Gear Reviews, AMI Style

Quality gear reviews can be so helpful if done properly, especially when prepared by someone trusted. Unfortunately, it can be hard to differentiate between an authentic review and one that is fluffed-up to please a sponsor.

When it comes to testing out gear, we are selective about who we collaborate with. At AMI, we are committed to providing our honest and transparent opinions; we don’t just review gear, we review companies along with the people and stories behind them. Further, we explore whether a collaboration is truly mutually beneficial—for both the company and for the greater AMI community.

When Oakiwear approached us about testing their boots, we did some research before committing and were stoked to see how our two missions aligned.  Ultimately, we chose to try two different styles: the Women’s Oxbow Rain Boots and the Children’s Neoprene Rain/Snow Boots.

Throughout the process, their team was incredible: highly responsive, extremely professional, and pleasantly accommodating to our requests (we had lots of questions and also asked to speak to someone in management beforehand). Below is our complete review followed by the compiled interview answers from Benjamin Brewer, Oakiwear’s General Manager. Enjoy!

Children’s Neoprene Rain/Snow Boot
+ easy to put on, even young kids can do it themselves
+ soft upper which means no shin rubbing
+ easy to clean
– moderately expensive for kid’s bootsgeorge
Women’s Oxbow Rain Boot
+ versatile: great for a walk through the woods or to get groceries
+ easy to layer beneath
+ quick to clean
– not as practical for longer walks or hikingsteen

Children’s Neoprene Rain/Snow Boots, Forest Green

Tested by Georgie Feller (18 months) and reviewed by Stephanie Feller.

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Functionality: When Oakiwear gave us the opportunity to try out their gear, I jumped on the chance to get George into some neoprene boots. We’re always playing outside in mud and water, and we needed something now that he’s toddling around. When we first got them in the mail, we had to wait a bit to give them a try…little Georgie had trouble wearing them since he was still perfecting the art of walking. Now that he’s about 18 months, George can clomp around in them. He still walks around a little funny with them on, but I think it’s because he’s not used the weight. He’s usually wearing lightweight tennis shoes, so it just takes some time to get used to.

It’s easy to put them on with the handles, and he’s able to mostly do it by himself. They hold up great in the elements, and it’s easy to clean the boots off before bringing them inside. George likes to set them next to mommy and daddy’s boots after we’re done playing outside…which is insanely adorable.

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Comfort: I love that they’re soft at the top—it’s a nice change from rain boots with a rough edge. I don’t worry about them rubbing on his legs and causing scratches. He’s always excited to put them on…he knows we’re going outside to do something messy and fun!

Aesthetics: George doesn’t really have much to say about the style (I tried asking…), but I think they’re adorable. I love the forest green color with the black neoprene. Now when I’ve got my green rain boots on, we match!

Value: These boots cost around $45, which is a little harder to spend when your kiddo is growing fast. The quality is great though, so I personally would buy a larger size and wear thicker socks to fill the space. That would give you more time to enjoy the boots without having to buy new so quickly. These are so much better than a big box store boot—and honestly, I always prefer supporting a smaller company, even if it means spending a little more dough.

Women’s Oxbow Rain Boot Grey/Coral

Tested and reviewed by Justine Nobbe.

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Functionality: To start, I should note that I live full-time in a quaint little cabin in the mountains at 8,000 feet. This sets the scene for my entire lifestyle. Every day, I spend time outside hauling in firewood, shoveling snow, running my dogs, hiking with my son, and more. Considering this fact, the first thing I look for in my gear and apparel is functionality. The Oxbow Rain Boot has been a great addition to my shoe repertoire and regularly sits downstairs by the backdoor, ready to quickly be put on.

I’m in and out of the cabin a lot so I appreciate how easy these are to slip into. There’s no lacing or excessive buckling, just jam my foot in and go. They’re waterproof which is an absolute must-have for me—we’ve gotten over a foot of snow in the past 24 hours and it’s still coming down. While the boots are not insulated, I’ve found that if I put on a pair of warm wool socks or leg warmers, I’m comfortable for a long while. The rubber upper is really flexible so layering inside the boots is easy.

If I’m just traipsing and trekking around my property, these work perfectly. They are not designed for longer or more technical hiking so when I hit the trails, I naturally prefer a more substantial boot or trail runner.

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Comfort: These boots are comfortable and easy to wear. The flexible rubber upper means no rubbing on the shins and also makes layering easy. Again, for longer hikes, these naturally aren’t the best option as the flexibility doesn’t support the foot and ankle.

Sizing Notes: These seem to be a narrower boot. If you are in-between sizes, I would recommend sizing up.

Aesthetics: For a mountain girl who isn’t particularly concerned with fashion, I can’t help but feel a little more stylish when I wear these instead of, say,  my Muck boots (that feels hilarious saying!). They could easily be “dressed up” by simply pairing them with a pair of skinny jeans and a cool scarf but they don’t look out of place over a pair of technical pants splattered with mud either, I love that. I imagine if I lived in the city, these would be my go-to boots for a rainy walk to the grocery store or anytime I was walking around town in inclement weather.

Value: At just under $50, it’s hard to imagine a boot that could match both the functionality and price point. Because of their versatility, these would be hard to beat without jumping into a significantly higher price range.

Company and Community

Oakiwear is very involved in the outdoor family community and is committed to making affordable, quality gear that allow kids to comfortably get outside in all conditions. They partner with organizations that are also dedicated to getting families outside which is an added benefit.

Further, before we submit any gear review, we dive deeper into the company and also ask for an interview with someone internal. This allows us to get a more authentic feel for their values, vision, and mission.

Interview with Management

We spoke with Benjamin Brewer, ­Oakiwear’s GM and asked him to tell us more about the company and here is what he had to say:

Oakiwear was started about 8 years ago by a local mom who couldn’t find quality fishing waders and rain gear for her twin boys… She was a go getter, and worked really hard to get Oakiwear to where it is today. Like any small business, we have learned from trial and error. All of the products we have launched have been asked for by our customers… they come from hours and hours of research of kids playing habits and learning the right fabrics. To this day, we value our customer relationships over everything else.

Some of our core values include creating an impression on our customers that will last a lifetime. We care deeply about our customers and we love to go above and beyond to make sure kids feel comfortable in our gear. We’ve gone to great lengths to create sizing charts that make more sense and allow parents to buy the correct size on the first try. Buying for kids can be difficult, and we strive to take the guessing wok out of it. Another value is prioritizing quality. We have turned down a number of opportunities to bring on cheaply made products which would have provided greater profits, that’s just not who we are though. Customers expect all of our gear to hold up, and that means continually making a high quality product to upkeep our customer’s expectations. And finally, affordability is very important to us. Like any well-made product, outdoor gear can be expensive. We want to provide a product that is both functional and affordable.

Our vision is to partner with other brands that have similar visions, such as Hike it Baby, and grow a movement across the country of reintroducing kids and adults to nature. We also want to work with outdoor schools across the country to help them build their programs by supplying affordable gear that will allow the kids to be comfortable in any temperature.

Oakiwear has been different from the beginning. We believe that one of the greatest legacies parents can leave for their children is a love for the outdoors and so we started this company with the purpose of getting kids outside, not to make a profit. Our intent is to create gear that will help children have limitless exploration.

We encourage you to shop small this winter season and find ways to support causes that are important to you. Head to Oakiwear.com to check out more of their awesome products.
IG:  @Oakiwear
FB: facebook.com/oakiwear

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