Asolo Power Matic 250 NBK V
This is my first review on Trailspace.com, so even though these boots (sadly) have been discontinued, I just HAD to write my first review about my absolute favorite piece of outdoor gear! (think of it as a practice run).
- NO GORE-TEX!!
- Micro-pulley lacing
- No break-in/out of the box use
- They handle any terrain, with heavy loads
- Discontinued :-(
- They are NOT made for everyday use, or walking on hard (i.e. paved) surfaces
Having been in the US Army (Airborne Infantry), I have done more than my share of walking, and as such have learned the importance of good footwear and taking care of one's feet. If your feet aren't happy, the rest of you won't be either.
There are very few boots out there these days that are NOT Gore-Tex lined. I specifically chose these boots because they do NOT have a Gore-Tex lining. No offense toward Gore-Tex. I still remember getting our brand-new Gore-Tex ponchos in the Army, and how much lighter they were than the old ponchos. Gore-Tex makes good stuff.
BUT, Gore-Tex, and other so-called "waterproof and breathable" fabrics are NOT breathable. (Seriously. Forget the hype. Forget the advertising claims. Any HONEST person will admit that NO fabric currently on the market can be totally waterproof AND breathable at the same time.) Boots with waterproof linings depend on waterproof "booties" inside the boot to keep the water from reaching your foot. Great idea- in theory. The problem is that your feet can't breath well enough to stay dry. Your own sweat/moisture will not be able to escape fast enough. So your feet end up getting wet from the inside. And wet feet equals blisters—or at least "hot-spots".
I, personally, have feet that tend to stay very warm, and typically very sweaty, when wearing boots for any length of time. So I need a boot that can breath well. The Asolo Power Matic 250 boots have a Cambrelle lining that is very breathable. Combine that lining with wearing moisture wicking liner socks under wool/synthetic light hiker socks, and my feet have stayed completely dry in these boots every time I have worn them—no matter how long I've worn them, or what the conditions. That is a first for me!
I have two (2) pairs of these boots. One pair is for cold weather hiking, and one pair is a half-size bigger to compensate for foot swell when hiking in hot weather.
I purchased my 1st pair of these late Friday evening, April 2nd, 2010, after work, from REI. I had just a little over an hour before they (REI) closed to find a pair of boots for an overnight trip to Virgin Falls the next day. After trying on a few pairs, I came back to these and walked around the store in them, browsing until closing time.
They seemed very stiff to me, but I realized (the hard way) much later that these boots are specifically designed for rough surfaces, while carrying a heavy load. They are NOT designed to be worn on hard surfaces like pavement, or typical flooring in modern structures. (I tried that—big mistake.)
Anyway, my feet didn't slip in them, nor did I notice any pressure points, so I bought them. I wore the boots on the drive home, and that—along with wearing them in the store—was the only "break-in" they got. I headed to Virgin Falls the next day.
One of the features I absolutely love about these boots is the Micro Pulley lacing system (see picture). ALL boots should have this!! The pulleys assure even tension across the foot, which results in better fit and comfort. The pulleys also cause less wear (abrasion) to the laces, meaning the laces last longer. How cool is that?
I ended up buying a second pair when I noticed them on closeout—not because of the price, but because I love them that much. I would have paid full price!
These boots have been with me on every outdoor adventure since I purchased them. As a matter of fact, they are the ONLY piece of outdoor gear I have that has been a constant on EVERY adventure. All other gear I have, or have had, has gone through testing, upgrading, and/or replacement EXCEPT my Asolo boots.
I have worn these boots on hiking and/or backpacking trips to: Virgin Falls SNA TN (twice); Big South Fork Nat'l River & Rec Area TN/KY; Mammoth Cave NP KY (twice); Cedars of Lebanon SP TN; Bledsoe Creek SP TN (more times than I can count); Long Hunter SP TN (backpacking once, hiking more times than I can count); Fall Creek Falls SP TN; Chattahoochee River Nat'l Rec Area GA; Montgomery Bell SP TN; Cumberland Mountain SP TN; Land Between The Lakes Nat'l Rec Area TN/KY; Amicalola Falls SP GA; all over the Smokies on multiple trips; numerous places on the A.T. over multiple trips in TN, and GA (Springer Mtn area, Hightower Gap area, Cooper Gap area, Gooch Gap area, Woody Gap area, Fontana Dam area, Clingman's Dome area, Davenport Gap area, etc.); as well as countless geocaching trips all over TN and several other states.
I have no idea how many miles I have put on my Asolo boots over the years... thousands maybe? At least several hundred, anyway. And through it all, they have never once hurt my feet in any way, have always handled every terrain condition I have come across, and have held up quite nicely. They don't look new anymore, but they are FAR from being worn out (see pictures).
As for fit advice, etc., I can only offer the following: I have learned over the years that every person's feet are different. "Duh", right? But seriously, beyond just size (length and/or width), there are differences in shape and volume. And everyone has one foot that is a different size/width than the other. Add to that the differences in experience.
What I mean is, different people have different types of footwear they have "gotten used to" throughout their lives. Some people are used to cowboy boots. Some are used to dress shoes. Some are used to work boots. Some people are used to being on their feet all day, while others are not. When you add all of these things up together with size, width, shape, and volume... what is considered "comfortable" is vastly different from one person to another.
So, basically, that means that my opinion—or anyone else's, for that matter—means nothing to anyone else unless they have the EXACT same feet, AND footwear experience as me. Get it?
Anyway, I have rambled on far too long, especially for a review of a discontinued product, that likely will never be read. LOL
Asolo's Micro Pulley lacing system. Even tension/pressure across the foot, and less wear on the laces—sweet!
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Full price for 1st pair ($200+), closeout on 2nd pair (less than $100)
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.
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.
Use: trail even with heavy pack
Break-in Period: medium
Weight: approx 700 g per shoe
Price Paid: $189
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