Dunham could have gone over the top and named the new nubuck low- and mid-cut hiking shoes "Cloud 9," as in the clichÃ© for euphoria. However, the company showed restraint and scaled back two notches to "Cloud 7."
One of our testers reports -- actually rather euphorically -- on a pair of low-cut Cloud 7 boots: "I'd be hard pressed to say that I've ever found a pair of shoes or boots to be more comfortable in the heel. The heel cup cradles the foot and offers superb cushioning."
Even in very damp conditions during a Northern California winter, our other tester reported the water-resistant nubuck leather uppers of a pair of mid-cut Cloud 7 "repelled water remarkably well and yet still breathed sufficiently to keep my typically sweaty dogs from wetting out my socks."
Both testers found the Cloud 7 chassis to rank among some of the most comfy and supportive footwear SNEWS has tested in the light adventure travel and light hiking categories.
On the downside, the forefoot area of the boot in both the low- and mid-cut versions still needs a tad of work when the shoes venture onto more rugged tracks. Our tester in the low-cut Cloud 7's experienced a significant amount of uncomfortable pressure along the balls of his feet during each forward stride, pressure which increased when moving over very uneven terrain that exacerbated the natural flex and torsional twisting of the sole. Our other tester in the mid-cuts found the forefoot fit less secure and more loose than he would have expected and liked on rough terrain, allowing the forefoot to roll or slide enough to become irritating during the course of a day.
SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection.
Suggested Retail: Cloud 7 low-cut -- $85; Cloud 7 mid-cut -- $95
For information: 800-343-4648