Alex, a lesser known member of the KitPest Team, is Mr Networking… At one of his many prosecco fuelled events he recently met the very nice peeps from AKU’s PR company. The upshot of this was that KitPest has received two pairs of boots to trash and review! I have these ones, and we also have a pair of the new SELVATICA TACTICAL MID GTX boots, currently being put through their paces by our resident Italian Cave Troll, Tomasso.
Given that these boots are now on issue to the British Army, I was given this pair to get a non-military perspective.
Prior to this review I had not seen any of AKU’s products up close, so I very was interested to take a look!
These boots were gifted to KitPest without caveat for us to make a completely honest assessment.
It is also worth noting that these boots were made in Romania rather than the Italian factories, and are not part of the MOD Contract fabrication.
The boots are of an interesting, non-traditional, design. They are very clean and streamlined to look at. When I wore them for a hike with my Scouts recently, one of the other Leaders commented that they look a bit like ice-skate boots.
The boot is constructed from a mixture of leather and fabric. The lower portion being full grain leather. The leather on the boot has a rough textured finish which feels more like some kind of synthetic. This roughness also gives the leather a matt finish
The fabric part of the boot has a very robust feel to it. It feels more like a Cordura type fabric than other fabric boots I have come across. It is AKU’s own, trademarked, AIR8000® system. Apparently its “level of breathability increases over a period of 24 hours up to more than 11 times that of a conventionally made fabric“.
The boot is lined with a Gore-Tex membrane. AKU run every membrane “bootie” through a pressure test to ensure it is waterproof before it goes into the boot.
The padded collar on the boot is lined with a wicking fabric to help dispel heat and moisture from inside the boot.
The sole is a Vibram Foura which has the logo in black (being a military boot), and which has a good aggressive tread pattern.
Other features to note were a leather strip running the length of the lace gate, and which provides the lace loops. This presumably gives greater robustness to the lace loops. There is also a loop on the tongue which the laces go through to help hold it in place when it is laced up. Unlike many boots out there the tongue bellows go all the way to the top of the boot collar, and are fully lined by the Gore-Tex “bootie”.
It is worth noting that in natural light these boots are a much darker brown than they appear in photographs online. Especially the fabric part.
The boots weigh in at 600g each.
In terms of construction, the boots appear to be very well made. The stitching is very neat and well finished throughout. There has been clear attention to detail throughout the fabrication process.
I threw them on straight out of the box to see how much breaking in they needed. Right away they were very soft and comfortable, with the exception of the ankle collar which was very stiff, and will need wearing in.
I found when I tightened the laces to accommodate my instep that the sides of lace gate became almost touching. I do have a narrow foot so it was gratifying to see that the standard width fitting was able to accommodate me comfortably.
The Laces seemed to me to be quite long when I did them up. However, with what I have noted about the amount I tightened the instep it is no surprise. It is clear that someone with a wider foot or higher instep would find no problem with the instep fit of the boot, or of having long enough laces to tie them comfortably.
With the instep tightened, and the laces locked into the clip at the bottom of the ankle, I found that my foot did not slide forward to hit the end of the boot, and my heel was positively locked in place and not slipping. This is a big positive for use in uneven terrain.
The lace lock clip provides very positive retention and enables you to easily adjust the tightness of the ankle to give you whatever level of support you require.
I took the boots out that evening for a 5 mile, off-road, hike with my Scouts. Carrying light kit in my daysack I found the boots very comfortable. There was no print through to my feet from rocky ground and they felt well cushioned throughout.
The weather was foul and the boots were subjected to a lot of rain. The leather shed water very well and the Gore-Tex “bootie” worked as promised. My feet stayed dry throughout.
I have two issues with these boots but, they are issues that I have with all fabric boots. Whilst a Gore-Tex membrane might stop your feet from getting wet, the fabric of the boot retains water. In cold wet conditions this will mean to heat constantly being leeched from you feet and over time the possibility of a non-freezing cold injury. As such I would not recommend these boots for Winter use. I will certainly be using them as a 2/3 season boot.
The second issue I have is one of robustness. I hike a lot in mountainous terrain and this environment is very hard on boot uppers. I would be concerned that a cut into the fabric from a sharp rock would compromise the Gore-Tex membrane and therefore write off the boot. With this in mind, I am surprised that they have been selected as a combat boot, especially with consideration to urban environments.
However, with those two caveats in mind I will happily use these boots as a 2/3 season boot in non-mountainous terrain.
In terms of price point, AKU sell them on their own website for £199.90 which is definitely reasonable for the quality of the boot.
AKU do have these boots on the Women’s area of their website, but it is not clear if this is just because they go down as far as a size 3 or if they are differently shaped to accommodate the needs of Women’s feet. See the difference here…
Really well made boots. Very comfortable. Good value for money. Great 2/3 season boot for use in non-mountainous terrain.
Please note, this opinion is based on boots that are produced outside of the MOD contract. I cannot vouch for the quality of boots produced inside that contract, especially with regards to the significant drop in quality experienced with the Altberg Boots.
- Cost – £££: £199.90
- Value for money 1-5: 5. You get what you pay for. Plus, when you wear out the soles AKU have a replacement service so you can have new ones factory fitted.
- Ease of use 1-5: 5, Well designed and well fitting.
- Construction 1-5: 5, Well made with clear attention to detail in the construction.
- Allyness 1-5: 1, They’re issue…
This Kit Pest Article was written by Ben O’Toole. Hopefully you enjoyed it and if you have any thoughts or comments related to this article then leave a comment!