An Introduction to Community Reviews (Beta)
This article is a Backpacking Light Community Review. A few notes about this article:
- These are not official “editorial reviews,” in the same sense that we publish those under the categories of “Flash Reviews,” “SpotLite Reviews,” or “Performance Reviews.” These are short, informal reviews conducted by Backpacking Light Members who are not required to adhere to normal product review program standards.
- The manufacturer/brand submitting products to the program sponsors the Community Review Program, and they pay a fee to participate in this program. We thus label this type of content as “Sponsored Content” to distinguish it from independent, objectively-developed, editorial content free of third-party influence or a need for us to otherwise meet obligations to another third party.
- Our obligations to manufacturers/brands participating in this program are only to (a) promote the availability of a Giveaway/Community Review opportunity to our membership; (b) select the participants; (c) consolidate participant reviews; and (d) publish this content.
Enlightened Equipment (EE) developed a prototype light-weight synthetic-filled bootie for this program. We issued a call for testers to receive the complimentary giveaways, and we selected them (primarily) on a first-come-first-served basis. Participants sent their contact information to the manufacturer, who shipped the product samples.
A condition of being a participant was that each participant would supply a short review (with a photo or two), by a deadline after a preliminary evaluation period.
What follows are the participants’ evaluations of the product.
I was given a pair of 4 oz (113.4 g) Apex (15ºF – 30ºF) (-9.4ºC to -1.1ºC) booties in size small in black/black/sunrise, where the inner and outer material are black with sunrise trim. The booties appear very well-made. When my two kids (the actual testers) saw them there was an intense debate about who was going to wear them first.
The small size is equivalent to US men’s size 4 – 5.5 or US women’s size 5.5 – 7. The testers (my kids) have US size 6-7 feet; they said that the booties fit well even when they were wearing socks.
We tested the booties on an early spring weekend trip to a sub-alpine hut in the Tararua Ranges of New Zealand. My children tested the booties while moving around inside the hut and while sleeping. The testers considered “moving” to include running, jumping and climbing while playing various games on plywood flooring and wooden ladders. The booties held up well to the treatment by remaining in place without slipping and by incurring only very slight wear on the sole.
The inside air temperature of the hut fell to freezing (32ºF/ 0ºC) but the testers said they had very warm feet and they never complained of cold feet. This experience suggests that the upper limit of 30ºF (-1.1ºC) is reasonable for these “4 oz” (113.4g) booties. We weren’t able to confirm the lower limit of 15 F/ -9 C.
Each of my kids would definitely like to have their own pair of booties. I would like to see a slightly thicker fabric on the sole of the booties (at least for the kid’s sizes) so they are more robust for those times when a game of tag is impossible to resist.
Our thanks to Tim of Enlightened Equipment for providing the booties to review.
One month ago I received a pair of Enlightened Equipment Sleeping Booties, size L (mens 8-9/womens 9.5-10.5), 2.1 Apex fill (30 – 45ºF)(-1.1 – 7.2ºC). On first look I was quite impressed; I’ve never had real sleeping booties, just thicker wool sleeping socks. The finish and craftsmanship were excellent. All seams, inside and out, were flawless. Tiny shock cord and mini cordlocks functioned perfectly. These weighed in at 1.6 oz. (44 g) on my scales and packed in a stuff sack about the size of a baseball. In practice they are stored while hiking in a small gear bag at the head end of my gathered-end hammock. When crawling into the hammock, I open the gear bag and beautiful fluffy booties are ready to go on my feet. I can feel immediate warmth when slipping them on. When we pack up or exit the hammock, we neatly stow them back in the apex gear bag. They never leave the hammock while on the trail.
Due to a relatively warm fall in town and to an inability to get to higher elevations because of work, I’ve only had the chance to test these down to 45ºF (7.2ºC). Further testing will come later this fall and winter. As previously stated, I experienced immediate warmth when slipping the booties on. My feet were then tucked into a Revelation Overquilt (also an EE product). I was able to fall asleep quickly and did not notice any cold spots. Waking at night I had warm feet, but my exposed arm was a bit chilly. I heeded the website warnings and exchanged the booties for cold trail runners on a 2 am plant watering trip. Booties immediately warmed my feet upon reentering the hammock, but as always, that is a long cold two-minute outing. I might try slipping my untied runners over the booties next time I am out.
Moisture is rarely an issue with my sleep system here in Colorado, but I do imagine these will perform better than down booties when there’s a little foot sweating. Drying them during the day is less of a concern. I continue to be impressed that these are so light and packable. The compression and weight penalty for something as small as booties is negligible, even for a gram counter like me. The trade-off for better performance when wet and faster drying is worth it. Durability will have to be assessed at the end of a season or two, but so far it is good. I have been very impressed with durability of other EE gear I own, even very lightweight fabrics.
