AKU is a brand that not many people know about so we’re here to tell you to get acquainted. The company is steeped in European tradition with a long history of designing and manufacture high-end footwear. The SUPERALP GTX Boots are made for hiking but are also adept at mountaineering and are incredibly well built, light and durable. Right out of the box they just fit… and this is just the start of why they’ve won our Gear of the Year Award.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the AKU footwear company. But you’re missing out, and here’s why: AKU is an Italian based company with a 30-year history of making hand-crafted footwear. Their humble beginnings were in a small workshop in the Italian Alps. They have since grown into a global footwear brand but are still rather ‘boutique’ here in North America.
Today we’ll talk about the AKU SUPERALP GTX Boots: Categorized as an all-round backpacking boot designed for day hikes and multi-day adventures (aka carrying heavy loads over long distances), The SUPERALP GTX has a rugged Vibram sole which provides a sure grip on rocks, mud, logs, scree and of course dry dirt. The GoreTex liner keeps your feet warm and dry with excellent breathability, preventing clamminess which can lead to blisters. The Gore-Tex membrane extends all the way up the integrated tongue, which means the SUPERALP GTX Boots are waterproofed much higher on your foot than most other boots on the market.
A sweet pair of kick even for hiking or cruising around town in comfort.
On the upper half of the outside, the SUPERALPs are covered in a soft, but tough suede. A protective rubber rand runs all the way around the lower half of the boot’s exterior. This helps protect the boot from rocks and scrapes that would otherwise damage the suede. To ensure a comfortable fit, laces go from toe to ankle with built-in boot hooks that allow you to customize the fit to the terrain underfoot. The Anatomical Fit Last hugs your foot so there’s no movement or slip, helping to eliminate blisters. Underfoot, the Custom Fit IMS 162 footbed uses a double-density PU midsole for support. Medium-stiff nylon and EVA lasting board protect your feet from rough rocks on the trail. I traditionally replace any stock footbed with a custom option such as those from Sidas. But in this case the ones included did an impressive job.
A unique feature of the SUPERALP GTX Boots is their PU exoskeleton design. AKU incorporates this lightweight exoskeleton frame into the boot itself, adding stability and support without adding bulk or weight. This exoskeleton helps stabilize your foot in the boot while providing protection from obstacles on the trail (like rocks and roots) without sacrificing comfort. This exoskeleton concept comes from AKU’s decades of experience designing mountaineering boots.
The SUPERALP GTX Boots not only fit exceptionally well and provide optimal support and cushion on the trail, but they’re also incredibly light. Think of a mountaineering boot that feels like a hiking boot, durable yet supportive while not as rigid as a true mountaineering boot. They also have generous rocker in the soles so that you aren’t walking like Frankenstein. This is huge after a long day of hiking, as your legs won’t be as tired and your feet will still feel fresh.
Upper -Suede + Air 8000 breathable construction 1.8mm, Protective rubber rand
Midsole - Double Density PU
Lasting board - 6-4mm nylon, die cut EVA (medium)
Footbed - Custom fit IMS 162
Outsole - Vibram Foura rubber sole
Personally, I prefer a hiking boot that performs like a mountaineering boot without feeling like one on the trail. The AKU SUPERALP GTX is that boot. My first time wearing them (right out of the box) was on a full-day hike. After it was all said and done, not a single hot spot or foot issue of any kind presented itself. They’re stiff enough for scrambling over boulder fields, descending scree slopes or boot backing steps up a snow slope, while still being soft and comfy on the inside. The protective rubber rand is generously proportioned, wrapping around the entire lower portion of the boots’ exterior, so there’s no need to tread lightly on rocky terrain; They can take the abuse like a mountaineering boot, while weighing only 700 grams.
I have average feet that are slightly on the wider side, but with a good healthy arch. Not narrow, but not high volume either. The SUPERALP GTX boots kept my heel stationary and I found no need to use my custom footbeds. The interior volume was adequate, and the lacing system kept the upper portion snug over my fore-foot, preventing blisters.
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