Monday, April 17, 2017

Hiking Boot Review - New Balance 703

Last edited on April 17, 2017

I bought a pair of New Balance 703 lightweight hiking or walking boots a number of years ago. They got plenty of hard use over the years and I was and still am happy with them. As of my last hike, ( the boots are showing signs of wear and tears that made me buy a new pair of New Balance hiking boots.

Tim Bondy's Retired New Balance 703 Hiking Boots

Mountain Tops To Owyhee Canyons and Everywhere In Between

To the best of my recollection, I believe I bought the New Balance 703s at Cabela's in Boise, Idaho during the spring of 2014 or about three years ago. They've taken me on fishing trips, gold panning adventures, many rockhounding outings and of course countless hikes and microadventures during that time. And they held up rather well.

The Pro's

  • Comfort: The boots fit my fat feet. For the first time in my life, I found a boot that didn't squeeze my toes together and blister them up after a long hike. The size 11, Quad E width has a toe-box made for wide feet like mine.
  • Weight: The 703s are light. As we should know by now, the lighter the shoe the less effort required to move them forward. There is a trade-off between light and longevity and New Balance seems to have done that balancing trick pretty well with this model.
  • Longevity: I rode those boots hard and put them away wet quite often and they still lasted a full three years. 
The wavy shoe laces were not my favorite feature of the 703s

The Con's

  • Shoe Laces: The "Sure Lace" reciprocating wave pattern shoe laces never impressed me and made me actually wonder if they were some kind of product defect. In any case, they wore out shortly before the boot finally gave up on me. I put traditional boot laces in them towards the end. Some things just can't be improved upon and traditional shoe laces are one of those items.
  • The Tread: The tread was the first thing to start wearing out on the New Balance 703s. But right to the end of its hiking life, there were no holes on the bottoms. 
The New Balance 703: A 5-star product.

Calling All Manufacturers - A Complaint

The wilds of the western part of the U.S., especially the high desert and sagebrush steppe environment has a lot of cheatgrass on it. Those cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) seed pods have small barbs that allow them to automagically attach themselves to the inside lining of most hiking boots.

Idaho cheatgrass attaches to boot linings 

Those pods, once they get into the lining, then poke and itch the ankle and heel during the rest of the hike. Then the process of removing the pods begins. I try to remove them before heading home because once they get home, the chances of them dispersing into the wind increases exponentially. Yes, I have cheatgrass growing in my yard.

So hey ... bootmakers? Find a lining that doesn't automagically attract cheatgrass seed pods.

My New New Balance Boots

I wasted no time in ordering a pair of New Balance Men's MW1400 Trail Walking Boot. Hopefully, they will be just as comfortable as my 703s were.

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Originally published on April 17, 2017.


Tim Bondy
Freelance Writer & Citizen Journalist

I am currently a proud citizen journalist, aka "enemy of the American People!"

P.S. There are no stores in Mountain Home, Idaho to buy quality hiking boots. Boise or Twin Falls are the closest locations to buy most of your outdoor equipment.

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