The Steinbock Hike GTX walking boot from Dolomite's 'Hiking' range is described as being “suitable for day-long mountain walks on well-marked trails, easy off trail sections and regular slopes without the dangers of exposed falls”. Reading that I had initial reservations; would this boot handle the challenge of the Scottish Munros, the land of bog, rock and scrambles? Quick answer, yes - and very well. It seems that in their description Dolomite have rather undersold this boot.
From scrambling up the front of Buachaille Etive Mor to crossing snow covered mountain ranges in Norway, in my experience over several months' use these 3-season boots have held their own, performing well beyond their advertised scope (it's worth mentioning that these are not crampon-compatible winter boots).
The lacing system provides the ability for isolated adjustments to be made throughout the length of the boot, right the way down towards the toe, ensuring a good customised fit which I think ought to suit a lot of different-shaped feet. The laces also retain their position well, and I have never had to stop to re-tighten my boots.
As I was reviewing the men’s boot (the only one in my size available at the time), I found I had to have the laces closed up to near maximum for a secure forefoot support. The Steinbock Hike GTX is however also available in a women’s specific last up to size 8. Wearing a size 7.5, I found the men's version comfortable, and for those ladies who struggle to find women-specific footwear due to having larger than average feet I would recommend trying out this boot in men's sizing. How it feels is more important than what it says on the box!
These boots have a suede outer backed with a Gore-Tex Vision lining to ensure waterproofness and breathability. There's a fair amount of stitching on the outer, but build quality is very solid and so far I've made no visible damage to the suede or stitching. Despite river crossings, numerous hours skipping through peat bog hags and snow trekking, the Steinbock Hike GTX have so far kept my tootsies cosy and dry. They breathe pretty well too, though I've not yet had them out in hot summer weather to really test this to the limit.
The cuff of the boot comprises a stretch fabric which provides a comforting ankle support, but without restricting the freedom of movement you want in a summer walking boot. This helps the boot feel non-clumpy during long days on your feet, and gives a good degree of flex for footwork when scrambling. The cuff extends into the additional feature of a built-in mini gaiter. This contributes to the snug feel of the boot and I didn’t realise how good it was not to have debris collecting behind the front of the tongue until it wasn’t there - a real bonus on loose ground or slushy snow. The toe and heel sections of the boot are protected by rubber rands. Although the Steinbock Hike is not expressly designed for this purpose this extra reinforcement provides confidence when scrambling, guarding both the upper and your toes from jaggy rock edges.
To help soak up the impact when walking on harder surfaces the Steinbock Lite Vibram sole has full-length cushioning underfoot, and this has plenty of depth, particularly at the heel. This makes long stretches on gravel tracks or roads that bit more pleasant.
With a decent tread underfoot I've found the grip to be satisfactory on all terrain from damp rock to snow, and including the ever-so-familiar steep grassy slopes of the Scottish hills. The sole has well-defined edges, which makes it easier to get a stable footing on muddy or snowy slopes. In terms of stiffness, it feels pretty much spot on for a three season non-crampon-compatible UK hillwalking boot, allowing for some flexibility of the foot but still managing to provide adequate support to scramble on steep ground and - within reason - maintain its shape when edging. On technical ground it may not be as sturdy and supportive as a full-on scrambling or mountaineering boot, but it's lighter. Swings and roundabouts.
Weight and support
At a weight of only 1052g for the pair on my kitchen scales (size 8) the boots may not be the last word in lightweight, but they certainly dont feel like too much of a load for the legs to carry. As a result I've found them comfortable for all-day use, and on rough terrain they don't have the clumsy and tiring feeling you often get with a heavier boot. Despite its relative lightness the Steinbock Hike GTX did however provide adequate support to the foot and ankle when I was lugging a 65 litre rucksack filled with goodies for a multiday hiking adventure in Norway. When carrying heavy loads most people appreciate a more supportive boot, and in my experience the Steinbock Hike exceeds its 'day long hikes' description; it's more than adequate for multi day backpacking missions too.
The compact shape of the toe also comfortably fits into the toe cage of my mountain bike, allowing me to gain quicker access to those remote Munros without carrying an extra pair of shoes.
Having not heard of the Dolomite brand before I was intrigued to see what they had to offer. Turns out they've been around since 1897 and they have obviously learnt a thing or two along the way, as evident in the design and build quality of this boot. The Steinbock Hike GTX boots exceed their 'light hiking, mountain trails and meadows' brief, and have proven more than adequate for summer scrambling, multi-day backpacking and the rougher sort of Munro bagging too. If you're after a light-but-robust boot for all-round three-season use, this model is well worth considering.
A line designed for outdoor activity lovers and for anyone who has an active and respectful relationship with the natural environment. Models suitable for day-long mountain walks on well-marked trails, easy off-trail sections and regular slopes without the dangers of exposed falls. Light, reliable, comfortable products, available in a range of different models and styles to please everyone, but all benefiting from the same Dolomite experience of the mountain environment.
- Price: £140
- Sizes: 6 - 12.5 (men's) 3.5 - 8 (women's)
- Upper: 1.6/1.8 Suede
- Lining: Gore-Tex® Extended Comfort Footwear
- Insole: Felt Insole
- Fitting: Regular-Fit
- Weight: 1052g pair (size 8, my weight)
- Sole: Steinbock Lite Vibram®
- Usage: Light Hiking, mountain walking on trails and meadows
- Gore-Tex® Vision LiningWaterproofness + Breathability + Medium insulation
- Steinbock Lite Vibram® SoleFull-length cushioning + Lightness + Grip/friction balance
- Stretch fabric cuffExtra-comfort fit + Protection
- Stretch fabric mini-gaiterKeeps out debris
- Rubber heel + toeContains and protects the toe and heel
Distributed in the UK by Allcord Ltd
- REVIEW: Petzl ELIA Women's Helmet 27 May, 2016