Bergkomfort Wanderstiefel 2.0 Review

Willyb43

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This site has helped me solve some long standing gear issues that plagued me over the last handful of years regarding rifle/optics expectations and reliability. I feel I should exercise some level of reciprocity for all the money and time I saved by not continuing that trial and error testing on my own. This is my attempt at giving back, there’s going to be some personal rambling and backstory here to start so I’ll start my actual review in a second post for those that don’t care and want to move strait into the actual product. Sorry if this sucks, if I’m glancing over relevant details, or if you have specific questions I’ll do my best to answer them.





As a backstory, I have wide-ish feet and most shoes/boots don’t fit them well. I have a wide forefoot, wide ish midfoot, a narrow heel, and narrow ankles relative to my boot size. Around 2010ish I tried on a pair of merrell trailglove’s while shoe shopping. I had no interest in barefoot shoes and found it’s minimalist design somewhat off putting, but it was the best fitting shoe I’d ever tried on and I couldn’t un-know that, so I bought them anyways. I still own them, they are pretty impractical; they are basically hygroscopic, your feet could get wet in them during a drought. They are super low cut, and get filled with debris if you are hiking off trail or in seeded grasses. They stink pretty much 24/7, worst smelling shoes I’ve ever owned and I don’t tend to have smelly feet. And the tread is only ok, it works but nothing great. They wear like iron, but are best suited to hard pack grippy surfaces like the hard packed trails. Since buying them and wearing them I gained some appreciation for minimalist footwear, and I wear some form of it a lot a decade later. The pro list for me would be: The fit, generous toe box, and lack of a raised heel or “zero drop” in the designs. Some will disagree, but I don’t always want a super thin flexible sole of a minimalist shoe. My work life on industrial construction sites requires robust safety toe work boots, which generally lack all of the features of minimalist footwear. So I’m far from being a born again zealot when it comes to the barefoot boot types, I see pros and cons to both.



I’ve tried, owned, returned or sold most traditional brands of boots due to a bad fit. In the last 10 years have bought and used lowa renegades, crispi summits, crispi nevadas, and Meindl comfort fits. I’ve warrantied 3 pairs of boots due to goretex failures in the last 5 years alone, and am no longer interested in goretex lined boots for early dry season use. Once the membrane fails, I have perfectly serviceable boots that don’t breathe well and don’t keep my feet dry if needed.



The Meindl comfort fit’s are hands down the best fitting traditional boot for my feet I’ve used, however they have a huge tall heel, very rampy feeling. And the shaft height and goretex lining make them too hot for the vast majority of my hunting season. My feet run hot and unless it’s below freezing with snow on the ground I don’t like to use them.



I wear Vivo tracker esc’s quite a bit, I really like them actually. No membrane lining, thin and flexible, I feel more agile in them, or maybe just less clumsy. I am far less noisy hunting in them than traditional boots, but the outsole is too thin for me in some applications.



I’ve been looking for something to bridge the gap between the Vivo and the Meindl. I bought some lems boulder summits recently to try, and found them kind of narrow, and the WP membrane and fabric padding makes them to hot.



My want list was:

-all leather construction, preferably leather lined and no waterproof membrane

-zero drop

-generous toebox

-thinner outsole with heel in tread

-rubber rand of some sort



So I rolled the dice and ordered some boots from a German company called Baer shoes, the model I ordered are BÄR Bergkomfort Wandersteifel 2.0. They tick every box from my want list. I wore them around my house for a few days to make sure the fit was ok. And I’ve been wearing them out on my daily hikes with my pointer for over a week. And so far I’m elated. I’ve been doing creek crossings on every outing, so far no wet feet. Breathability is excellent, fully leather lined with no membrane. Zero drop, with a small integrated heel in outsole. Total thickness of the footbed and outsole is around 16mm from what I can measure.



As I have the most use on my tracker ESC’s I figure I’ll do my best to compare them sizing wise for anyone who is interested in these. As so far those are the best, non lined, leather boots I’ve found that fit my feet.



However here is my current lineup of comparable footwear that you might own if you want a comparison to any of them for sizing, absent are my meindls as it’s no longer winter and they are stashed away. But I could dig them out if someone wants a size comparison.

