Mid-cut Hiking and Backpacking Boots for Wet Rocks

November 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

 

My last few boots have been Salomon Quest 4D GTX (i and ii) boots: there is a lot to like.  The mid-cut Salomons fit my feet well, are comfortable, provide good ankle support and are grippy on most surfaces.  However, they have one huge flaw: they are extremely slippery and even lousy on smooth wet rocks.  So slippery, in fact, that on a recent trip to Ontario, Kathy and I had to stay off the trails (that have a lot of exposed smooth granite) some days because our boots were sliding around too much on the wet rocks, and we wanted to avoid injury.

 

Salomon Quest 4D GTX 2Salomon Quest 4D GTX 2                                                 

 

When we returned from Ontario, I resolved to find mid-cut boots with much better grip that could be used for both backpacking and for day hikes.  What I found is that there is not a lot out there.  The most grippy footwear appears to be approach shoes, which are primarily used for scrambling, are tennis-shoe like in size, and thus do not provide much ankle protection.  I am seeking boots with a good firm ankle cuff that are 6 inches in height.  In terms of materials, there seem to be only a couple of material options:

 

  • Stealth Rubber by Five Ten, which has been in the market for several years
  • Megagrip by Vibram, which was launched about a year ago

 

                                                                                    

 

My initial search found only a handful of mid-cut boots with Megagrip, so (because I can be 6-Sigma when I want to), I then did an exhaustive search, and developed a complete list of mid-cut boot candidates for wet rocks, as of late October 2016.  I have true wide feet, and boots that are offered in true wide are not that common.  Below is a much larger and complete list, along with some of the comments that I put in my boot candidate spreadsheet (yes, I did create a spreadsheet).  These boots are not available in Wide unless indicated.  All these mid-cut boots have Vibram Megagrip except the Five Ten boots.  I have tried on most of these as of Dec 2016, and yet I am still looking.

 

  • Aku Alpina Plus:   Aku is an Italian brand.  European boots often run somewhat narrow.  With or without GTX.  I tried them, but I did not like the feel, and they pressured the toe tops.  Returned 
  • Aku Gea GTX: Almost no reviews online.  More of a light-hiking than a backpacking boot.  Therefore, not a candidate 
  • Aku Transalpina GTX: Previous gen of Aku Alpina Plus.  Generally good online reviews.  Problems cited in online reviews indicated that they may run small, and they can be stiff but comfortable.  Still available to buy.  Untried
  • Arc'teryx Bora² Mid GTX: Pricey. Innovative separate GTX booty.  Generally good online reviews. Problems cited include top of toe pressure, narrow fit, and sometimes hot.  Untried
  • Cabela XPG Mid Hiker: The online reviews were not that positive.  Therefore, not a candidate 
  • Danner Mountain 600: Mostly good online reviews.  Wide sizes available.  Low ankle cuff.  Therefore, not a candidate
  • Five Ten Camp Four Mid: With or without GTX.  Generally very good online reviews.  Sole may leave behind marks on rocks (softer rubber, so grippier).  I tried them, but they had no real ankle cuff and no real ankle support.  Returned
  • Garmont Dragontail Hike GTX: Almost no online reviews.  Did not seem to be available in the USA.  Therefore, not a candidate
  • Garmont Sierra GTX: Almost no online reviews.  Untried
  • Garmont Trail Beast Mid: Almost no online reviews.  Untried
  • Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi WP: Very good online reviews.  Complaints online focused on durability, waterproofness, and that they might run a little narrow.  I tried them and found that the footbed is about 1 cm higher than most boots.  My heel felt like it was lower than my toes, which I did not like, and I found the ankle support to be significantly lower than the Salomon Quest 4D II GTX.  Returned 
  • Merrell Capra Venture Mid Gore-Tex Surround: Almost no online reviews.  New.  I tried them, but their ankle support did not compare well to the Salomon Quest 4D GTX.  Returned
  • Merrell Capra Mid Waterproof: Generally good online reviews, except for some complaints about the shank.  I tried them, but they had no real ankle cuff and no real ankle support.  Returned
  • Merrell Moab FST Mid Gore-Tex: Not many online reviews.  Low ankle cuff.  Therefore, not a candidate
  • North Face Ultra Fastpack II Mid GTX: Generally good reviews.  Some complaints about durability or comfort.  Untried
  • Under Armour UA Infil Hike GTX: The online reviews were not that positive.  Therefore, not a candidate
  • Vasque Breeze III GTX: Very new.  Only seen on REI's website.  Was not on Vasque's web site when I last checked.  Wide sizes available.  I tried these.  They are somewhat lighter in construction than the Salomon Quest 4D II GTX, so the backpacking support may not be as good.  Comfortable.  So far, my best candidate
  • Vasque Inhaler II GTX: Lighter in construction than the Vasque Breeze III GTX.  Therefore, not a candidate

 

I investigated having my Salomon Quest 4D II GTX boots resoled, but one of the leading resolers told me that the boots cannot be resoled due to their construction.  Salomon - I would very much like to see a Megagrip or similar sole on your Quest 4D II GTX boots.

 

If you have a similar challenge, I hope this post helps.

 

Jeff


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