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June 2019

Viking Tested – Top Hiking Boot Picks for 2019

Every season we stock our shelves with the latest and greatest from each footwear supplier. As years go by we see incremental advances in design, materials and innovation. Some companies are rooted in rich history that date back generations. They harken back to a time where things were hand made and took time to craft. They want to preserve the craftsmanship that goes into making hiking boots. Other companies are looking to the future. They are innovating with new designs, looking to other industries for inspiration and leading the charge for what they hope will become new benchmarks in developing and manufacturing durable footwear for the mountains. As we waded through all the offerings available to us we saw some staff favorites come up time and again. These are the ones our staff get most excited about. The ones they themselves use and depend on.

Hanwag Alaska

Founded in 1921 Hanwag is coming up on a century of footwear design and innovation. They know what it takes to make a long lasting hiking boot. And how to turn customers into loyal fans – we know because our shops are full of Hanwag fans! One look at these boots and you can feel the attention to detail and the craftsmanship that went in making them. Over the years new techniques, new functions, new requirements and new footwear trends have all left their mark. But tradition has always played a role when the Hanwag design team is developing new innovations. The Hanwag Alaska is the archetypal trekking boot. It is an absolute classic suitable for trekking adventures all over the world. Constructed with one-piece waxed Nubuck leather for that classic feel (and look) and coupled with modern technologies like Gore-tex and a Vibram Fuora sole. The one-piece upper is made using a heavily pre-stretched technique and traditional cemented construction. Why is this important? Because it results in a boot that maintains its shape and gives it the ability to be re-soled after you have logged many miles and many adventures!

Oboz Bridger Mid

Scrambling Boots Oboz Bridger Mid There has been a groundswell of Oboz fans switching from other popular brands. The Oboz Bridger Mid is one of the primary reasons for this. The out of the box feel is second to none. We have had great success selling these online because when they show up in your mailbox, you can pop them on and start hiking. Virtually no break in period. Part of this is because of the stitching pattern on the upper, the O-Sole footbed and the shaped, rugged sole. The nose bumper also wraps really nicely encapsulating the front of the hiking boot for and more well fitting toe box and to add durability. The Oboz Bridger Mid is a versatile boot. It is light enough for daily use but durable enough for longer treks and heavy loads. We have many staff that use this as their go-to daily walker. In fact, our social media director Todd has been convinced to give up his Keens for his new Bridger Mids! He loves the form fit and the grippy sole (that doesn't drag or catch either!) Oboz Footwear is based out of Bozeman Montana. They are a relatively young company at just 10 years old but they have a future forward focus and an environmental mission. For starters, for every pair of Oboz Footwear sold they plant a tree. Factory seconds (not quite aesthetically perfect) shoes are donated to Project Sole, their office is wind powered and they offset their carbon in office and for travel! Outdoors + Bozeman = Oboz

Scarpa Kinesis GTX Pro

Built for long hikes and heavy packs. These buttery smooth leather hiking boots are on the top of the charts when it comes to backpacking and trekking. Beyond this boot and you end up in plastic hybrid boots. So to say they are tough and built to last would be an understatement. But don't let the rugged durability trick you into thinking the Kinesis sacrifices comfort. The nubuck “smoothout” leather makes for a form shaped upper and when coupled with the Vibram Biometric sole and it is a winning combination of tough and tender. When you aren't enjoying the journey wearing these boots you will often find yourself staring at them...they are that beautiful! SCARPA is rich with history. 70 some years spanning over generations, technological innovations, new materials, world wars, and a global economy. Headed by the Parisotto famiy, SCARPA (originally an acronym for a guild of leather craftsmen: Società Calzaturieri Asolani Riuniti Pedemontana Anonima) evolved in the Italy mountain culture. They are a purpose driven company focused on making the best footwear for the job. We think they are doing that mission justice and the SCARPA Kinesis GTX Pro is a shining example of that.

Tecnica Forge GTX

This is a boot that got us pretty excited when it was introduced to our stores last year. Tecnica is a name synonymous with the ski boot industry. For years they have been perfecting how to get a perfect fitting ski boot. And that is no easy task! Now they have translated their ski boot fitting knowledge into the Forge hiking boot. Custom fit just for you in 20 minutes in store. Our instore staff are trained on the Tecnica C.A.S. (Custom Adaptive Shape) System which results in you have a perfect fitting pair of boots that envelope your feet like a second skin. If you don't want the custom fit instore, you can opt to wear the boots in overtime. The difference with the Forge is that it is design to fit close to your foot shape so the material will wear in nicely over your first few hikes.

The C.A.S. system in action in store

Packed with features the Forge also comes with a customizable footbed, speed locking laces, overlap design for ultimate comfort and movement, a rugged and grippy Vibram sole and of course the GTX stands for Gore Tex (warm and dry feet that can breathe is oh so nice!). The Tecnica Forge GTX is available in Men's and Women's as well as a 'S' model which stands for Full Synthetic (Vegan approved).

AKU Superlap GTX

The AKU Superlap GTX is a shoe for all those hikers looking for maximum protection and comfort of fit during all day and multiday use. The new IMS3-Exoskeleton sole in dual density PU features a level of lightness at the top of the backpacking category, making of Superlap GTX the ideal shoe for doing those long traverses in the Rocky to multi-peak treks on the BC coast. Rugged yet flexible these boots handle the weight of a hiker laden with heavy packs. AKU is an Italian shoemaking company established over 30 years ago. They started in a small craft shop located in the shadows of the jagged Italian mountains and have grown into an industry leader. The AKU brand is a staff favorite especially by climbing and hiking aficionado Giacomo from our VPO Courtenay store!