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Altberg Fremington Walking Boot

rated 5.0 of 5 stars
photo: Altberg Fremington Walking Boot hiking boot

Old style quality and modern functionality. Waterproof, all-leather—but light and most importantly with a choice of five width fittings.

Pros

  • High quality construction
  • Modern design
  • Superb leather
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Width fitting options
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not a budget purchase

I've walked thousands of miles in Italian and German footwear, but always accepted that I'd have to deal with blisters on each of my smallest toes. When my oldest pair of boots finally wore out, at the end of 2019, a little research told me that the English boot maker tradition was back—and available, at my local outdoor store.

One careful fitting appointment later, and I was the owner of a pair of wide-fitting Altberg Fremingtons, designed for lightweight hikes and day walks, with a medium flex midsole, Sympatex lining, Vibram sole and top quality Anfibio leather upper. When I bought the boots, I wasn't to know I'd be wearing them, virtually every day for the next seventeen months.

Fremingtons have a large, traditional English padded cuff and the full grain leather is thick but supple. This resulted in zero break-in time: the boots were immediately comfortable on my first few winter forest and coastal trail walks, in typically inhospitable Scottish weather.

A couple of months later, Covid 19 had confined Scots to their homes, with a daily exemption, for exercise. In the intervening fourteen months I've worn the boots virtually every day. (Sometimes, the snow was so wet I opted for Wellingtons!)

Even when I was involved in teaching Outdoor Pursuits, I never had the opportunity to do such a long term test, of footwear. Wearing the same boots, almost every day, for over a year, isn't something I expect to do again. Now I'm (relatively) free, to walk further afield from my locality, I'll be hiking in tougher terrain, with heavier loads and have other boots, which are designed to give the extra support needed.

The good news? I bought a heavier duty pair of wide fitting Altbergs, after my experience with the Fremingtons!

We just had a five-month winter with lots of rain, ice that refused to melt, and regular snowfalls. The Altbergs never became sodden and never allowed water to penetrate. I have applied the approved treatment—Leder Gris—on only two occasions and that isn't because I've skimped on maintenance. They just didn't need any more feeding or waterproofing.

Most walks were less than ten miles in length and took place within a seven-mile radius of my home. I didn't want to break the rules, or the spirit of the rules, just to give myself a little more variety. Compared to city dwellers, I already had a good choice of beautiful rural locations, all of which I now know intimately.

I have a pair of short gaiters to resist water and debris ingress, but only felt I needed them a couple of times, when the snow was at knee level. The wide cuff±apart from imparting comfort and adjustable support—did a good job of resisting rocks and tree litter. I can't recall ever having to take off a boot to remove an irritant.

The Vibram soles provide good security, in snow, mud, and dry dirt. Greasy tree roots, even;-)  The midsole is stiffer than most similar fabric boots I've tried, with good cushioning. The shank isn't as firm as most three-season mountain boots, so the rolling gait I associate with those types isn't mandated.

For low-level, low-impact walks, that feature isn't really required and the weight benefit is welcome (around 650 grams per boot). My old knees need no unnecessary stresses, either the extra weight of too much boot for the conditions, or too much absorbency from poorly chosen upper material.

There were some days when I wasn't in the best of health and didn't walk far. There were days when the weather was, frankly, terrible. Over the test period, I probably averaged around five or six miles per day. The boots have never been too wet to wear the next day (and never artificially dried in front of the stove).  There is negligible damage to the uppers and very little wear to the sole. This is welcome, since my feet supinate a little when I walk. Excessive wear would mean a quick re-sole, or possible leg problems, neither of which I need.

In the last era of English boot manufacture, quality leather boots were also heavy. Altberg have made their reputation designing boots for soldiers, who want to move fast, in rough terrain, with heavy loads on their backs. The results of this destruction testing have found their way to folks like me, who just want to be warm, dry, and comfy.

The Fremingtons are the comfiest boots I own, never too hot or too cold, and blisters are a thing of the past.

 

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Pretty clean, for the miles they've seen;-)

 

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Background

Seventeen months of almost daily wear in Scottish forests, woodland, and granite coastal terrain, carrying light loads of fifteen pounds or less. In fifty years of mountain, hill, and lowland hiking, I have owned maybe thirteen or fourteen pairs of boots. The Altbergs have been trouble-free, which is unusual. High quality, plus width fitting options, has been a great combination.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: £165

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Specs

Width 5 Width Fittings—XN, N, M, W, XW
Sizes 7.5-14 UK (including half sizes)
Upper 2.2-2.4mm Anfibio leather full grain
Lining Sympatex breathable 4 layer lining with military grade waterproof membrane interlayer
Midsole Tri-Flex 2, a combination of medium flex and torsional resistance suitable for lower level trail walking
Sole Vikram Masai rubber and micro lightweight shock absorbing sole midlayer
Weight 654 g (size 9)
Height 14.5 cm (size 9 including heel)
Footbed Trek Airgrid Black
Product Details from Altberg »

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