The booties are of excellent construction and design. The performance was better than expected, but I have yet to have them down to the lower limits of the rating. The size and weight are better than expected. As for durability, I do not yet have enough data. I would purchase these over a pair of more expensive down booties after this testing.
The socks appear to be very warm. They are of beige interior, and royal blue exterior. The material is silky. We have not tried them on yet in the field as it is still warm, and we are caught up with other things. From my previous experience, I used a pair of down socks for myself, and I get hot at some point during the night. But, I would still prefer to sleep with the socks on. My left foot turns cold during the night. Maybe it is because blood circulation.
I got this for my mother or my wife. I will send more pictures once they try them on. They are definitely of great quality, and will last. I think they can even walk in them at home.
9-year old daughter of Mike Gunderloy
I tested the 4 oz. (113.4 g) Apex 15 to 30º F (-9.4 to -1.1ºC), size small, color coyote/forest/navy bootie. These booties were super comfortable. I would wear them almost all day if I could. I didn’t take them into freezing temperatures, but the night-time low on my test campout was in the mid-40s ºF (4.4ºC). I was sleeping in a hammock (and using an Enlightened Equipment underquilt), so it would be colder than it would be in a tent. But that didn’t matter. My feet were still warm.
I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and my boots were wet (these booties are made for sleeping only, not for wearing around camp), so I had to put my boots back on. My toes got super cold and I wanted them to get warmer. It only took about 5 minutes for my toes to warm up again when I put on the booties again. And, in the morning, I had forgotten I was wearing them, because I couldn’t even feel the booties – that’s how light they are.
A pair in size small only weighs 1.9 oz. (55 g). The construction is simple: sole and wraparound upper with a drawstring top to snug them around your foot. The Apex insulation is even and doesn’t have any tendency to shift around or bunch up. And if I could choose for you, I would say to buy them.
I tested the size XL; red and green; 3.2 oz (90.7 g); and 6 oz (170.1 g) Apex Booties. Enlightened Equipment created a hit with their Apex Booties. I was lucky enough to get a pair weighing 6 oz (170.1 g). I found the warmth to be slightly less warm than my down Western Mountaineering Flash Booties. I only experienced temperatures in the low 30s Fº(-1.1ºC) while testing (my feet were toasty), but I am confident they would be warm at least to the manufacturer’s specification of 15ºF (-9.4ºC).
Where the booties shine is their fabric. The fabric is wispy-thin while still retaining a good feel on the skin. My feet did get a little clammy while wearing the booties without socks, but it was hardly unbearable and well within the range of comfortable. This kind of experience is to be expected when wearing the booties at temperatures higher than the manufacturer specification. I was pleasantly surprised by their breathability and their water-resistance.
I was a little disappointed by the fit. I felt some slight constriction around my forefoot. I don’t necessarily have wide feet; I always find I have a “normal” width range when I measure them. But these booties do not fit me as well as some other brands.
Overall, I recommend these booties. When using booties in a humid environment, you can’t beat the mix of warmth, water-resistance, and light weight. The only area for possible improvement would be widening the forefoot area or making a wider bootie as a custom option.
Since it is still somewhat hot here in Central Texas, I haven’t been able to test the warmth of these synthetic booties as compared to my down pair from GooseFeet Gear. So without cold temps, I thought I would see how the synthetic booties dealt with moisture management compared to the down booties.
As a woman-of-a-certain-age, I frequently have a problem of, ahem, nighttime moisture management. I sweat a lot at night. I mean, a lot. So though I was unable to test the actual insulating properties of these guys, I was able to compare how wet feet worked in them.
I have been using the Goosefeet Gear down booties for about 3 years now, and one of the big problems I have is getting into bed at night with kind of wet feet. Normally, I could put on some wool sleep socks and the moisture would go away. But with the down booties, I would just swim in sweaty feet for a while, or deal with cold toes while my feet dried enough before I put on the booties.
So to test, I came back from a run all nice and sweaty and put on the EE synthetic sock on one foot and the Goosefeet Gear down sock on the other. The down sock never felt comfortable, even in my air-conditioned apartment. The EE sock was a bit sticky for slightly less than 3 minutes (by my watch) before I noticed the moisture was no longer noticeable.
Warmth and comfort-wise, overall, I like the down socks slightly better, as they feel like puffy clouds on my feet and the EE synthetic socks feel like, well, socks. But if moisture is at all an issue, I would not hesitate to take the EE synthetic booties in their place. They would be far warmer than a pair of actual socks, and I was impressed at how fast the sweat from my feet ceased to be noticeable.
“Yeah! I’m excited! I get to check out some new booties!” When I told my girlfriend, she simply set down her book and glared at me. A long, evil glare.
