Some of the best mountain adventures come underfoot when you step off the well-worn footpath and tackle rockier ridges head on. In Alpine regions getting to the foot of crags often includes crossing glaciers or other large expanses of relatively level snow and ice, and it’s this mix of terrain that Hanwag’s Makra Combi is designed for. Equally this type of terrain can be found throughout Britain’s highest mountain regions when the snow arrives in winter. So does this make Hanwag’s Makra Combi a good choice for those heading onto more adventurous British mountain walks and scrambles?
The European Alpine styling of the boot is produced with an upper made from suede, as well as a very durable Cordura synthetic material with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining inside. A high rubber rand encloses the boot for even more durability on rockier ground. Underfoot you get a Vibram Pepe sole unit with well-spaced lugs – wider at the toe – for better control when scrambling or climbing on smaller holds. The boot is stiff enough to be used with C1 flexible crampons, for crossing fairly level snow or glaciers.
The boot is built on Hanwag’s Alpine Wide Last and has a slightly broader forefoot than some other boots of this style, which will be welcomed by anyone who has found other Alpine styles too narrow. On the foot, the fit did feel nice and precise with the big toe area feeling neat to allow more accurate placement on small footholds. Walking along the flat there is a noticeably smooth roll from heel to toe, with a slight rocking action at the flex point, and some good cushioning, which all helps to make a walk-in to the crags easy going. Stepping off the path is what this boot is about, though, and that’s where its credentials begin to show themselves. The stiffness in the sole and upper make the transition from made path to scree path very stable underfoot and you can use the stiff edges and the stiff toe to get a really solid foothold on larger rocks. I could flat foot my way up the bigger slabs in a very secure way, as there is just enough flex in the forefoot to make this comfortable.
Getting onto steeper rock, this boot performs at its best – with the stiffness and feel around the toe making it great for securely scrambling along rocky ribs. It does not feel too clumpy, nor is it too bendy, so overall it feels about right for scrambling. I have used boots with a little more feel under the forefoot but they tend to have less cushioning underfoot or are slightly stiffer, which makes them less suitable for walking on level ground. Like many more scrambling orientated designs, the sole lugs and heel breast are not quite as deep as walking boots, as you need that closer feel to the rock when scrambling. This does mean the boot is not quite as secure as a pure bog-trotting rambling boot on muddy grass slopes. But you can't have everything in one boot and this is a compromise worth making if you’re heading onto rockier ground.
This boot does not feel particularly heavy and is light enough for scrambling along rocky ground. It tips the scales at 1562g for a size 11 pair, which is very respectable, compared to others. Some heavier boots have deeper sole lugs and a stiffer upper, making them more suitable for more challenging terrain. But for those needing a boot for scrambling I’d say the Makra Combi is a good weight. The price may sound steep at first glance, but it’s within a similar range of other boots with its design and performance credentials. So clearly while this is not a budget option it sits well alongside other market leaders.
Weight 1562g (size 11)
Upper suede and Cordura fabric, Gore-Tex waterproof lining
Sole Vibram Pepe
Sizes 6-13 (men’s); 3.5-9 (women’s)
Excellent boot for its intended use of tackling scrambles, via ferrata and other rocky ridges, with the capacity to be fitted with flexible crampons for glacier travel and sections of level snow. Other boots are better for easier terrain, but of course they cannot offer the performance of the Makra Combi on rock.
Features ★ ★ ★ ★
Fit ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Comfort ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
In use ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Value for money ★ ★ ★
Overall score 88%
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2017
This is a stunning boot for anyone tackling more challenging winter mountain terrain and looking for performance, weight and price advantages.Read More
The Asolo Alta Via GV is a good very stiff higher-altitude mountaineering boot, but it is more than winter walkers need.Read More
The Scarpa Manta Pro is the benchmark B2-rated 4-season boot for use in a wide range of typical British winter walking and mountaineering conditions. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade.Read More
The Meindl Jorasse GTX is a superb general winter hillwalking boot that is lighter than some, but also very slightly less precise during foot placement.Read More
The La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX is a men’s lightweight boot that is ideal for more technical ground, but others have smoother flex and comfort for walking.Read More
If you want a good men’s general mountaineering boot for use high on the mountains with crampons the AKU Terrealte GTX is great.Read More
The Salewa Raven 2 GTX challenges higher-priced boots, but it is not the most supportive or durable and may not suit all general winter walkers.Read More
The Hanwag Ferrata Combi GTX is a good general winter walking boot at a good price, but it does not excel in any areas.Read More
If you’re on a budget the Zamberlan Dufur GTX is a good boot but you get better performance if you can pay a little more.Read More
The Mammut Magic GTX is a great boot for general winter mountain walking, and you have to pay a lot more for extra benefits.Read More
The Tor is trail running technology expanded for walkers. Hoka emerged in 2010 with a range of shoes designed to help runners attack nasty descents, so their shoes are based around a hugely oversized midsole that delivers firm foot placement plus lashings of cushioning. The Tor is their first boot, and it definitely works for walkers. Yes it looks odd, and yes you’ll feel slightly too elevated when you first put it on, but get going and you’ll soon see what it gives you. Your feet sit way above the turf, and you may not like the loss of ‘ground-feel’ that this entails. But if you just want to barrel onwards with minimal worry about hard impacts on your feet, the Tor is terrific. It’s also surprisingly well ventilated for such a thickly padded product. Hi-Tec’s Rolling Gait System does something similar, but the Tor weighs a lot less and comes with funky trail running styling. Plus, this is the only style of sole they make, so you know that all their attention was ploughed into it. They won’t suit everyone, but if you hate bumpy rides, look no further.
