AKU GEA LOW GTX W'S SHOES
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
February 28, 2017
kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
Canon City, Colorado, USA
5' 4" (1.60 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado.
Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.aku.it/en
Listed Weight: 12 oz (340 g)
Measured Weight: 14 oz (397 g)
Sizes Available: EU 35-48, UK 3-13
Size Reviews: EU 38
Color Available and Reviewed: Dark Grey and Lilac
Made in Europe (Italy and Romania)
Material used - Upper: suede, microsuede and Cordura
Material used - Lining: Gore-tex
Material used - Outsole: Vibram S864 Megagrip
Material used - Midsole: molded EVA with a lasting of 1.5 mm nylon (stiff) + die cut EVA (soft)
Material used: Footbed: free TEX
|Photo copyright AKU
FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE
Fun, outdoor, out-of-state locations over the last few months have included: the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Banff and Jasper National Parks (Alberta, Canada), Glacier National Park and Custer-Gallatin National Forest (Montana), and Monongahela National Forest and Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia.
Location and condition details for the most recent forays are as follows:
Custer-Gallatin National Forest - Moose Creek Flat
Terrain: we base-camped in a valley besides the Gallatin River, but day-hiked to mountain lakes for fishing as well
Elevation range: 5700' (1700 m) to 7500' (2300 m)
Temperature range: 35 F (2 C) to 65 F (18 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour for hours (mostly at night). Very little sunshine.
Banff/Jasper National Parks
Terrain: ah, mountains. Rocky, heavily treed mountains
Elevation range: 4500' (1400 m) to 10,000' (3000 m)
Temperature range: 22 F (-6 C) to 70 F (21 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour for hours (mostly at night). Very little sunshine. (Yup, same as the previous week in Gallatin!)
|Trail near Lake Minnetonka in Banff National Park
|Mirror Lake Trail in Banff National Park
|Lake Agnes Teahouse Trail
Glacier National Park
Terrain: high, rocky mountain trails
Elevation range: 4600' (1400 m) to 6600' (2000 m)
Temperature range: 45 F (7 C) to 65 F (18 C)
Other weather-related conditions: Sunshine!
Monongahela National Forest and Blackwater Falls State Park
Terrain: Rocky, heavily treed mountains
Elevation range: 2900' (880 m) to 4800' (1500 m)
Temperature range: 40 F (4 C) to 60 F (15 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour.
As can be seen, I spent a lot of time in the rain in the mountains. Different states/countries, but pretty much the same conditions!
Closer to home:
Fremont County, Colorado (my home "range") - this area is in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with elevations ranging from 5500 ft (1700 m) to 9900 ft (3000 m). The terrain is mostly rather rough with lots of mud, loose rock and huge slabs of granite rock. Vegetation is scrubby pinon pine, Gamble oak, juniper, cactus and prairie grasses (or weeds, depending on who is talking!).
Weather conditions were pretty much the same through all locations and throughout the entire summer season. Hot, Hot and more Hot! Dry, Dry and more Dry! And for most of this summer, fall and early winter, temperatures have ranged from above 90 F (32 C) to the freezing mark.
When I got the AKU GEA shoes last June, I was at first dazzled by their "prettiness". They are very colorful shoes with green laces and purple trims! I was also happy with how they made my feet look smaller than most of my other outdoor footwear. It didn't take long though for me to find that these shoes did not just sport a "pretty face" but their beauty was way more than skin deep! The GEAs are sturdy and strong as well!
I'll start with the fit. It was easy to pull on the GEAs by simply loosening the laces a bit, slipping my feet into them and pulling the backs up snug via the pull loops in the back of the shoes. Right off I noticed the body of the shoes was narrower than a lot of my other shoes/boots but not to a point of discomfort. I also was happy to find the arch support was not a nuisance as with some of my other stiff, rugged backpacking footwear. My left foot's arch is "different" from the right (a little further back towards my heel) and sometimes, a very pronounced footbed is irritating to me. Not so with the GEAs.
While the body of the GEAs is narrow, there is enough room in the toe box that my piggy toes are not crunched but my whole foot feels much supported. The low cut heel is snug with a nicely padded collar that is matched by the slightly padded tongue. The laces are a traditional cord - that pretty green - and are not ridiculously long - just long enough for me to tie a short box and double it up! Once the laces are cinched up and tied, I'm confident in the fit of the shoes.
The outsoles of the GEAs have a very nice tread design which worked well for my in the conditions I encountered over the last several months. Most of the times, I wore the GEAs on dirt, hard-packed trails. A lot of those treks were wet and I never slipped. Well, that's not true; I slipped a lot, but not due to any defect of the shoes! I'm just a klutz! Anyway, the tread is not very deep, so mud didn't tend to collect in the grooves though mud did collect all over when I hiked local trails through our clay-like, gooey, dries-as-hard-as rock muck!
The sole of the GEAs is stiff but not hard. I had no trouble wearing my heaviest backpack and stomping on rocky trails with these shoes. At no time did my feet ever feel bruised and even rather sharp stones did not penetrate. Great support!
And on the subject of "penetration", thanks to the protection of Gore-tex, my feet stayed dry even in the very damp conditions I encountered in Canada and Montana last autumn. The only time I had any problems with wet feet was from wet pants than dripped into the low cuff of the shoes. Next time, I'll remember to pack gaiters!
Fortunately, the GEAs dried out pretty well despite the super wet, humid conditions we were in just by pulling out the insoles and letting them "rest" for a day. One of the good things about base camping is the ability to have more than one pair of boots along and hence, the luxury of always-dry shoes!
I wore the AKU GEA shoes with all sorts of socks, mostly a medium to thick wool/wool blend crew-length. The lining of the shoes is smooth and stock insoles were sufficiently cushioned though I did swap them out for my favorite after-market insoles after a couple of months.
WEAR AND CARE
I wasn't able to find any special care and maintenance information on the AKU website, so I didn't do anything special to care for the shoes. I simply brushed the dirt off the uppers with a very stiff shoe brush and "dug" out the lugs from the caked on mud that our expansive soil loves to turn into whenever there is the slightest bit of rain. Around these parts, powdery-fine dirt - almost, dust - is the rule until it gets wet and then it's clumps into rock-hard stuff that takes a screwdriver to scrape off! When the AKUs suffered that fate, I would wait until the mud was dry, scraped it all off, brush the shoes and then use a slightly-damp rag to scrub off the rest.
Unless I am on the trail overnight, I alternate footwear so as to not wear the same pair of shoes/boots two days in a row. This lets the inside totally dry and air out. I also remove the insoles. As of yet, there isn't any really foul odors from the shoes after more than 6 months of wear. I have not changed out the insoles either.
The AKU GEA shoes still look great!
1.) Very comfortable right from the box, no break-in needed
2.) Good support on all sorts of terrain and in all sorts of weather
3.) Has held up well despite lots of abuse
1.) A tad smaller than most of my other same-size boots.
I've had the pleasure of wearing these shoes since last summer and have found them to be a very high quality pair of footwear. They are definitely more supportive than the "light hiking" description on the website. I've toted backpacks in the 25 - 28 lb (11-13 kg) range with no soreness at all. They've held up very nicely with no visible adverse wearings - unless the often caked-on dirt could be considered adverse! After miles/kilometers of outdoor use, I still don't see any signs of latent manufacturer defects.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
I can definitely recommend these shoes as all-purpose, all-terrain outdoor shoes and very up-to-the-task of hiking and backpacking.
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
|GEAs Cleaned Up and Ready to Go!
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