Hanwag Makra Combi GTX Boots Review
Hanwag had sent me the details for their Makra Combi GTX boot and they described them as a ‘lightweight and stable all rounder for mountain tours with glacial sections’. Okay, I thought, let’s consider what attributes that boot needs to match that description. Well, I know they should be waterproof, be crampon compatible and be durable enough for extended use in demanding conditions.
I also considered that they should be comfortable for walking on varied surfaces, have a sole unit striking that difficult balance between performance and longevity, be stiff enough to operate efficiently both in snow conditions and on vertical rock and finally they should be light enough for long days in the mountains. So, come on Hanwag, how does this boot stack up against my list? They kindly sent me some to find out……
I really like the look of the Hanwag products I've seen. They seem to strike the balance between being subtle but with a hint of flashiness. In the case of the Makra Combi this is a great combination of stylish black with red midsole, stitching and lacing. It is a great looking boot (a grey and orange combo is also available).
The fabrics used are designed to strike a balance between weight and performance. The upper is Cordura with suede reinforcements in key areas. The Combi’s then have a durable PU rand and a lightweight Goretex liner. The sole is a Vibram Pepe unit and the boots feature a soft ankle cuff design incorporating a honeycomb structure for additional comfort.
The heel has a welt to allow the use of semi-automatic crampons and the lacing incorporates tape loops up to a locking lace hook at the ankle and 2 further pairs of hooks secure the ankle. Hanwag also described ‘optimised Ghillie lacing in the toe area’. I understand Ghillie lacing to be the crossover lacing used in traditional Scottish and Irish dancing shoes. So, I suggest that Hanwag are referring to the cross over lacing at the toe eyelets.
There is simple and subtle Hanwag branding on the outside of the toe and the Combi’s weigh in at 1250 grams for a pair of size 8’s.
One thing to consider straight away is the obvious attention to quality and detail that has been apparent in every Hanwag product I’ve used. The company prides itself on their tradition of products ‘handcrafted with passion’ and that certainly shines through. Every stitch on these boots is precise, the joins are perfect and the whole package simply looks spot on.
In the case of the Makra Combi’s there is precision stitching, neat edge gluing and lots of subtle details that all smack of that Hanwag passion. You are reassured that these boots will be faithful companions on many mountain adventures.
The boots also strike a good balance between lightweight and durability. 1250 grams for a size 8 is a very respectable weight for a B2 mountaineering boot, but they are also built with longevity and durability in mind - the use of Cordura and suede, as one example, is a materials combo with a proven pedigree for durability.
I’ve always found Hanwag boots suit my medium width feet and these also fitted true to size. Of course, the only way to find out if a particular boot fits you is to try some on. In my case they were like slippers straight out of the box.
The lacing allows a good degree of fine tuning and I really like that the heel can be pulled securely into the heel cup - I consider the heel fit to be a crucial aspect of mountain boot fit. Hanwag have deliberately extended the lacing right to the toe box and this really helps to fine tune the fit. I am pleased Hanwag have used a tape loop system for the foot section of lacing as this keeps a sleek and uncluttered profile to the boot - useful when using the boots with crampons and a good way to avoid any risk of catching on rocky nubbins.
Hanwag have also met the holy grail criteria of a heel cuff that is supportive and yet has the flexibility for a good range of motion. The soft honeycomb ankle padding is a great addition and the boots are very comfortable for walking as well as vertical terrain.
Any boot designed for mountaineering needs to be easy to care for and yet durable enough for use on every terrain type. Cordura is an obvious choice as it has those proven characteristics. You can easily scrub it clean and proof it with something like Nikwax fabric proofer. It keeps looking good even after intensive use and it drys quickly.
In terms of durability, the Cordura mentioned above is supported by suede along the lacing tracks, around the toe and across the ankle. Then the PU rand adds that final level of essential durability. This is a really good combination of materials and should shrug off the wear and tear of many mountain adventures.
Cordura is a waterproof fabric and, although it should be periodically reproofed, it is very low maintenance. Of course, Hanwag have combined this with a Goretex liner which together combines to fend off any water efficiently.
The other key element of a mountaineering boot is the performance on vertical terrain. This is created by a combination of the sole unit, the boot stiffness and the support offered by the upper. Let’s take those in turn. The Makra Combi GTX uses a Vibram Pepe sole unit. The Pepe has a fairly technical tread pattern designed to be self clearing. It also features a high friction rubber compound and climbing zones at the tip to allow good performance when things get vertical. It also utilises an innovative honeycomb structure to minimise weight.
In practice, the Pepe unit works really well. It walks well and climbs well. The tread grips well and it does seem to clear mud efficiently. The climb zone is also an excellent addition to allow good climbing/scrambling performance. The Makra Combi GTX also has a well judged level of stiffness. This means it has enough flex to allow comfortable walking and yet offers the lateral support for efficient use on steep or vertical ground. It is an efficient system for all round mountaineering use. Alongside this, Hanwag have managed the strike an efficient balance between having an ankle height comfortable for walking and yet enough support in the boot to offer a stable platform for moderate front pointing and for putting body weight over the toes when climbing.
The addition of a heel welt allows efficient use of a semi automatic binding. This type of binding would always be my preferred choice for mountaineering because of the ease of fitting, the security of fit and the lightness of this type of crampons.
I had set out my dream mountaineering boot criteria and sought to see how the Makra Combi GTX stacked up. The answer is that the boot excelled in every way. Although I can’t yet comment on its long term durability, it has every feature you’d wish for in a B2 general mountaineering boot and certainly looks built to stand up to tough use.
Hanwag have created another peach of a boot and I applaud their attention to detail, design flair and the craftsmanship of this product. If you want a boot you can use for long days in the mountains and days that involve a mix of snow and time on more steep rock then this boot should definitely be on your consideration list. The retail price is £235.
Posted by Paul