Sizes: Euro 40-49
Weight: 1012g (pair)
Waterproof/breathable lining: eVent
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 0808 234 0518,
Best for agile walkers who prioritise speed and confidence on rough, tough mountain walks.
As we say every month, these tests aren’t about picking a winner. Except in this case, where the Capra has been such a delight to wear that it would be a crime not to tell you I love it. It’s a solid combination of featherweight swiftness, decent support and adaptability; it just flies over rock, mud and sand. I initially worried it might be too flimsy; the upper is thin (despite containing a Gore-Tex membrane) and it tapers upwards to an ankle cuff with hardly any padding at all. Yet it has a magical degree of sturdiness that has kept my weak right ankle from turning even on chunky boulders. You can find more supportive and protective boots, but probably not with this level of fun. Merrell say it’s ideal for scrambling and that is true; it’s great on Striding Edge. But equally it flounced over Lincolnshire Wolds farmland as well. Taut, grippy, waterproof and fun: that’s a winning mix, whatever your criteria.
Weight: 976g (pair)
Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex
Outsole: Vibram Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 0203 376 2738, www.merrell.com
If you don’t need masses of support and sturdiness, this agile, good-looking boot is near flawless.
It feels like faint praise to say “there’s nothing wrong with this one”. The Erera carried me for miles along muddy South Downs paths and icky clay shorelines, and did a couple of mountain walks too. It’s a mid-cut, so it prioritises speed and lightness over support, and its generous fit will please those with wider feet (narrower feet may slide around a little). Grip is good, lacing is firm and the ankle cuff offers good protection, plus it has Gore-Tex to keep you dry. It’s the perfect mid-range boot in many ways – except perhaps excitement. It lacks the precision of a Meindl, the comfort of a Hi-Tec and the fun of a Merrell, and for me it somehow misses that instant click that comes when you find a boot that really loves you back. But for an all-rounder that will take you anywhere with few or no complaints, give this a try. It will score highly in all departments; I just wish I could love it more.
Weight: 1218g (pair)
Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex
Outsole: Vibram Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 01250 873863, www.aku.it
A perfect all-rounder boot at a very fair price; somehow it lacks a bit of zing, though.
Best Group are new to the market; the name might be awful, but they are aiming to mix it with Hi-Tec and Karrimor in the value market, and on this evidence they make a good case. The RRP may be £130 but most outlets are selling it for £70, and for the amount of features involved that’s a great price. The Spray is the lightest boot here; sleek and well put together, with a flat Vibram sole that does well on country paths. Don’t take it to high ground unless you’re very sure-footed though; the lightness makes it flimsy and there isn’t a lot of ankle support. The own-brand Tepor/Dry membrane is good with water (surviving a full-on dunking) but poor on breathability; your feet will heat up as the day goes on. Overall, you may not feel the reassurance that comes with a name brand at a higher price, but on easier walks it’s a great option, and terrific for just getting you out there.
Sizes: Euro 38-46 Weight: 962g (pair)
Waterproof/breathable lining: Tepor/Dry Outsole: Vibram
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 0191 261 4161, www.wildtrak.com
Light, fun and cheap: great for low-level walks and particularly for newcomers to walking.
If you’ve ever wondered what a benchmark feels like, you’ll find out when you slip these on. Meindl’s Air Revolutions are the boots to beat, and thoroughly justify their price tag. Like the Mammuts, they offer a high-tech ventilation system, but these lose nothing in performance either. The Air-Revo system uses the natural pumping motion of walking to suck air in and out of the boot, ensuring a circulation of freshness around the foot. But by far the most impressive thing about these boots is the way they balance strength with comfort. The outsole is sturdy enough to deal with gnarly terrain, and the suede leather upper combines with the mesh tongue to pull snugly over the foot, holding it in place. But against the rugged exterior comes the soft centre: every part of these boots is luxuriously cushioned. The insole is wonderfully supportive, the ankle cuff is spongy, and even the tongue has removable padding. Compared to their rivals, these are weighty, but who cares when they’re this good?
