Recommended Price: £169.90
Weight: 1220g pair (UK size 10.5)
I was very impressed when testing AKU’s Alterra boots last year. The full height Aku Tengu GTX boots are a lightweight winter mountaineering boot with a B2 rating – so how could that translate into this low cut trail shoe version?
The first thing to strike me was the shoes’ stylish appearance – as I’ve come to expect from the company; the spongy tongue material extends right around the top of the shoe which makes them look very different. They are towards the heavier end for trail shoes, but then when you try to flex them or twist the soles you realise just how substantial a shoe these are. They barely offer any twist at all and have only limited flex, and with the hard toe and heel boxes these are just about the most supportive low cut hiking shoes you are going to find – making the weight seem much more reasonable for the level of support given. There’s a large rubber rand that runs almost all the way around the shoe, excluding only the heal, whilst the rest of the uppers are nylon and suede. Based on my experience with the Alterras and looking at the design and construction of these, I’d expect them to easily outlast most of their rivals. Like other AKU footwear they come with a spare pair of laces in a different colour (orange).
The Vibram soles have a deep tread for walking shoes and provide excellent grip. AKU say the shoes feature their proprietary Elica Natural Stride System, with an asymmetrical design to all the sole components to distribute foot pressure and alleviate strain. I don’t know about that, but after initially feeling quite stiff compared to other trail shoes, I quickly found the AKU’s to be exceptionally comfortable on longer, more rugged walks – I’ve been testing them extensively on both the Munros in Scotland and on trails in the Alps. With their goretex linings the shoes have felt quite warm in the recent Scottish heatwave, but physically these are shoes that can cope with the very worst terrain that Scotland has to offer – outside of the winter season, of course.
Pros: very supportive for trail shoes, well made, durable
Cons: expensive for low cut footwear, not the lightest