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It’s no secret that hiking gear often comes with a hefty price tag, and while you’re often paying a higher price for higher-quality products, you are equally as often paying a higher price for a more recognizable brand name. Nowhere is this truer than in the world of hiking boots, where brands like Merrell, Salomon, and Vasquez dominate the landscape (and those aren’t even the true high-end brands) and can put a good size dent in your wallet with each purchase. While nature has no barriers to entry, having good hiking boots can certainly make the experience more enjoyable, and the folks at Nortiv 8 believe you should be able to do so without the added detriment to your monthly budget.
When I was searching for a new pair of hiking boots, the Nortiv 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof Boots drew my attention for three distinct reasons. First, the boots are simply visually appealing. I’ll admit it, I found the olive green pair with black trim and orange accents to be aesthetically pleasing and who doesn’t like to look fabulous while they’re slogging down the trail? Not to mention, there isn’t an overabundance of the olive green hiking boots to choose from amongst competitive brands. Second, the waterproof aspect of the boots was a huge sell for me. Living in Michigan, at least six months of the year it’s raining or covered in snow (that’s frozen water for you folks in southern states). Oftentimes, hiking boots serve double duty as leaf-raking boots and snow shoveling boots, so having a pair that’ll keep your feet dry is a big win.
Editor’s note: the Nortiv 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof hiking boots also made Task & Purpose’s guide to the best hiking boots of the year.
Finally, the price was right. On Amazon, the Nortiv 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof hiking boots are priced from $56.99 to $61.99, depending on size. On the Nortiv 8 website, the same boots are a steady $65.99 regardless of size. At these low prices, I was immediately skeptical of the boots’ quality. However, their Amazon ratings tell a different story. With 5,401 current ratings, the Nortiv 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof Hiking Boots average in at 4.3 stars. Definitely not bad for being one of the least expensive hiking boots I’ve seen.
According to their website, Nortiv 8 has committed itself to producing high-quality footwear at an affordable price, so when I put their Nortiv 8 hiking bots to the test, it was this “functionality vs. affordability” mindset I approached my evaluation with. Can a quality boot really come with a $65 price tag?
The Nortiv 8 boots arrived in the ultimate no-frills packaging: a plain brown shoebox with no brand markings of any sort. Inside the box, there were no fancy fliers, no branded tissue paper, not even a set of tags on the boots themselves. The only thing that accompanied the boots was a small plastic bag attached to an eyelet, containing a set of extra boot laces. In a market where brand names often dictate price, Nortiv 8 isn’t doing itself any favors for brand recognition, but I guess if you’re going to keep prices low, you have to keep costs low, too. And to avoid sacrificing quality, things like marketing are liable to get the chop.
The first thing I noticed about the Nortiv 8 boots is the slick exterior. The uppers of the boot are made from a combination of synthetic leather, with a sharkskin feel, and a mesh, tear-resistant fabric. The two materials combined give the uppers a feeling of being both rigid and flexible at the same time. As I mentioned earlier, I also appreciated the overall design of the boots from a visual standpoint. For whatever reason, there don’t seem to be a lot of brands offering olive-green color options at the moment, so it was nice to find a pair with a modest look.
Turning the boots over, the tread could best be described as “chunky,” with 5mm lugs for gripping into hills and rough terrain. The tracks between the treads are also textured with a fine grid pattern similar to the mesh fabric on the uppers, leaving very few smooth surfaces on the bottom of the boot. The tread around the outside of the rubber sole sticks out from the sides giving the boots Multi-Directional Traction (MDT) for improved grip during any angled ascents or descents. The front of the boot is covered with a rubber cap to protect the toes, which is good for someone like me who starts kicking roots and rocks on the trail when I get overtired.
For me, though, the inside of the boots were the most impressive. The interior of the boots felt like they were lined with pillows, and the 6mm flexible insole feels more like a Dr. Scholl’s insole than an out-of-the-box, standard-issue insole. When I put the boots on for the first time, I could tell immediately I would have little-to-know friction issues in my normal “hot-spot” areas, which are along the achilles tendon and at the balls of my feet. Even with what seems like an abundance of cushion, the boots remain fairly light, with each individual boot weighing in at 1.5 pounds.
How we tested the Nortiv 8 hiking boots
Though I’ve been a distance runner my whole life, my feet are still fairly susceptible to blisters and other maladies. This is why, when I get a new pair of boots or shoes, I like to break them in slowly and avoid benching myself from working out for days at a time (like I did with a previous pair of boots). The first day I tested the Nortiv 8s, I was going to a 3D archery range with some friends. For those unfamiliar with 3D archery ranges, they are typically set up over a large swath of forest with “lanes” connected by trails. At the end of each “lane” is a three-dimensional, animal target (deer, bear, turkey, boars, sasquatch, etc.), set at an unknown distance. The archers walk the trails to each lane, estimate the distance to the target, and take their best shot.
The course for our particular 3D archery range has trails totaling about 1.2 miles over rutted and rocky terrain, which ended up being a perfect test run for the Nortiv 8s. The boots were a bit rigid at first, but once I was on the trails, I was glad they were. The stiffness of the uppers provided excellent ankle support, which was especially nice for me, as a lifetime of running and rolls has turned my right ankle into a wet noodle. The interior of the boots were soft and pliable, making for a comfortable feel even after the first four hours of wear. The only negative I experienced during the initial test was the heat. It was a 90-degree day, and the boots’ waterproof layers didn’t seem to do much for their breathability.
Stage two of the test was a longer hike with added weight. For this, I chose a five-mile course over mild terrain (fairly hilly, but largely on paved bike trails) and carried a 45-pound hiking pack. To negate the overheating issue, I started the hike at 5:00 a.m., while the temperatures were still cool. Throughout the entirety of the five-mile hike, I experienced no hotspots or blisters, or even a hint of uncomfortable rubbing. And though the Nortiv 8s are meant for off-roading, the 6mm insole provided great cushion and shock absorption when walking on hard-packed or paved surfaces.
