Aku Selvatica GTX Shoe Review
I’m not sure how many pairs of Aku shoes I’ve reviewed, but I always look forward to checking what is in one of their distinctive orange boxes when it arrives at my door. They are an innovative company who always seem to be pushing the technology boundaries for modern active footwear. They incorporate new construction methods and materials effectively and yet their products also demonstrate a design flair befitting their Italian heritage. I really like testing Aku products. At first glance the Selvatica GTX follows that pattern - this is a multi terrain shoe featuring some innovative features and nice design touches. Here is my review……
Aku say the Selvatica is optimised for trekking and light hiking in mountain environments and I certainly agree that the features are matched to that. A breathable and extremely lightweight Air 8000 upper combines with a dynamic Vibram Megagrip sole and injected EVA midsole. To increase durability and strength without a significant weight penalty, Aku have used welded PU ‘ribs’ across the shoe along with durable welded PU toe and heel protection.
Alongside this, Aku have incorporated their Elica Natural Stride System technology to offer ‘biodynamic efficiency’ and there is a Goretex Extended Comfort liner. A combined 2.0mm polypropylene lasting board and EVA Micorporosa board provide a good combination of stiffness and flexibility. Finally, the Selvatica features a a low profile cord lacing system with quick adjust fastener, a rear clip in/pull loop and a custom footbed.
The model I tested is from the men’s range and came in their grey/ochre colour although I noted that the colours currently listed on the Aku website are black/red or blue. There is also a women’s version available. The tested pair weighs 460 grams per shoe for a size 8.
The Selvatica GTX is a stylish but functional looking shoe. The bonded PU ‘ribs’ give the shoe quite a shiny appearance and this contrasts well with some orange stitching detail and orangy yellow sections in the Megagrip sole. They are a stylish and yet capable looking shoe. As usual for Aku, there are other nice design details such as the contrasting heel lining and the midsole which features interesting looking ‘fins’ incorporated into the sole block.
The fit of the Selvatica is excellent on my mid width foot. The tongue pulls aside enough for easy entry and then it is a quick job to pull the lacing tight and secure with a quick release toggle. I wondered how well the release toggle would stand up to extended use, but there’s been no issues so far. The beauty of the low profile lacing system is also that everything sits neatly and there are no laces dangling around - ideal if you are using these shoes for activities like scrambling or cycling.
As is typical of my experience with Aku shoes, the midsole offers excellent support while also being flexible enough for activities where you need to bend your foot efficiently. This makes the Selvatica great for walking on challenging terrain just as they would be a good option for scrambling. They are certainly capable of being that multi-terrain shoe claimed by Aku.
This combination of support and range of movement is also helped by Aku’s Elica Natural Stride System technology. Elica is an integrated system combining the insole and midsole board with the outsole to follow the anatomical shape of the foot, This is designed to adapt to normal heel and forefoot inclination and is designed to provide better pressure distribution which, in turn, reduces impact and strain.
It is hard to say how effective this is in a particular pair of shoes because you would really have to make a comparison with a pair without the system. However, I can certainly say that I have always been impressed with the support and comfort of Aku footwear and have no reason to think the system isn’t contributing some support magic. I guess this also means that, given these are a shoe rather than a boot, that the foot is better supported and so there is more lateral support. The final link in the performance chain is the footbed. Whereas a lot of shoe manufacturers will put a very basic footbed in and expect users to upgrade, Aku use a very good quality Ortholite bed that should serve you well without replacement.
I haven’t had much cause to test the Goretex liner yet, but I have no reason to think it will do anything but an excellent job at keeping water out. What I have noticed more (these have mainly been tested in warm dry conditions so far) is how well the shoes ventilate - the Air 8000 upper really works well. These would really be a perfect light and breathable shoe for warm weather trekking.
I have used the shoes on gritstone climbing courses and the Selvatica has shrugged off wear and tear on rough rock. They also grip well when rock hopping and the deeply lugged Vibram Megagrip sole is very confidence inspiring on muddy, loose or grassy ground. Everything, infact, that I would expect from a modern Vibram sole unit.
The heel cup is well shaped to grip and support the foot although I did find the high heel top took a little getting used too. I had some initial rubbing and friction on my ankle but I suspect this is more to do with my ankle shape. The the issue has certainly settled down with some wear and so the other possibility is that I’ve softened this area up sufficiently.
Other details of the Selvatica are just as you’d expect for a premium shoe - there are subtle printed logos and a functional but low profile heel loop that will help you pull the shoes on or allow you to clip the Selvatica’s to the back of your climbing harness for after climb descents.
The construction quality is impeccable and the fine detail is great. With every pair of Aku shoes or boots I’ve used it always feels they have been produced with the personal care of a wizened Italian shoemaker!
I consider these another firm hit from Aku. The Selvatica GTX will serve you well for a broad range of activities and for very varied conditions. They are extremely light and yet, that said, they seem able to punch well above their weight. Oh yes, and there is that Italian design flair to ensure they look great too. I think these are a great shoe and I highly recommend them. The Selvatica GTX retails for £149.95 and you can find full details on the Aku website here.
Tested and posted by Paul