IMG_1919.jpeg

From L to R:

birks size 43, merrell trail glove US10, Vivo’s US10, Lems summit US10, BÄR 2.0 US10/43
 
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Willyb43

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The review:



Boots were bought and paid for personally, ordered direct from their website(link below) I used the sizing chart on their website. Aside from order confirmation emails, I have never even been in contact with anyone who works for the company. I paid €308.07, inclusive of shipping. And I had to pay import fees because some aspects of being a Canadian suck.



https://www.baer-shoes.com/bergkomfort-wanderstiefel-2.0-1095-112-06-0/

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Fit:

I’m a size US10/43 all day every day. My larger foot, my left is 27cm long and 10cm wide. Right is about 26.7cm and also around 10cm wide. I wear a size 10 in vivo, size 43 Birkenstock sandal, size 10 merrell, size 10 redwing work boot(widest width available), size 10 crispi summit and Nevada, size 10 lowa renegade. The only exception to this is I’m a 9.5 Meindl, but they are pretty transparent that their sizing is large by half a size(stupid). I ordered these boots in a US10/UK9/43Eur and the fit is as expected.

The insole length is 28.5cm, and 10.2cm at its widest point.

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These boots fit me very well, very similar fit to my vivos. I have ample room for my toes to splay out, I have a fairly large big toe and I find the height of the toe box is shorter than average, but roomy enough. The insole is thicker than average and could be replaced with a thinner option if you need more volume. The insole and boot have no arch support. They fit the width of my mid foot a bit snugger than vivo’s, for me it’s a positive. They are zero drop and feel like it, you feel close to the ground in them, no platform feel like traditional boots.



Insole of the BÄR over the Vivo tracker. Length is identical, profile and width difference can be seen in photo.

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Flexibility and ankle mobility:



The boots have a stiffer sole from the heel to half way up the boot, approximately the length of the ugly yellow part of the sole, the front is more flexible that a traditional hiker like my meindl. It is thinner, but lacks the barefoot flexibility and feel of the vivo’s. They are more flexible than my lems boulder summits, you can still roll up the front of the boots to the heel area but they don’t roll up like the vivo’s do. It’s a pretty ideal middle ground for me, and what I’m looking for. The sole is quite low profile and you don’t feel like you’re standing in a platform. I don’t like stiff ankles in boots, if it wasn’t for debris and water resistance I actually prefer a low cut shoe or mid height. However for a boot of this style I have decent ankle mobility. Almost as good as my vivo trackers, there is more resistance to ankle movement but it’s way better than my crispi’s or meindls, which pretty much only have ankle mobility because of all the fabric and padding around your ankle. As these are barely broken in, I anticipate improvement over time of this.

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They are this flexible from around this point forward. They don’t hinge at this point, it’s just a reflection of my one hand hold for the photo.

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Construction:



They seem to be well constructed. The Rand appears to be rubberized leather and is double stitched. All the leather is good quality, double stitched and the leather liner is supple and soft, The lower laces are fabric loops, I was hesitant about this but based on how pliable they are I believe it’s a better system than metal hardware that would torque on the leather and push in on your foot. The lacing system works very good for my foot, the heel has a good pocket and heel slip/movement is almost non existent for me without having the laces very tight. The whole inside of the boot is leather lined except the inside heel counter, it’s a soft fabric cover. The tongue is gusseted and all the leather on the inside of it is perforated. The outsole is vibram and is soft enough and has plenty of traction. As mentioned they have some level of a defined heel on the outsole while still being zero drop. I anticipate they will play well with gaiters, microspikes and snowshoes when the season comes around. Waterproofing so far has been great out of the box. I’m going to run them untreated as long as possible for testing. But, I anticipate needing at least some leather conditioning to retain waterproofing without a waterproof membrane liner.

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They are very light. Both boots are under 1lb 6oz. They probably weighed less out of the box, as they were used in multiple creek crossings the morning of weighing them, and there is some dirt in the tread. Right boot was lighter, 1lb 5.6oz.