Both tests were satisfactory, but there was one aspect of the boot I hadn’t yet been able to test. Were the boots truly waterproof? Two weeks of minimal rain had made it impossible to get out and hike in wet conditions, aside from traipsing through dew-soaked grass on morning hikes. For these boots, I wanted to do it right, so I waited out the mini-drought and finally got my opportunity. The morning after a long, hard rain, I took the boots (and my 45-pound pack) out on a hiking/mountain biking trail here in mid-Michigan. The trail offered plenty for mud, slop, and slick hills, but the Nortiv 8s performed well. The 5mm lugs dug in deep, preventing slipping on large muddy hills, but weren’t so deep as to take too much muck along with me. The layered build of the boots stood up well to the standing water and I went out of my way to slog through as many puddles, ponds, and marshes as I could find. I was mindful not to let the water level over the mostly-gusseted tongue and for this, my feet remained nicely dry.
Throughout it all, the Nortiv 8s have not lost the rigidity of their exterior and not once have I worried about ankle sprains or noticed the slightest inkling of instability. For the final portion of the hike, I performed the patent-pending “Pursued By Rabid Wolves Test,” where you run, pack and all, for as long as you can handle. I fully expected to only run for about 100 to 200 meters, but ended up running the full last mile of my six-mile loop without any discomfort on my feet. Granted, if I were truly pursued by rabid wolves, I’d have been dead a long time ago, but at least I’d have made them work for it.
What we like about the Nortiv 8 hiking boots
As someone with chronic ankle issues, I was particularly impressed with the ankle support provided by this boot. The chosen materials provide a rigid exterior to the boots and, whether intended or not, provides excellent ankle support. Far too often, rigid ankle support often comes at a price and can just as easily mean a stiff, uncomfortable interior that makes the wearer prone to excess friction when neither the boot or the body are willing to give. The Nortiv 8 boots combat this by providing a perfect amount of interior padding that cradles the foot and disperses the foot-to-boot contact, so no one area is getting an excess of contact.
The Nortiv 8s are also incredibly easy to clean. After my childlike day in the mud, my boots were in drastic need of revitalization. The boot’s synthetic leather and micro-mesh exterior are incredibly easy to clean with nothing more than a bucket of water, a medium-firm brush, and about five minutes of spare time. A quick soak and scrub, and they looked just like new again.
What we don’t like about the Nortiv 8 hiking boots
The sizing could have been better for the Nortiv 8 boots. On both the Amazon page and the company page, these boots are only available by full size increments once you get above size 10. As someone that usually wears a 11.5, I was a little weary of getting either an 11 or a 12, but decided to go with the size 11 knowing that a lot of hiking boots are bigger than expected. In the end, I feel like I made the right call even though the size 11s are a bit tighter than desired in the toe box. A size 12 would definitely have been too large. If a size 11.5 would’ve been an option, I think it would’ve been a near-perfect fit.
The only other complaint I have about the Nortiv 8 is the breathability. As I mentioned earlier, my first test of the boots was on one of the hottest days of the summer, and my feet quickly felt the burn. Much of this, I’m sure, is due to the waterproof nature of the boots. Unsurprisingly, if you’re trying to keep water out, you’re going to lose some airflow and ventilation. The Amazon description indicates the uppers of the boots are constructed with a waterproof membrane enclosed between a lining and a foam layer, which are bonded and then sewn together before being inserted into the synthetic leather exterior. All of these layers together are naturally going to decrease ventilation, and I can attest that the foam layer is quite thick which, while providing additional comfort, also hinders breathability.
The Nortiv 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof Hiking Boots are a great, affordable option for hikers who don’t want to spend excess dollars on an equivalent boot with better brand recognition. These boots would also be great for new hikers, as their extra padding and solid build will provide needed support for anyone whose ankles and feet might not be tempered to absorb the rigors of off-road terrain. My recommendation would be to think twice about these boots if you’re planning to hike in excessive heat. All in all, I feel these boots earn the high rating they’ve received and I wouldn’t shy away from seeking out other Nortiv 8 products.
Though the Nortiv 8 hiking boots are marketed as waterproof, the product description on the Amazon page clarifies that they are “4 hour static water-resistant.” So if you’re planning on standing around in ankle-deep puddles for several hours at a time, you might be disappointed.
FAQs about the Nortiv 8 hiking boots
More questions? Here’s Task & Purpose’s additional brief.
Q. How much do the Nortiv 8 hiking boots cost?
A. On Amazon, the boots range from $56.99 to $61.99 depending on the size selected. On the Nortiv 8 website, the boots sell for $65.99, regardless of size.
Q. If the Nortiv 8 boots are only water-resistant, will this resistance degrade over time?
A. The boots also claim a waterproof coating, though there’s little detail given as to what that consists of. The product description does indicate that this coating will wear off over time and should be cured with a spray-on or wash-in revival product for best long-term results.
Q. Do the Nortiv 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof Hiking Boots come in any other colors besides olive green?
A. Yes, the boots also come in black and brown.
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Brett Allen is a humor writer and former U.S. Army Cavalry Officer who served from 2006 to 2010, largely with the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division. The events of his 2009 deployment to the Logar Province of Afghanistan became the inspiration for his recently published debut novel, Kilroy Was Here, which is a dark comedy highlighting the absurdities of war. Brett resides in Ada, Michigan with his wife and kids and is currently working on his next novel. He enjoys all things outdoors to include backwoods camping, backwoods cooking, hiking, and boating, but can more regularly be found mowing, weed whacking, or performing some other form of backbreaking yardwork.