Mammut are back with a vengeance for 2019. The Swiss mountain powerhouse have come ready to play, with a range of new boots to get you from the valley to the peak and all places in between.
We doubt anyone but your podiatrist cares as much about your feet as us. That's why we put our lives (or at least our deadlines) on the line to test some key pieces from Mammut's newest footwear collection. Our intrepid team was made up of Emma and Laura, Stuart (AKA, the Kilted Camper) and myself.
Dovestones Reservoir was the stage and we the willing actors. Suitably suited and - more importantly - booted, we headed up into this raw edge of the Peak District. The sun was shining, the wind was absolutely raging, and the hill climbs were hellishly steep - all the ingredients for a great spring outing.
Between us we were testing the full gamut of Mammut's range, from alpine toughness to multi-day capability and everyday hiking comfort. Despite this variety, however, Mammut promise a single-minded focus on creating the right boot for the conditions. We would see.
The locale provided excellent test conditions. Ok, so we weren't putting the mountain boots to the sword on the Fenêtre d'Arpette, but the free-sliding scree, boulders and 30-degree gradient were hazardous enough to pose some serious questions. Each of our boots answered capably.
Laura and I were lucky enough to wear a pair of Kento High GTX®. These mountain boots are designed to dominate this kind of terrain. The specially designed Alpine Lite sole is seriously rigid and unyielding, with a super-firm rubber lug set-up. The grip was exemplary, constructed to cope with rock, ice or snow. I never felt anything but secure when traversing loose ground or standing on wind-polished stone. Even later in the hike, when we crossed a stream on mossy stepping stones, the Kento held firm.
The Kento also features a great little detail in the pre-shaped asymmetrical tongue. It lies flat and comfortably against the fore-ankle, rather than bunching under the laces. This meant there was no pressure on the bone at all, plus it is an ingenious way to pack extra ventilation into the boot as it creates a gap for heat to escape.
The Kento is a beast of a boot that wasn't really ever challenged by Dovestones. I'd love to see how this boot operates in the high Alpine rock-scape. Especially as it's a B1 boot compatible with a C1 walking crampon to give you that extra mountain oomph.
Emma and Stuart wore the Nova Tour II GTX® and Mercury III GTX® respectively. We each opted for the GORE-TEX models because, lets' face it, these Mammut boots are not cheap and you may as well go all-in. It's no surprise that our feet were completely dry throughout, even when we were ankle deep in spring water.
Stuart's Mercury III GTX® were mid-rise, unlike the rest of the boots, which were high with extra ankle protection. Nonetheless he reported a stable-stride. The Mercury boasts Rolling Concept® technology seems to play its part in this. The idea is simple: cushioning designed to encourage the foot's natural rolling movement during each step. The reality is a high level of comfort, which keeps your feet from working too hard to adjust for natural steps and uneven ground.
It's backed up by the quality of the cushioning itself. The footbed and lining are filled with Mammut's 360 Memo Foam, which moulds to the shape of your foot and creates a personalised fit. Obviously, this will come into real importance after several wears, but even on this single excursion it made a difference to comfort. It's basically a memory foam mattress for the feet, so Stuart was a very happy, blister-free Scotsman at the end of the day.
Emma took the middle route with the Nova Tour II. These are high-ankle trekking boots designed for versatile mountains demands, but especially equipped for multi-day hiking with a heavy bag. The sole quality, grip and resolute waterproofing where all present and correct. What set the Nova Tour II apart – at least for Emma – is the 3D Memo foam and lightweight feel. Each boot is only 550g, very light for such a rugged boot.
By her own admission Emma is known to be a tad clumsy on the trails, but the ankle stabiliser and the very spongey insoles helped keep her feet planted firmly. Trust me, any boot that can keep Emma from tumbling in the mountains is almost certainly a must-buy.
All four boots were not just waterproof, but also shed water incredibly well. Both Emma and Laura stepped ankle deep into watery mud, which simply slid off the boot within a couple of steps. We ended up trying to find deep bogs to further test this water-repellent treatment. Try as we might, we just couldn't get the boots dirty enough to convince our boss we hadn't just been in the pub all day.
We had a few quibbles. The Nova Tour II laces are very thin, making them tricky to tie and loosen when wet. Stuart felt that the Mercury III was reaching the limits of its robustness when we got to the scrambling part of the day. He considers these an entry-level boot for lower down the mountain. Finally, the Kento is so firm underfoot that I was starting to feel a bit of soreness by the end of the day. I'm sure this could be remedied with thick socks, or just by wearing in the boots a bit more. A bit of initial discomfort is a fair price to pay for such a reassuringly stable and grippy underfoot. By contrast, though, Laura had no trouble at all in her Kentos – so maybe I just have soft feet.
Mammut produce expensive boots; there is no doubt of that. But they are excellent boots. We spent a full 8 hours tramping up hills, across rivers and scrambling over boulders. We stood ankle-deep at a waterfalls edge with dry feet and without slippage. So, it’s a comprehensive thumbs up from us.
The Mercury III Mid GTX® will keep you comfortable hour after hour.
The Nova Tour II HIgh GTX® will reinforce your feet for mid-level trekking day after day.
The Kento High GTX® will take you up beyond the snowline in confidence.