The AKU Superalp GTX boots are tested under typical British conditions. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The AKU Superalp GTX boots are tested under typical British conditions. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Price: £229.95
Country of manufacture: Italy
Weight: 1,630g a pair
Colour: black/grey
Construction: suede and Air 8000 synthetic uppers
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
Sole stiffness: 7/10
Women’s version: yes
Sizes: men’s 6-13; women’s 3-8

This Italian-made boot from AKU has been designed, the company says, for use over long distances, particularly backpacking trips when carrying heavier loads.

The boot has a fairly stiff sole, but the days when this meant an unyielding, uncomfortable design are thankfully gone. The Superalp GTX has good underfoot cushioning and enough flex in the uppers to make long days in the hills pleasurable while wearing the boot.

It’s interesting to see how a European boot made with sights on the high routes of the Dolomites makes the transition to the British uplands. There’s Gore-Tex waterproofing added to the 1.8m water-resistant suede uppers, which is useful when taking to the British hills where you’re likely to be mixing rocky routes with bogs, and a climate that’s among the wetter ones in Europe.

We put the boots to the test during the wet, windy and cold early winter, though we didn’t use the Superalp GTX in true winter conditions, ie snow and ice.

The ankle has a flex section to increase comfort. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The ankle has a flex section to increase comfort. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Superalp GTX has AKU’s IMS 3 construction in the midsole. This combines a lasting board with a semi-rigid exoskeleton that gives good stability on uneven ground. The midsole has two densities of polyurethane, the softer one giving the required cushioning and the harder one aiding stability.

We found foot placement on different terrain was assured, with good torsional stiffness. The outsole, a Vibram Fourà unit, gave good grip on wet rock, gravel, grassy slopes and mud. The boots were good on contouring sections of routes.

Braking was good downhill, and the AKU boots provided good traction uphill. The insole is a two-part construction with a good heel cup and extra cushioning in the heel and forefoot areas.

The Superalp GTX has a broad rubber rand running all the way round the base of the uppers. This gives stiff protection against knocks and rocks, particularly at the toe box, heel cup and outer edge of the foot.

The lacing system enables two-art tensioning. The lower four pairs of lace hooks are suede loops, with a pair of metal locking hooks above these, enabling tension on the forefoot to be adjusted separately from the upper section of boot.

Above these is another pair of metal hooks, set back from the ankle flex area. This pair directs the force to the back of the heel and, when tightened correctly, stopped heel lift efficiently on uphill sections, important with a fairly stiff sole.

There are two pairs of metal hooks at the ankle section which allows this part of the boot to be tensioned to the right amount.

The ankle cuff comes fairly high and has good interior padding, which is ventilated. The upper section of the tongue has similar padding. There are softer, flex sections in the uppers, above the instep area and at the back of the ankle. These allow the natural movement of the leg relative to the foot.

The lacing system allows separate tensioning for upper and lower parts of the boot. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The lacing system allows separate tensioning for upper and lower parts of the boot. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The ankle area has padded synthetic material at the ankle bone each side of the boot, supplemented by a section of suede for support.

There’s a slight rocker shape to the sole, with a definite two-strikes – heel then forefoot – evident when walking. The outsole lugs are 5mm deep and fairly well spaced to help avoid mud and debris to build up in them and reduce the effectiveness.

The Superalp boot is essentially one of two parts: the lower section is very sturdy and mostly rigid, giving protection and support where needed on rocky ground and on wet sections. The upper part is softer suede, which adds to the comfort and holds the foot well without the discomfort of stiff leather.

We used the AKU boots on a wide variety of terrain, from maintained paths to off-path hill routes, and they performed well. Although designed for European high routes, the Superalps felt at home on the British hills.

They’re not true winter boots, though the sole and toe box are stiff enough to kick in steps on snow and névé. They’re stiff enough to take a flexible walking crampon, though the heel and forefoot both have a slight upward inclination, which might make them unsuitable for some models. There’s no back ledge for crampons with a heel clamp. Check in the shop if this is important to you.

The sizing of the AKU boots was about right, and we didn’t experience any pinching in the forefoot, which is medium width. The boots are medium volume.

They’re not the lightest of boots, but they are sturdy and have good protection, particularly for the lower foot, and we found them comfortable on long walks. The boots also come in a women’s version

Quality was good too, and the AKU boots felt durable.

The AKU Superalp GTX is rated a best buy. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The AKU Superalp GTX is rated a best buy. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Superalp GTX is a good choice for the mountains of the UK, particularly for longer routes, where the combination of comfort and support is welcome.

As with all footwear, we recommend trying the boots on before buying to ensure they suit your feet.

Performance 35/40
Comfort 26/30
Versatility 7/10
Quality 8/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 83/100

  • The Superalp GTX boots were provided to grough by AKU.

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