Lisa Bergerud gets into warm-weather footwear and the latest backpacks.

Walking boots
keen sandal women's venicelowe alpine rucksack
George Fisher, 03 April 2011
Was that it? As I write this the snow is long gone, a distant memory unless you trek north to the Cairngorm corries. Lambs in the fields, temps hitting 10 degrees, must be Spring on the way… So unless we get a late Arctic blast your thoughts can safely turn to footwear suitable for warmer conditions.

Ever reliable, Keen has come up with some great new boots, shoes and sandals this year. The Arroyo II (£85, men’s and women’s) combines trail shoe functionality with the breathability of a sandal. Keen’s Lace Capture System pulls once and cinches down the entire forefoot, while the sole wraps up at the front for toe protection that’s so effective that there’s no cursing when you stub your toe! Then there’s the men’s Newport (£80), Keen’s hybrid design that started it all and still feels great underfoot because of the leather insole. Likewise the women’s Venice (£80) is designed with water in mind, never happier than messing about on the river or fording a stream.

Teva, also famous for water sports shoes is introducing the Churn (men’s and women’s £67) a multi-sport shoe that specialises in getting wet - its mesh upper is breathable and quick-drying, with a fold-down heel creating a slip-on. The men’s Terra Fi (£67) is a classic Teva sports sandal, while women can be a bit more adventurous with the award winning and eye-catching Tirra in Cyan Blue (£56).

Now onto the fells and La Sportiva, a company well known for its climbing footwear, has distilled this high- mountain expertise into two top-quality walking boots. The men’s Alpha GTX (£190) and women’s Gamma GTX (£170) are light in weight with GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable linings plus extra stability and shock absorption from a new midsole.

Scarpa is introducing its new ActivFit technology, the result of considerable factory investment and clever ergonomic design that has resulted in instant comfort. The first boots to benefit from ActivFit are the men’s Kinesis (£175) and women’s Mythos (£170) - both have midsoles that blend three layers of PU for a mix of cushioning and stability, plus new Vibram sole units.
If you’re moving a bit faster and lighter on the fells – fell racing in fact – then La Sportiva’s new XCountry (£85) will be of interest. Drawing on their success with the Crosslite fell shoe, the XCountry is lighter with a sole unit that’s closer to the ground for better stability. For those running both pavements and mountain trails, Salomon’s new running shoe the XR Crossmax Neutral (men’s and women’s £95) is designed to give great fit and cushioning, ideal for high mileage with a brand-new Salomon Contagrip sole design.

Also new from Salomon is their Wings Sky GTX, an amazingly light design that offers the support of a boot with the feel of a running shoe. After appearing for just 3.4 seconds on Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, apparently the Wings Sky GTX suddenly became “the worlds most wanted hiking boot”! From Asolo this year we have a couple of interesting new boots. The Fandango (love the name… men’s and women’s £140) is a rarity these days, a non-GORE- TEX lined boot with water-resistant Nubuck leather upper and a smooth leather inner. Then there’s the Tribe GTX (£150), which is essentially a GORE-TEX lined version of the Fandango.

One of our favourite boot companies, Meindl has introduced a new Comfort Fit that offers extra space and volume in the forefoot area, helping those with extra wide feet and ‘lumps and bumps’. The Bernina GTX (£200) is the first to be made on the Comfort Fit last, and sits alongside their now classic Matrei boot (£165). Turning to socks, the big news is that we have Smartwool back in stock. Their new improved construction uses a ‘wool-on-wool’ technology putting more merino wool in high-impact and high-wear areas, which helps reduce shock and abrasion while giving you a longer lasting sock. We also stock a wide range of socks from Falke, Bridgedale, Icebreaker and Teko.

Finally to backpacks. Lowe Alpine has launched two super-light designs dedicated to people who want to move quickly in the mountains. The Light? ite 28 (£60) is perfect for mountain marathons, weighing just 410g with a ‘stripped weight’ of 320g and the Adaptive Fit shoulder harness. The Light? ite 14 (£50) is aimed at trail and fell runners looking for a stable body-hugging design and weighs 350g (270g stripped). From Osprey, the new-generation Talon features an AirScape backpanel, BioStretch adjustable harness and hipbelt for comfort. The new women’s Sirrus 26 (£75) with its air vented back stands alongside the successful Men’s Stratos 26 (£75) while for travellers who think the classic Sojourn 80 (£160) is too big, now we have the Sojourn 60 (£150); perfect for a long weekend away with its wheels and carry harness.

Article by George Fisher outdoor shop, Keswick

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