AKU SuperAlp GTX (2014)

Features

The upper is made from 2.6mm nubuck leather with a Gore-Tex lining, and this is all protected by a wide rubber rand that encloses the boot. There is hardly any stitching on the upper, so little chance of leaks or wear and tear damage. Underfoot is a Vibram sole unit with a good set of widely spaced lugs for general mountain use. 5/5

Fit

The AKU SuperAlp GTX is available for men in size 3-13 and for women in sizes 3-8, which is a wider range than most boots offer. This model has a good general fit for walkers as it does not have the narrow toe or flat stiffer sole of more climbing-orientated designs, and the laces run smoothly to allow a good fit. 5/5

Comfort

This feels great straight from the box, in part due to the fit but also thanks to the weight and the good use of cushioning, which mean it does not feel restrictive or ‘pinchy’ anywhere. The sole and upper are slightly softer than some other boots as well, and this does make it feel more comfortable than stiffer boots. 5/5

In use

In my view the flex is very slightly soft to be perfect for 3-4 season use, although it does depend where you want the bias – softness for below the snowline, or stiffness for above the snowline. The sole feels very slightly less stable on uneven ground, so you don’t quite get that stable footing of the best 3-4 season boot here. 4/5

Value

The performance is almost as good as the best boot here but it has a lower price tag. 5/5

Verdict

The AKU SuperAlp GTX is one of the best 3-4 boots in our test and slightly lower in price, making it a winner. It received Trail’s ‘Best Value’ accolade.

4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

Published in Trail magazine December 2014

footwear

3-4 season

men’s + women’s

Price £230

www.thenorthface.com/eu

The North Face Verto S4K GTX 2014

Features

The stylish upper of the The North Face Verto S4K GTX is modern with synthetic materials including a rand, a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and a high ankle cuff. There is a gaiter on the ankle cuff to help keep debris at bay. The outsole is Vibram with a smooth climbing zone under the toe and slightly shallow but well-spaced lugs and a minimal heel breast. 5/5

Fit

This boot is available in men’s sizes 6-13 and women’s 3-9, with a close fit that feels slightly more precise and neat at the toe and forefoot than some wider and more spacious options. The ankle cuff is a good height but there is enough flex here to allow a close but not restrictive fit. The outsole feels stiff and flat, rather than being precurved as some are.  4/5

Comfort

The fit is precise and slightly narrow at the toe, so it naturally feels less comfy than a more spacious boot. The weight of only 1764g (pair, size 11) does add to the overall comfort though. There is good padding throughout and nothing digs in so it is really only the neat, climbing-orientated design that impacts on the overall comfort. 4/5

In use

The widely spaced lugs have a shallower design than some, making this best for climbing or mountaineering rather than pure walking on softer ground or soft snow without crampons. But when climbing on rock it feels great. The flex in the sole is ideal for climbing too, but when walking others with more curvature in their sole are better. 4/5

Value

A reasonable price, but the The North Face Verto S4K GTX is not the best option if you are really tight on cash. 4/5

Verdict

A mountaineering-orientated design that’s also a good lightweight option. 

4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

Published in Trail magazine December 2014

footwear

3-4 season

men’s + women’s

Price £245/225

www.scarpa.co.uk

Scarpa SL Activ/Mythos Tech 2014

Features

The Scarpa SL Activ/Mythos Tech is a quintessential 3-4 season boot with a robust design. The full leather upper with minimal stitching and rubber rand offers great protection. The ankle cuff has a V-Flex design to allow forward flex. Underfoot there is a stiff sole unit with deep, well-spaced lugs for grip on a wide variety of terrain. There’s no Gore-Tex waterproof lining though. 5/5

Fit

The Activ fit improves comfort straight from the box to make it feel less traditional than appearances might suggest. The SL Activ boot comes in men’s 41-46, with the women’s version being the £225 Mythos Tech in sizes 37-42. There is more stiffness than in some boots, but there is some precurvature that makes this fit the foot neatly. 5/5

Comfort

At 2192g (pair, size 46) the Scarpa SL Activ/Mythos Tech should feel heavy but as the comfort from the internal padding, the shape of the fit and the ankle flex are all so good, it does not. In fact it feels very comfortable and precise on the foot, with a surprisingly natural gait when walking below the snowline. 5/5

In use

The flex is ideal for scrambling and edging on snow, while the toe-to-heel flex is just enough to allow toe edging on snow while being ideal for rockier ground. Below the snow there is enough curvature in the sole combined with the toe flex to allow easy walking. Thanks to the rubber rand and minimal stitching, water is kept at bay. 5/5

Value

The Scarpa SL Activ/Mythos Tech will last for many years so great value if you use it regularly, but it’s not cheap. 4/5

Verdict

The Scarpa SL Activ/Mythos Tech is the definition of 3-4 season performance, unless you also want a waterproof lining. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ award.

