Asolo Power Matic 250 NBK V
Use: trail even with heavy pack
Break-in Period: medium
Weight: approx 700 g per shoe
Price Paid: $189
I walked into my local outdoor store the other day and could not find a single mid- to heavy-weight hiking boot without a Gore-tex liner. It's not easy to find modern high-end hiking boots these days without a Gore-tex lining. These Asolos are some of the only ones I could find (others include the Lowa Banff, Garmont Dakota - but I was hoping to find something a bit lighter...). And don't worry, the rest of Asolo's line is filled with models including Gore-tex. Gore-tex in boots has become a scourge.
Don't get me wrong, Gore-tex is a great product. It has its uses. But for me, backpacking/trekking boots is not one of them. If you have an full leather boot, adding a Gore-tex liner makes it far too hot for summer backpacking trips in places like the US Mountain West.
For example, I have been backpacking in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming for years - typically in August. Sure, we have to cross streams and even an occasional snow field. But the need for a waterproof liner is just total overkill for the predominant conditions - hot, dry, rocks, dirt. The one time I did a trip like this in a Gore-tex boot my feet steamed like lobsters. The breathability of Goretex is widely over-estimated.
I was looking for full leather design, vibram soles, full shank. But I also was hoping to save some weight.
These Asolo PowerMatch 250 NBKs seem to fit the bill. They are noticeably lighter than my old Lowa Banffs. They have a full leather upper, they have a nice grippy vibram sole, they have a full-length nylon (plastic) shank. At first glance, they do lack some of the features of some other heavy trekking boots like a rubber rand going around the bottom part of the upper. This might negatively effect longevity. We'll see. In all of my criteria, the Asolos appear to meet my needs.
Worksmanship seems good. There are no signs of manufacturing defects or visible signs of cutting corners to save cost. The tongue is fully gussetted, for example. The hardware seems top-notch (pulley lacing system for example). The internal removable footbed is crap. But then so is the footbed of every other shoe I've bought. I will replace them with an upgraded footbed. The vibram sole is a custom design for Asolo and seems very good. The rubber seems quite grippy - even on wet rocks. And there is some padding in the midsole that gives some relief over long distances. The sole is also slightly rockered for a smooth, rolling walking motion. The overall impression is of a smooth, easy ride when walking on flat trails.
The Asolos have a tall upper section but one that is cut-out at the back to ease strain on the Achilles tendon. This is something that my old Lowas did not have. Nice.
My only complaint with the Asolos so far is fit. The boots are a bit too wide for me in general, and very noticeably too wide for me in the ankle/heel pocket area. Even with heavy socks and laces tightened to the max, I'm afraid I might be getting a bit of heel slip. However, so far on short hikes, I have not had any major problems with hot spots or blisters. I'm expecting to have to pay close attention to my heels in these boots though...
It is for this reason that I am only giving 4 stars. Otherwise, these look like winners.
This is a tough, durable backpacking boot. I do however agree with the previous reviewer that the boot does have a lot of room to it, so buyer beware. As mentioned the heel room was too much for me, and after using a thicker sock the toe box became too cramped. After climbing two Colorado 14ers with these boots, I was able to subdue the severity of my heel blisters with mole skin and proper socks/lining. However minor heel blisters still are present. So this was a bit of a hit and miss for me.
If you have the right feet for this fit of boot, it is a tough waterproof boot that will support your heavy backpack and also provide great ankle support.