When I go hunting on the Big Island of Hawaii, I hunt on the backside of an active volcano. Getting there requires a four wheel drive truck, a dirt bike, and some gnarly hiking before I can take a single shot. Here on the slopes of volcanic Mauna Loa, the prey of choice is Mouflon, a beautiful wild sheep that’s just really partial to barren rockscapes. So getting up to where they hang out is an exercise in endurance, a test of feet, and this time, a test of Lalo Shadow Intruder boots.
8″ Lalo Shadow Intruder First Impressions
I wanted to see how they held up against our volcanic mountain! If you’ve kept up with Jonathan’s global Lalo footwear reviews, you know he loves them. But as you’ll see, our Hawaiian terrain is no walk on the beach and is quite unlike anything he’d already tested with the Lalos. This wouldn’t be an easy test. You could color me a little hesitant at the outset. Literally, I had zero time break in or even try out my new Shadow Intruders before the hunt. Knowing the terrain and how many miles I’d be going in them, it seemed a bit risky.
But after the first minute of wearing the Shadow Intruders, my concern faded. The Lalo boots were just so comfortable, straight away! They had a perfect combination of fat, juicy padding, but at the same time felt incredibly firm and supportive. At first glance, that seems like a contradiction, right? Well, hang with me here…
Having cinched the Shadow Intruder laces to a comfortable tension I discovered a most welcome feature: A pocket at the top of the tongue designed to store the tied laces! Talk about peace of mind! No worries about cutting the laces on our sawtoothed moonrock like lava, or tripping due to them getting caught, etc. Moreover, I ride a dirt bike to access our hunting area. Laces sucked into chain sprockets generally don’t make for good days. The Lalo Intruders were already making me smile.
After thrashing the 4×4 truck as far as we could before the road became impassable, we unloaded the dirt bikes and carried on. Now every good rider knows that when the terrain gets rough, you can’t sit in the seat, you must stand on the footpegs, soaking up the bumps with your legs and trying to stay balanced. The ride deeper into the Hawaiian wilderness is the definition of rough.
Shadow Intruder for Overland Dirt Biking?
Standing up for essentially the whole hour-long ride is tiring enough, but when you’re loaded down with a gun, camping supplies, backpack… Well, it’s a little crazy. There’s a lot riding on and in whatever footwear you have. Not to mention, we’re navigating some of the roughest terrain Hawaii can throw at you and it could be bone dry or soaking wet. We’re not talking the beach here, it’s lava paths, steep drops, there’s just no avoiding the constant washouts and wheel deflections requiring you to suddenly ram your foot down to the ground in an attempt to keep from falling over. This is no place for rookies.
Suffice it to say, I loved the ankle support of the eight inch Lalo Shadow Intruder for the long standing ride and those near-crash catches. All the while dabbing my foot down into the rocks at speed. I felt the “springiness” offered by the rigid plate in the sole (or whatever other magic is hidden there). “Less jarring” is probably a good way to describe the benefit of the Lalo boots here. Putting a foot down while careening around corners proves less jarring than what I’m used to in a standard hiking boot.
Lalo vs. the Volcano
But that part of the journey was only the beginning for my feet: Once we reached the end of the motorcycle trail, we were at the bottom of our favorite hunting area. But there’s no way we can take the bikes up.
Because now we’re crossing what Hawaiians call “A’a” (Ah, Ah,) lava rock.
Walking on A’a is something similar to walking on chunks of broken glass ranging from grapefruit to smart-car in size. It’s brittle, loose, jagged, and often has air pockets beneath which can make the surface rocks suddenly drop or roll underfoot. There’s no such thing as a trail up there. It’s just down to every man and his feet, and choosing a route that looks least likely to end in a twisted ankle or bloody fall. This terrain tests any boot and sole, not to mention any feet!
We can put in a good 3-4 miles in an afternoon on the lava rock slopes, and if we are doing things right, half that time we’re carrying 60 lbs of meat on our backs. That might not sound like a lot to flat land hunter, or even a Rocky Mountain adventurer in the continental 48 states.
However, after two miles and three hours of it my feet are usually screaming! For every step, all your weight is focused on one or two points of your foot, since the ground consists of only jagged rock points. Foot fatigue for me is just something that comes with the territory!
So imagine my surprise when after three hours of grinding through the lava fields, I suddenly realized my feet feel great! No foot pain, my usually ever present partner after these hikes.
Sore all over from a good strenuous hike, I expected that. But the pointed, throbbing of my feet from the abusive terrain just wasn’t there! The Lalo composite plate in the Intruder sole provides so much rigidity that the boot didn’t just bend and succumb to every rock point I stood on; it distributed the pressure all evenly across the bottom of my foot.
Final Thoughts on the Lalo Shadow Intruder Boots
At the outset I was a little nervous about taking these boots on a hunt like this; Mauna Loa eats boots and feet for breakfast, lunch and dinner! But boy did the Shadow Intruders come through! And by the way, these are very similar to the Lalo Shadow Amphibian Boots our Publisher Jonathan reviewed. So if you want to compare to see which would be better for your use, check out his review, “Testing the Lalo Shadow Amphibian Boots Across Three Time Zones.”
At the end of the day, my favorite thing about the Lalos? My feet didn’t hurt! My feet always hurt on hunts like this. Not anymore, baby. Because next time Mouflon need slaying at the Volcano, I’m not going without my 8″ Shadow Intruders.
About the Author: Josh Harmsworth lives and works out of Kona Hawaii. An avid meat hunter and global adventurer he works as a film maker and volunteers with YWAM.