Shoe Away

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Pondering the amount of walking I’ll be doing over the next few months, I’ve been on a search for updated footwear. I have a pair of comfortable driver-style loafers that lack support and on the other end, Asolo Fugitive GTX boots that have served me well on many short and extended hiking trips. What I need is a middle ground – a comfortable shoe that can serve needs for travel, where I’d walk many miles in urban and outdoor scenarios. There were many choices, but I narrowed it down to the following:

Lowa Renegade II GTX
Oboz Firebrand II
Ecco Sport La Paz Lo GTX
Zamberlan Tucano GT
Asolo Kalik

It was hard finding information on some of these shoes, so I tried them all out. I usually wear a wide shoe, but these were all normal width. Testing was limited time on an inclined treadmill, wearing a weighted backpack. From this, I could at least establish some indicator of comfort. Here are the results:

– Lowa
According to the REI salesperson, Lowa is a highly respected German brand. Initial fit in the store felt good, if a little stiff. I also changed the insole to a Superfeet brand. There was pressure on the foot from the top of the tongue, where it laced up. After the treadmill test, I felt numbness on the outside of my foot. I returned them and replaced with the…

– Oboz
This was also in REI. I left the original insole in. Initial fit was very comfortable, so I had high hopes that my search was over. After the treadmill, there was irritation on both of my back heels – not a good sign. These were the only shoes that gave me blisters. I returned them.

– Ecco
(size 10) I purchased the rest from Zappos. The Ecco is known for comfort. This and the Zamberlan had stiffer front shoe protection relative to the Asolo Kaliks. Initial fit felt stiff on the foot platform. They also looked and felt wider compared to the others. Testing revealed heel rub. The short laces did make it easy to put the shoes on and off.

– Zamberlan
(size 10 and 10 1/2) I purchased two sizes of this good-looking shoe to test fitment. The 10 1/2 were just a bit too large, so I tested size 10. Per REI, Zamberlan is a well known hiking shoe manufacturer from Italy.  However, these were made in China. Like the Ecco, the soles felt stiff, which presumably would handle uneven surfaces well. The long lace tie-up was nice, allowing for variable pressure to be applied and contouring the tightness for comfort. Walking test revealed a numbness on the outside right foot as well as redness on the outside and inside toes.

– Asolo
(size 10) Using my Asolo boots as a sizing guide, I ordered these in the same size. This shoe feels a bit different compared to the other ones, with a feel more like an “approach” shoe suitable for rock scrambling. The front protector felt softer, so while that’s less protection it also allows for tighter, compliant fit. Coupled with the long lace-ups, the fit is soft on the foot and comfortable. While not as stiff and supportive as the other shoes, it still has a Vibram sole. Like the Zamberlan, this is a handsome shoe. I really liked that it doesn’t look so much like a hiking shoe, especially compared to the Ecco. Treadmill test had no numbness or rubbing on the foot. I kept these shoes.

About a week later, I traveled with these shoes for three days, mainly urban and light hiking. The shoes never felt uncomfortable. Coupled with wool socks of various thicknesses, I never felt the need to remove the shoes. Breathability may be a concern, so I’ll likely go with a light wool hiking sock to match.

Asolo Kalik Review

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