Established in Rockford, Michigan, Wolverine made the original boots that helped build the railroads, erect skyscrapers, and expand highways across this great country.  For more than 125 years the brand has been an icon in the American Footwear industry producing dependably rugged reliable footwear for the American worker.

New for Spring, Wolverine is releasing the Pulsar low cut hiking shoe – the first Wolverine hiking shoe to incorporate GoreTex waterproofing, Vibram treads, Ortholite Insoles, and the patented Wolverine ICS™ (Individual Comfort System).

Built to provide support and protection from the elements this is a low cut hiker that looks ready and willing to tackle day hikes and weekend excursions over a world of trails, scrambles and descents.  But is the shoe up to the task?

Wolverine Pulsar ©Ryan Eisberg

The longer the trail, the more comfort you want you shoes to provide.  Towards those ends, the Pulsar features the patented Wolverine ICS™ (Individual Comfort System) technology, which allows wearers to dial in their personal level of comfort.  This is accomplished by adjusting the gel disc under the Pulsar’s performance OrthoLite® footbed.  The result is an easily customized comfort zone and reduced fatigue so you can stick it out on the trail a few more hours.

A Vibram® rubber lug outsole is durable enough for seasons of enthusiastic abuse while the burly toe rand protects those tender toes from rocks, roots, and other obstacles in the trail.  Moreover the Pulsar offers great torsional stability along with a sole stiff enough to support moderate loads for those days you plan on pushing deeper into the backcountry.

If the conditions get wet and sloppy, you can put your faith in the breathable GORE-TEX® waterproof lining which ensures that a little rain never again need keep you from the trail.

ICS: Individual Comfort System ©Ryan Eisberg

Natural phenomenas of nature helped forge the Chinese philosophy that teaches to everything there is a Yin and a Yang – a positive and a negative.  The world of outdoor gear is no different, so let’s break down the pro’s and con’s of the Pulsar….

The Yin..

  • There is no greater way for a company to demonstrate their own confidence in a product than backing it with a quality guarantee.  Wolverine assures wearers they can be confident in their purchase offering a 30 day comfort guarantee on the Pulsar.
  • Design-wise, the Pulsar’s layout maps the natural contours of the foot to a seemingly greater degree than other shoes in this category, providing for a secure fit in the heel and throughout the boot.
  • Low profile tread is as aggressive as it is aesthetically pleasing (then again maybe I’m the only one who admires a quality tread design).  The vibram outsole stuck and grabbed in every terrain while avoiding sucking up dirt and grime that weighs you down.  Job well done.
  • The Pulsar is a solid enough boot to accommodate a wide array of skill levels.  From the novice day hiker to the more adventure savvy weekend warrior, the Pulsar has enough features to satisfy your skill set.

The Yang..

  • The Pulsar does offer enough features to warrant the $160 price tag.  That being said, that price point puts it on the higher end of lowcut hikers.   Especially when one considers there are quality midcut hikers available for the same price or less.
  • Due in part to a slightly heavier weight (15 oz for average size 9) and stiffer outsole the Pulsar lacks the more nimble nature of other shoes in this category.  In fact, the  shoe is nearly as heavy as some “light weight” hiking boots.
  • While the ICS system provides tremendous customized comfort, it comes with two downsides:
    • A thicker midsole which removes the foot further from the trail eliminating a more natural contact with the ground which some hikers might prefer.
    • It also makes the heel feel as though it rides shallow, preventing a secure locked in feeling in the rear of the shoe on steep ascents.

The Yang of Fit…

  • The ultimate oddity is Wolverine’s sizing system which is listed a full size smaller than the standard foot size.  For example, I’m a size 13 but tested a size 12 Pulsar hiker.  While definitely not a game changer, it’s a frustration that will cause some people difficulty in the order process.
  • Wolverine deserves credit for providing a design that more closely maps the layout of the foot.  However, the shoe may hug a little tight midfoot region for those with a wider foot.  If that is you, opt for the wide version.
  • The Pulsar does offer a slightly stiffer ride, which is good for those weekend excursions when you’re packing a light load but may not provide the flexibility some would desire in a lowcut hiker.

In closing, the Pulsar from Wolverine does offer a tremendous number of mountain worthy features, and the patented ICS system will win over many.  Far more advanced than your typical multi-sport shoe, the Pulsar will be a welcome addition to those looking for more support in a hiking shoe.  If however your outings include tackling steep ascents, you’ll need to give this shoe a pre-purchase try in-house to make sure it meets your specific needs and fit requirements.


Manufacturer: Wolverine
Date available: Spring 2012
Manufacturer’s Website: Wolverine
MSRP: US $160
Listed Weight: 15oz
Materials: Wave mesh lining with GORE-TEX® waterproof membrane, Ortholite® footbed, Vibram® rubber lug outsole
Size/Model tested: 12 Pulsar Model W20067
Warranty info: 30 day comfort guarantee
Colors Available:  Yellow, Black, Red, Blue, Black


©Ryan Eisberg

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