I have mixed emotions when it comes to buying new boots. On the one hand, I love new gear. On the other, I never know how they’ll do on the trail. A pair of good, well fit boots are quickly forgotten on the trail, but no other piece of gear has the ability to absolutely ruin a trip and make life miserable like the wrong pair of boots. So every year or so, I go through what is for me the agonizing process of buying new boots. My Merrills have served me well, but they are starting to break down and I’ve been covertly eyeing the shoe departments at Summit Hut and REI for the past couple of months. The laborious buying process culminated a couple of weeks ago with the purchase of a pair of Salomon 3D Fastpackers.
I’m normally not a big fan of Goretex boots because I find them to be too hot, but with winter coming I figured a little extra warmth wouldn’t hurt. Of course, I now have a reason to buy another pair of lightweights in the spring, so maybe Goretex isn’t such a bad thing after all. Anyway, at 2 lbs 5 oz for the pair, the Fastpackers are a good compromise between the high tech lightweight designs and the leather monstrosities that still make up a large part of the hiking boot market. I grew up with heavy leather boots and for the life of me I don’t understand the appeal. Is it a retro thing or do backpackers just get some sort of masochistic pleasure from strapping an extra five pounds to each foot? To each his own, I suppose, but for me, I prefer liberal doses of synthetic materials in my boots. The synthetics are lighter and breathe better in my experience.
Construction quality is very good for the Fastpackers, as you would expect from Salomon. The heels and toe box are well protected with a durable rubber layer, and they sport a moderately aggressive tread pattern with a sole that smears well on the rocks. I expect them to do quite well for scrambling and bouldering. The soles provide generous impact protection and are flared out slightly at the heel and mid-sole for improved stability. These boots performed very well in terms of protection on the rocky, uneven surface of the local stream beds. My only knock on the construction is that the insoles are a bit flimsy, but those are easily replaced. Ankle support is moderate, but if you are prone to sprains or have weak ankles, these boots might not work for you.
I’ve only put about ten trail miles on the boots, but so far they pass the test. They are definitely hotter than I am used to and I’ll be taking them off during longer breaks, but they were very comfortable and provide outstanding stability and support. Break in time is pretty minimal. Even with the low mileage, I won’t hesitate to take them on my four day trip later this month although I will try wearing sock liners to combat the extra heat they generate.
All in all, the Fastpackers are a good boot that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. That said, I know that boots are like religion and everyone has an opinion, so let’s hear yours. What are your favorite boots?
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About the Author: Tucson, AZ Realtor & Investor. My true passions however are hiking and whisky (although generally not at the same time). If you have a question about any of these just drop me a line!