Boreal have recently added to their Drom approach and trekking shoe range to include a durable synthetic upper version (the original range features leather uppers). The Drom approach shoe received a positive write-up a few years ago, demonstrating great durability, comfort and performance on a variety of terrain types in the UK. Building on the same excellent sole package is the Drom Mid Tech. We've tested this new trekking and scrambling boot, to see how measures up to the Drom, and if there might be some areas of improvement - for instance weight.
What they are for?
I've worn the Drom Mid Tech a lot whilst hillwalking, scrambling and for climbing approaches in Scotland in summer and autumn, as well as some autumn hikes in the Alps. I've particularly enjoyed using them on scrambling days, and on the strength of this I can see how they would be well suited to Via Ferrata.
Technical terrain is easily handled with a supportive sole and dextrous mid-height ankle. Their light weight also makes them perfect for long or multiday walks where you want something more supportive than an approach shoe but not anything as heavy as a traditional mountain boot.
The mid-ankle support and cuff offer protection against snow or debris on approaches and for wet days where rain or wet ground come into play. They have performed well for me in slightly warmer weather, too, keeping my feet cool. But I would still take these onto snow slopes approaching climbs in spring and summer. In cold conditions, you'd probably want something a bit more insulating.
This model is not available in a women's/lower volume fit, but does come in a wide range of sizes from 4-13. I opted for size UK 9, in line with my street shoe size, and this has been perfect for me. The width seems pretty average, my feet are average width if slightly on the thin side and the shoes are neither tight nor wide across the length of the foot. The toe box provides a bit of wiggle room for the toes to avoid them bashing up against the front of the boots. My heel is held in place tightly when in use with no heel lift or hot spots across the foot.
The mid-height cuff is great for providing a little ankle support without restricting freedom of movement. The full-length lacing is very good at reducing the volume across the entire boot and will help to accommodate a variety of fits (perhaps helping to mitigate for the lack of a women's/lower volume version), so don't necessarily feel put off if you have a foot width or shape outside the average person.
The integrated gaiter on the ankle cuff has a close, albeit not tight fit on the ankle which has meant I have ended a days walk or approach with dry feet that are free of dirt or debris. Overall the fit has been excellent for me.
The upper main fabric consists of a 'Putek' waterproof and highly abrasion-resistant textile. This is an extremely durable and lightweight fabric that has its roots in workwear shoes. In use I have quite liked this fabric, it feels both flexible when walking yet tough enough to shrug off abrasion when scrambling. A substantial rubber rand wraps round both the front of the foot and the heel. This significantly enhances durability on rugged terrain or if scrambling and jamming your foot into cracks.
A Sympatex 'Moisture Tech' lining provides breathable waterproofing throughout. This in combination with the light synthetic upper fabric has worked well for both keeping my feet dry and cool. It's probably the main reason I would choose these over the leather upper (Drom Mid) version which I assume will provide a bit more warmth, or sweatiness, on hot days. The upper fabrics and cushioning in general provide a slim low profile feel around most of the foot, which I really like since it gives a nimble feel to the boot.
The comparative rigidity in the solid sole means this is a great boot for edging performance on steeper scrambling ground. On the flip side, I suspect it won't perform as well on smoother surfaces like polished granite slabs where achieving maximum rubber-to-rock contact is more advantageous, although so far I haven't been on days where this is necessary, so can only speculate.
Its sturdy Vibram Pepe outsole features deep lugs, for braking and providing grip on wet grass. At the toe there is a mostly flat and solid region to provide a supportive shelf for climbing/scrambling. The outsole feels versatile for all sorts of terrain, especially in the UK where rock, wet grass, and mud are all encountered on a typical day.
The soft EVA foam layer within the midsole offers a good amount of shock absorption and comfort, ensuring a pleasant experience during long or multiday walks. This helps mitigate the stiffness, so you're not too clumpy when walking along hard-packed tracks or tarmac.
Boreal state 850g for a pair in size UK 7, which seems a bit optimistic given that my size 9s come in around 1090g. It's a little disappointing to have these weigh so far out of what the manufacturer states. Having said that, the Drom Mid Tech still aren't heavy for what is on offer in terms of durability, and they still manage to feel light on my feet.
I have to admit, I didn't expect to like these boots as much as I have. That's not to say I was setting myself up to be disappointed, just that they have surpassed my expectations and will become a sure favourite for me on scrambles, longer days or multiday walks. They bridge many categories well to provide a well-rounded piece of footwear - light yet durable, and comfortable yet technical - that's been ideal for trekking and scrambling. I am disappointed slightly that the weight doesn't match the manufacturer's stated weight, but these still do feel light on the feet and provide a cool breathable boot that's perfect for most conditions outside of a cold winter day.