If many of you are like me you wear “hiking” shoes as your everyday footwear. As much as I like boots, I also like to wear short pants in the summer and very few people can pull off boots with shorts without looking goofy. Since I, like many a married man, work on a controlled budget, I’m constantly looking for shoes that will last awhile that aren’t too high priced AND (most importantly) that are comfortable and supportive on my feet. Recently I got to wear test a pair of the BLACKHAWK! Tanto Light Hikers and I am happy to report that my feet are happy with them.
Now I have to report that the very first thing I noticed when I put these shoes on was the arch support. Not that you necessarily want to know this, but I have narrow feet and high arches. Finding shoes / boots that provide adequate arch support has always been a challenge for me. Not so with the Tantos. Even as I sit here typing I have them on and with no weight resting on them I can feel the support in the arches. The second thing I noticed was that I didn’t have to tie them. The shoes are secured with a thin bungee cord system that includes a cordlock. While I originally felt this wouldn’t make the shoes secure enough on my feet, I’ve learned different through the process of wear testing them. Once they’re on just pull the “laces” until you’re comfortable with the adjustment of “snug”, then lock them in place with the cordlock and tuck the excess under the crossed laces. Since the bungee lace still stretches past where you’ve adjusted it to, you can effectively slip the shoes on and off without experiencing that loose feeling that comes with most slip-ons.
For as good as they felt and as convenient as they seemed, I had to check into the published material to see if there were other design features about them I should learn. I’m glad I did. Copied straight from the BLACKHAWK Features online tab for the Tanto webpage:
If any of you are like me after I’ve had my shoes on for a long day of hiking, it’s a GOOD thing that the insole or “footbed” is removable and washable. That will help these shoes stay serviceable (not stinky) longer. The waterproof insole board I presume means no water is coming in through the bottom even if the sole is damaged. That the uppers are suede and nylon mixed is fairly common but the way BLACKHAWK did it with the design looks pretty cool in my book.
The two design features I noted were the “self cleaning multi-directional lugs” and the “semi-rigid heel and toe cap reinforcement”. I like that these shoes shed mud, dirt and sand pretty easily. I wore them on a field trip I chaperoned for my son and we did end up moving through several different types of terrain, mud and loose dirt among them. I never lost traction and didn’t have to clean the yuck out of my shoes at the end of the day. The heel and toe cap reinforcement just makes sense to me since you often run your feet into hard objects (rocks, trees, etc) when hiking. More protection is better, yes?
So, overall – both objectively and subjectively – I have to give these shoes two thumbs up. MSRP is $99 on the BLACKHAWK! website but a Google search found me some as low as $79. I consider them well worth the MSRP much less any better price you can find.