Brasher sent me their Kanaga GTX hiking boots to test at the same time as the Lithium GTX boots which were reviewed a few weeks ago, and I have to admit that when I opened both boxes I was slightly intimidated by the Kanagas; I knew they’d require a much more in-depth test to do them justice. You see, they’re a mountaineering boot, rather than a walking boot – one of those gnarly, wooly sheep you see hanging onto the edge of a Cumbrian fell in a gale rather than a farmyard pig happy playing in the mud.
The first thing I noticed as I slipped the Kanagas on is the great fit – Brasher use a Last (the name for a model foot which the boot is formed around) which feels to me slightly wider in the toe and slimmer in the heel than other boots I’ve tried lately. I have to add at this point that this fits ME very well, but I urge anyone thinking of buying any type of boot to try a pair on first – a badly-fitting top-of-the-range boot isn’t worth as much as a well-fitting cheaper boot.
|Dry feet up to here|
The boot upper and sole are both very stiff (rated B1 – see Gear Glossary for explanation) and this provide great support when walking on rough or slippery terrain. The flip side of this was, however, that the boots needed a couple of weeks to bed in and get really comfortable, unlike a softer synthetic boot.
The Kanaga boots use a full GoreTex (GTX) membrane as waterproofing, and it works superbly as you’d expect. The tongue of the boot goes up to the 2nd-top lace eyelet, so you can get as deep as this picture demonstrates and keep your feet totally dry.
The leather outer of the boot is oiled, so it won’t soak up too much water. Like any boot, you’ll need to re-treat it to feed and protect the leather.
The soles of the Kanaga boots are very stiff by ‘walking’ boot standards, but by ‘hiking’ boot standards they rate a B1, which is to say that you can strap some C1 rated crampons onto them for when the mountaineering gets tougher. The lacing system and stiffness of the boot upper are sufficient to keep your foot and ankle from rolling over too badly. The soles themselves are sticky Vibram Foura, which have great deep tread, a grooved heel for braking and a mid-sole flexion line so they bend in a fairly natural position. They’re great on snow, ice and rocks and a reinforced toe section is excellent for kicking steps into snow.
The Kanagas weight in at 1.64Kg, which isn’t the heaviest boot in this class, and price wise they come in at £155. Now, depending on your need for a boot that might seem like a lot of money, but compared to other boots of the same level (B1, 4-season, waterproof) from Scarpa, Meindl, Berghaus and Mammut they’re actually a few pounds cheaper than some of their competitors.
SUMMARY: If you’re a dog-walker looking for some waterproof boots, look to the more suitable Lithium GTX boots, but if you’re after a decent pair of mountain hiking boots, which can take a crampon in emergencies and give you more support than a ‘walking’ boot, then the Kanaga GTXs are worth a look. Construction seems solid, fit seems great (check your fit before buying) and comfort after an initial couple of weeks’ breaking-in is good. The GTX membrane works superbly and the lacing system, padding and sole are all pretty darn good. If I was going for a scramble up a scree path, through snow, streams and bogs, this is the pair of boots I’d take for the day.
Tags and search info for this review: This is a Hiking Boot review. GearWeAre.com tests and reviews walking boots, hiking boots, trekking boots, outdoor gear and camping equipment.