Our First Gear Review: Meet the Forsake Pilots
When you're an outdoorsman, hiking boots are a necessity. Often they are not the prettiest of shoes and they can be quite utilitarian in their construction and aesthetic. As a guy who is cost-conscious, looking for practical and durable gear, I look for rock clothes that can take a beating in the outdoors, but still look good when I hit the streets. Last April, I fired up a Google search for “stylish waterproof hiking boots” (Hey, I’m not ashamed to admit it) and after scrolling through some repugnant offerings, I discovered Forsake. Their website showcased idyllic images and videos of bros taking on various forms of terrain; creeks, snow-laden trails, mountains, skateparks, and approaches to crags while rocking stylish shoes.
They could be described as a cross of a pair of Jordans, skate shoe meets a Timberland hiking boot. My interest was piqued, but as a team rider for Boteboards, American Canoe Association SUP instructor, hiker, rock climber, and an outdoor adventure enthusiast, you really can’t afford to go off pictures when it comes gear. You really have to do your homework. So, I researched the company and found out it was founded by Jake Anderson and Sam Barstow, young guys who had spent years working out west at ski resorts to earn their keep and get their stoke on the slopes, who like myself, did not like to wear clunky-looking hiking boots. The duo worked together and created their line of shoes back in 2012, which now includes the Hiker, Pilot II,Thurston, Lockout, Clyde, Banks, and Mack which they have touted can withstand harsh mountain conditions all the while looking good at the same time.
I decided on a pair of their (now discontinued, they have been redesigned into the Pilot II) Forsake Pilot I with the grey/cobalt leather colorway and a few days later they arrived at the Daniel Boone Trading Post. I was staying in the Red River Gorge working on a video about rock climbing for Kentucky Tourism at the time and relied on the Trading Post for my mail and provisions. As I unboxed them, I fell in love as I had never encountered a better-looking hiking boot. I was instantly impressed with the craftsmanship and outdoor industry standard features: waterproof/breathable membrane and taped seams.
But these aren't shoes meant just to look good, they are meant to get down and dirty, so I put them to the test in some of Kentucky’s rugged terrain. I wore them on approaches to climbs, while hiking the trails of the Red River Gorge, wading through the Red River pulling canoes and kayaks out of the water at my P/T job at Red River Adventure. They had no problem as I ran Floyds Fork during Class I-II conditions, as I shot hoops at Miguel’s Pizza, strolled around downtown Louisville or during my trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida cruising around on my longboard. My feet have stayed dry and blister-free as I have moved with ease on technical terrain.
And people that I encounter often ask about my shoes saying; “What are those?” " are those sneakers? ", etc and I’m happy to share about this company as I can count on Forsake to make my feet feel comfortable with the proper support around my ankles with the awesome metal lacing loops that I love. My only complaint? It’s trivial as it doesn’t affect the shoe’s performance, but the leather can get scuffed easy but this was addressed with the Pilot II. Also the shoes are waterproof to an extent... they are not meant to take a fully submerged dunking off a SUP board when you make the wrong maneuvers while running a rapid like I have several times.
To date I have 600+ miles on these shoes and I must share with y’all that they are just as durable and fly as when I set out on my first adventure with them. My Forsake Pilots have accompanied me on miles of day hikes, climbs, paddles, urban exploring, and daily use with plenty more miles to go.
There is no doubt, these shoes will take me through this new year with goals like completing the 319 mile Sheltowee Trace Trail, the 42 complete miles of the Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail, or getting back into in downhill longboarding. I firmly recommend you consider Forsake for all of your adventures.
See you on the trail,