A good pair of walking boots is the most important thing you buy when it comes to walking, whether it be boots, approach shoes, or what ever your preference. And above all, I believe, they have to fit well. Having good grip is up their with waterproof, how tough they are etc not as high on the list, but maybe still a consideration.
For the last eighteen months my lighter Spring/Summer boot has been a pair of North Ridge Corrie synthetic boots. They are Go-Outdoors own brand and to be honest they have been very comfortable never let any water in. But a major downside is their ruggedness. They are simply wearing out rapidly. Their ability to support my foot has reduced and, even though the sole is quite soft rubber, their ability to grip is questionable. My winter boots have hard soles and they have around the same level of grip.
In July I was away in the
Lake District to do some sight seeing and a couple of walks. I decided to call into the outdoor shops in Keswick and in one found a pair of boots I licked the specification of. Light weight, light construction, what seemed like good support and a high tech sole system. The boots are were the Salomon Cosmic 2 4D, a mouth full.
|After Grisedale Pike and a trip to the Peak District.|
I tried some other boots but found the Cosmics the most comfortable. I have very wide feet and so I have to be careful in picking boots. The shop measured me as a size
UK 8.5 yet still needed a 9.5 in the Cosmic 2s. And they are supposed to be a wide fit, so proof that trying is a necessity. I had a walk around in them for a few minutes, up and down the slopes, stomping around etc. They felt good straight odd the bat. The toe box in particular has plenty of room. But the Sensifit system allows a very good hold on your foot. UK
From the bottom up, the boots have a Contagrip out sole that has almost a car tyre appearance and seems to have a good grip level with a variety of lug types.
|Excellent tread pattern.|
The mid-sole is EVA with a 4D chassis which is designed to be more stable and I was told by the shop assistant is designed to stop you from going over on your ankles.
|The 4D Chassis is visible, the five luminous yellow ribs along the mid sole.|
The upper is made of a seamless ballistic nylon with the Sensifit system to help the boot wrap around your foot. The strips of the system are bonded to the upper and the only point of concern I have about the boots. There is a small amount of stitching in this area, but it will be interesting to see how it holds up.
|Sensifit system and lace lock lug.|
The lacing system works very well. The lower lugs are light and allow easy adjustment. Next up is a lace lock lug which is great for locking the laces on the lower lugs and allow isolation of the laces zones for varying tension. Four upper lugs (2 by 2) and the high ankle collar on the boot offer very good support around the ankle with what seemed at the time of buying like very good ankle support.
|Lacing layout, high ankle and longer replacement laces.|
Heels and toes are protected by very good rubber heel and toe caps. The offer plenty of protection with the heel being held in place very well. Although light, the toe protection is more than adequate.
|Broad toebox and toe protection.|
The boots are Gore-tex Performance Comfort Footwear lined. I presume that this is a footwear equivalent of the Gore-tex Performance Shell material. The tongue of the boot is high, well padded and fully stitched in.
The boots are supplied with a very nice insole. The insole is Salomon's Ortholite and it works very nicely. I think if you were to replace the Ortholite, you may have to quite a lot to get something better. I found it better than the insoles supplied in more expensive boots.
|The Ortholite insole.|
How were the boots in practise? The day after purchasing the boots I headed up Grisedale Pike. This is something I wouldn't normally try, especially with leather boots. But I had been told by the shop assistant that a breaking in period was pretty much non-existent. How right he was. The boots never rubbed once during the walk. They felt comfortable through-out. Grip was very good, even on slopped rocks at high angles. This gives you confidence in the boots grip level and means they feel safe. As for ankle roll, that too was non-existent, and the boots were very stable. And due to the light weight muscle fatigue was reduced, but yet ankle support felt up to the job.
So is it all smelling of roses (not sure my boots will smell of roses now)? The first blinding mistake with these boots, and one Salomon could solve easily, is the laces. Because of the lug placement, the lugs are quite wide apart across the tongue. Due to this, and being high on the ankle, long laces are needed. The laces on the boots as supplied are approximately 210cm. Now this is the kind of length needed for mountaineering boots. Combined with my wide feet, to tie a proper secure knot, I needed laces more like 240cm. I purchased some lengths of thin climbers cord, approximately 3mm thick, and cut to around 240cm. These were perfect and allowed a better, more secure lacing system and knots.
My other concern, and one that will take time, is the boots ability to stand up to abuse. How long will they last? They will only be used in the warmer months (notice I didn't say sunnier) with other boots in the winter. So hopefully I will be able to get a few years out of them. 4-5 years would be good, longer brilliant, less disappointing. I have reservations about the ability of the bonding system to hold up. So time will tell. I will report back in around 12 months to update this concern.
Would I recommend them? Yes, but shop around for a competitive price if you know what size you need. Retail prices range greatly from around £130-170.