Kit review: Salewa Firetail Evo Mid GTX boots
The search for my new pair of summer walking boots has ended. Salewa has won against all the wide-ranging competition.
You see, I have quite specific requirements for summer walking boots. They need to be light and waterproof. They must also fit my long and narrow feet very well. And, if possible, they should look beautiful.
The new Salewa Firetail Evo Mid GTX boots do all of the above and some more.
For those who love the techie details:
Outsole: Vibram Tech Approach
Lining: GORE-TEX Extended Comfort
Upper: Aramidic/Rubber 360° Rand
Multi-fit footbed (for narrow and medium width fit)
Extended lacing system
NXT Odour Control
For those who need some/all of this to be explained:
First, let me explain an Approach shoe. This is a hybrid shoe that combines characteristics of hiking boots and rock climbing shoes. You can see from the look of the Salewa Firetail Evo Mid GTX boots (and the shoe version) that they look very like climbing shoes.
So, the approach soles are a combination of hiking and climbing soles. They offer grip on rocks and stony terrain and also cope well with rough walking trails.
These soles are okay in “summer-style” mud but not ideal for really wet, boggy an muddy conditions. If you know you’ll be walking a very wet and boggy trail I suggest you opt for a more aggressively grippy sole, such as those found on three-season hiking boots, if you want to stay upright.
I will be wearing these boots for most of my summer Munro bagging and I reckon they will be especially good for my hoped-for attempt of the rocky and scrambley Cuillin Ridge on Skye.
Gore-Tex lining is self-explanatory. If you walk in Scotland you’ll definitely need a boot that keeps your feet dry and the lining does just this. Again, these are not the boots for extensively wet weather walking because only three or four season boots (or Wellington boots) will keep all the rain out but for most summer hiking conditions they will do a good job of keeping your feet dry.
The uppers: Aramidic is a strong synthetic fibre and certainly the Firetails look to be designed in high quality and robust fabric. They feel tough and very durable.
The rand is like a bumper on the boots. It extends all the way around the boots. This is another area in which the boots look like climbing shoes and I really like this feature. I can see the boots being both durable and also grippy in situations where I might need to ascend and descend rocks (eg the Cuillin!)
The multi-fit footbeds are a great idea by Salewa. What this means is that the boots come with a choice of fit according to which footbeds you use. So for a wider fit you use one footbed and for a narrower fit you use another footbed. The footbeds also offer good support in the boot and I like that the boots seem to hug my feet, rather like trainers.
For my narrow feet, the extra footbed takes away enough boot volume to give a great fit. While, my partner, who has the same length of foot but wider, found the boots fit him really well with a medium fit footbed inserted. (Once he had tried them on and smiled I told him to take them off and hand them back. I could see where the boots might end up if I didn’t quickly reclaim them!)
The extended lacing system means that the lacing system extends further along the boots towards the toes than other boots. This, again, is like a climbing shoe. This allows for an improved fit because you can control the lacing all the way along the boots.
The odour control feature is yet to be tested. I haven’t worn the boots enough times to be sure if they will stay nicely sweet smelling!
The boots weigh between around 380g and 480g, depending on whether you buy male or female and the sizing. I love a lightweight boot for summer walking and so I really appreciate how Salewa have created a durable and robust boot with lots of features yet at a lighter weight than many other walking boots.
On test: Salewa Firetail Evo Mid GTX boot
At first, when I put the boots on, I wasn’t sure if they would be as comfortable as they looked. They do fit really neatly but I felt a bit of a rub on the top of my toes where the boots crease as you walk
However, as soon as I got outdoors and walking trails I didn’t notice this again and I felt only comfort and good fit.
The boots can be laced to suit the conditions and for easy trails I left them a bit looser. When walking up and down rocks and particularly when descending I found it was a good idea to tighten the lacing system. In this way, I could keep my feet properly in place and without suffering toe knock at the front of the boots.
The soles feel cushioned enough for trail walking yet not too thick and heavy. Most of my summer walking does not demand big chunky soles and I liked that the boots felt more like trainers than hiking boots.
The comfort around the ankles and the tongue of the boots is good and my ankles felt adequately supported. I prefer ankle boots to shoes because I do like some support when hill walking.
I tested the boots in wet weather and enjoyed dry feet. I walked on rocks, stones and wet grass and felt that each step was secure and confident.
I am tempted to wear these boots for everyday walking because they look so lovely. I actually have the men’s boots but Salewa do a great job of jazzing up their men’s and women’s footwear and clothing in fabulous colours. I really like the dark blue and turquoise colourway of the men’s Salewa Firetail Evo Mid GTX boots.
However, I think if I was to wear the boots everyday and on tarmac I would wear out the soles too quickly so I’ll be keeping them for my summer of Munro bagging, especially the hikes on rocky Munros.
The boots rrp at £150 although I have seen them for £99. The shoes rrp at £120 and I have seen them for £70.