Review: Berghaus Kanaga GTX women’s walking shoe

RRP: £125 (currently available at just under £100 in many places)
Weight: 750g per pair (size 5.5)

I’m a big fan of lightweight trail shoes, particularly for summer walking, so was happy to see whether this sturdier waterproof trail shoe from Berghaus would carry those lightweight benefits through to enable them to be worn for a longer season.

The shoe is very traditional looking with a brown nubuck upper, small mesh panels and a traditional tongue and lacing system on top of a vibram sole. The construction is robust with no signs of wear at the flex point at the end of the toe box; a small rand protects the toe front. I’d expect them to last well, much longer than lighter, more trainer-type footwear. They shed water well and the gore-tex lining has kept the water out during some prolonged bog-trotting. The fact is, however, that with a low cut shoe whose gaps at the sides of the tongue reach almost the third lacing point, water is going to come over the top in deeper boggy conditions or burn crossings.

I’ve got fairly wide feet and I found the toe box generous. Despite opting for a half size larger than my normal size to allow room at the front (they are not available in different widths), the rigid heel cup grips my foot well with none of the movement that can cause heel blisters. The cuff around the heel is nicely cushioned which should help anyone prone to rubbing of the Achilles. In hot conditions these shoes are warm due to the waterproof membrane and thick materials on the upper. The small mesh panels didn’t seem to make a great deal of difference and would need to be bigger to provide effective ventilation.

I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and springy these shoes feel even after long days of off-road walking. There is a good degree of rocking motion as you move forward and the shoe flexes in the right places. The Ortholite insole is thick and spongy and easily removed for drying. The sole is a fairly rigid vibram model with a studded tread pattern that I’ve found grippy on wet grass and mud; less so on rock but grip was still enough to allow you to move confidently.

At 750g for a pair of size 5.5s, these aren’t the lightest and as usual it’s a case of deciding whether that extra weight on your feet is worth it. In this case I think these shoes will prove to be long-lasting and suitable for use in much wetter and colder conditions that lighter shoes. For me, the fact that they remain a low cut shoe means they can’t replace my – even heavier – boots on days when I expect to be heading through long sections of bog.

Available in sizes 4 to 8 with half sizes available except for sizes 7 and 8. Made in Cambodia. No direct men’s version.

Pros: Robust construction, comfort over long distances
Cons: Little ventilation, heavy for a trail shoe

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