Sizes: 3.5-10 (including half sizes)
Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: 01539 560214, www.meindl.co.uk
The perfect fabric boot: well-ventilated, comfy and mountain-ready. You’ll wear them everywhere.
These are lightweight but exceedingly comfortable. With the Gore-Tex Surround technology, Mammut have their sights set on ventilation and comfort as opposed to speed. The idea of Gore-Tex Surround is to let the whole foot breathe through a 360-degree ventilation system. It works well – my feet stayed cool even on the big climbs – but there is a trade-off. In order to get the all-round ventilation and comfort, Mammut have sacrificed strength in the midsole and outsole. Although the flex is great, I could feel everything underfoot during rocky sections, and didn’t feel I had the support to venture an easy scramble. Despite that, the sole offers good grip and the ankle is surprisingly sturdy. If you want a comfy boot to romp over grasslands and moors, these are a good bet.
Sizes: 4-8.5 (including half sizes)
Weight: 900g (pair) Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex
Outsole: Gripex Men’s version: Yes
Contact: 01625 508218, www.mammut.ch
Airy, light and comfy with a whizzy ventilation system, but unsuited to the mountains.
The Vorlich is terrific value for money: a fully-featured and very reliable boot engineered by a proper Scottish bootmaker, for the same price as you might pay for one of the nameless basic boots from a high street discount store. It looks terrific, feels comfy and comes with Anatom’s Tri.Aria membrane, which works just fine in heavy wet conditions. The sticky, shallow-cleated Vibram sole is great too, although it’s much happier on rock than in mulchy mud, where it tends to slide around a little. The worry is the lacing: I found it hard to get to get a good, tight fit as the locking eyelets are awkwardly placed and had to be prised open a little to get the lace to sit properly inside. And for a Scottish brand, it’s baffling that they insist on selling them in Euro sizes. These troubles aside, this is a fine boot for UK hills – get the lacing right, and they will last you a good long while.
Sizes: Euro 41-47
Weight: 1298g (pair) Waterproof/breathable lining: Tri.Aria Outsole: Vibram
Women’s version: Yes (Lomond)
Contact: 0800 032 3505,
A superbly-priced boot that is best for hillwalking, if you can get the lacing secure enough.
With the Crossers, Zamberlan have made speed their priority without forgetting to include the essential ingredients which make a good hillwalking boot: namely support and grip. Of all the mountain-worthy boots here, these are the lightest. That makes them excellent for long, tough romps when every heavy step adds up. The heel maintains a good cushion to cope with the high step count while the Vibram outsole is still pleasantly sturdy despite the boots’ featherweight status, offering reassuring grip over rock and coping well over uneven terrain. There have inevitably been some sacrifices, however. Much of the weight has been lost in the upper, with anything resembling padding consigned to the non-essential pile. That means the ankle cuff can dig in when properly laced up, and the lack of cushioning is felt around the top and sides of the foot, where everything seems very roomy and bare. The roominess could also be down to the fact these are unisex boots though, which is good news for the wide-footed lady.
Sizes: 3.5-8.5 (sold in EU sizes)
Weight: 840g (pair)
Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex n
Men’s version: Unisex
Contact: 01665 510660, www.zamberlan.com
Fast and light boots which cover the bare essentials. Excellent for epic days where speed is all.
At first glance there’s nothing amazing about the Rapides apart from their looks, but that might be their secret weapon: they do nothing exceptional but everything well, making them terrific all-rounders. The leather/mesh upper makes them light but firm while the ankle support and outsole are sturdy enough to take on big hills. The central lacing hooks are well-positioned to allow tension to be maintained on the lower boot while relaxing the hold around the ankle if desired. They can’t rival the other sub-£150 boots in the comfort stakes: the insole is nothing special and the ankle cuff can dig in a bit, though this does improve with wear. My feet also weren’t held as securely as in the Oboz boots, with some lateral movement noticeable over rough ground. Overall though, these are steady, well-built and reliable boots – all the qualities needed for a long-term boot relationship.
Sizes: 3.5-7.5 (including half sizes)
Weight: 898g (pair)
Waterproof/breathable lining: HellyTech
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: 0800 142 2210, www.hellyhansen.com
High quality all-rounders which are hard to fault in performance, but slightly lacking in comfort.