Our Aku Bellamont 3 V_L GTX review explores a pair of high quality shoes designed for urban use, but with features that also work for some off the beaten track adventures. We hope you find it useful.
We have been proud to work with Aku for many decades and we have linked to several previous reviews below. For many decades they have been producing fantastic technical footwear from their Italian base in the famous footwear district of Montebelluna.
We also had the privilege of chatting to the companies CSR manager Giulio Piccin at the recent OTS trade show and he shared with us Aku’s continuing journey towards being industry sustainability leaders. Our conversation with Giulio is detailed here.
During our conversation we discussed, amongst many other areas, the companies development of their Bellamont shoe. This has been a focus product in the companies drive towards reducing the impact of footwear manufacture.
I actually have some prior knowledge of the Aku range having reviewed a previous version several years ago. That review is available here. They are actually still in service and performing well. But, it was also clear the Bellamont range had moved on hugely since that last review and so it was great to arrange a pair for review. Please do read our Aku Bellamont 3 V-Light GTX review to find out more.
Discussing the overall features of the Bellamont only really makes sense alongside the shoes sustainability credentials. Why? Aku have gone all out to produce a vegan friendly product designed with minimal environmental impact. The Bellamont is produced in Aku owned European factories and 100% of the product components are traceable.
The upper is made from 1.8mm thickness 100% recycled microfibre with Liba Smart PU protection at heel and toe. There is a Gore-Tex liner made from 99% recycled yarns and the laces are produced from recycled polyester.
The Bellamont features a Vibram Predator ii N-OIL sole unit made with over 90% petroleum free products and colours are obtained from natural pigments. The Italian made R-EVA midsole contains 20% recycled material and their is a 1.5mm nylon and die-cut EVA lasting board. The footbed is made from coconut fibre, latex and bamboo.
The Bellamont come in a range of colours including the vibrant blue/orange colour tested. They are available in sizes UK 3-13 and a size UK 8 weighs in at 370 grams. The Aku Bellamont 3 V-Light GTX retails for £205.
With the radiant blue upper and contrasting orange laces and orange midsole wedge, the Bellamont is a striking shoe. If you do want a more toned down option there are other colour combinations available. The Bellamont also comes with a grey lace option if you want to switch the styling a bit, but I actually really like this colour combo. For an urban focussed shoe the Bellamont is fun and vibrant.
I also really like the shape. They are quite streamlined with laces extending quite far intro the toe box. This allows easy fit fine tuning but also adds an approach shoe styling.
Another very noticeable feature is the overall weight. At only 370 grams for a UK8, they are certainly light. This makes them very practical for travel. On a recent sport climbing trip to Spain I wasn’t sure whether to pack a spare pair of shoes due to baggage allowances. The light weight and compact pack size made it viable.
When deciding whether to take them with me I also had practicality in mind. I wanted another pair of shoes that would get me to the base of the crag and yet be compact and light to carry on some of the multi-pitch routes we planned to do. That’s the type of mixed use I really see this shoe excelling at and so the use focus for this review is a shoe that works for the city and yet also works for more off the beaten track applications too.
The Bellamont is a comfortable fit straight out of the box. The flexible and welcoming outsole/midsole/insole combination combines with the soft microfibre upper to offer a slipper like fit. I also found the shoe to be true to size. I am almost universally a UK 8 and 8 fits perfectly. The shoe is, I would suggest, about medium width. I found it comfortably snug for my mid-width foot. I haven’t noticed any stretching of the shoe yet, but the Bellamonts have certainly started to mould really nicely to my foot.
In terms of performance, these shoes are going to perform superbly for about town use, but will also get you onto more challenging terrain with ease. The suede like microfibre upper looks quite prone to marking and so I had proofed them with Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof before taking them outside. Since then they have shrugged off water and mud has easily rinsed off. I will keep proofing them periodically though.
Having a Gore-Tex liner on a shoe of this type feels like a luxury, but I also see it as a sign of Aku’s commitment to producing top performing footwear. It is also great to see companies like Gore-Tex producing recycled content products and Aku supporting continued development by choosing these options.
The Vibram Predator ii N-Oil sole unit is also interesting. Being able to manufacture high performance soles that are over 90% petroleum free is a great development. In use the sole also performs really well. The defined tread pattern combines with the heel step to offer good tread on a variety of surfaces. I have used them on steep gravel paths and wet grass without any concerns for security. They also work well on rocky terrain such as a recent boulder hopping test along the top of Stanage Edge.
A key factor in sustainable manufacture is also about durability. You can produce the least damaging product, but if it fails with minimal use it may actually be more environmentally damaging. I haven’t used the shoes long enough to have thoroughly tested their durability, but they certainly feel robust. I also have a long history of using Aku footwear and I can reliably say that durability has never been an issue. Indeed, I am still using boots and shoes that are going strong after several years of use.
In my experience the outdoor community cares passionately about protecting the environments we treasure. Concern about the climate emergency also rings loud and clear. So, if manufacturers are producing more sustainable products discerning consumers will be happy to select them – even if they sometimes cost a bit more than other options.
The flip side is we then need companies willing to put resources into developing the right products. From the manufacturers of the individual components to the companies producing the finished items. Every part of the supply chain must work together.
So, a massive well done to companies like Aku. They have a vision for where the company heads and they are willing to deploy the resources to get there. They are also leading the rest of the industry and drawing other manufacturers along by giving them the tools they need. Aku are deliberately open and transparent about providing data on the environmental cost of manufacture and making it open and available for everyone. This is a deliberate policy. Please do have a read of my piece about interviewing Giulio Piccin (linked above) to find out more about their impressive journey. There is also lots of info on their website here which is well worth a read.
I really liked the original version of the Bellamont but I hope my Aku Bellamont 3 V_L GTX review makes it clear that I really really like this model. From it’s quirky styling to comfort and performance. It all works together so well.
Of course, that’s also alongside this being a shoe whose production is driven by sustainable manufacture at every turn. I think Aku are producing great quality footwear and yet managing to go above and beyond to offer customers less impactful options. Please do have a read of the sustainability information available on the Aku website here. More details about the Aku Bellamont 3 V_L GTX are available here.
Alongside this Aku Bellamont 3 V_L GTX review we have reviewed a range of other Aku footwear. For example, please do check out our review of the Alterra Light GTX Mid here. There is also a review of the Rock DFS GTX shoe here and the Tengu GTX here. We regularly review products and they are all available on the review section of our blog here. Our blog also contains a useful selection of advice and inspiration articles which can be found here and here. We hope you find it to be a useful resource.