IMG_1923.jpeg

As stated before I’m going to use these a lot, and see how they perform. I’ll update this review as my experience with them evolves. I’m pretty happy with them so far, I bounce back and forth between 8” safety toe work boots, meindl 9” hikers, and barefoot boots/shoes a lot, and sometimes I wish I could blend the two ends of the spectrum a bit better. I’ve been wearing thin soled barefoot type shoes for over 10 years, but the transition into them when I started wasn’t super easy. I think a boot like this might be a better gateway to the barefoot, wide toe box, zero drop boot world than anything else I’ve tried yet. For some it might be as close as they want or need to get to wearing a minimalist boot.



Let me know if this review sucked, if you have any questions, need clarification on anything I’ve stated, or if I can help compare fit or function to any of the other footwear I have on hand as mentioned previously in this post.
 
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This is an awesome review and thanks a ton for doing it! If the construction is solid and durable, I will absolutely have to get a pair sometime
 
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Willyb43

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Thanks, so far they look to be built as well or better than any other major brand of boot I’ve purchased or used. I have pretty high expectations of their durability.
 
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Willyb43

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@Willyb43 , any more use on this boot?
Lots. In addition to my usual routine of hikes with my pointer, I’ve logged 8 days of turkey hunting in them, including a rough rocky belly crawl in to kill a hung up Tom. And our morel season just kicked off here, I’m currently on days off, so I’ve been hiking burns in them for the last 3 days picking mushrooms.

So far my experience with them has been completely unremarkable in a good way. They are completely out of mind for the entirety of the duration I’m wearing them. In my opinion, this is how I judge gear in general, the less I’m thinking about it the better.

Some notes on them in comparison to my vivos, for a point of reference that some might be familiar with.

Warmth:
They are unsurprisingly, warmer than my vivos. I wouldn’t call them a warm boot, but your foot is separated from the cold ground by more rubber than my vivo’s, and the leather lining separates your foot from the cooling sensation that I get when walking through cold wet grass in the morning wearing vivo’s. I don’t view this as either a negative or a positive, depends on the day, conditions or personal preference. Let’s be honest, leather boots aren’t great summer footwear. And neither of these are a “winter” boot.

Grip:
Better grip overall than the vivo’s. The sharper edges and inclusion of a “heel” in the outsole, in my opinion, provide traction advantages in some scenarios. Most of the time there is no practical difference in traction, vivo’s conform to under foot terrain better and have good traction. Hiking in early spring burns for morels, the ground is soft, wet charcoal “mud”, it can be pretty damn slick. This sort of ground scenario in vivos was never treacherous, but the rounded edges, and lack of a heel don’t really “dig” into the ground so your foot slides a lot further than a traditional boot till it digs in and holds you. The BÄR’s are better here, they “dig in” better sidehilling on this type of slick soil, and the heel arrests sliding when heading down an incline on softer, wet, slick soil. The practical tradeoff for me would be that I’m just quieter in vivo’s because of the thin flexible sole. I think my preference leans towards better traction in pretty much every scenario, except maybe still hunting whitetail.

Water resistance:
So far, not much to report. I have done a lot of creek crossings, and wet grass walking in these so far. I think wet grass is a better indicator of water resistance. The top of my foot at the boot/tongue junction gets slightly wet in my vivo’s in this scenario sometimes. It’s usually my indicator that they need a cleaning and treatment, I do this every half dozen uses or so. I have found this to be the same with the BÄR’s, although I have done nothing to them aside from rinsing them off, or cleaning them with saddle soap and a brush. I have applied no water proofing to them and don’t intend to until it’s a real problem. I’m talking about less dampness of my sock than I would experience from sweat when wearing goretex boots. The boots have dried quickly and the leather hasn’t saturated in any scenarios I’ve put them through yet. The big difference VS dampness experienced from sweat in goretex boots, is your sweat is body or foot temp, ingress of external moisture, even a small amount, is cold and you feel it when it happens. To me, these have performed excellent for an non-goretex, untreated leather-lined boot.

Durability:
Nothing to note, they look like new still, and they should. With my usage, I would expect years of service out of boots like this without having anything to note for durability. I’m not particularly easy on my gear, but I do take care of it. They are more comfortable now than when new, yellow sole is still bright and ugly. Leather lining is breaking into my foot like a good work glove. I’ll attach a picture, I just rinsed them off with warm water less than an hour ago, the leather dried fast.


image.jpg
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Willyb43

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How high up does the tongue gusset go on the BAR vs the vivo? Looks pretty similar
Similar spot and height. The thickness of the sole is probably the biggest difference between the heights. The sole of the BÄR is 1cm thicker, and the gusset is about 1.5cm higher as measured from the ground. Both boots have a lower gusset than my Mendel’s and my old crispis.

