Are backpacking boots made with fabric uppers stiff enough for good ankle support and protection against sharp rocks? I'm looking at the Kayland Apex Trek for a trip to Alaska, where I will glacier walk with crampons. Most of my other packing is done in the lower 48. John Evanston, Illinois
Its certainly true that todays boots increasingly are hybrids"part leather, part fabric. For the most part, that creates a more comfortable boot, as fabric doesnt need any break-in period. Fabric also is lighter, and, well, cheaper than leather. So you most often see it in sub-$150 boots. Also, take into account the notion that fabrics dont soften as much as leather over time. So while such a boot may feel softer at first, its apt to hold up pretty well.
Kayland Apex Trek Boot
Apex Trek Boot
That said, I wouldnt call the Kayland Apex ($250) so much fabric" as synthetic." Its really a light mountaineering boot with a rigid sole thats fully crampon compatible. Its uppers consist of microfiber along with a tough nylon material that looks a bit like leather. Pretty high-end materialstougher and more durable than the stuff you find in light hikers. I wouldnt have any worries about whether it would offer enough support. Id worry that its too much boot for what you need.
But, if youre headed that way, take a look as well at the La Sportiva Trango S Evo ($290). Its also a hiker/light mountaineering boot, one that Ive worn (I confess I havent worn the Kaylands) and that I like a lot. Its crampon compatible and has a slim profile thats at home on the trail and on steeper rock or ice. Like the Kaylands, its a synthetic boot with uppers of Cordura nylon and reinforced polyester. Very tough.
Or, for something a little more traditional, take a look at the fairly new Scarpa Escape ($235). Its uppers are mostly leather, save for the rubber rand around the lower perimeter. Crampon-compatible, Gore-Tex lining (both the La Sportiva and Kaylands also have waterproof liners), Vibram soles, and very comfortable. Theyre wider than the La Sportivas, so take that into consideration. Ive worn these boots as well and find them extremely comfortable and versatile.
Another really good all-leather boot is the Asolo Power Matic 200 GV ($245). Its in the same class as the three above: heavy trekking or light mountaineering. Full leather uppers, crampon-ready, Gore-Tex liner. Its a pretty stiff boot, probably the stiffest in this lineup. If support is a concern, these would be worth a look
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