Recommended price: £210
Weight: 1060g pair (women’s size 5.5)
I have wide feet and often struggle finding suitable stiffer boots, ending up either with pinched toes or a larger size with a loose hill grip that let my feet slide forwards when walking downhill. German company Hanwag has a reputation for making boots in a range of fits so I’ve been trying out the Banks, which comes in 3 different fits for women.
This is a traditional looking boot in navy nubuck leather with mesh fabric tongue and ankle cuff. There is a good amount of extra reinforcement around the heel and toe and a small rubber bumper for extra protection at the front. The leather is soft and flexible providing an instantly comfortable fit, but it has proved robust against stones and abrasion so far. It is also Leather Working Group Gold certified, which means the production has met certain environmental sustainability standards as well as being good quality leather. A Gore-tex lining provides the waterproofing. The upper has kept its structure well and doesn’t look like it’s going to develop any uncomfortable flex points.
The Vibram sole has deep lugs and a rocker shape providing a natural heel to toe strike walking motion. The sole has a fair amount of flexibility but gives confidence on rock; it also gripped well on wet downhills. The boots are lightweight for this sort of construction, and combined with some sponginess in the mid sole they remain comfortable on roads and tracks, and on longer day hikes.
The lacing system works well, with four fixed eyelets at the tongue, 3 metal and the first one cord which may prove to be a weak spot although it does add comfort at the traditional flex point. Three more metal eyelets at the ankle allow locking and the laces to be adjusted differently for the foot and ankle. The padded ankle cuff is very comfortable with a lower achilles area; although the fabric here seems tough it will be a weaker point – but it does keep the weight low and provides more ventilation – so it seems a sensible compromise.
These boots took no breaking in, I’ve been able to go straight from the box to long Munro routes in comfort and without the foot tiredness and soreness I usually associate with my heavier boots. Getting the proper fit for the width of your feet is key to this comfort and I’d recommend getting fitted in a shop if possible. I went for Hanwag’s new fit option, StraightFit Extra which has the extra forefoot room of their wide last and the wider toebox of their straightfit last, allowing the toes to sit in their natural position. These are ideal for folk with a wider forefoot who find that some wider models don’t hold their feet in place creating rubbing and blisters. Half sizes are available.
The Banks is a good all round boot for routes where you want the confidence and stability of a rugged mountain boot but with the comfort of lightweight and more flexible footwear. This will be my go-to Munro and mountain boot for all but the roughest terrain outside of winter conditions.
Available in these fits: Normal, Narrow, SF Extra for Women. Normal and SF Extra for Men. Sizes 3.5 -9 and 5 colours for women: asphalt/petrol, asphalt/autumn leaf, asphalt/ocean, mocca/tan and navy/asphalt (the Narrow and SF Extra fit is available in this colour only) and 5 for men: asphalt/asphalt, navy/asphalt, black/blue, mocca/asphalt and black/asphalt (last two colours are also available in the SF Extra fit) in sizes 6 – 13.