Vivo gusset 10.5cm
BÄR gusset 12cm
Meindl gusset 20cm (9.5” tall goretex boot)
 
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Similar spot and height. The thickness of the sole is probably the biggest difference between the heights. The sole of the BÄR is 1cm thicker, and the gusset is about 1.5cm higher as measured from the ground. Both boots have a lower gusset than my Mendel’s and my old crispis.

Vivo gusset 10.5cm
BÄR gusset 12cm
Meindl gusset 20cm (9.5” tall goretex boot)

How have these been treating you?

You say you're a US 10 in both these and the vivo tracker esc.... So the fit is pretty well the same between the two? I don't remember my vivo size, but it's pretty dang roomy and I could probably get by w a half size smaller. It's probably sized about right for the absolute thickest of winter wool socks.

I've been considering getting a pair in the next couple weeks to test out on a backpacking trip with my wife.
 
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Willyb43

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How have these been treating you?

You say you're a US 10 in both these and the vivo tracker esc.... So the fit is pretty well the same between the two? I don't remember my vivo size, but it's pretty dang roomy and I could probably get by w a half size smaller. It's probably sized about right for the absolute thickest of winter wool socks.

I've been considering getting a pair in the next couple weeks to test out on a backpacking trip with my wife.
Excellent, I have nothing new to report about them. I did a timed test a few weeks ago standing in a creek. Over 5 min and I had some dampness of my feet inside of the boot but considering they are unlined, the lack of water in the boots after that long was shocking, I would say heavy foot sweat amounts of moisture about what I would get just from wearing goretex boots in those temps. It’s been warm, mid 20’s C, or 75-85F and they are pretty comfortable in thin cool socks. The water repel treatment from factory has been starting to fade, the leather was starting to wet pretty fast. No change I noticed to my feet staying dry, but I have now treated them with a wax to see if it has any downsides to breathability with the warm weather. I haven’t noticed any change since doing it.

The sizing compared to Vivos is similar, I have a picture in my review of the vivo insole under the BAR insole. Very close dimensionally, The vivo insoles only poke out from behind in a couple spots so I guess they are slightly roomier. Both boots are size US10/43. I found the BAR to have a smaller volume compared to Vivo’s, as in from the insole to the top of your foot, esp noticeable in the toe box. They still fit me great but I could see that being a problem for some. For whatever reason I find the vivo’s fit to be a bit more vague on my foot, despite that the dimensions of the insole are very similar. I could also potentially size down my vivo’s a half size because of the fit, I wouldn’t want to size down in the BAR.

I say buy a set, they seem to fit very true to size for me. Boot fit is so subjective, you’ll never know how they fit your feet until you pull the trigger. Their website lists in UK/EU sizes so if you wear a US10 order a 43, I believe they have a sizing chart.
 
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Excellent, I have nothing new to report about them. I did a timed test a few weeks ago standing in a creek. Over 5 min and I had some dampness of my feet inside of the boot but considering they are unlined, the lack of water in the boots after that long was shocking, I would say heavy foot sweat amounts of moisture about what I would get just from wearing goretex boots in those temps. It’s been warm, mid 20’s C, or 75-85F and they are pretty comfortable in thin cool socks. The water repel treatment from factory has been starting to fade, the leather was starting to wet pretty fast. No change I noticed to my feet staying dry, but I have now treated them with a wax to see if it has any downsides to breathability with the warm weather. I haven’t noticed any change since doing it.

The sizing compared to Vivos is similar, I have a picture in my review of the vivo insole under the BAR insole. Very close dimensionally, The vivo insoles only poke out from behind in a couple spots so I guess they are slightly roomier. Both boots are size US10/43. I found the BAR to have a smaller volume compared to Vivo’s, as in from the insole to the top of your foot, esp noticeable in the toe box. They still fit me great but I could see that being a problem for some. For whatever reason I find the vivo’s fit to be a bit more vague on my foot, despite that the dimensions of the insole are very similar. I could also potentially size down my vivo’s a half size because of the fit, I wouldn’t want to size down in the BAR.

