If you’ve ever used a piece of outdoor gear made by Arc’teryx there is probably two things that you already know about the brand and the products it produces. First, there is a good chance that whatever the item is, it will cost more than a similar piece of gear from another company. And second—and most importantly—it will probably be worth every penny. That’s because Arc’teryx makes some of the best equipment on the market, and while it may be priced a little higher than the competition, that’s because it usually performs at a higher level.
Such is the case with the new Arc’teryx Aerios AR Mid GTX hiking boots. Built specifically with backpackers in mind, this lightweight footwear lives up to the company’s heritage in fine fashion, delivering a boot that is comfortable, durable, and confident on all but the roughest of terrain.
A Boot that Nails the Basics
Having tested dozens of different types hiking boots over the years, there are a number of things that I look for when I take a new pair out of the box. First, I look over the shoe to see if there are any obvious issues with the construction, such loose stitching, abrasions in the fabric, or imprecise molding of the sole, heel, or toe caps. For some brands—which shall go unnamed—I’ve come to expect a few minor flaws or details that have been overlooked when designing and creating the boot. That isn’t the case here, as the Aerios looks great, is well-made, and feels precision crafted in your hand.
The next thing I test is how comfortable a boot is when you first put them on. Some shoes feel great immediately, while others take awhile to break in before they feel just right. Occasionally, I come across a pair that just doesn’t ever quite get to that point, however, even after wearing them for many miles. In this case, the Aerios felt snug and comfortable immediately, but did require a short break-in period before they felt natural on my feet. Comfort is subjective of course—and your mileage may very—but it didn’t take long for me to feel right at home in these boots.
As you would expect from Arc’teryx, the Aerios AR Mid GTX is made from high-quality materials that feel durable enough to withstand plenty of punishment on the trail. Only time will tell if that is the case, but after several long hikes these boots still look brand new, other than a bit of mud and dirt. That bodes well for their longevity and makes it a little easier to spend a little more upfront knowing that you’ll still be using them on your hikes for years to come.
Waterproof and Breathable
One of the holy grails of any piece of outdoor apparel is somehow managing to be both waterproof and breathable. Those two things don’t usually go together all that well, as fabrics that allow moisture to escape usually allow it back in as well. The result is often a shoe that offers great breathability, but limited protection from moisture or a boot that is completely waterproof, but causes your feet to perspire due to warmth and trapped moisture. Sweaty feet can lead to hot spots or blisters, which is absolutely the last thing you need on a long hike.
When creating the Aerios boots. Arc’teryx used a Gore-Tex liner that is water- and wind-proof, with some degree of breathability. Over the years, Gore-Tex has gone to great lengths to improve how well its materials breathe, without compromising performance in terms of waterproofing. As with most of the rest of the industry, there is still work to be done in that department, although progress is being made.
What this means for the Aerios AR Mid GTX boots is that during my testing they were absolutely waterproof, even when wading through streams or splashing through deep puddles. In fact, my feet only ever got wet when I trekked through water that was deeper than the boot itself.
As for breathability, I’d best describe it as adequate, as my feet never got overly hot nor did I develop blisters or hot spots. And for the record, “adequate” is how I would describe how well most waterproof footwear performs.
Lightweight and Versatile
For a rugged backpacking boot that offers good ankle and foot support, the Aerios is surprisingly light. Arc’teryx lists the official weight of the boot as 19 ounces (550 grams), although that will vary somewhat based on size. While there are certainly hiking shoes that weigh less than that, few will offer the same level of craftsmanship, performance, and protection as you’ll find here. And, while ultralight backpackers will probably stick to using trail running shoes, for the rest of us this is shoe that feels nimble on the foot and won’t cause fatigue when worn for long periods of time.
Because these boots offer substantial performance without adding much bulk, I found myself reaching for them even when going on short hikes. The Aerios’s blend of comfort, traction, weather protection, and support makes them easy to wear, both on the trail and around the campsite. And because they are made for use on technical terrain, you can wear them for a variety of different outings ranging from day hikes to thru-hiking to peak bagging.
As noted at the start of this review, Arc’teryx gear is pricier than most of its competitors, but it is usually worth the premium. This just happens to be the case with these boots as well, which are priced at $260, but still manage to deliver a lot of value for the money.
As with other high-end brands—like Mercedes vehicles and Apple gadgets—Arc’teryx products aren’t priced for everyone. They are more expensive because they create gear for the most demanding outdoor athletes. For those individuals, having a product fail while in the field is not an option and they’re willing to pay more to get the level of performance they need.
If you happen to be one of those people—or simply want a great set of boots that will provide uncompromising performance for years—the Arc’teryx Aerios AR Mid GTX is for you. You’ll find these boots offer everything you could ask for in hiking footwear and your feet will be extremely happy too.
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