Looking for a hiking boot that goes from trail to town? Here’s my latest favorite: the Asolo Mantra trekking shoe. With suede upper and stylish but tough Vibram sole, it’s more than fit to hit rocky trails and steep inclines for a day hike, but this shoe looks great with jeans and is more comfortable than my regular run-around-town shoes. Here are the paces I put the Asolo Mantra through and why I think you’ll love them.
Suede leather upper is a step above man-made uppers. There is no break-in time and even covered in mud, I’d wear them right onto town. They fit like a glove right out of the box.
The sole has knobby enough lugs for great grip on the trail, but not so big that I trip on them indoors. Just the right amount of sole and grab.
Lined with Asolo’s proprietary waterproof lining, they’re labeled as waterproof. The Asolo rep warned me that these were actually water resistant, not waterproof, so I had to go test that theory. I went hiking on one of Seattle’s wettest days. I actually had people on the trail tell me that I should be wearing more waterproof items. (Thanks, kind hikers.) When I got back to the car I was soaked to the bone (on purpose, folks) except for my feet. They were dry. The Mantra passed the waterproof test! I did not take them for a swim because they are suede. Swimming and suede? Nope. But they dried after my sloppy hike in a very short time. Nice combination of breathe-ability and water protection.
The toe cap and heel finish make these shoes more rugged than they appear. They don’t catch scuffs and are wearing in quite well. And of course the medium lug Vibram sole, which seems to be the perfect size and shape for this shoe as well as super grip and no slip.
Easy lace! I’ve never had to relace these. Like my favorite old running shoe, I laced them the first time, then I just slip in and out of them easily.
Lightweight – listed at 380 grams per shoe. I weighed them at 356 grams for the women’s size 9.
The tongue is a tad long. It rides high on the ankle which lends support, but might be a minor annoyance to some.
One slippery surface – Wet wood almost always proves a nuisance for rubber soles. The Asolo Mantra did better than some, but I still had to be a little careful on soggy wood stairs and boardwalks. No great shakes, but when Vibram figures that one out, those of us in the Pacific Northwest will be happier.
A great blend of rugged durability and easy comfort. I’d use these versatile beauties as a three-season day hiker, trail runner, light backpacking shoe, occasional winter hiker and as an approach shoe. But they also go all over town with me as well because they are stylish, comfortable and just plain fun to kick around in. Kudos to the designers on this one.
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