Dear Gear Guy, I looking to replace my trusty Asolo AFX 535 backpacking boots after they got chewed on by marmots in the Tetons. I kid you not! I considering the Asolo Forclaz, but are there any other good leather boots out there that don't have a Gore-Tex liner? Joshua Baltimore, Maryland
Anyway, you raise an interesting question. It's true that it has become as hard as rocks to find a leather boot without some kind of waterproof-breathable liner—either Gore-Tex or one of its competitors. This is not a trend that gives me glee. A good-quality all-leather boot, properly cared for, is to me as near as waterproof as one can reasonably expect. Plus it will perform better all those times when rain is not an issue, breathing better, drying more quickly, and generally keeping your feet cooler and more comfortable.
But, you still can find non-lined boots. Asolo's TPS 535 ($175; www.asolo.com) would be one example, a boot that's very comparable to your AFX's. The 535 has all-leather uppers, a shock-absorbing midsole, and a Cambrelle liner for comfort and moisture-wicking. The Lowa Banff ($200; www.lowaboots.com) is another very "traditional" boot, with a little thicker leather than the Asolo boots and also a leather liner, which requires some break-in but helps lead to a near-custom fit. And, Scarpa's SL M3 ($239; www.scarpa-us.com) is an absolute classic of a boot—beautifully made, all-leather uppers, Vibram soles. It's a rugged piece that'll have you skipping around those marmots in comfort.
So there you go. Any one of these boots will give you good service. Find the one that fits best, and buy it!
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