Flare [flair] verb, flared, flar·ing, noun: to start up or burst out in sudden, fierce activity, passion, etc.
As winter begins to loosen its grip on the nation and dirt and rock-laden trails begin to reemerge from their snow-covered slumber, it’s time for the outdoor adventurer to start planning the first outdoor excursions of the year.
For that moment you prepare to burst out onto the trail, you’re going to need a solid shoe to take you off the beaten path and back. The Flare from Wolverine might just be that shoe.
There are a lot of components that comprise a quality hiking shoe. But after a long week of work, doing weekly chores and taking care of the kids and family, there are three pieces of the puzzle that should matter most to the Mountainista: Comfort, Breathability and Grip.
To ensure that your escape from suburbia is made in comfort, the women’s Flare features Wolverine’s patented ICS™ (Individual Comfort System) technology. The ICS is an adjustable gel disc located under the Pulsar’s performance OrthoLite® footbed, which allows the wearer to personalize their level of comfort depending on preferences and the terrain to be traversed.
Unlike many supportive hiking shoes that can feel suffocating on hot spring days, the mesh lining of the Flare helps keep your feet fresh while the inner wave mesh lining wicks away moisture for added comfort.
And while you’re enjoying your moment of freedom in Mother Nature’s playground, there are still a few trappings that can ruin your breakout. One of those is an outsole that refuses to provide grip and stick on the tricky terrain. To make sure that’s never an issue Wolverine has given the Flare a rugged Vibram rubber outsole that handles hardpack, sand, gravel, road, mud and more with ease. You name the obstacle and Wolverine’s Claw-Trax™ outsole offers relentless traction for the relentless pursuit of adventure.
The Bonus Round….
Gone are the days of dull and drab hiking shoes that blend in with the dusty trail or granite slabs underfoot. Wolverine has spiced things up by offering brighter color options… because really… shouldn’t your hiking shoes be as fun and colorful as your hike? Job well done by Wolverine.
There is no greater way for a company to demonstrate their own confidence in a product than backing it with a quality guarantee. Towards these ends, Wolverine offers a 30-day comfort guarantee on the Flare.
Room for Improvement….
The Flare has many solid qualities, yet there are three specific issues of note. First, the Wolverine ICS™ provides a nicely customizable foundation. And while the feature for 2012 is made with lighter more durable materials, there is a downside to the ICS system. Most notably, it adds some weight to the shoe which you can’t help but notice out on the trail.
Second, whether it was a more shallow depth in the heel due to the ICS system, the low-cut of the shoe, or a combination of the tow, the Flare never fully locked in the heel on steeper ascents. This fit issue was also noticeable on long gently rolling terrain which was disappointing. In future iterations we’d like to see a slightly higher cut on the upper. Our team feels this will dramatically improve the over all fit and performance of the shoe as well as give its wearer the needed confidence to tackle steep terrain without slippage in the heel.
Finally, some will find that the Flare errors on the side of a stiffer mid and outsole. As such this may not be the shoe for those desiring maximum flexibility. The flipside however, is that undercarriage of this shoe provides greater protection from the elements and a little more support when packing a backpack or two year old who’s legs have grown weary.
In the Flare, Wolverine offers a rugged trail ready shoe with a customizable fit. While these low-cut hikers failed to provide our tester the lockdown performance she would have preferred in the heel for longer outings when the trail heads upwards, the ICS™ (Individual Comfort System) and the Claw-Trax™ outsole make for a durable hiker at a price tag that comes in just under comparative hikers.
WHERE: Available at retailers nationwide
SIZES: Women’s M 5-10, 11; W 5-10
COLORS: Purple, Green, Light Grey, Dark Grey, Black