Dolomite have been making boots since 1897, but although some models have been available in the UK and at different points down the decades, they aren't a particularly well known brand amongst British walkers and climbers. In making a brown leather, waterproof 3-season walking boot and calling it the Kendal, you get the distinct impression Dolomite might be aiming for a slice of the rather massive pie that it is the UK walking market.
And having used the Kendal Leather GTX boots for six months now, I would say Dolomite really deserve a bit of the pie. These are great walking boots! Don't expect anything fancy, they are brown leather walking boots after all, but beyond that rather classic/conservative (you decide) look, they are light, comfy and well made.
The Kendal is for 'light hiking on mountain trails' according to Dolomite, and I'd say that's an apt description. For general country walks, 3-season Munros and Lakeland fells on the standard paths, or lightly-laden overnight backpacking on made-up trails they're ideal; for rougher off-trail ground, heavier loads, frequent scrambling or winter use I'd look elsewhere.
The Kendal comes in a big range of sizes (UK3.5 - 12.5) for both men and women. After some studying of the Dolomite size guide I went for a size 41. I normally choose a 42, knowing that while invariably that will be a bit too long for my feet, I tend to need the bigger size for width. But I must have read somewhere that the Kendals are good for wider feet and the 41s have fitted superbly. Fresh from the box I took them out for a good hike around Derwent Edges, up on the Derbyshire-Yorkshire boundary, and they worked perfectly - not a hotspot or a hint of rubbing, let alone a blister.
The leather is of the matt, oiled nubuck type rather than shiny, although once you wax them it goes a bit more towards the latter. The leather is clearly treated well, as when new water just beads up on the surface. After getting a bit more scuffed from use the leather on my review pair isn't quite as impermeable, hence the wax, but even if the boots get a bit soggy on the outside the Gore-Tex liner means your feet stay perfectly dry.
Getting sweaty feet easily enough, I used to think that waterproof liners inside leather boots guaranteed me foot issues from overheating, but [unlike our gear Editor] I think that prejudice had its origins back in the 90s, and for me it no longer applies. The Kendals are just like a number of other modern boots that I have with waterproof liners - the liners work very well: socks still dry at the end of the day, no water getting through, but sweat getting out.
In fact, the water resistance of the Kendals has been great through many muddy, wet walks. Approach shoes or fell shoes definitely have their place in summer, but for British hill and lowland walking in autumn and winter, I still prefer some leather boots, and dry feet.
The sole is Vibram, not the most open of tread patterns but it does a good job out on the hills. There is then a softish midsole section, not unlike on many trainers. This seems to work well too; when walking on flat gravel paths there is none of the harshness you can get in stiff mountaineering boots, but at the same time the boots are stable laterally, even to the extent that they can deal with a bit of scrambling with no real problems. Normally I pull the insoles of boots out straight away and stuff in my ancient pair of Superfeet insoles, but I didn't with the Kendals. Dolomite say their insoles are "anatomic" and they do have a deeper cup at the heel than most of the floppy, crappy insoles that come in boots. They definitely aren't as supportive as after-market footbeds, but do a better job at supporting and cushioning than you might expect.
The final thing to say about the Kendal GTX is that they just seem rather light. On my scales they weigh 1117g for the pair, a very reasonable weight for a full leather boot. That lightness really helps with comfort when you're out on your feet all day. I've even run in them (I had been climbing at Stanage and was late meeting the rest of the family) and despite that clearly not being what they were designed for, I was surprised that it worked at all.
Kendal GTX 1.5
The Leather version I've been looking at is due to be superseded by the Kendal GTX 1.5 in spring 2019. This will retail at £180, and has dropped the 'leather' element of the model name although it actually has the same leather upper as the current Kendal Leather. The only noticeable differences are going to be incremental changes to the sole, Dolomite tell us. The fact that they won't be changing it much is good news. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
So these are conservative-looking brown leather walking boots, but brown leather walking boots that aren't heavy, grip well, keep the puddles and mud out and that are comfy for long days of all-round hiking. Exactly what you want from some brown leather walking boots really. Nice one Dolomite.
The Kendal is a classic-looking mountain boot made out of fine leather which stands out for its comfortable fit and good cushioning. Its Vibram® hiking sole makes this waterproof boot particularly ideal for light hiking and easy off-trail sections.
- Sizes: UK 3.5-12.5 (men and women's fit)
- Weight: c.560g (half pair)
For more info see dolomite.it
- Upper: 2.0/2.2 oiled nubuck
- Lining: Gore-Tex® Performance Comfort Footwear
- Sole: Light Hiking Vibram®
- Comfort fit
- Felt insole
- Comfort fit
- Medium insulation
- Full length cushioning
- Torsional control
- Easy cleaning
- Range of use: Light hiking on mountain trails