Berghaus Explorer Ridge 2011

Berghaus has for many years produced a number of light and well-priced general walking boots that are collectively called the Explorer range. The Explorer Ridge is the leather option, and it comes with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining as well as a very aggressive outsole, so it should be good for a variety of terrain.

Design
The Berghaus Explorer Ridge is primarily built around a full-grain leather upper, and it is this that adds the essential edge of durability to make this boot more suitable for scampering over rockier ground. The upper is made from a series of panels, rather than one piece of leather, which helps to keep the price down, although potentially it could reduce durability and perhaps adds to the weight (this is the heaviest boot here). The tongue and collar cuff are made from fabric, which helps to distance it from a more traditional ‘brown leather boot’ style. But there are functional features too, as the upper is relatively stiff and supportive, particularly at the toe and heel. Underfoot there is reasonable stiffness in the sole as well as a good aggressive series of lugs to keep a grip in mud.

On the hill
In use the Berghaus Explorer Ridge is a very comfortable boot straight from the box. The fit is slightly broader than some others here, and each step feels pretty stable so generally this will be great for walking on paths. That broader fit does not feel quite as precise as some others when scrambling, though, so this is not the best option if you prefer to clamber up rock rather than walk over it. Equally, while sole stiffness is okay, there are others here that are stiffer and they feel even better on rockier ground. But the outsole is particularly good for keeping a grip on mud and on soggy moors as it really can bite into soft surfaces very well. The deep gaps between the horizontal lugs tended to trap small stones easier than rounded lugs. However, these lugs also look like they will provide longer-term wear than some others. The boot performed well though for general valley and hill-walking in dry and wet conditions. So it feels like a great option as long as that weight is not too overbearing for you and you don’t need extra performance on rock.

Upper full-grain leather, synthetic tongue, Gore-Tex waterproof lining
Sole Berghaus sole with PU cushioning
Sizes 39-47 (men’s); 36-42 (women’s)
Weight 1420g (pair, size 46)
Made in Europe
Stores in the UK unknown
Stockist details (0191) 516 5700; www.berghaus.com

The Berghaus Explorer Ridge has a very aggressive outsole lug pattern with deep heel breast provides impressive grip; more stylish than a traditional brown leather boot; relatively broad forefoot is comfortable and provides a stable foot placement.
However it’s the heaviest boot in the test; more complex upper construction may reduce durability; does not have the precise feel of others for scrambling. In summary it’s a good general boot for path walking in valleys or on moors and mountains, but relatively heavy when compared to other lightweight options.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine July 2011