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. Hardcore Outdoor is dedicated to those who can’t or won’t turn back.
Just about as high as you can get in Arizona, on the summit trail to Humphreys Peak which is 12,633 feet. Looking East, the Inner Basin, Lockett Meadow and Sunset Crater. There was still a fair amount of snow on the ground for mid-June.
I have been itching to do Humphreys Peak from the Inner Basin side and just before Fathers day I got a kitchen pass so I jumped on it. I slept pretty good in the bed of the truck, there was nobody else on the trail and the weather was perfect. It was a great day.
I had a couple reasons for making the trip up from Phoenix. First, Snow Peak sent me their new Lite Max cannister stove and I wanted to see how it worked above the tree line. Second, I have been feeling positively smitten with the FSN 95 heavy hiking boots from Asolo and I wanted to find out once and for all, was it just a torrid affair or true love? The only way to know for sure was to put in a full day on rough, steep terrain.
The Snow Peak Lite Max weighs in at 1.9 ounces according to the advertisement but they must be rounding down because the best I could manage on my scale was an even 2. Regardless, that is a full ounce less than my next best light weight flame thrower which is also from Snow Peak. I took my cooking kit out of my pack when I hit the summit trail and whipped up a little Ramen noodle concoction (see Hot Stuff Coming Attcha! in the Food-Water-Cooking category) and I was very pleased with the results. The lite Max is not only lighter than it’s predecessors but it also is supposed to handle the wind better. I can’t speak to the wind issue yet because there wasn’t any but the unit fired right up and boiled my water in what seemed like a little more than 3 minutes. Sorry. A really good gear tester would have remembered to bring his watch and a dishonest one would just make it up. The best I can do for you today is to SWAG it. Anyway, at just over 12,200 feet the little stove worked very well. It is easy to use, easy to set up, has good fold out pot supports, is made very well and puts out a nice even flame worth 11,200 thermal units. The British kind. So far, so good on the new Lite Max.
Now for my feet fetish.
The Asolo FSN 95 GTX has been around for quite a while because there are a lot of people that call it their favorite boot. I can relate because it is the heavy hiker that I like best so far.
Class-Heavy hiker, made for rough terrain and light to moderate loads
Height-mid, 6 inches, 7 loops/cleats
Materials-double and triple layers of 1.7mm water resistant suede, Cordura and a heavy rubber toe cap
Insulation-none but the skin is thick and there is good padding around the ankle
Waterproofing-Gore Tex waterproof breathable liner
Cushion-stock foot beds are thin, midsole is firm but provides good cushioning, the outsole is stiff enough to maintain it’s integrity in the rocks but is very easy to walk in
Flexibility-excellent through out but they are not sloppy or soft
Tread-Asogrip (Shirley they could have come up with a better name than that) is sticky and firm but should be more aggressive
Volume-moderate to full on the regulars and full in the wides
Width Availability-available in wide
Weight-my 46s (11.5US wides) weigh 1 lbs 12 ounces per boot
Crampon Compatibility-strap on instep models only
Quality-very high, Italian company but made in Romania
Break In-not much required, they were comfortable out of the box
For some reason they look narrow in this picture but they aren’t. Even the regular widths have a fairly roomy toe box and a normal heel cup.
I don’t want to take anything away from these boots but boy what a difference the right fit makes. The second time I did my 7 mile test loop in these I used the custom footbeds from eSoles and it was by far the most comfortable trip I have made in the three months that I have been doing these evaluations. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even think about my feet until I reached the top and stopped to tighten up the laces for the down hill. It was very nice.
I also wore them this last weekend on my 8 hour Humphreys trek and they performed above and beyond expectation. I was in and out of snow all day and my feet stayed dry. The FSN 95s are light but have enough heft and structure to kick steps in old compacted drifts like a light mountaineering boot but they handle difficult terrain with precision and finesse. The outsoles do a good job of protecting you from the rocks but don’t feel stiff or clunky. These boots strike a nice balance and seem to do everything pretty well.
The fully gusseted tongue lays down nicely and provides plenty of padding even when the laces are cranked down. The collar is smooth and comfortably supportive.
What can I say, these are very well made boots with an exceptional design and they fit me perfectly. That seemingly elusive combination puts these at the top of my list when I don’t want to run and don’t need the big guns.
So, let me say, loud and clear, to my friends at Asolo, these are great boots. Don’t get any funny ideas about messing around with a proven product. They don’t need a make over or a redesign. Change the color if you want and put little more bite in the tread but other than that, leave them alone. Please! You keep them in the line the way they are and I will keep recommending them. Deal?
U.S. Air Force Pararescue (PJs) chose the Asolo FSN95 too.
UPDATE – I have been spending some time going back through my inventory of boots and retesting just to make sure I still feel the way I did about them. I am not sure I give this boot enough credit. It is very, very good. In fact it is a little different (the FSN 95 has a stiffer sole make) but damn close to the Lowa Ranger GTX for being my best all around boot.
I tend to think of this boot when I am not in hunting, tactical or rescue mode meaning this is what I reach for when I am on the trail for purely recreational reasons. However, don’t misunderstand, that is because I have a stable of other boots to choose from not because I lack confidence in these. This boot has the chops and pedigree to do the job when things get serious.
And again, the FSN 95 comes in a wide version. If you are looking for just one or two boots to cover the spectrum, this is one you have to consider.
Check out my YouTube channel for the video review.
Thanks for visiting.
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.
Hardcore Outdoor is dedicated to those who can’t or won’t turn back.