I say buy a set, they seem to fit very true to size for me. Boot fit is so subjective, you’ll never know how they fit your feet until you pull the trigger. Their website lists in UK/EU sizes so if you wear a US10 order a 43, I believe they have a sizing chart.
Thanks for the additional info. I checked my vivos again last night and they're 42 (us9). The fit is sort of perfect for allowing a thick wool sock and just a little loose if I was wearing thin hot weather socks. Just about perfect on room in front of my toe.

Using the BAR sizing guide, I'm right in between their size 8 and 8.5, or 42 and 42.5 . I'll have to ponder that. Maybe I'll see what their return shipping policy is for a pair that doesn't fit
 
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Willyb43

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Thanks for the additional info. I checked my vivos again last night and they're 42 (us9). The fit is sort of perfect for allowing a thick wool sock and just a little loose if I was wearing thin hot weather socks. Just about perfect on room in front of my toe.

Using the BAR sizing guide, I'm right in between their size 8 and 8.5, or 42 and 42.5 . I'll have to ponder that. Maybe I'll see what their return shipping policy is for a pair that doesn't fit
Hard to say for sure, but in my experience with size 43’s the fit is almost exactly the same.

My vivo’s fit pretty much the same as you describe your fit, loose with thin socks, snugger with thicker wools. The two boots are far more similar than they are different as far as fit goes.

My recommendation would be to order the 42’s if you like the fit of your vivo’s. See my picture of the insoles stacked in my review for reference. The length is identical, the width is within a 1/8” of each other at the most.
 
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Hard to say for sure, but in my experience with size 43’s the fit is almost exactly the same.

My vivo’s fit pretty much the same as you describe your fit, loose with thin socks, snugger with thicker wools. The two boots are far more similar than they are different as far as fit goes.

My recommendation would be to order the 42’s if you like the fit of your vivo’s. See my picture of the insoles stacked in my review for reference. The length is identical, the width is within a 1/16” of each other at the most.
Awesome. I couldn't tell for sure in your pic, but if the insole length is identical then I'll definitely go with the same vivo size, 42.
 
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I received my order today. Size 42 in gray.

They do seem incredibly well made. When I put them on sale and walked around a bit, my first thought was.... Oh crap they're too small. 40 euro to ship them here. Can't imagine the cost to ship back.

The main problem was that the volume seemed a bit off and my foot had nowhere near the room to wiggle around as they do in the vivo. And yes, that barefoot feeling was gone. The vivos really are like rubber soled moccasins.

I decided to take the insole out to see if they'd be useable without one so I don't lose a ton of money on shipping them back. The insoles in these boots are very thick. About 1/4", with a felt wool type layer on the bottom. I'm wondering if that is to help breathability and drying of the insole/boot/sock. And maybe to provide some extra warmth in the winter. I replaced them with my thin tennis shoes insoles and they're 100% better.

I think there's more ground feel, a noticeably lower stack height, and much more room. I can more comfortably wear thick sock.

I think in a half size larger, the fit would be perfect. Currently, I think it's doable with a thinner insole. So I need to figure out if I'll keep them or sell/return and get a larger size.

These boots do seems awesome and I'm excited to try them sometime soon.

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Hard to say for sure, but in my experience with size 43’s the fit is almost exactly the same.

My vivo’s fit pretty much the same as you describe your fit, loose with thin socks, snugger with thicker wools. The two boots are far more similar than they are different as far as fit goes.

My recommendation would be to order the 42’s if you like the fit of your vivo’s. See my picture of the insoles stacked in my review for reference. The length is identical, the width is within a 1/8” of each other at the most.

Has the insole in yours smashed down and gotten thinner yet? I'm unsure if I want to just throw some thin insoles in and start wearing them, or try to sell them and get a larger size. The felt wool stuff on the bottom seems like maybe it's supposed to serve a purpose so the boots might not perform the same with a cheap thin insole.

Return shipping for an exchange is out of the question. At least a couple hundred dollars. That's crazy.
 
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