Gear Guy

Can I get the boots I want for under $150?

I have been unsuccessfully combing the Internet for a pair of boots that possess a few specific features: full grain leather, a waterproof-breathable membrane (e.g. Gore-Tex), and a gusseted tongue. If you can help me find a pair of such boots for under $150 please tell me where! Lucas Mead, Washington

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You can comb all you want, Lucas my man. But here’s the deal: You’re not going to find a pair of the boots with those specs at that price, unless they’re on sale. You will find boots with Gore-Tex liners for less than $150, but they’ll be fabric/leather models, not boots with good one-piece, all-leather uppers, which it sounds like you want.

The thing is, Gore-Tex adds $15 to $25 to the cost of a boot, putting them above your target= price. About the closest thing I’m aware of these days is the L.L. Bean Leather Cresta Hiker, which is as you described except for the price: $169. But that’s pretty darned close! And at that, they’re a bargain. Another boot that’s really doing well on the market, and is earning a lot of praise, is the Asolo FSN 95 GTX ($150), which has a Gore-Tex liner. But the construction is of the pieced-together sort, albeit still pretty good. You might take a look at that as well.

Otherwise, my suggestion is to skip the Gore-Tex. Really, good-quality boots, when well maintained, are about as waterproof as possible when you take into account foot sweating, water over-topping, and everything else. REI, for instance, sells a really nice boot called the Spirit V, which as one-piece leather uppers and sells for $155. There’s also the Vasque Renegade, which sells for $150 and has one-piece leather uppers and polyurethane midsole for support and comfort—a nice boot for the money. And really, occasional treatments of a good leather waterproofer will keep these boots as dry as if they had a Gore-Tex liner. Drier, if you consider that most hiking takes place on dry days, when sweating will produce more moisture than the boot could possible absorb. And the simple fact is that a boot with a Gore-Tex liner does not breathe as well as the same boot without. There’s just no way around it.

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