skye_hansen_27

Aku is an Italian company with more than 30 years experience with designing and producing outdoor footwear. Their Global Custom Fit system makes the footwear fit its owner’s foot comfortably, through a combination of breathable uppers, midsole systems and exoskeleton. They also select materials with a focus on origin and environmental impact – for instance, selecting environmentally-friendly tanneries, using sustainable leather, and making sure all their components are traceable.

Aku’s hiking boots are designed for on- and off- trail day hiking, so I took the Transalpina GTX W’s  for a series of hikes in the local hills. The weather has been wet and rainy, so the trails have been slick and muddy. The boots grip the mud and rocks as well as my two other sets of hiking boots, and the soles have provided quite a lot of cushioning – at the rate of 1600 ft elevation gain over 2 miles, coming back down the steep trail provides opportunities for a gallopy “thumping”.

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The boot itself looks great and feels great (build quality). This is a small thing, but I really love the hooks and d-rings that hold the shoelaces in place. A small tug at each point allows the shoelace to slide quickly through and snug up the boot as well as possible.

The boot never chafed in any way or caused injury (e.g. blisters, circulation issues). But I found the boot to be very stiff. The boot doesn’t have any “tongue keeper loops” (loops on the boot’s tongue for your shoelaces to pass through, to hold the tongue in place). For the most part, the boot doesn’t require these, as the tongue more or less stays in place. However, at the top of the boot, the tongue has a tendency to slide to one side (see photo of the top of the boot). This may be the cause of some of the discomfort I feel occasionally – a pressure of the edge of the boot against the side of my shin or against my calf. Potentially this type of boot may be trying to give you more foot and ankle support (compared to boots I usually buy, which I prefer to fit more like a sneaker).

It’s definitely the heaviest of all the boots I’ve tried by at least a quarter-pound per shoe (I own two other pairs of hiking boots). At 5.5 inches tall, I consider it to be a mid-cut boot. The fit runs pretty true to size – maybe a tiny bit big, but if your feet tend to swell when they get hot, this could be a good thing. I found the fit around the ankle to be a little loose – and there doesn’t seem to be any way to tighten it up around my calves.

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Pros

  • very well made, solid-feeling boot
  • waterproof to at least 3 inches (tested by standing in a puddle)
  • great cushioning and comfortable fit

Cons

  • very stiff fit
  • a little bit uncomfortable (pressure at the boots’ opening against shin or calf)
  • no tongue keeper loops

Tech Specs

Manufacturer: Aku

Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.aku.it/en/

Date Available: Now

MSRP: $229

Listed Weight: 550gms (1.24 lbs) per shoe

Actual Weight: 1.45 lbs per shoe

Upper: Suede/AIR8000® 1.8 mm

Lining Description: Gore-Tex® Performance Comfort

Outsole: Vibram® Cloud

Midsole: EVA/PU

Lasting Board (Stiffness): 6-4 mm nylon + die cut EVA (Medium)

Footbed: Custom Fit IMS 162

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