For the record, these booties are the kind that go on your feet. The warm, snuggly kind. The kind that can replace “heavy” sleeping socks, and can squish down to the size of a baseball. I already own two Enlightened Equipment down quilts, and I think the balance between innovative design/brilliant technology/garage sale prices is exceptional. Now I own my first pair of synthetic insulated garments from them as well. How do they perform?
For starters, the APEX synthetic insulation rocks! Anybody out there who has second thoughts about this can rest assured – this stuff is impressive. The insulation is very warm, lightweight, and compressible. EE pairs it with an outer material which is smooth and silky, and a little bungee system to cinch the bootie tight around your ankle. Very simple. I used the 30ºF (-1.1ºC) version (the least insulation), which I find comparable to my heaviest wool socks. In fact, in order to figure out which is warmer, I spent several nights wearing an Enlightened Equipment bootie on one foot and a Wigwam woolly sock on the other. I found that they both performed the same! I also discovered that the wool socks weighed 3.5 oz (99.2 g) while the booties were only 2.1 oz (59.5 g). This is a little heavier than listed on Tim’s website [1.5 oz (42.5 g) in size L], but still quite a bit less than the sleeping socks I would normally carry. I will definitely bring the booties on my upcoming backpacking trips.
Are these 30 degree (-1.1ºC) booties worth the money? Now that I’ve had a chance to play with them, I would say no. If I was going to buy them, I would opt for the 15 ºF (-9.4ºC) or the 0ºF (-17.8ºC) versions. They are only a few dollars more, and quite a bit warmer. That would be the sweet spot for me!
(Sent while on trail via mobile phone.)
I have used the booties every night for the last two weeks and am wearing them at this moment. In fact, they are bright red with a green lining. The color makes them easy to find in my pack.
Mine are I believe the warmest version, 0ºF (-17.8ºC). They didn’t arrive with any labelling on the packaging, but the weight corresponded to the weight on the website. Despite being the thickest version, they only manage to keep my feet warm when they are inside my down sleeping bag, and I still have to wear socks inside them. Just sitting around in my tent, my feet are quite cold and I can feel a cool breeze through them. So yes, they are quite literally, sleeping socks and that’s about it.
You can’t walk in them; the bottoms are too slick and the fabric too delicate to withstand abrasion. The manufacturer specified that they weren’t meant to be camp shoes, but I was hoping they’d keep my feet warm just sitting in my tent.
Granted, it’s been in the low to mid-30s (-1.1ºC). This particular bootie is made for even colder temps., however. I am a cold sleeper and usually wear a lot of clothes inside my 20ºF (-6.7ºC) bag, even if it’s 40ºF (4.4ºC) outside.
Sue and I have some BPL Cocoon synthetic jackets from when the BPL store existed. To be sure, they are not as warm as our full-on down jackets, but we have used them in the snow and have been “warm enough” inside our 2-layer winter tent. The great thing we have found about synthetic jackets is that they are extremely washable. Yes, we use Sports Wash of course, and they are no hassle at all for maintenance. Our idea for these EE synthetic booties was that they should be just as easily maintainable after trips.
In the past I have been using some fluffy white woollen socks I bought in Chamonix as bed socks; Sue has been wearing some other slightly heavier but similar socks. We don’t wear either of them in shoes, so they are still all soft and fluffy – and quite warm. But the socks weigh 3.2+ oz. (90.7 g) for the pair.
These 4 oz. (113.4 g) Apex Booties (the middle range) seemed to be a shade warmer than the socks for both of us, and they weigh only 2.0 oz. (58 g) for the pair. With my fluffy white socks I usually wore some very thin nylon liner socks inside as well, to keep them a bit clean. Those weighed at least .4 oz. (10 g) extra. Because these Booties are easily washable, I just dry my feet for a minute or two in the air, then I put them on. Usually, my feet don’t get too cold while they are drying off. I guess, with synthetic insulation, I could just put the booties on over my damp feet. So we are comparing 3.5 oz. (100 g) of socks with 2 oz. (58 g) of booties. Both Sue and I found that they were quite warm – in still air. We did not test them outside in the wind as we did not think they were meant for that: still air inside the tent on an air mat is where they belong.
I got the XLarge size, mens – 9.5/11.5, womens 11 – 13, as I take size 10 4E shoes. The booties seemed to fit about right over my feet. There is a loop of light bungee cord – hat elastic really, at the ankle with a tiny cord lock. We both found that was definitely a very good idea for keeping the booties on. Without the bungee cord the booties did tend to migrate off a bit when I was moving around. Also, having the bungee cord done up seemed to make them feel just a little bit warmer around the ankle region.
In short, both Sue and I loved them – but we only got one pair.
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