Basin and Range Field Test: Salewa Alp Flow Mid GORE-TEX SURROUND Boot
Salewa Alp Flow Mid GORE-TEX SURROUND Boot review
We take the Salewa Alp Flow Mid GORE-TEX SURROUND Boot up Colorado’s Mt. Bierstadt for a Basin and Range Magazine Field Test.
There’s a cardinal rule somewhere buried in the canon of mountaineering, “never take new boots out for a hike.” New hiking boots are typically kept close to home and slowly broken in over the course of several weeks before being trusted out in the wild. That’s because taking new boots on a big hike is a great way to incur blisters, making what was supposed to be a good day on the trail more like a painful limp fest.
But that’s not always the case…
Salewa teamed up with GORE-TEX to create a breathable, waterproof boot that’s seemingly broken-in right out of the box. And before we get any further, let me say that these are really comfortable hiking boots. So beyond their good looks, what makes these boots special? The secret sauce here is something called GORE-TEX Surround and is used to enhance the breathable part of the boot’s breathability.
We covered GORE-TEX’s Surround technology a few months back if you’re interested in a deep dive, but for now, the best way to understand its benefits is by taking a look at the boot’s insole. GORE developed a method of inflating (for lack of a better term) their usual waterproof membrane into a honeycomb-ish footbed. This is used in addition to the normal breathable/waterproof membrane booty that comes with every GORE-TEX equipped boot. The SURROUND footbed brings the breathable waterproofing down to the sole of the foot, creating a layer of airflow directly underneath the foot. As so equipped, these boots BREATHE.
But that’s not the only benefit to these boots… Once Salewa had the SURROUND tech from Gore-Tex they were able to take it from there and create a trail boot that ran with the theme. The result is a lightweight hiking boot that doesn’t sacrifice comfort for it’s rugged good looks.
The Salewa Men’s MS ALP Flow Mid GTX Boot is outfitted with soft nubuck leather on the outside and waterproof GORE-TEX Surround Technology on the inside. Underneath, a Vibram sole takes care of traction and grip. A “Precision” lacing system ties it all together.
- The Salewa Men’s MS ALP Flow Mid GTX Boot weighs in at a fairly svelte 605g or 1.3 pounds.
- Outsole: Vibram Hike Approach
- Insole: GORE-TEX Surround Midsole
- Lining: GORE-TEX Extended Comfort
- Upper: 1.8mm full suede upper, Nubuk, Ballistic Mesh, Protective rand, 1.6mm Nubuk
Field Test Results
Colorado boasts 54x 14,000+ peaks within the state’s Rocky Mountain Range. These lofty and challenging peaks provided us with a perfect laboratory for testing Salewa’s latest. We chose the Front Range’s Mt. Bierstadt because it’s a relatively short climb (2-3 hours up and 1-2 down) that’s not technical until it’s final ascent. It’s also known for its’ waterlogged start which proved useful for testing the SURROUND tech in the water. (See our video above)
As soon as I left the lot and hit the trail, I was immediately struck with the flexibility and overall comfort of the boot. In fact, it made me doubletake my original lacing, re-cinching it up for a more snug fit to be sure of the support I knew I would need for the long hike ahead.
These boots are intended for use in medium to warmer conditions, and I can see why. As any 7AM start at 11,000′ elevation, it was a cool morning and I could feel the breeze on the sides and tops of my feet through the boots. GORE and Salewa weren’t kidding when they said these were breathable. That said, it wasn’t an unpleasant or overly noticeable sensation and the feeling blended away into the rest of the experience as the day wore on. A noticeable difference, no doubt stemming from the SURROUND tech and Salewa’s massive side ventilation outlets, was a distinct lack of sweaty feet. I have, what I think is a relatively normal level of foot sweat – and it can become noticeable in my other full leather GORE-TEX equipped boots. The Salewas however kept my feet cool and dry along the entire hike.
With regard to overall boot performance, the Salewas were definitely up to the task. Mt. Bierstadt’s loamy mid section and rocky summit did nothing to deter the ALP Flow Mid’s ability to tackle the terrain. And aside from the lower section’s slippery wood waterbars, traction remained sure-footed. The ‘approach’ style lacing pattern kept the toe-box secure and made placement on the summit’s large boulders reliable. And while the summit-bid on Bierstadt is not a technical 3, there is some scrambling necessary to reach the top. These short scrambles require you to bend, scrunch, hunch and reach as you continue on the climb and the Salewa’s flexibility made these moments doable, giving way as my ankle needed to bend and twist. That said, it is worth noting that these are not technical climbing boots and would not serve well in conditions that necessitate footwear that is stiff and secure. This was made clear from the numerous times that when I noticed more flexibility than my normal go-to full leather boots. Even the stream crossing in the bogs did nothing to thwart the Mid’s from their mission.