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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Garmont Amica Trail Shoes > Test Report by Katie Montovan
GARMONT AMICA TRAIL GTX SHOES
Photo courtesy of the manufacturer
I have been backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoing and winter camping for over 10 years. My excursions are mostly weekend and occasionally weeklong backpacking and kayaking trips in the wooded and often wet, rolling terrain of western New York. I usually tarp camp with a small to large group and love to cook fun and delicious foods on my trips. In general, I strive for a compact and light pack but value well-made and durable gear over ultralight items.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
The Garmont Amica Trail GTX shoes are a low cut hiking shoe designed for trail use with light loads. The upper is made out of a water repellent suede, abrasion resistant mesh and also contains a layer of Gore-Tex waterproofing. The cuff is higher on the inside of the ankle which the manufacturer claims supports the ankle and prevents "lateral ankle sprains" while a lower cut on the outside is designed to increase comfort. The hang-tag also explains that the Amicas have an asymmetrical heel pad that "compliments heel security by providing a more anatomical and accurate fit around the anklebones." It also points out that the shoe's tongue is thicker on one side and that this "provides a more intimate, anatomical fit, thus resulting in better control and stability [and] less tongue drift. When I put these shoes on, I notice that the higher cuff on the inside of the foot does feel like it prevents my foot from turning in the direction that I usually sprain it. The outside of the cuff feels like it might be a little bit too high for my ankle bone and might rub while I walk. My heal feels very well supported even when the laces are only loosely laced.
The hang-tag also mentions that the Amicas have been designed to provide more room for the big toe which theoretically "allows the foot to enact a mechanism which provides stability, cushioning and efficient propulsion." For me, the extra toe room is a key feature because me toes tend to develop blisters when the toe box is too narrow. The extra room that Garmont has built in for the big toe has produced a nice roomy toe-box that feels like it will not cause me blisters. Garmont also talks about the fact that the laces cross the shoe at an angle to "encourage the footwear to flex like your foot". When I look at the Amicas, I wouldn't notice the laces as being very different than my other shoes.
The sole of these shoes is made out of Fioretm Vibram with "self cleaning 6 mm lugs for aggressive traction". The material looks like it will provide traction on a variety of surfaces. The lugs on the bottom are shaped like stylized flower petals and are spread out more widely than I am used to which the manufacturer claims is done for improved traction. The manufacturer also notes on their website that the shoes have improved "forefoot flex and stability". When I flex the shoes they bend a little bit but are pretty solid and the soles are not very flexible.
Overall, these are well constructed shoes with many interesting technical features and an eye for adding subtle feminine details that add to or do not affect the shoes function. I like the playful tread and the small floral patterns that are included at the ends of some of the seams. Reinforcement stitching for the loops is done with a semi-decorative zig-zag stitch.
My Garmont Amica Trail GTX shoes arrived in good condition in a typical shoebox with a small hang-tag describing the key features but without any care or use instructions. They are a nice color, look to be well constructed and match my expectations from the manufacturer's website. I tried them on and found that they were the perfect size. I generally wear between at 8.5 and 9 in women's shoes and after hearing that Garmont shoes tend to run large, with roomy toe-boxes decided to order a size 8.5.
Overall, the Amicas fit well. My toes are near the end, but have sufficient room that they will not hit the end of the shoe on downhill hikes. The toe-box is roomy and feels like it will provide enough room for my toes to not crush together, rub, and get blisters. The heal is comfortable, supportive and does not slide around as I walk. My one problem with the fit of the Amicas is that they are really tight across the top of my foot. I had a pair of Garmont shoes years ago that had the same problem, but was hoping that the Amicas would be different or that my feet had changed. I really like the way that the rest of the shoe fits, so I will see if I can find a way to wear them that limits the pressure on the top of my foot.
TAKING THEM FOR A WALK
I couldn't wait to test the Amicas out so I put on some lightweight hiking socks and headed out for a walk around the block with my dog. I was worried about the pressure that I had felt in the top of my foot, so I used this opportunity to try an alternate lacing method that I have heard reduces this pressure. On my right foot was a shoe laced the traditional way but intentionally left a little loose, and on my left was a shoe with the alternate lacing. I was surprised to find that the alternate lacing was much less comfortable than the traditional but loosely-tied lacing. My left foot had the start of hot spots at the inside of the ankle, bridge of the foot, and top of the heel. My right foot was comfortable and had no hot spots. I was surprised at how well the shoe supported my foot even while laced loosely. When I got home I relaced the left shoe with the traditional lacing method and plan to hike with these somewhat loosely laced to avoid the pressure on the top of my foot and rubbing on the outside of my ankle. I am amazed that the solution might be as simple as how tightly I tie them, and that the Amicas seem to provide enough support even when loosely tied.
My feet are typically pretty warm and I often have problems when shoes are not breathable. The temperature on this trial walk was cool (about 80 F/ 27 C) and my feet were warm at the end of the walk, so I wonder whether the shoes are breathable enough for me to be comfortable hiking long distances in them in hot and muggy conditions this summer.
I am looking forward to backpacking in these hiking shoes. They will carry me backpacking and hiking many days this summer on hilly terrain where I expect to encounter wet and muddy conditions and temperatures ranging from 70 F to 110 F (21 C to 43 C). I will report on the water-resistance, breathability, durability, fit and support of the Amicas.
