Gear Closet: AKU SL Sintesti GTX Hiking Boots

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Last summer I reviewed a pair of SL Trek GTX hiking boots from AKU and came away highly impressed. At the time, I lauded the boots for being comfortable, breathable and durable with great traction on a variety of trail conditions. Since then, I’ve only become more impressed with the boots, which continue to hold up well with many more miles of trail under their heels. So when AKU offered to let me try out their new SL Sintesti GTX hiking boots, I jumped at the chance, eager to see if the same level of quality could be found in a lighter and more affordable shoe. Considering the mountaineering legacy that the company brings to the table, I should have known that I wouldn’t be disappointed.

AKU says that the Sintesti is designed for hiking and backpacking on a variety of terrain up to medium altitudes. Lightweight and comfortable, these are the kind of shoes that you can wear on your favorite local trail or take with you on a trek through the Himalaya or up Kilimanjaro. The shoe provides plenty of protection for your feet, keeping them well shielded from rocky trails. In fact, the ground here in Central Texas is actually very rocky, but the Sintesti had no problem keeping my feet from getting battered or overly tired, even on long walks.

These boots feature a Vibram Mulaz outsole that is tough as nails and provides excellent footing whether you’re scrambling over rock or through deep snow and mud. When combined with a triple-layer internal midsole, it provides a rigid, yet comfortable ride that nicely cradles the foot and protects it from harm. Because of that rigidness, these shoes aren’t quite as flexible as some lighter weight hiking footwear from the competition, although their performance is light years better.

Despite this outstanding level of protection for the foot, the Sintesti don’t feel heavy or bulky when worn at all. On the contrary, they actually feel so good that you’ll almost believe that AKU custom made them especially for you. The footpad molds itself nicely to the shape of your foot and the break-in period is quite fast, ensuring that your new pair of boots feels like a comfortable old pair of boots in no time.

Other features include a precision lacing system that extends to just above the toes, allowing you to cinch the boots to your liking. I personally prefer a snug fit when hiking, although I know others don’t like their feet to feel confined. What ever your preference is, you’ll be able to adjust the Sintesti to an optimal fit quickly and easily. The suede upper conforms nicely to your needs as well, wrapping the foot in an incredibly durable – not to mention good looking – shell.

AKU has incorporated a Gore-Tex liner which helps to keep the feet dry in a variety of conditions. When your they start to heat up, the liner wicks moisture away and when you’re hiking through wet conditions, Gore-Tex will keep unwanted moisture out as well. As is typical with all products that use Gore-Tex, performance was excellent and my feet remained dry and happy at all times.

Like the SL Trek GTX boots that I reviewed last year, I am once again impressed with the high level durability that AKU has managed to instill in the Sintesti. These boots can take everything you throw at them and still come out looking just as good as new. I took them on muddy trails, across very rocky terrain, up and over boulders and through rushing streams, and except for showing a little dirt, they look like they’ve barely been worn. A good pair of hiking boots are an investment and this level of durability ensures that the Sintesti are a wise investment indeed. I would wager that anyone who buys these boots will have footwear to accompany them on their adventures for years to come.

AKU sells these boots for $249, which is about $80 less than the SL Treks that I recommended so highly last year. The Sintesti GTX delivers a similar level of performance with those boots but at a more affordable price. If you’re in the market for a new pair of boots that can accompany you on nearly any hiking adventure, these are just the shoes you’ve been looking for. They are comfortable, durable and perform well even under the worst of conditions. Not all footwear displays that level of dependability, but you’ll get all of that and more in AKU’s SL Sintesti GTX hiking boots. And chances are, your feet will thank you.

Kraig Becker