Iron & Stone – AKU Pilgrim GTX ‘Mids’ review

Iron & Stone – AKU Pilgrim GTX ‘Mids’ review

Boots, possibly the one piece of kit you really need to get right. Looking after your feet, keeping them warm (or cool as the case may be), dry supported and protected is vital.

Like any piece of equipment it’s in part, selecting the right tool for the job, and one that suits you. In short there’s no definitive answer.
Wether you are using your footwear for work (Real Steel), hiking and trekking, ‘Plastic Deth‘ (Airsoft) or everyday use, particularly in inclement weather or alternating terrain there’s undoubtedly many facets at which you need to observe.

Over a lifetime thus far, I’ve owned an insurmountable and veritable range of boots. From the venerable eight holed Dr. Marten’s, to LOWA’s, Oakley’s, through to Bates (USMC issue 40501’s) to OTBOdhin’sMerrell Sawtooth’s and my personal favorite Salomon 4DGTX’s – in ‘Absolute Brown’ of course …

… we’ve tried a fair few …

Personally, in the first instance having a good understanding of your actual foot size, it’s width you can easily maneuver sizing charts, particularly in comparison with former boots that have fitted well. Obviously this is the first step in avoiding unwanted discomfort, aches and pains and naturally the dreaded blisters, particular encountered with breaking in a new pair.

… rubberized one piece slipper protects the upper …

It is armed with this knowledge, both the Salomon’s and Merrell’s were speedily broken in without any of the above. As such, it’s that above tenet with which all subsequent boots are judged.
Well, the holidays have arrived, and I was already getting ready to purchase my fourth pair of Salomons, the last three lasting a good 14-15 months of almost daily use, so you’d be right in awarding those good value points right there.

… sleek, low profile secure fit …

However, I was gifted a brand new pair of AKU Pilgrim GTX ‘mid cut’ boots in black.
Reputation alone, preceded these, and as such graciously and warmly received these and with much anticipation already have them on to give em’ a road test.
It’s with the remaining keystones, for which I look for in a good boot, that I’ll assess these by.
Out of the box, sadly no sticker included (shame on you AKU) whilst an aesthetically simple affair, even in solid black they distinctly give a solidly visually aggressive workmanlike appearance.

Vibram … exaggerated sole and heel lifts boot away from water and debris …

The aggressive but simple patterned Vibram sole is exaggerated to lift the foot away from excess ground moisture and debris, and sits tightly underneath a very well attached rubberized slipper running from toe to heel with out break. This struck me as an immediate benefit of those working in very wet conditions, ruining water or even swampy marshland or low ground snow. In fact, couple with a good brand of gaiters, these could easily be very defiant in keeping feet dry.

The soles grip, handles really well in both slick and slippery mud, even at elevation and gradients it offers a tremendous amount of torque and bite. Loose gravel or slick oily tarmac and concrete is a breeze too, as is metal plating or smooth surface, even when wet with frost or ice.

It has to be said the deep winter weather is a great testing ground for boots such as these.

The upper of the boot is predominantly comprised of a mesh, which allows for not only flexibility and dexterity over particularly undulating terrain, but is GoreTex lined, all the whilst providing breathability.

I was personally pleased, that having a rather broad bridge across the toes, some boots, due to their naturally sleek and low profile, can make for a very tight fit. This historically causes to aggravate an existing condition, particularly in the ball of my left big toe, avast not with these, so that was a huge relief. It would appear like the Salomons, these will exacerbate that condition, offering additional comfort and support.

I spoke with friends a while back, who where both wearing these, and they extolled their virtues, due to slighter frames they grumbled about the very solid and hard sole. I’ll admit at 6ft and 180 Ilbs this is neither an issue and in fact appears in the first instance offers a more assured grip and positive walking stance. Even with my heavy foot strike and pace.

This is all finished with an Orthilte interior giving a comfortable cushion when walking, even on concrete. The lace system is a simple affair crossing across the boot to lock it off securely and prevents play or torsion, avoiding unwanted rubbing or abrasion – resulting in no blistering. The remaining upper three tier eyelets are a metal loop affair, allowing for a quick lace system to don and doff quickly and ease. These also have an element of rotating lateral free play, to assist with ankle movement, particular when in motion thus avoiding a restrictive neck around the ankle.
Well, after two hours on the feet, through wet and rain, puddles, slick mud and concrete my feet are warm and dry. No blistering, aches and more importantly no blisters.
Initial inspection shows zero wear or tear on the boot. Naturally, that’s expected, but I’ve had other brands surprisingly distress in a very short space of time. I’d argue that the like new appearance is quite possibly due to their minimalist almost one piece construction, which supports the boot to flex and move as you walk and run.

One last ‘footnote’ (no pun intended) I’d always recommend a decent cotton or woolen sock, naturally these will assist in a correct and snug fit of any boot, moisture wicking away sweat and water and prevent wear and abrasion when really pushing out the miles. I always keep a spare pair in my day sack, one is none, two is one as they say …

Manufacturers Specifications

Versatile waterproof Gore-Tex® boots – The Pilgrim GTX is a true multi-purpose highly breathable boot by AKU with outstanding support, stability and impact absorption. The ankle protection is delivered by the special design of the upper. Thanksto these features, Pilgrim GTX by AKU performs well in stability for demanding and dynamic conditions. – Anatomical Fit: A wrap-around and anatomical fit for footwear in the Trekking segment, designed to provide stability and encourage a dynamic action when walking on mountain trails over very roughterrain. – Air 8000: First-class technology for upper construction to increase the breathability of mountain footwear. Laboratorytests confirm that the AKU exclusive AKUAir 8000® offers up to 11.5 times greater breathability than normal standards identified by Gore-Tex®. – Gore-Tex® PerformanceComfort: Offers moderate insulation to keep feet dry and comfortable duringoutdoor activities in a variety of weather conditions. – Vibram: For 90% of its footwear, AKU uses exclusive soles designed and engineered in cooperation with Vibram® to suit the specificuse requirements of the footwearinvolved. – IMS 1: The Internal Midsole System ensures a uniform distribution of pressure, prevents from lateral and frontal slipping under heavy use and provides shock absorption. It is combined with a midsole in a microporous EVA andprovides maximum sensitivity, precision and reaction to uneven terrains. 

Weight per pair: 1.300 g 

Upper: Suede, Air 8000® 1.8 mm  

Lining: Gore-Tex® Performance Comfort 

Footbed: Custom Fit IMS – Lasting board (Stiffness): 6-4 mm nylon, die cut EVA (medium) 

Midsole: Die cut EVA -Outsole: Vibram® Fourà

I think, that I and the AKU’s are going to be firm friends, and are a welcome addition to the gear locker. I’m already eyeing up the rather fetching subdued ‘desert’ color ways, also available in the GTX model … S23

Check out more from AKU here:

S23 is proudly sponsored by ToySoldier:

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This is a redesigned variant of the original Mk I ‘Beer Mat’ originally produced by ToySoldier for us, which was subsequently put out as a ‘give away’ – the original patches went as far as Finland, Norway, Japan, Australia, United States, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and of course all over the United Kingdom – S23


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