Some time ago I was asked to test a pair of Hanwag’s Combi GTX via ferrata boots (you can read that review here) and I must admit I had to read about the boots for a while before accepting. As a U.K. based mountaineer it seemed that a boot designed around via ferrata wouldn’t get much use as we don’t have many available. Also, while I’ve done my fair share of Via Ferrata in the past, it certainly isn’t an activity that I get to do very often.
Fortunately, once I read about the boots in more detail, it was clear the boots were designed to perform well for a broad range of activities, and when I went on to test them I found them great even though they mainly got used for scrambling. So, when Hanwag asked me to give their new Ferrata II GTX a test run I knew there would be no reason not to. If it was at least as good it would be great, but maybe it could be even better? Here is my review of Hanwag’s, as they describe them, ‘reworked classic’.
The Ferrata II GTX, to say straight away, is a very cool looking boot. The original Ferrata boot was quite a departure for Hanwag. In their long history of producing premium footwear they have always focussed on the use of leather and this was their first boot to have uppers made partly from Cordura. It worked well – Cordura is a durable high performance fabric that combines well and, crucially, is easy care, lightweight and waterproof.
So, for the Ferrata II GTX, Hanwag have built on that and incorporated far more synthetic material into the uppers. In this case they’ve used a combination of Polyamide (Nylon) mixed with Polyurethane (PU) and added a stretch polyamide in areas requiring increased mobility. A PU rand then encircles the upper and the lacing area alongside the tongue is further reinforced.
Using durable fabrics is key to longevity and performance, but exposed stitching also creates potential wear points, Hanwag have considered this and used special construction methods to ensure as much stitching possible is concealed. Infact, it is only at the top of the ankle cuff where any seams are visible.
The lacing system combines tape loops at the bottom part of the foot with metal eyelets for the upper section and a locking lace retention in between.
At the bottom end of the boot there is plenty of innovation too. Any boot for climbing needs a suitable sole and sufficient stiffness to allow support on small holds. However, for mountain routes the user is likely to have to walk in for considerable distances and so it is also important that there is sufficient cushioning for comfort. Hanwag have certainly thought very carefully about all of these things.
The Ferrata II GTX features what Hanwag describe as TubeTec which certainly needs some explaining. The midsole, which provides the majority of the underfoot cushioning, is made from a soft but hard wearing PU foam designed to absorb shock with each step. This, in turn, is wrapped in an outer tube made from stiff and abrasion resistant thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU). Seemingly this is a very clever way to provide the holy grail of edge stiffness, walking comfort and durability.
The final feature to mention is the sole. For this Hanwag have had a custom tread design unit made by Vibram. It has a defined edge and climbing zone to cope with edging on small holds and a deeply lugged main sole to cope with varied terrain types.
There is little doubt that a lot of technology and product development has gone into these boots, but that counts for nothing if they don’t perform. Here’s my thoughts on how the boot stacks up both against its predecessor, against similar boots and in its own right.
The original Ferrata Combi, whilst certainly a very capable boot, was also rather hard in the sole and so I found it rather tiring for long walk ins or when used as a walking boots. The aim of TubeTec is to make the boot both comfortable for walking in and also able to perform well when the vertical starts. I am extremely impressed with how it works on both counts.
On a typical Alpine day you will cover a fair amount of miles and the boot is a marked improvement on the previous version. It isn’t super soft, but soft enough to cushion the feet well. However, get to the steeper ground and the stiffness and sole design make this an extremely capable scrambling or mountaineering option. They are very impressive.
It also appears that the sole unit is lower than before and Hanwag have incorporated a quite defined rocker. This really aids walking as the boot follows the natural movement of your foot. The sole unit has performed well on every terrain type I’ve thrown at it and the stiff edge also makes it a great boot on vertical edging terrain.
Part of this performance on different terrains also, of course, comes down to fit. The Ferrata II cups my feet beautifully and offers a balance between support and freedom of movement. The defined heel cup helps with this and that is then aided by the efficient lacing system and well shaped toe box. I can’t say the boot will fit all users as foot shape varies person to person, but it certainly suits mine.
Talking of the lacing, I like the low profile tape loops on the lower foot and these extend well down to the toe to offer precise adjustment. There is then a locking tab at the lower ankle to allow plenty of choice over how tight you want each section of the foot to be. It is a fairly standard mountain boot set up and all works really well.
I am certain a massive amount of thought has gone into the construction of the uppers, but it was time well spent. Hanwag have managed to create an upper with negligible stitching and yet the durability needed for an Alpine or Via Ferrata boot. It is a very clever design. The combination of stretchy Polyamide in areas like the ankle where movement is needed and durable low stretch fabric in other areas creates a very comfortable and yet durable boot.
There is also a broad PU rand to fend off encounters with sharp rocks and scree. You can tell these boots have been designed and constructed with rough treatment in mind and, although I haven’t tested the boots long enough to be able to comment on long term durability, I am very confident they will give long and reliable service.
The Ferrata II GTX’s weigh 780 grams in a size 9 (a bit lighter than the original model) and come in the tested red and black or a black with orange detail version. The RRP is £287.
Hanwag have, as they suggest, reworked a classic – the Ferrata II GTX takes the best of the Ferrata Combi and yet moves it on in many key areas. The new version is lighter, more durable and more comfortable to wear for long days in the mountains. This is a really excellent boot that will certainly suit scramblers and anyone heading fit Via Ferrata’s, but will also be a great choice as a general purpose mountain boot. It will also be a great light Alpine or, for some activities at least, Scottish winter boot. This is another excellent really product from Hanwag. Full details on the Ferrata II GTX are available from the Hanwag website here.
Posted by Paul