What do you get when you combine light weight sneakers with high end winter boots and wrap it in Michelin tread? The Saentis Pro WP by Mammut. My review:
The Saentis Pro WP is a lightweight synthetic sneaker that is designed to be used in cold, snowy conditions. The sneakers are built around a Michelin OC synthetic sole, which is a soft, well insulated, extremely grippy compound that has been specifically formulated for winter conditions. It has been formed into both a soft foot bed on the inside, as well as a knobby outsole. The upper is essentially a water resistant softshell with reinforcements around the heel and ankle for better support. Inside, The upper is lined with Mammut DRY, a soft waterproof yet breathable membrane. The shoes have a sock-like construction, with a sealing ankle cuff that is paired with traditional laces and eyelets. The sneakers are available in various colors and are available now for $179.
Being a Winter sneaker, cold weather performance is key. Thankfully, the Saentis (named after a mountain in Switzerland, famous for its height) does pretty well in wintery conditions. The Soles themselves are excellently insulated and provide exceptional protection from heat loss from contact with snow, frozen ground, ice and even water. I’ve tested these down to about 30 degrees F (-1C) and the synthetic rubber managed to keep the bottom of my feet well insulated from the icy earth with no issues. The softshell upper doesn’t perform as well due to the thin materials around the laces, but is still adequate for these conditions. My first time lacing them up and venturing out I initially felt a slight creeping cold working its way through the softshell body, particularly the top of the foot where it laces up. Even with thick wool socks I cold feel the cold work its way in after about 15 minutes of walking. However, Once by body warmed up and circulation improved, they began to warm up and became very comfortable. This is a trend I noticed on most of my trips out with them so it seems they take some time to warm up against the skin of the wearer. My feet do tend to run cool, so I suspect mileage may vary from user to user here.
Comfort wise, the Saentis are quite good. As the upper is almost entirely built from a softshell like material, the shoes come across feeling snug and conforming with a close, wiggle free fit. The sole is well shaped and cradles the toes and heel nicely, without feeling bulky or overly modeled. The soft rubbery compound provides good impact absorption for general use, and holds up well enough for a gentle jog or walking with a moderately heavy pack. The upper, I’ve found, wraps around the foot a little bit on the tighter side, which at first I found bothersome but it did break in rather quickly. About 2 miles into my first hike with them I noticed they softened up and began to shape to my feet, so they break in rather quickly. They do run a little narrow, especially around the toes, but this does help prevent the shoe from slipping around while almost completely eliminating heel slip (and thus blisters).
I did find that getting the shoes on and off to be a little more challenging than I would prefer. With thick, heavyweight socks I found that the pressure I needed to push my foot into the sock-like opening to be a bit much, even wadding my sock up at the top of my foot as I slid inside. Mid and thin socks weren’t nearly as problematic, so I recommend going this route with these sneakers. Even if you completely unlace the shoe there is still the small, neoprene like opening at the top to contend with. Ultimately this is a minor inconvenience but still worth mentioning.
Traction wise, the shoes perform well in most scenarios. Traveling on loose snow covered gravel, pavement and concrete, grip was a positive point for the shoes,. The thick, grippy lugs really dig into loose surfaces and provide excellent purchase and confidence. On more compact snow coverage surfaces, the Saentis performed above average, with the soft rubber like material bending and flexing well enough to provide good bite as long as the incline wasn’t terribly steep or overly smooth. The one troublesome material seemed to be icy wood, such as frozen bridges and planks, which proved to be a little challenging due to the large gaps between lugs and reduced surface contact of the tread in this particular situation. Dirt, grass and wet rocks were no issues at all.
So far, the shoes have provided excellent water protection. Stepping into icy creeks, wandering through sleet, snow and mud haven’t been any issue at all, thanks to the naturally water repellent upper fabric, lower sole and embedded waterproof membrane. Time will tell how well this holds up, but I don’t expect this aspect to fail for quite some time given the construction and materials, which are both excellent.
I wasn’t sure what to think of the Saentis Pro WP going in. Lightweight winter shoes? Turns out, these were a great idea. They have all the lightweight, nimbleness of a sneaker, while providing most of the benefits of a winter hiking boot. They’re comfortable, provide much better warmth than a traditional sneaker, and hold up well to miles and miles of urban travel on most surfaces. The waterproof construction has so far been rather impressive with no signs of atypical wear or damage. I also like the modern styling =, with the smooth lines and subtle hints of color. They can be a little tough to get on and off (think ski boot), and do run narrow so keep that in mind, but otherwise are great options, especially if you travel through wet, snowy, nasty urban terrain.
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