4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

Published in Trail magazine December 2014

footwear

3-4 season

men’s + women’s

Price £275

www.lasportiva.com

La Sportiva Cube GTX 2014

Features

The upper is made with a seamless construction method that incorporates a QB3 waterproof material with a thermoplastic covering through which the eyelets are formed. A deep rubber rand encloses the boot and there’s a very aggressive Vibram sole unit with deep, widely spaced lugs underfoot and a smooth climbing zone under the toe. 5/5

Fit

The La Sportiva Cube GTX  is available in sizes 37-48 for men and 36-42 for women. The fit is neat and precise and narrower than some, particularly at the toe. The ankle cuff is slightly lower than most other boots here but is slightly more restrictive too as it does not flex like some options. Overall this gives the boot a feeling of a closer fit. 5/5

Comfort

There is less padding but the neat fit is comfortable. As the toe area is slightly less spacious it feels more restrictive. This boot only weighs 1736g and this improves the comfort as it does not feel ‘clumpy’. This boot is stiffer than most 3-4 season boots and is more of a 4-season boot, which makes it less comfortable when walking below the snowline.  4/5

In use

The 4-season stiffness makes the La Sportiva Cube GTX ideal for use on snow when edging and kicking the toes in. Also its neat and precise toe area is ideal for scrambling, climbing and mountaineering. Add in that low weight and this boot is stunning for use on snow. But that stiffness limits comfort and performance below the snow, making it feel ‘clumpy’ compared to softer-flex boots. 4/5

Value

The La Sportiva Cube GTX is a great price for a stiff boot of this weight, but for 3-4 season use you needn’t spend £275. 3/5

Verdict

A superb 4-season mountaineering boot, but below the snow others are better overall.

4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

Published in Trail magazine December 2014

footwear

3-4 season

men’s + women’s

Price £280

www.meindl.co.uk

Meindl Jorasse GTX 2014

Features

The bright upper is made from leather and synthetic material with a double tongue design and elasticated cuff on the ankle for more comfort and protection. A deep rubber rand encloses the boot, which boasts a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. Underfoot you get a very aggressive Vibram sole unit with deep lugs. 5/5

Fit

The Meindl Jorasse GTX comes in sizes 6-12 for men and 3.5-8 for women. The boot is higher-volume than others, allowing plenty of space on top of the foot with a generally spacious feel at the toe while being closer in the forefoot. The double tongue allows the top of the boot to be neatly laced to hold the foot. 5/5

Comfort

This does feel great on, with generous padding noticeable on the top of the foot while a gentle curve to the sole improves comfort further. This boot only weighs 1908g (pair, size 11) and feels good because of that. It is however much stiffer in the sole than most other boots here, which makes it less comfortable for walking. 4/5

In use

The Meindl Jorasse GTX’s stiffness is more like a 4-season boot than a 3-4 season boot, which means you get superb performance on the snow and ice, and indeed you could wear it for glacier crossings and all-day use on challenging snow. But below the snow the ‘clumpy’ feel due to the stiffness of the sole is a drawback. Best used as a 4-season boot. 4/5

Value

The price is great for the extra stiffness, but 3-4 season performance is available for less. 3/5

Verdict

The Meindl Jorasse GTX  is too stiff for 3-4 season performance so best suited to use on the snow rather than off it.

4.3/5

Review by Graham Thompson

Published in Trail magazine December 2014

Verdict

The AKU SuperAlp GTX is one of the best 3-4 boots in our test and slightly lower in price, making it a winner. It received Trail’s ‘Best Value’ accolade.

4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

Published in Trail magazine December 2014

www.aku.it

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