During the field test phase I have worn the Garmont Amica Trail Shoes for numerous day hikes, for walks around town on asphalt, into stores, and all over campus.
FIELD CONDITIONSTrip 1: 5-night canoe camping trip in the boundary waters near Ely, MN. Temperatures ranged from 70 F (21 C) to 95 F (35 C) and weather covered most options including high wind, beautiful sunny days, drizzly rain, and sudden downpours. I used the Garmont Amica trail shoes as my camp shoes and for day hikes near our campsites.
Trip 2: 2-night car camping trip with a group to Stillwater Reservoir, near Lowville, NY. Weather was sunny and 75 - 85 F (24 - 29 C). We day hiked out from our site and walked along the muddy, sometimes sandy beach.
Trip 3: Solo 2-night backpacking trip along the Finger Lakes Trail, near Ithaca, NY. It was sunny and humid for the whole trip and temperatures ranged from 57 - 88 F (14 - 31 C). This rocky trail had wet grass, steep ascents, steep descents, several stream crossings and sections of hiking on asphalt and dirt roads. Elevation ranged from 400 - 1700 ft (120 - 520 m). I covered 14 miles (22 km) the first day, 8 miles (13 km) the second day, and 2 miles (3 km) the third day.
Waterproofing: I usually get really hot feet while hiking but found that the Gore-Tex breathed well enough that my feet did not overheat. It also worked beautifully to keep my feet dry. During a downpour on my canoing trip my feet stayed dry in the Amicas. On my backpacking trip, I hiked through a number of dew-covered fields early in the morning and my pants were soaking, and the outside of my shoes were very wet but my feet were completely dry.
Backpacking: With a pack on, the Amicas did not perform as well for me. I started my trip very happy with the Amicas. They supported my feet and kept my socks dry in dewy grass. But after about 4 miles (6.5 km) I started to notice that I could feel sharp rocks through the sole (especially at the pads of my feet). Then at about mile 6 (9.5 km), my feet started to get sore. I am prone to getting blisters so I stopped to treat hot spots to prevent blisters. But I did not find any red areas and no tender spots. So I put my shoes back on and kept hiking. During this stretch I paid close attention to where the pain was coming from. I also rolled my right ankle 3 times, and my left ankle twice. I think that it was the combination of starting to get tired and trying to compensate for my painful feet that started the problems. I found a walking stick and was able to prevent another couple rolls and make it onto flat ground where walking was easier.
I found that the pain was in the pad and arch of my foot and felt like there just wasn't enough support for my arch or cushion for the pads of my feet. After another couple of miles I stopped again and looked carefully at the footbed of the Amicas. They have a slightly lower area for the pad of the foot and subtle ache support. To my hands, it felt like there was very little material in the sole area other than the lugs on the bottom of the shoe. At this point I took them off and switched to the shoes I had brought for camp shoes (a lightweight water running shoe) which had better cushioning for the pad of my foot but much less for the upper foot and heal. As a result, I got blisters on my heal, big toe, and near the pad of my foot. I had no more problems with rolling my ankles once I switched to the water shoes. The next day I switched back to the Garmont Amica's because they provided more padding on my blistered areas but wore a sock with more padding in the sole of the foot. I completed my trip by switching between the two shoes and came home with very sore and battered feet.
I think that part of the problem is that when I was hiking with my pack, I was at the very top of the manufacturer's recommended weight range (<175 lbs/80 kg). If I were able to decrease my pack weight enough these might be a viable backpacking option for me, but since my gear (or me) is unlikely to decrease in weight that much, I think that they will probably get much more use as a day hiking and camp shoes.
Comments on the manufacturer's claims:
SUMMARYI really like the Amicas for day hiking and as camp shoes on canoe/kayak trips. They fit well, are comfortable, and waterproof. The padding in the upper shoe is so well placed that I forget it is there, but enjoy putting them on after a day of having my feet in sandals or watershoes. My problem with the Amicas is that they do not provide enough footbed support or cushion for me to use them backpacking. If my pack and I combined were lighter they might be a viable option, but as it is, I will continue to use them for dayhiking and camp shoes, but will be cautious when taking them backpacking longer distances.
FIELD CONDITIONSTrip 1: 2-night kayak camping trip to Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks of Western New York. Temperatures ranged from 55 F (13 C) to 75 F (24 C) and with high winds and drizzling rain.
Day hikes: 2 afternoon trail hikes with my dog covering 4-6 miles each.
In addition, I have worn these around town, for dog walks, and on campus where I typically walk about 2 miles per day.
PERFORMANCEI did not take these for another backpacking trip after the pain that I experienced on my last trip. Instead I focused on determining whether the Amicas would work well for me when I did not have the added weight of a pack and was well within the recommended weight range. I found that I really like the Amicas for around camp or in conditions where I needed waterproof protection but am not going to be walking a long ways. I found that when I walked longer distances (between 4 and 6 miles), I had pain between my metatarsals on the top of my foot. It was a dull pain that flared up and then would continue for a few days before subsiding. I think that it was because I have wide, flat feet that need good footbed support to avoid problems. The Amicas had nice upper support and a great shape and I really liked many of the features of the Amicas, but wish that there was more support in the footbed.
SUMMARYThe Amicas did not work well for me because my flat feet need better footbed support to avoid painful problems. I really liked the upper shoe padding, extra room for the big toe, asymmetrical ankle support and the appearance of the Amicas.
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