The Peakfreak IIs shine on long, fast day hikes over a range of terrain types, regardless of whether it’s raining buckets, or the trails are sweltering in the sun. Their exceptional fit makes them feel like an extension of the foot, while the cushioning is enough to be comfortable while still allowing you to respond to the terrain beneath your feet. It’s difficult to pick fault when it comes to the day hiking application they were designed for – they’re simply very good hiking shoes.
Exceptional fit and feel
Evening ready good looks
Grippy outsole gives confidence
Reinforced in the right places
Not as light as some
Not suited to winter
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Columbia Peakfreak II Outdry Waterproof Walking Shoe: first impressions
While Columbia’s original Peakfreaks had a subtle, leathery kind of charm, the IIs are a little more ostentatious, with their colorful (unless you choose the ‘Black, Shark’ option) sneaker like appearance. Leather has made way for a seamless mesh upper enhanced with Columbia’s renowned OutDry waterproofing technology. This all gives the Peakfreak IIs a stylish and modern appearance that’s just as at home in the bar afterwards as it is on the trails.
However, as the old saying goes: true beauty is on the inside. So, what are the Peakfreak IIs like to wear? Well, they’re wonderfully comfortable straight out of the box. A single density foam midsole gives ample cushioning, just enough to provide comfort while still allowing the foot to respond to the terrain. Then you’ve got the Navic Fit lacing system, which locks the midfoot down, holding everything securely in place.
This all adds up to a hiking shoe that feels like an extension of your foot, rather than the clunky, chunky protective shields that some hiking shoes feel like. Here, you’ve got trail running shoe style responsiveness blended with the kind of toe and heel protection you’d expect from a boot. Nowhere does the Peakfreak II feel clunky and nowhere does it feel to flimsy. It’s perfectly proportioned for an exceptional hiking fit.
List price: £115
Materials: Polyester upper and lining / PU footbed / POE midsole / rubber outsole
Weight (per shoe): 406g / 14.3 oz
Colors: Men’s: Petrol blue, Black / Black, Shark / Black, White / Graphite, Warm Copper / Women’s: Black, Ti Grey Steel / Black, White / Monument, Wild Fuchsia / Cordovan / Dark Coral
Best for: hill and mountain day hikes, as well as approach routes up to low alpine
Columbia snapped up OutDry Technologies, who were originally an Italian company, just over ten years ago after using them in a pair of their Mountain Hardwear brand’s gloves. This award-winning waterproofing tech has been a mainstay in their products ever since and the Peakfreak IIs are no exception.
As well as being waterproof, the upper features a breathable mesh construction that stops the feet from overheating when the going gets strenuous or when the sun’s rays are bouncing off the trails. Basically, they’re a great choice whether you’re heading out in April showers, July heat or October downpours.
The rubber outsole features Columbia’s proprietary AdaptTrax traction technology, named for the way it adapts to both slick and dry surfaces. Deep hexagonal lugs featuring embossed chevrons give plenty of grip on muddy terrain, while there’s enough sticky rubber to give a good degree of confidence when smearing on rock slabs.
Easy rock scrambling is no problem for the Peakfreak IIs, though once you start going up the grades, a designated approach shoe would give more confidence on trickier ground. However, the Peakfreak IIs do feature a loop on the ankle for attachment to harnesses and the like.
Columbia Peakfreak II Outdry Waterproof Walking Shoe: on the trails
I found the Peakfreak IIs to be ideal for the sort of day hiking trips where I was placing comfort at the top of the agenda. Sometimes, I hike in trail running shoes simply because I like to go fast, light and occasionally burst into a bit of a run if the mood takes me. However, the downsides of this approach are that I often end up with sodden feet and my soles and toes can get a little achy after a really long day on mixed terrain.
So, on the kind of summit bagging days where I want to take it a little easier – hiking fast but not necessarily running – the Peakfreak IIs are a great choice. On warm days, their breathable mesh meant my feet didn’t overheat and on rainy days my feet were kept dry. The outsole kept a steadfast grip on a variety of surfaces; at no point can I remember my foot slipping on the terrain.
The reinforcements around the toes and heel mean that, if for some strange reason I wanted to, I could kick boulders to my heart’s content and barely feel a thing. However, the protection doesn’t extend right the way around the foot, so don’t expect invincibility when wedging them in between sharp rocks on scrambling terrain.
It’s difficult to pick fault when it comes to the day hiking applications the Peakfreak IIs were designed for. For those who value speed, there are slightly lighter, more minimal options out there, even some with waterproof qualities. Of course, being a mid-cut hiking shoe, the Peakfreak IIs don’t offer the same ankle protection as a hiking boot, so aren’t ideal when carrying a heavy load over rough terrain. They’re also not suited for adventures above the snow line, being without the kind of rigid, crampon-compatible outsole of a winter hiking boot.
Alex is a qualified Mountain Leader, adventure writer and content creator with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He is currently the President of the London Mountaineering Club, training to become a Winter Mountain Leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and hoping to scale more Alpine 4000ers when circumstances allow. Find out more at www.alexfoxfield.com (opens in new tab)
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