GREAT GEAR RECOMMENDATION - Hanwag Mountain Light GTX Boots - Revsion #3
The Hanwag Mountain Light GTX boot is modern and unique. It offers substantial support, rigidity, and protection in a package that feels light but really isn't.
"Record book Coues Deer? Early season elk? A heavyweight at heart, this extremely lightweight yet very stable boot excels in conditions where other lightweight boots fail." That is how the description of the Hanwag Mountain Light GTX boots begins on the Lathrop & Sons website. After putting 21 McDowell Mountain miles on these, I agree...with most of it.
The part of that paragraph I can't agree with is that they are lightweight. In fact, even though Hanwag has slimmed and trimmed off much of the excess weight, it is the heaviest boot in my Heavy Hiker class. Even if you make the argument that they really belong in the Light Mountaineering class, where the boots are less flexible and have more torsional rigidity, they are still heavier than the Scarpa Escape, Lowa Tibet GTX and Kenetrek Hardscrabble Hiker in the same size. They are the same weight as the Cabelas Meindl Alaska Hiker. However, the Hanwags feel lighter on your feet than the others. I don't know why.
Here are the stats.
Height-8 inches, 9 loops/cleats
Materials-heavy duty synthetics with rough out leather at high stress areas and a full protective rand made of mid weight rubber
Insulation-none but the lining conforms and holds the foot very well and the ballistic cloth exterior is multi-layered and hefty.
Waterproofing-Gore Tex waterproof breathable liner
Cushion-Optional High Country footbeds are custom designed for each customer from pictures, tracings and telephone consultation. They feel good and do not take up too much volume. Polyurethane midsole provides good shock absorption.
Flexibility-excellent throughout despite a full nylon shank. They are not sloppy or soft. Good toe spring and forward propulsion characteristics. Very stable boots.
Tread-Vibram Fuora outsole is sticky and stiff enough to handle difficult terrain and rock but remains very easy to walk in. Lugs could be a touch more aggressive.
Volume-medium, they run a little short and narrow for me. I had to bump up one full size.
Width Availability-no and that is unfortunate because many people won't be able to make Hanwag boots work for them.
Weight-my 46.5s (Mens 12US) weigh 2 lbs 4 ozs per boot
Crampon Compatibility-yes, but strap on only
Quality-high, "made in Europe"
Break In-not much required, they were comfortable out of the box and I put 7 miles on them the first time out with no problems.
The middle weight toe cap and rand provide good protection to the exterior fabric. The tongue lays flat against the foot and ankle when laced up. A hardware-less lacing system is the best that I have experienced. In fact, it is so good that it is easy to over tighten. There are no mid-tongue or pinch cleats.
Lathrop & Sons distributes part of the Hanwag line to the US for the German boot maker. "Lathrop" is a Podiatrist and the "Sons" are both practicing Certified Podorthists...so they know feet. It is from that angle that they approach the competitive arena of high end outdoor footwear retailing. You can buy just the boots or a full system that includes Thorlo socks, custom designed High Country footbeds, G Wax boot treatment, and Dryzone boot dryers. Buying the full system gets you a telephone consultation, a review of your foot tracings and pictures and "custom" fitting. The personal service was good and helpful but it does tend to lengthen the buying process.
One thing to note here. Despite the expert advice and extra information provided by the tracings and pictures of your feet, it is important to remember that you are still buying boots through the mail without trying them on first. It is certainly possible that you will have some fit issues, which was the case with me. The first pair they sent me were too small. I sent them back with a note requesting a wide width. Problem is that Hanwag doesn't make wide versions, which just doesn't make any sense to me, but Lathrop made it right by getting me another pair that ended up being a full size larger. The second pair fits great and has earned a place in my "keeper" closet. Had I needed it, Lathrop has the capabilities and experience to make any structural modifications to the boots to ensure a proper fit.
It took longer than I wanted and sending the boots back was a nuisance but the customer service was courteous, professional and helpful. The bottom line is that I got a great pair of boots that fit me well and perform as expected.
Padded collar and fully gusseted tongue are thinner then others in the same class but still comfortable and supportive. The High Country footbeds take a little work to properly position but once they are, they stay put.
Since I have so many pairs of boots, I get to try on and use pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want so it is easy for me to compare and contrast models. How do these compare? They are very comfortable, very supportive and easy to walk in. I will use these for hunting and backpacking in difficult terrain and moderate to warm weather. The only question I have that remains unanswered is how well these boots hold up over time. Price is not normally something we consider in these evaluations but these are the most expensive boots we have evaluated. In fact, they are one of the most expensive non-custom boots I know of but if they last as long as I expect, they are well worth the retail price.
UPDATE - I continue to be impressed with these boots but I am absolutely amazed by their ability to maintain traction on wet rocks, especially smooth river rocks. If your exploits take you to wet places and the terrain is rocky, these boots will make life a lot easier and safer.
UPDATE - #2 After evaluating more than 230 pairs of boots and shoe over the past two years, this has become one of my favorite boots for long distances, heavy loads and difficult terrain in moderate to warm weather.
UPDATE - #3 Not just one of my favorite boots for the above described criteria, these are my favorite boots. Period. Awesome footwear for the Hardcore Outdoorsman! Call Lathrop & sons and get a pair, you will not be disappointed.
Go to HardcoreOutdoorVideo on YouTube for a video review of the Hanwag Mountain Light GTX Boots.
Sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry to identify and promote the very best wilderness gear for high end recreational users, backcountry professionals and government agencies.
We can be educated and persuaded but not bought, bullied or bs'd. Hardcore Outdoor is dedicated to those who can't or won't turn back.