Hanwag Tatra II GTX Boot Review
Hanwag are a prestigious and long established German company and I always look forward to testing their products - every item I’ve used so far has had a premium feel with reassuring solidity and impeccable construction quality. I have recently been using some of Hanwag’s Tatra II GTX boots and they have certainly followed this pattern.
On initial inspection, everything about the Tatra II screams out classic mountain boot. The solid traditional materials, the high supportive heel with blocky Vibram sole, the combination of hook and loop eyelets and the protective rand at toe and heel. It is a very good looking boot - but with a definite nod to the traditional.
But, like many great products, the devil is in the detail and there is definitely a lot more to the Tatra II than initially meets the eye…….
The Tatra II GTX is the latest version of Hanwag’s best selling model and it’s a full leather hill and mountain walking boot. It has a medium fit last, a Vibram sole with heel shock absorption, loads of ankle protection and it offers a very supportive fit. The upper is made from waxed Nubuck leather with a soft vented ankle cuff and a Goretex liner.
There are protective toe and ankle rands, a stiffened mid sole and the lacing system is a mix of loop and hook fasteners. Every feature you would expect in a top quality mountain boot is here.
Hanwag state the weight for a pair of size 8 (42) to be 1520 grams although my test pair at that size actually weighed 1470 grams. While not especially light weight, this is certainly a reasonable weight for such a solid boot. It should also be noted that Hanwag do produce a wide and narrow version of the Tatra II along with a women’s version. They even do a version designed to comfortably accommodate people with bunions.
I have been using the Tatra II for several months for a variety of hillwalking activities. Some of these have been one day outings with a light pack, but it has also been used for a few multi day trips with a heavier pack and several days food. Despite the incredibly dry summer I have even found some wet terrain to walk in and the boots have been used on a range of terrain types.
I always take the time to examine a new boot before trying it on as I believe there is a lot you of information you can draw about how it will perform. The Tatra II immediately stands out as having a very well sculpted shape and, although it is a fairly stiff boot overall, the well formed and very well padded inner and soft but supportive footbed promises a very comfortable fit.
And so it proved - the fit of the Tatra II was comfortable straight out of the box. The boot feels supportive and the heel cups your foot protectively. The ankle cuff offers excellent support and all that is before you have even laced it up.
The lacing is very efficient. There are 4 loop eyelets (some of which have a clever system with ball bearings built in to offer a very smooth lacing action), a locking hook fastener which sits well back to allow the heel to be pulled in snugly and a further 2 hook fasteners finish the job. The eyelets are actually made by a casting process (rather than stamped) for added strength.
The boot can be fastened around the foot and then, once you pull in the first hook at the ankle, it really pulls the heel snugly into the heel cup and locks in place to prevent lace slippage. It feels great actually. Finally, the ankle tightness can then be easily adjusted as required and there is a hook on the tongue which hooks onto the laces to prevent the tongue slipping down. A tried and tested lacing configuration and Hanwag are wise to stick with it on these boots simply because it works very well.
Once it is laced up and you have a walk around you will also notice the sole is fairly stiff. This is created by the combination of a midsole stiffening shank and the that blocky Vibram sole. Not uncomfortably stiff by any means - but mid range stiff. This, in real world terms, means the Tatra II can be used efficiently on rough terrain and when carrying a heavy load. It will suit a variety of uses but just be aware of that stiffness when choosing if this is the boot for you.
The heel unit incorporates a shock absorber and the Vibram AW Integral sole has proved well up to the task on all types of terrain. You will have no problem walking a long distance or when carrying a heavy pack in these boots and they cope with everything from loose scree to wet grass. They have also proved very competent for low to mid grade scrambling.
I haven’t used the Tatra II’s for long enough to comment too much on their longevity, but the substantial materials and heel and toe protection look certain to offer a long life of mountain adventure. The test boots have easily shrugged off everything thrown at them so far and it is worth noting that they are even resoleable.
Having a Goretex liner is always a good thing, but if you look after the Nubuck leather well and proof it regularly (I always use Nikwax products), these boots will fend off a lot of moisture before that liner even gets a look in. Hanwag do produce a version of the boot without a liner.
I did say the devil is in the detail and Hanwag have proudly added a stitched logo on the side which, I understand, required a £60,000 spend on a new machine to allow them to add this! The boots I tested came in an attractive but subtle grey colour called asphalt and it is also available in brown.
The Tatra has been a very popular and successful boot for Hanwag and they could have happily continued with this model in their range. However, a forward thinking company definitely doesn’t rest and the Tatra II shows that ethos very clearly - they have assessed every detail and spared no expense to make a great product even better. Bravo.
It is a very competent boot and, if it suits your requirements, it will serve you brilliantly. The Tatra II is produced in Hanwag’s European factory and, although at £220 they are at the pricier end of the market, they will last many years of mountain adventures - infact you may well be passing them down to your children! Well done to Hanwag on another superb product. More details are available on the Hanwag website here.
Posted by Paul