks of wear-testing, the boots are holding up great. However, the laces are showing some signs of fatigue. They are starting to stretch out and lose their shape.

This is by no means a dealbreaker. I just may swap them for another pair I have in my closet. A mid-hike lace blowout is never a fun time.

Also, I suppose that if Nortiv 8 had to make sacrifices somewhere to keep costs down, I’m glad it was with the laces.

They aren’t too dorky-looking

The black/grey model is my favorite.  (Image credit: Future)

Far from the most fly footwear in town — especially compared to these fire engine red Vimazi trail running sneakers I’m also testing  — the Nortiv 8 Armadillo 2 boots are perfectly fine-looking for what they are. Function supersedes fashion in the world of hiking gear. Also, let’s be real: There are far fuglier (and pricier) boots out there.

I’m also glad I went with the black and grey model — the other colors are lovely but a tad too “granola” for my taste. No offense if they’re your cup of tea, though.

They punch well above their price

The Armadillos seem well-made. I look forward to wear-testing them through the winter.  (Image credit: Future)

For $50, I’m seriously impressed with the Nortiv 8 Armadillo 2 hiking boots and have no real criticisms. They are comfy and grippy, with good cushioning and support. Plus, you get excellent foot protection from the elements and ground hazards. What more could you want in a hiking boot?

That said, I’m curious to see how they hold up for the long haul and will be doing a long-term wear test to find out.

I’ll report back when I’ve hit 100,000 steps.

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